Extreme Measures

Chapter 1


WARNING: This is a Uber story. All characters are figments of my imagination, any similarity to any individual, living or dead, is unintentional.

VIOLENCE WARNING/DISCLAIMER: The violence in this story, is not into gross or gory. There are fight scenes. Please feel free not to read if violence of any kind bothers you.

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

by Candy

Iggy Pinkerton, editor and publisher of River Day Press, sat behind her desk in her office, twirling a letter opener between her fingers without paying attention to it. The daily newspaper was spread out on the smoke, glass top desk.  A big banner headline, Queen of Mystery Solves Murder!Dru Warlord shot while capturing blackmailer.  Her chest constricted when she read that Dru had been shot.  She had tried for four years to get a relationship to spark with the talented woman, but had always been turned down. When she first saw Dru at a writer's luncheon, she fell hard for the statuesque beauty.  She truly had sincere feelings for Dru.  Oh well, some things are never meant to be, but she wanted to go down fighting.  Maybe a nice quiet week in Jackson would be the ticket?  The two of them alone with a lot of time to relax.  She sighed.  It was a great dream, but she doubted if Dru would accept the invitation if it didn't have something to do with work.  Anything personal would be turned down out of hand.  She'd tried before, receiving a curt rejection. That doesn't mean she would stop sending out the invitations, who knows, maybe she'd get lucky.  An attractive brunette knocked lightly on the door frame to her office.  Iggy looked up, brown eyes surveyed the young woman.  Everyone expected her to jump anyone in a skirt, but the truth be known, she wasn't that way at all, but the reputation helped at times to keep people away.  Amazing how a reputation can shield a person's real feelings, and it helped Iggy more than once. 

"Yes, Carla, what's up?" Iggy allowed her eyes to travel over the other woman's figure.  She was shapely, and buxom.  Not bad, but Iggy had problems getting interested.  Her thoughts always ran back to Dru.  Thinking about the writer drove her crazy.

"Ms. Pinkerton, you have an appointment at ten, you asked me to remind you." Carla gave her a bright, genuine smile, but didn't move any farther into the office.

"Thanks, Carla."  Iggy started to pick up the newspaper, then stopped.  "Carla, I want you to invite Dru Warlord to attend an informal writer's getaway at my place in Jackson, this week.  Choose a couple of other female writers to ask on that list I gave you earlier."  She folded the paper, "And call my caterer in Jackson to get things rolling. I want everything prepared by the time I get there tomorrow night."  The platinum blonde stood, dropping the paper into the trash can under her desk.  Carla's expressions soured slightly, but brightened, when Iggy's eyes looked up.  "I would like you to attend and keep tabs on things."

"Sure thing, Ms. Pinkerton,' stated Carla, still watching her boss.

Iggy moved around the desk, grabbing her light jacket off the chair it was thrown over. Shrugging it on, she turned to her secretary, "Thanks, I'll make this up to you in your paycheck.  I hope you didn't have some hot and heavy date or anything planned?"  Iggy graced the woman with a small smile. 

Carla shook her head, "No, nothing." 

"Good." The blonde picked up her purse, and headed for the door. "I'll be back around one." She was out the door and making her way to her Mercedes with thoughts of a mystery writer on her mind. 

Kasey fussed in the kitchen making coffee.  It was early, just before dawn, the time Dru usually got up to start the day. She, herself wasn't a morning person, but was finding herself enjoying the pre-dawn hours.  Her sister wouldn't believe her if she told her she got up at the brake of day.  A small smile played at her lips with the thought.  What was Ricky going to say when she found out about Dru? That's going to be interesting.  Her parents on the other hand, would just mark it up to their daughter's vulgar ways. Just another way to embarrass them. Anyone different was considered off limits to the Lovett family.  With a name like Lovett you would figure they would be more compassionate, but Kasey's parents were narrow minded, and ridged in their thinking.  Conformity was good, different was bad.  The strawberry-blonde sighed to the empty kitchen. It didn't matter what her folks thought, she was happy and that's all that mattered.  She had never felt so happy, and now that she found the person who made her that way, she wasn't going to give her up just because she didn't fit the right mold for her mom and dad.  

The toaster released its captives.  Four slices of sun dried tomato bagel.  Toasted twice to make sure they were brown.  Dru's favorite.  Kasey still couldn't bring herself to smear orange marmalade over her portion.  She stuck with cream cheese.  Rummaging through the cabinet, she found a tray to place the dishes and coffee on, then padded to Dru's bedroom.  She stopped at the door watching the sleeping figure in the bed.  One arm tucked behind the dark haired head, eyes closed, and  chest moving with regular breathing.  Dru's long frame stretched out the length of the king size bed, with the sheets twisted about her body.  The blanket was deposited on the floor.  It had gotten way too hot with it on them the night before.  The thought brought a sudden tingling to Kasey's cheeks. Gads, Dru was beautiful.  She wanted to pinch herself to make sure she wasn't dreaming.  The love of her life was a woman, who would have thought, surely not her.  Such a thing had never entered her mind, her parents made sure of that with their bigotry.  That was one of the main reasons for leaving home, thus being marked the black sheep of the close minded family. 

Shaking herself out of her rivalry she padded into the room and placed the tray on the night stand.  Kasey eased herself onto the bed and leaned onto the body still sprawled across the bed.

"Hey sleepy head," she said, while running a finger lightly across Dru's lips. One cerulean orb opened, peeking out at the younger woman.  

"I'm awake, and have been the whole time you were out there fixing the coffee, and then standing in the doorway."  That brought a blush to the proofreader's cheeks.  Dru hugged the woman on top of her tightly, and kissed her nose.  "Good morning." 

Kasey let herself be flatten against the firm body under her.  She didn't worry about the bullet wound in Dru's right side, since what they had done the night before hadn't seemed to cause pain, this surely wouldn't.  She felt shivers travel down her body as the writer nuzzled her neck tracing small kisses up her jaw line to her mouth.  She surrendered willingly.  By the time they parted her heart raced and she could feel Dru's breathing had quickened.

"Our coffee is going to get cold if we keep this up." Kasey announced. 

"Mmm, but this is so much more fun." Dru eased away to look into emerald eyes.  "But coffee does sound good." 

"I figured the coffee would win out over me," Kasey nudged her partner in the ribs. 

Dru held her in place.  "Nothing wins out over you my dear, nothing."  And she sealed the statement with a deep lingering kiss, that made both of them forget about coffee and bagels. 

An hour later, Kasey lay in bed enjoying the view of her companion as she gather up a pair of shorts and tank top, then disappeared into the bathroom.  The show being over and laying alone she took a sip of her now cold coffee.  Ugh. The phone rang.  She leaned over and captured the receiver.


"Ms. Warlord?" 

"No, I'm sorry she isn't available at the moment, may I take a message for her?"  Kasey opened the draw in the nightstand, and took out a pad and pencil. 

"Please, Ms. Pinkerton would like to invite, Ms. Warlord to an All Women Writer's getaway this next week.  She knows it's short noticed, but since she read about Ms. Warlord's incident, she thought she might like to take some time off from writing and have some fun.  The attire is casual, and everything will be provided."  Carla gave Kasey the number for Dru to call to confirm her invitation. 

Dru walked into the bedroom drying her raven hair with a towel.  "Who was that?"  she asked sitting on the bed beside the blonde. 

"Well, it seems Fingers wants you to go on a getaway with some other women writers up to Jackson."  Kasey felt a little pang in her chest, she didn't want to be separated from Dru so soon. They'd just gotten together, and she didn't want to miss one moment with her.  She'd almost missed a lifetime, if the bullet, that was now lodged in the writer's side, had been over and up a few inches.  The doctors decided to leave the bullet in because it wasn't causing any problems where it was.  But Dru had to spend the night in the hospital because she had lost a lot of blood. 

Dru stopped drying her hair leaving the wet towel wadded up in her lap, while watching the proofreader.  Kasey felt the scrutiny and couldn't meet her eyes with what she was feeling.  A hand lifted her chin. 

"Hey, what's wrong?" asked Dru, then she smiled.  "Oh, hey, I'm not going if that's the problem.  I'm not going anywhere without you for awhile. It's just you and me for the next few weeks, ok?"   

That was the best thing Dru could have said to her.  "No, I think you should go.  If this is something that would help get your work out there, I think you should do it.  And it's not a bad idea to consider paperbacks as it is.  Most people can afford a soft cover before a hardback.  You'll be opening up a whole new market for yourself, which is good." 

A dark eyebrow rose with every argument Kasey came up with.  "Are you telling me to go?" 

"Yeah, I guess I am."  The proofreader took Dru's hand, and rubbed the strong fingers.   

"Hmm, I'll have to think about it."  Dru stood, "C'mon, we've wasted most of the day.  How much of the manuscript did you get proofread and corrected for me?" 

"Most of the day!" Kasey snorted, "It's only eight o'clock."  She winked, "Okay, give me a few minutes to dress and I'll put the finishing touches on it." 

Dru kept catching herself tracking to the young woman padding through the apartment. And had to keep telling herself this gorgeous, intelligent woman loved her.  After Blaine, she had built a wall around her heart, swearing  never to allow herself to care about anyone.  She couldn't go through that kind of heartbreak again.  Then Kasey came into her life, turning it topsy-turvy, saving her from a life of loneliness. A dark thought lurking on the fringes of her awareness kept pushing forward, what was going to happen to ruin this?  Dru forced herself to throw off the thought of possible pain and loss, and while her vision rested on the strawberry-blonde, she made a leap of faith in their growing relationship.   

Kasey turned and caught Dru's eyes, and smiled.  "We're not going to get much work done if we keep this up you know?"  Then laughed, "But it does feel good, huh?" 

"Yeah, it feels great, but like you said, we've got work to do."  She dodged the small fist aimed at her arm. "Ya missed, you're going to have to move faster than that if you want to land one on me."  For a few minutes they ran through the apartment. Dru leaped over the couch and slid on stocking feet into the kitchen.  

"Now I've got you," Kasey declared, seeing there was no exit to escape through.  

"Oh really?" Dru did a hop and dove head first over the kitchen counter that looked over into the living room, doing a small flip and landing on her feet. Spreading her arms wide she made a grand bow to the younger woman. 

"I can't believe you did that."  The proofreader shook her head. "Normal people wouldn't." 

"I'm not like normal people." She waggled her eyebrows.  "I learned that a long time ago from a very old friend. Always look for what no one else does, do what no one else expects, and take chances no one else risks." Dru flopped on the sofa.  

The printer spit out the last pages of Dru's mystery.  After the kidnapping, of Kasey, and the arrest of Barry, she had come home and made dramatic changes to her story.  She also did a few changes to the character who pretty much resembled Clarice Bondini, the woman in her book who had fallen in love with another woman while still married.  Real life had more twists and turns than Dru ever considered.  Antonio, Clarice's son, thought his mother had shot and killed Lyanda Pharold, Clarice's lover.  Only after the death of Brandon Bondini, did Clarice discover by reading his personal journal that her husband had committed the crime which destroyed her life. Even now thinking about it, Dru could feel empathy for the older woman.  But Antonio thought his mother had murdered the woman and had tried to cover up the details that might have exposed the real killer.  Only after Dru became involved, while trying to save her friend, did Antonio learn the truth.  The writer had thought Tony was the one who had kidnapped the proofreader, but found his college buddies had doubled cross him.  Barry and Spud, had taken Kasey in order to blackmail Dru. 

Dru didn't really care what happened to Barry, he could rot in jail for all she cared. But Kasey had told her about Spud, whose real name was David Marshall, but received his nickname because he came from Idaho.  Spud, befriended Kasey, and allowed her to go free.  The proofreader had already told Homicide detective, Hank Huggs, a good friend of Dru's, all that Spud had done.  She felt Barry manipulated the simple-minded young man.  Barry was already in jail, but Spud had been released into the hands of his parents, who flew down from Idaho to care for him.  Dru wrote this into her manuscript after she was released from the hospital.  Kasey wouldn't let her up out of bed, but did allow her to use her laptop to work on her mystery, which was now due on her agent's desk.   

Looking back on this one week, the writer shook her head.  Had it really only been one week?  In such a small amount of time, she had fallen love, had the person she loved kidnapped, got shot, and solved a murder and kidnapping.  Not bad.   

Today would have been Kasey's last day of work, if things had been different.  If there hadn't been the prank calls, or her inattentiveness to her writing, which made her agent, Greg, jittery and nervous. So much so, he decided she needed help to complete the task.  She remembered just how angry she was at the man for moving a perfect stranger into her home.  Now she owed him everything.   

She turned her head and watched Kasey place the completed pages in a manuscript box. The woman patted it once with finality and stood, handing it over to Dru.   

"There you go."  Kasey allowed a bright smile to cross her lips, then gave the dark-haired woman a questioning look.  "What?" 

"I was just thinking of what might have been.  You know if there hadn't been the prank calls, or Greg getting uptight." Dru just allowed herself to absorb the woman's presence. 

Kasey eased down next to the tall woman siting on the couch.  Sliding an arm around her shoulders.  "I believe it was all meant to be."  She leaned her head against Dru's, "If not this way, then something else would have happened.  Fate is like that." 

"So you believe our meeting was fated?"  A twinkle floated into blue eyes. 

The strawberry-blonde nodded.  "Oh yeah, most definitely." 

"Hmm, I'm glad I don't have to think Greg had anything to do with it then." She grinned.  Kasey chuckled at her. 

A knock on the door made both women look at each other.  In unison, they said "Greg," and laughed.  Kasey answered the door, and a stocky, balding gray-haired man with a tightly trimmed beard, and sparkling brown eyes greeted her.  

"Ok, I'm here, and it better be ready." He took the door and closed it while herding the young woman into the living room ahead of him. 

Dru hefted the manuscript box, and handed it to him.  "Yep, there you go." 

"Wow, it's really ready.  Great, I'll have to the publisher's office before noon."  He grinned.  "So, how are you feeling?" Greg asked Dru, as he found himself a spot in the recliner across from the two women.   

"I'm doing great," Dru purred, as she reached out and patted the proofreader's knee.  "I've got a great nurse." 

"Well, you look good for having been shot.  Really good. What kind of medication is she giving you?" His grin banked on mischievousness.  Kasey cheeks blazed with embarrassment.   

"Only the best kind of medication, tender loving care." Dru smiled at the proofreader, and received one in return. 

"Oh, Iggy's office phoned today, they invited me to a women writers retreat, or whatever it's suppose to be." She informed her agent, taking the attention off her partner, and easing the young woman's discomfort.   

"Well, as much as I dislike the woman, I do know she has a lot of clout, and it wouldn't hurt to cultivate the paperback market," explained Greg. 

"Not you too." Dru groaned, and cast a glance at the strawberry-blonde. Greg followed the look.   

"So you agree with me?" he asked?  Kasey nodded. 

"Yes, for exactly the same reason you mentioned." She answered. 

"Ok, I know what I've said and what Kasey said, but what are you going to do?" the stocky agent questioned. 

Dru shrugged, "I haven't decided."  She felt the woman shift next to her.  Obviously, Kasey still had reservations regarding Iggy. 

Greg left happy with Dru's manuscript tucked under his arm.  The writer felt like going for a walk to work out some of the stiffness she was feeling after being laid up for a couple of days.  She expected her lover to object, but was pleased to find the younger woman desired the outing almost as much as she did. They headed across the street to the path that meandered through blossoming magenta ice plants.  The ocean down below them crashed against buff, colored sand.  Pods of seaweed hypnotically floated on the surf, in a wild dance.  Seagulls flew on updrafts overhead, screeching calls to each other.  Dru inhaled deeply, enjoying the salt flavored air.     

Her companion walked along side quietly enjoying the morning breeze, and now and again bumping into her.  Dru guided her down the cement steps to the beach.  The expanse of sand was deserted.  She intertwined her fingers with Kasey's as they walked along the beach. The wind blew their hair out like raven and golden banners.  The buff colored sand crunched under their feet.  Each wave tried to claim their feet as they strolled near its boundaries. Kasey stopped, sliding an arm around Dru's waist, and the writer slid an arm across the other's shoulders.  They stood staring at the bay as pelicans skimmed the curling breakers.  This was perfect, and for one very perfect moment Dru held what she felt close to her heart.  Looking down, she found emerald eyes gazing up.  The pull was so powerful she couldn't resist, and leaned down capturing the lips waiting for her.

Kasey reveled in the embrace and kiss from her normally stoic partner.  The public show of such intimacy wasn't part of the woman's make-up, so having her being so demonstrative, took the proofreader by surprise.  But she wasn't going to complain.  

Sunlight highlighted Dru, making her into a mythical goddess dressed in gold sunbeams. It was hard for her to keep her hands from exploring the firm body holding her.  She felt the muscles flex and move under her fingers.  Damn, this was too public to do this, but she couldn't stop herself.  She wanted to possess the writer in the strongest way.  Their kisses grew more demanding, and hands sought out territory that sent shivers over both of them.  Finally the taller woman broke free, holding Kasey at arms length, and exhaled heavily. 

"Ah, I think we better cool it for now, otherwise, I'm going to have you right here in front of God and everyone.  And I don't like the idea of having onlookers." Dru rubbed Kasey's arms, feeling the goose bumps running over them. "What I have with you is special and private, and ours alone.  And I'm not going to share it with anyone." After saying that she pulled the smaller woman back into a quick embrace, "But when we get back to the apartment, watch out," she purred into the strawberry-blonde's ear. They resumed their walk down the beach.  

Kasey tried to calm the sudden desire coursing through her body, she knew Dru was right but telling her body that was another matter.  This was so new and exciting, having someone like this tall, raven-haired beauty reacting to her so strongly was a turn on like nothing she had ever experienced.  And she hoped that time wouldn't diminish it. 

Then Iggy crept into her thoughts.  What did she really want with Dru, everyone knew how she felt about her companion. It was going to be very interesting if and when the publisher found out about their relationship.  Would she make things rough for Dru because of it? She hoped not.  Still, there was a nagging suspicion something was cooking in the platinum blonde's head. 

Would she really let Dru go alone to this retreat if she decided to go?  And the answer was, of course.  She didn't want to tie her partner down, and needed to show she trusted her.  And she did. She knew it in her heart.  There was no doubt, it was just something that was undefinable which told her that if Dru said it she meant it.  The woman was just that way.  

They headed home, and heard the phone ringing as they entered the apartment.  Dru answered. 

"Hello Carla.  Yes I received the message."  Dru paused, "The only way I'll participate is if my associate is able to attend with me. We're working on another book together and I need her expertise, even on a retreat."  Another paused, "In that case you'll see me and Kasey Lovett tomorrow night.  The writer hung up the receiver, turning to face the proofreader.  "Well, I guess we're going on a retreat," and smiled.  Dru moved to the smaller woman and wrapped her arms around her.  "Is that okay with you?" 

In return Kasey gave her one of her brightest smiles.  "Yes, I would love to go with you."  The fact was she would go to hell and back with her if she had asked. "C'mon, if we're going, we need to pack." She nudged Dru in the side. 

"Sure thing, but I seem to remember a little earlier this morning we had other matters on our mind."  A very large grin flashed a set of even white teeth, and a sparkle glinted in very blue eyes.  Suddenly, to Kasey surprise, she was being lifted up into two strong arms, and cradled thus, was carried into the bedroom. 

Iggy climbed out of her Mercedes, and was greeted by a drooling hairy mutt.  She couldn't understand why her sister, Roberta, kept the walking flea circus around.  It was the scroungiest beast she'd ever set eyes on, with wiry, thick peach-colored hair.  And for some crazy reason the creature enjoyed tormenting the publisher. "Hello, Mango, why haven't you found a place to curl up and die in?" She smiled insincerely at the brown eyed dog.  Mango's tail wagged with glee at seeing Iggy.  "Yeah, yeah, I'm here again, and you better mind your manners or you'll end up in the animal shelter."  The dog ducked its head looking up at her through bushy eyebrows. "Don't think that look is going to work on me, I've been tested by the best of them."  She walked up the walkway to the large ranch style house with her silent shadow.  Lush green ivy covered the porch.  She used the door knocker to announce her presence.  

A petite blonde with delicate white china features opened the door.  An immediate smile blossomed on her lips.  Iggy enveloped her sister in an enthusiastic hug. 

"Iggy, oh it's good to see you." Roberta ushered her taller sister into her home.  Mango padded along side the women.  "What do I owe this visit to?  Not that I'm complaining mind you, you're always welcomed." 

"Thanks Sis, I'm here because I have a writer's retreat at my place beginning tomorrow." She kept an arm securely holding the other woman.  "I just had to see you since I was in the area." 

"That's great, will you be able to stay for dinner, Mason would love to visit with you?"  Roberta motioned Iggy to a chair, the woman finally released her hold.

"Hey, you mention a free dinner and good company and I'm there," she smiled. "So, how is the love of your life doing?" 

A warm expression colored Roberta's fair features.  "Oh, he's doing wonderfully.  The mine is coming along very well, and they are showing a profit, which is good.  The stock holders are happy, and that keeps Mason happy." 

Iggy observed her sister closely, and noticed she appeared about the same as her last visit, which worried her greatly.  Roberta was too thin, and her veins could be seen through tissue, thin skin. Hazel eyes were sunken into deep hollows.  Not all looked well, and it worried the publisher. 

Their mother had raised the two girls alone after their father had left.  And only last year did their mother succumb to breast cancer.  It was just the two of them now, and Iggy was very protective of her little sister.  This thing that had a grip of her sibling bothered her.  It wasn't like Roberta hadn't gone to the doctor, she had, but they could find nothing wrong.  This illness or whatever it was had the doctors stumped.  Their prescription, lots of rest.  Iggy was relieved that Mason was so supportive, and had made sure that Roberta followed the doctor's orders to the letter. 

"Are you still experiencing tingling in your fingers?" asked Iggy, as she noticed Roberta absently rubbing her hands. 

The delicate blonde nodded, "Yes, and now I have this rash."  She gave her sister a small smile as she noticed the worried look in Iggy's eyes.  "Hey, there's nothing to worry about.  If it was really bad the doctors would have found something, right?"  Roberta gazed out the window for a moment, then returned her attention  to her sister, "Will you be able to stay for dinner?" 

Startled, Iggy was shaken that her sister would repeat a question she had only asked a few moments earlier without even being aware of it.  "I told you already, Sis, I would.  You asked me earlier." 

"Oh, I did?  Hmm, I don't remembered asking. I'm glad you're staying." She leaned her head back and closed her eyes.  Iggy watched from her chair, while her sister dropped off to sleep, and bit her lip to keep it from trembling.  Gods, she didn't want something to happen to Roberta.  She got up and crouched beside her sister's chair.  Leaning her chin on one hand, she peered up at the fine featured face, and stroked the blonde head of the slumbering woman.  Mango edged his way over, laid his head on Iggy's lap, sighed loudly, and watched the publisher with unabashed adoration.

Dru pulled the 65' Mustang out into traffic.  The trip to Jackson was going to take almost three and a half hours. Kasey had puttered around the evening before packing.  Dru hadn't cared much about what she took.  If the retreat was informal, blue jeans and shirts was all she was going to need.  Heck, she wasn't going to dress up if she didn't have to. 

Germs for another story had been growing in her head since "Desperate Measures" had been completed.  But it was too soon to give the details to Kasey.  It was one of those writer's things.  Don't talk out a story before you get the bones of the outline recorded. All too quickly the excitement of a new mystery could be lost before it made it to the save file on her computer. In order to convey the passion she felt for a story, she had to keep it very personal and private until each character grew into breathable personalities she could relate to.  At that point she would sit and watch in her mind a scene be choreographed.  Working through dialogue, and reworking it until it felt natural and believable. There were times she would go to bed thinking about a scene that wasn't working, either she couldn't find the right description or the characters were too stilted, and she would fall asleep with the problem in mind.  Her dreams would be of the characters involved in her story.  It was like watching a movie being played and rewound until everything fit.  And when it felt right, Dru would know instantly.  By morning she would awake knowing exactly how she needed to work the scene in question.  It was the way her mind worked out problems. 

This trip to Jackson, an old gold mining town of the 1800's, could be the perfect backdrop for what she was contemplating for her new novel. The place was rustic and ideal for a modern day mystery.  Her mind was already ticking off items she wanted to investigate during their visit, collecting the necessary details to make her story come alive.  

Her hand rested on the gear knob of the automatic stick shift  between the bucket seats.  A light touch traced up her arm sending chills and goose bumps running after each other.  She caught teasing emerald eyes smiling at her.  The proofreader's hand slid up to Dru's shoulder then back down, then outlined each of her long fingers.  A smile crept up to her lips, "What are you up to?" she asked.

"Hmm, I was thinking this was going to be a very long trip, and I didn't want you to get bored or anything." A smirk eased over Kasey's lips. 

"Oh, like that's really going to happen with you sitting so close.  Boredom isn't likely to be a problem."  

"You're right, but other problems might arise." The strawberry-blonde waggled her eyebrows, causing the raven-haired woman to give her a sardonic grin. 

"Just remember, pay backs are hell." She winked, and Kasey chuckled. 

"I'll take my chances."  The proofreader answered, letting her fingers trail up a tanned arm.  Dru concentrated on the road, but feeling every little tingle go through her body.  This sure was going to be an interesting trip. 

By the time Dru turned off onto freeway 33 a short cut to the Interstate, from highway 152. She needed something cold to drink, but would have preferred a cold shower.  Santa Nella, a little dust-spot adjacent to the interstate, was a popular rest stop for most truckers to fuel up at and grab a bite to eat.   

One trucker almost ran off the road when she passed him.  He looked down into the Mustang, and you would have thought he had never seen two women in a car before.  She hadn't realized that Kasey had such a devious side to her, but it was nice finding out.  And at the same time very frustrating, which seemed to please the young woman tremendously. 

Kasey enjoyed tormenting her companion, but there was a backlash to what she was doing. She was getting as excited as Dru. Watching her partner as she massaged the silken skin of her thigh with its firm muscles.  She noticed Dru's breathing change, and her pulse begin to race, which she could feel under her hands.  Kasey loved knowing she could do this to the other woman, and it was a real turn on that Dru allowed her to continue her exploration.  She did notice the writers knuckles turning white as she held onto the steering wheel.  She had to chuckle when Dru mentioned paybacks were hell.  In this case it was a win, win situation, and she liked that idea. 

At the truck stop they stretched their legs and ordered sodas to go.  Kasey enjoyed being alone with the writer, and she got the distinct impression Dru had similar feelings about her, which sent a nice warm feeling through her.  Goodness, this was different.  Her mind wheeled at the thought that just a few weeks ago she hadn't even known Dru, and now here she was consumed with such deep emotions for her.  Every thought and breath she took had the writer in it.  She couldn't get enough of her, in a way that frightened her.  Each new day drew her closer to the other woman.  Though she felt Dru returned her feelings, she worried she might smother her or become too possessive.  Kasey didn't want to botch this relationship for nothing.  Though Dru was her first female lover, it felt right. She felt complete, and believed what she had told Dru the day before, that they were fated to be together. She didn't know how she knew, she just knew.  Her mother, when she was young, mentioned that Kasey had a special gift.  One of foretelling, which she brushed off as nonsense at the time.  

While she waited for Dru to pay for the sodas she checked out the displays for maps and books.  The writer came up behind her, handing over a soda. 

"Thanks," she took the cup.  Then leaned lightly back into the woman. 

"Say, that's exactly what I was looking for." Dru exclaimed, and reached over Kasey's shoulder to pick up a book.  

"What is it?" she asked, trying to catch a glimpse of the heading.  The taller woman turned it around so she could see.

"Okay, what do you need that for" then she realized the look in Dru's eyes. "You've got another story growing, don't you?"  she grinned. 

The writer waggled her eyebrows, "Could be."  Dru paid for the book, then they headed back out to the car. "How about reading the part on Jackson to me?" 

Kasey chuckled, "Sure."  She knew Dru was trying to get her mind onto something other than tormenting her. And the truth be told, she didn't think she could handle much more herself.  "Let's see," she said as she scanned the pages, "Jackson is Amador's county seat, and holder of the title of having the two deepest, richest, quartz mines in the Mother Lode."  She paused as Dru merged onto the Interstate.  "One was named the Argonaut, and it had a fire in the 1850's trapping miners in its maze of tunnels.  It took three weeks for rescuers to reach the victims, and all forty-seven miners were found dead from gas asphyxiation."  Kasey took a moment to gaze out the window.  How horrible to die such a slow agonizing death in the depths of the cold earth.  Just sitting waiting for help, and having the awareness slowly dawning that rescuers wouldn't make it in time.  Staring at each other, friends, maybe even family working together, now dying together. And all for what, some gold? 

"Hey, you all right?" Dru's voice full of concern drew her out of the catacombs of death.  

"Yes, I'm fine.  I was just thinking how sad." She gave Dru a small smile.  "Do you like caves?" 

"I don't mind them.  I've been to one in the area up there, Moaning Caverns.  It was beautiful, but I can tell you I didn't like it when they turned all the lights off." Dru shivered.  "I had my eyes wide open and couldn't see a thing, not even the outline of my hand in front of my face.  Of course having the docent say a person could go temporarily blind if they stay inside the caves without light for a long of a period of time, didn't help either." 

"Ugh, I would say not.  Weird, a person can go blind from darkness."  Kasey sympathized. 

"It's something like snow blindness, but still nothing I want to experience." 

Kasey picked up the book again, thumbed to where she had left off, and then began reading aloud. "The character of the old South is duplicated in many of the buildings seen in the Central Mother Lode.  The climate resembles that south of the Mason-Dixon Line, so buildings were designed with single, double, or multistoried porches, which sometimes run on all four sides.  The narrow porches served as sun screens rather than living spaces, and were guarded by iron railings.  On hot sultry evenings, many could be found on their porches trying to catch a cooling breeze."  Kasey laid the book on her lap to watch the scenery passing.  It was pretty boring stuff, brown hills and Interstate.  She turned and watched a better subject.  Dru was concentrating on the traffic, so Kasey could enjoy watching the object of her affection without being noticed.  She felt she could almost drool over each movement Dru made, loving the way her muscles rippled under tanned skin.  She mentally had to shake herself.  This was ridiculous to feel this good, and be this excited by one person.  She leaned over and kissed Dru's shoulder.  The driver looked over at her, giving her a large surprised smiled.  

"You tired?" asked Dru, as her eyes softened gazing at the proofreader. 

"Not really, just a little stiff from sitting so long." 

"Did you want to stop?"  Already the writer was looking for a turn off. 

"No, I'm fine."  Kasey laid a hand on Dru's thigh, and rubbed the soft skin lightly with her thumb. 

"I was going to stop in Stockton, my home town, for something to eat." Dru announced, capturing the hand on her leg.  

"I didn't know you lived there." The fact was she knew very little about Dru's personal background.  Even Greg mentioned he knew very little himself, in the time he's known her.  But she had the distinct impression the dark haired woman had some hidden demons she battled with regarding her past. Someday she hoped Dru would feel at ease with her and open up.  Until then she would have to wait.  The writer wasn't the type who would take kindly to being prodded.  And she figured if she waited long enough and listened, she would learn all she needed to know. 

"I guess we should stop there anyway, my Aunt Flo would have a fit if she knew I drove through and didn't stop." Dru paused, "It's been awhile since I've been home."  

A cloud seemed to settle over the driver, and Kasey worried their good times were coming to and end. 

Iggy sat pushing broccoli around the plate in front of her with a fork.  Robby was staring off glassy eyed and silent. Mason had come home, and was very pleased to see her.  It was nice.  He was a good guy and she liked the way he fussed over her sister.  Mango scooted closer to the publisher, hoping to beg a few scraps from her.  Not even thinking what she was doing she took a small piece of meat and handed it to the mutt.  He inhaled it and laid his head on her lap hoping for more.  

"So, you're having a retreat?" Mason inquired, popping another bit of roast beef into his mouth, his pale blue eyes smiling at her.  She decided he would be considered attractive if she was into men.  He was slightly balding with a cap of black hair ridging his head.  Dark bushy eyebrows made his pale eyes have the effect he was staring right through her.  At the moment they were twinkling with mischief. 

"Yes, everyone should be showing up tomorrow night."  She answered, trying to figure out what he was leading up to. 

"I guess Dru Warlord is invited."  He laughed. 

"Oh! You're so ornery.  I don't know why my sister puts up with you," she growled, with mock ferociousness.  Then winked, "Yeah, well, I thought I would try again.  And I would have you know, Carla phoned to say the infamous mystery writer agreed to attend.  So there."  She stuck her tongue out at her bother-in-law. Who burst out laughing all the harder. 

"Iggy, I hope this time you get lucky.  You really do need to settle down with someone.  Robby worries about you being alone."  At the mention of her name, Robby rousted herself enough to begin to eat her dinner.  "Did you hear my dear that Dru Warlord is attending Iggy's retreat?"  Iggy shook her head with a grin on her lips. 

"I don't know why you are getting such a kick out of this, Mason," she said. 

"Hey, it's not everyday my sister-in-law has the love of her life visit." Mason quickly put another piece of meat into his mouth. 

"It might not all be as I would like, it seems that Dru is bringing her cute little proofreader with her."  Iggy thought about that when Carla phoned to inform her that Dru had accepted her invitation.  At first she was elated then the bubble burst with the added news.  Was there anything between the sweet looking strawberry-blonde and the raven-haired beauty?  If so, that would surely close the door on her, and she didn't want that to happen.  

"Oh, so you have competition?  Who is she?"  Mason seemed to be enjoying the fun he was having with her. 

"Well, she's cute enough, and if I wasn't totally infatuated with Dru, I would surely give the woman a run for her money.  I wouldn't even think twice about it."  Iggy thought about what she just said, and realized it was the truth. She wouldn't mind getting to know the young woman better.  Kasey could think on her feet in tough situations.  The first time they met the proofreader figured out how to draw Dru Warlord into introducing her to Iggy.  Dru wasn't known to help anyone in the writing business.  After Iggy had taken the young woman with her to introduce her to some colleagues, she made sure Dru noticed she was running her hands over the shorter, muscular woman as they moved away.  But the strawberry-blonde wasn't stupid, within minutes she had placed someone between herself and Iggy, which amused the publisher. She wondered if Dru had bedded the young woman, then her mind traveled on to wondering what it would be like to have Dru in bed.  She stopped herself as soon as it started.  She didn't want to go there with her thoughts.  If she did she wanted it to be the real thing and not her imagination.   

Dinner finished and Mason helped Robby upstairs to tuck her into bed.  Iggy waited in the living room.  Mango curled himself around her feet and licked his chops to make sure he hadn't missed anything, groaned, and closed his eyes in contentment.  Her brother-in-law joined her a short while later.  

"Are you staying the night?" he asked, while making himself comfortable in a chair across from her. 

"I should be heading over to my place to make sure things are being taken care of."  Iggy rubbed the material of her skirt smooth, then looked up. "What are the doctors doing with Robby?" 

Mason's eyes and expression turned very serious.  "They have done every test imaginable."  He snorted in discuss, "Now they're saying it's mental, and they want her to see a shrink." 

"A shrink?  What do they say about her physical symptoms, the weight loss, the dizziness, the numbness, everything?" Iggy tried hard to keep the hysteria out of her voice, but this was almost too much for her to accept. "What's wrong with those people?" 

Mason raised and spread his arms in frustration, then dropped them.  "I have no idea.  They're starting to say there's nothing more they can do." 

"Take her to someone in San Francisco or bring her down to Monterey where I can set her up with a specialist." She urged. 

"No. She's gone through enough, and she doesn't want to go through anymore.  The other day she told me this is it, whatever happens, happens.  She's tired, Iggy, very tired."  His voice had grown weary. 

"If there's anything I can do, Mason, please just say the word and it's yours." Mango lifted his head at the tone in the woman's voice.  He sensed she was troubled and sat up to lay his head on her firm thigh.  She ignored it, but he didn't care, he could see her better this way and if she needed him he was there. 

"I know Iggy, and I really appreciate it, but right now we have covered all our bases, and are taking a breather.  Robby has had about enough of doctors, tests and being used at a pin cushion."  He gave her a small smile, "She'll be all right."  Mason, she knew was trying to encourage himself as well as her.  But did he believe his own words because she didn't. Deep down in her bones fear kept telling her something was drastically wrong.  Yet if the doctors couldn't find anything how did she expect too? Sighing heavily, Iggy rose. Mango stood immediately and began wagging his tale, pushing his head under the now available hand, which absently patted him. 

"I'm going, if you need me don't hesitate to call anytime night or day." Mason got up and escorted her out to her Mercedes.  He kissed her on the cheek as he gave her a quick hug.  

"Thanks, sis, I will."  He waved as she drove off. 

Behind the wheel with her thoughts all to herself, memories of childhood times crept in. Robby and her swimming, and having slumber parties with friends.  Every event that meant anything to her, Robby had been a part of.  When she decided to start her own publishing company, Robby had been the one to encourage her to take the chance.  She also gave her what money she had, putting her money where her mouth was, so to speak.  It meant the world to Iggy to have Robby believe in her.  Now, Iggy felt she was letting her younger sister down because she couldn't protect her from whatever it was that was destroying her body.  A tear rolled unnoticed down a pale cheek.  Robby had been her world for so long, if anything happened to her…  She let the thought go, too painful to even consider the implications.  

The rambling mansion's lights gleamed from every window when Iggy turned into the driveway.  A young man she had never seen before, came running.  He flashed a brilliant smile, and relieved her of the Mercedes.  Carla was by her elbow an instant later. 

"He's our valet for this week." The dark haired secretary explained. 

"How are things going?" Iggy asked, as she made her way up into the house. The other woman filled her boss in on the preparations that had been made, and what still needed to be done. "It sounds like you have everything well in hand, Carla.  Thanks."  The younger woman took Iggy's briefcase and placed it in her office set off to one side of the luxurious foyer.  The publisher scanned the room. Honey color wood paneling lined one wall with accents of cream color walls and trim.  It gave her a sense of peace to be back.  She loved the place and had put most of her attention into it when she first purchased the home.  It was all her, which she didn't show in her office in Monterey.  This was different, this was a softer side that she didn't show to others all that often.  The cream colored sofas and over stuffed chairs were for comfort.  The walk in size fireplace drew the attention of the living room with its wooden mantel and marble cream frame.  The formal dining room carried the same theme, of cream colors, and honey color wood.  The banquet table extended the length to comfortably seat twenty people.  A full view of the garden through the plate glass windows gave the room a light and airy feeling.  Table settings were in place, and all appeared to be in readiness for her guests.  She wandered back into the living room checking out the view of the pool and tennis courts from the floor to ten-foot ceiling tinted windows. Wrought iron tables and chairs lined the manicured grass surrounding the pool.  Forest-green canvas umbrellas made it appear like giant green flowers spouted from each table. 

"You've done a great job in the short amount of time, Carla."  The secretary had been tailing Iggy since the dining room, hoping all would pass her boss's inspection.  She let out a relieved breath.  The platinum blonde smiled, knowing how Carla could get with trying to please her.  The brunette was the first secretary that stayed with Iggy more than a year. Carla was going on three years now, and if Iggy had anything to do about it, there would be many more.  The woman was extraordinary when it came to putting together last minute meetings like this, she was the master.  Iggy placed a hand on the other woman's arm.  

"It's really great." She gave the her a warm, not often seen, sincere smile. The brown-eyed secretary almost melted before her eyes.  Gads, if she wasn't so caught up with Dru, maybe there could be a chance here?  No, Carla was an employee and probably couldn't care less for her boss.  At least that's what Iggy convinced herself.  She needed to get her mind off of it, because whenever she started thinking about Dru, she would also think about how lonely she was, and that just plain depressed her.  And she could be a real bitch with those around her when that mood hit. "How's the kitchen?" Iggy asked, walking in that direction. 

"The caterers have set up everything, and will be here first thing tomorrow morning to put on the finishing touches.  All meals have been confirmed." Carla was beginning to relax, things were going well.   

"Good."  Iggy observed the preparations for a few minutes and saw that as Carla informed, all was well in hand. There was no need to waste her time here.  "I'm going up to my room to clean up."  She stopped and faced the shorter woman, "I'm in the mood for some ice cream, how about you?  Do you have plans?"  Carla's eyes noticeably brighten. 

"Ah, no, I didn't make any, thinking I would be here supervising all evening." Carla swallowed hard, "but I'll check with the cook to see if we have any." 

Iggy put an arm the other woman's shoulders, "That would be nice,  I would doubly love it if perchance it was Spumoni."  She winked, "Join me up in my room when you find out."  She released Carla and padded her way up the broad stairway to the second floor and her room.  Leaving a very hopeful young woman below. 

The publisher had just showered and changed into a pair of lime green Joe Boxers with matching tank top, when there was a light knock on her door. "C'mon in, Carla." 

The dark haired woman entered carrying a tray with a quart of Spumoni ice cream and two bowls.  She placed it on the small blonde wood table that sat in front of the French doors which opened onto the balcony.  The doors were open, allowing the night breeze to dance lightly around the spacious room.  

Carla scooped out portions for both of them, and sat down in the chair across from Iggy. The publisher was tired, and was starting to think this was going to be the beginning of a very long week.  At least Carla was here to help.  She knew she had been leaning more on the woman, giving over more and more responsibility.  In a moment of unguarded concern, "Is this going to be okay with you, Carla?" 

The secretary stopped in mid-bite of her ice cream unsure what her boss was asking. Was what going to be okay? Seeing the woman's confusion Iggy clarified her question.  "This retreat isn't going to be too much for you, is it?" 

Bewilderment and what appeared to be disappointment flickered across the smooth features of the younger woman, who completed the coarse of her spoon heading to her mouth.  Swallowing, she looked down at her bowl, "I can handle it, Ms. Pinkerton." 

"Please, when we're alone call me, Iggy."  The publisher scooped out another serving of Spumoni ice cream and ladled it into Carla's bowl doing the same to her own.  "I'm glad you can.  If you come across anything you can't, please tell me."  They sat with soft sounds of eating between them.  It was nice to just sit and let the mind go. 

"Ms. Iggy, I've never told you how happy I am to work for you." Carla blushed, and almost sounded like a school girl.  Usually, the young woman was cool and collected. It made the publisher grin, it was very cute.   

"Well, if we're telling the truth here, I can honestly say, you're the most capable secretary I've ever had, and I'm hoping you will be with me for a very long time."  That made the woman sitting across from her, soften visibly.  Interesting, she never had that effect on anyone before.   


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