December 31, Sunday 11:15pm
Abbie, humming, readjusted her sling as she waited for the elevator to make its way to the seventh floor. She tried looking at her reflection in the steel plates on the doors but the distorted image just made her frown. Finally, the bell dinged and the doors opened. Abbie stepped out and looked both ways down the hallway. She reached in her pocket and pulled out a piece of scrap paper. Double checking the number, she guessed that Alex’s apartment should be to her left. She shoved the paper back into her pocket.
Walking down the corridor, the attorney was amazed at all the intricate and ornate details in the building decorations. She walked past a mirror, then stopped and backed up. She checked out her image. Not bad, Carmichael. She finger combed her hair, then leaned in closer and smiled broadly. Nope, no lettuce in those pearly whites. And how is she going to resist those dimples? She checked her breath. Mmmm, minty. Next, she looked for and brushed some non-existent fuzz off her jacket. She took one last look and continued down the corridor at a fairly quick pace.
She smiled and slowed as she reached her destination. Seven-oh-five... there it is, seven-oh-six. Abbie stood staring at the door for a few moments. Suddenly nervous, she gave herself another go-over. The attorney frowned at the dust on her dark boots. She quickly dusted off first one boot and then the other by rubbing them on the back of the opposite pant leg. Then she straightened her sling again. She removed the single peach rosebud that she *borrowed* from the arrangement in the lobby. Who knew a sling could be so handy? A quick sniff of its fragrance brought the smile back to the brunette’s face. She reached to knock and realized she needed to put the flower somewhere to free her hand or risk damaging it. Geez, Carmichael, nervous much? It’s just Alex. She put it in her teeth. Nah, too cheesy. After securing it back in the sling again, Abbie rang the bell.
The attorney rocked back and forth on her heels as she waited for Alex to answer. She continued to look around the hallway. After a few seconds, she rang the bell again.
A few moments of waiting brought the same results. The third time she rang the bell, she put her ear to the door. Yep, it’s working. She went back to standing nervously. A minute later she tried knocking. No answer. Abbie turned and leaned her back on the door. She closed her eyes in disappointment. Alex isn’t home, genius. You wanted to surprise her and didn’t consider that she might want to go out tonight. It *is* New Year’s Eve. She rubbed the back of her neck in frustration. Dammit. Abbie lightly banged the back of her head on the closed door. On the third thump, her phone rang. She fished it out of her jacket pocket and checked the called ID.
“Where the hell are you?” She bellowed as a greeting.
Abbie sighed. “I’m sorry. That came out wrong.” She waited a second. “Where the hell are you?” came out of her mouth again in a very annoyed tone.
“Abbie? Are you all right?”
“Alex....” She blew out a frustrated breath. “I’m standing here outside your apartment door. I managed to finish up the trial prep and thought I would surprise you. I flew in for the day.” Then a very quiet, hurt tone made its presence known. “But you aren’t home.”
“Oh, Abbie....” Alex started to laugh at the absurd situation. “Did your neighbors complain when you painted your apartment door UT burnt orange?”
“It’s not funny, Cab... what?!?” Abbie slid down Alex’s door when her brain finally realized what Alex just told her. “You’re in DC.” She absently picked at the carpet she was sitting on.
“I decided to surprise you too. We probably passed in the air.”
“Well, my flight back isn’t until tomorrow afternoon, so I need to go find a place to stay for the night. I was hoping to talk the proprietor of Casa de Carmichael into letting me stay over. I understand my gir... friend knows the owner personally.” Alex’s voice was mirthful.
Abbie mouth suddenly went dry. “Your... uh... friend would love to have you as company.” She swallowed hard. “Anytime.”
“Moot point at the moment. I just hope I can find a place.”
“Not really. Do you see that ornate flowerpot at the end of the hall?”
Alex looked around. “Is ornate a Texas word for ugly?”
“It’s not ugly,” Abbie protested.
“You bought it, right?”
“It matched the door.”
“If you squint really hard... and what’s that leather thing on it?”
“Okay, I obviously see the pot.”
“Go over and unbuckle that leather thing - also known as a belt.”
“I don’t even know this pot and you want me to undress it? Abigail Carmichael, I am shocked,” Alex mockingly protested. “Plus, that belt is so last year’s fashions and doesn’t at all match its shoes.”
Abbie had to smile at Alex’s joking. “It’s not wearing shoes and just unbuckle the belt, please.”
“Okay. Something fell out.” Alex picked it up. “A key?”
“You can spend the night in Casa de Carmichael. But keep your hands off my Ring Dings.”
“And here I thought you wanted my hands on your Ring Dings,” Alex mumbled in a low tone.
“Alex?” Abbie’s voiced, puzzled.
“Nevermind.” Alex used the key to open the door and reached around inside the door frame for a light switch. She flipped it. “Oh Abbie....” She closed the door and stepped into the room.
“What? I didn’t leave clothing hanging off the fan, did I?”
“It’s gorgeous.” Alex stood in the middle of the living room and turned in a circle to take it all in. “I love the décor. Southwestern and homey.”
“Let me guess - you expected frat boy UT decoration?”
“Not exactly, but I did expect a set of horns hanging on the brick over the fireplace.”
Abbie laughed. “I keep them at the office.”
Alex sat down on the buttery leather couch and leaned back into its softness. “Ah....” she sighed.
“You must have sat on the couch.”
“This is not a couch; it’s a cloud.” She leaned her head back.
Abbie chuckled. “Well, you are welcome to anything you find in the kitchen. The staples are there. Feel free to sleep wherever. Laundry day was yesterday, so there are clean sheets on the bed and extra blankets in the hall closet. Don't go through my sock drawer. It isn't pretty. I allow my socks to roam free to procreate more socks. I haven’t had to buy new ones in years.” She laughed.
Alex laughed as well. “You are nuts.” An evil glint entered Alex’s eyes when she spied a photo on the end table. It was Abbie with her prized Corvette convertible. “Anything? Where are your car keys?”
“In my pocket. Oh, no - you don’t get to drive my baby.”
“Ab-bie,” Alex whined.
“You wouldn’t let me drive the Benz, remember?”
“Didn’t you have a concussion? How do you remember that?” Alex heard a snicker.
“Figures. I’d be really careful.”
“I know you would. But it’s New Year’s Eve. There are a lot of loonies out on the road tonight. Look, we’ll see the next time you are in DC, okay?”
Alex exaggerated a sigh. “Okay. I suppose I can wait.” Alex ran her hand back and forth on the leather couch.
“It’s worth it, honest. I got the car from a retiring detective at the one-four. She was the original owner. She bought it new in seventy-two and kept it garaged its entire life. It still has the original chrome and I had it repainted in the original yellow.”
“Nice. I wish I could do the same for you, but there is no hidden key.”
Abbie stood up. “I can probably get Butch to let me crash at her place. She fished around in her pockets. She pulled out a couple of objects. “I think I have the tools to....”
“Hey Ronnie, c’mere. Who’s that?” The security guard pointed to the monitor.
“She came in with the Fishers earlier.”
“The Fishers on three?”
“Then why is she up on seven?” He turned to the other guard then back to the monitor. “What’s she got in her hand?”
“Looks like a pick. Hey, that’s Ms. Cabot’s apartment. She isn’t home; she grabbed a cab to the airport earlier.” He grabbed his hat as he exited. “Call the cops.”
“No breaking and entering the apartment, Abbie. I don’t want to visit you in the big house.” A thought occurred to Alex. “Did you say apartment?”
“Yeah, I’m at your apartment.”
“Not the brownstone?”
“I just bought a brownstone. My apartment doesn’t allow dogs, so Teddy Bear and I are moving. This will give him a small yard too.”
“Oh, Allie. Where’s Teddy, now?”
“He’s at Casey and Liv’s. Abbie you need to go. Now. Leave the building.” Alex was getting upset.
“The apartment building has strict security. Anyone coming in has to check in with them and they call up to the resident. How did you get past them?”
“I walked in with some of your neighbors.”
“I’m sure by now they have picked you up on the monitors loitering around my door. You need to leave. If that overzealous cop wannabe Ronnie is on duty, he’s going to over react.”
“Hey you!” Over the phone Alex heard the ding of the elevator and then a male voice.
“Alex, I’m sure it will be fine.” Abbie reasoned. “I haven’t done anything.”
“Hey you. I’m talking to you. You need to come with me,” the guard demanded as he was walking briskly toward the attorney.
“Do you mind? I’m talking to someone.” Abbie held out the phone to show him.
He knocked the phone out of her hand and it bounced off the wall. “I said you need to come with me.”
Alex heard a high pitched squeal and then nothing. “Abbie? Abbie?” Alex’s voice called out. She waited a few moments but got no answer. “Dammit.” She hung up and dialed another number.
“Sonova....” Abbie muttered. She looked at her phone lying on the ground. “Listen to me. You need to calm your ass down, boy.”
“Look, bitch, breaking and entering is against the law. We have already called the police.”
“I am aware of that and I did not break nor enter anything.” Abbie pushed on the apartment door to show it locked and secure.
“I saw you on the monitor. You had a lock pick.”
Abbie retrieved the pen knife from her pocket. “This?”
Ronnie hit his radio mic. “She’s armed.” He then rushed Abbie.
December 31, Sunday 11:45pm
Elliot yawned for the third time in the same amount of minutes. He looked back over to the area they had staked out and saw no movement. “The lights are still off and no one is home.”
“Same could be said for you, partner.” Liv gave him a cheeky grin.
“That’s funny, Bens....” Elliot was interrupted by the sight of his car mate jumping and squirming as if bit. “What the hell? Liv, are you okay?”
Olivia managed to pull her phone out of her front pocket. “I set it on vibrate,” she replied sheepishly and held it up for him to see.
Olivia held up one finger to silence Elliot and she answered the phone. “Benson.” Her brows knit as she concentrated on what the speaker was saying. “Alex? Alex, calm down.” Another pause. “Where are you? What happened?” She listened. Olivia pinched the bridge of her nose and closed her eyes. She wondered if she could will the instant headache away. Alex continued to ramble in her ear.
Elliot reached over and put a hand on her shoulder. She turned to see him mouth the words, “Everything okay?” She shook her head no.
“Alex? Alex, look, El and I are on a stakeout pretty close by. Munch and Fin are due to relieve us....” She reached over and grabbed Elliot’s arm so she could see his watch. “... in about fifteen minutes. We’ll head over there as soon as we can. Just stay calm. I’ll let you know what’s going on the second we know anything. I promise.” An instant later she added, “No. Don’t call Casey. I’ll do it.” She got Alex to agree. “She’ll be fine. I promise, I will head over the second Munch and Fin take over here. I’ll call you. Okay?”
Olivia ended the call and laid her head back on the seat.
Elliot looked over with deep concern. “What’s up? Was that Cabot?”
She turned her head and looked at him. “Yeah. She and Abbie tried to surprise each other. Alex is in DC and Abbie is apparently here in the city.”
“Doesn’t sound like anything to panic over.”
“It gets better. It always does with those two.” She frowned. “Alex said she was talking to Abbie on the phone when she heard her apartment’s security approach her and then the phone went dead. So she is imagining all kinds of trouble and asked if I can check it out. She is sure that Abbie got herself arrested for trespassing or worse.”
Elliot shrugged. “Sure. We can check it out when we leave here. I don’t see why not.” Elliot tapped his chin as he thought for a second. “Alex’s closest precinct is the two-one. Let me call up there. I know the desk sergeant. We were rookies at the same time. I’ll get them to ‘kid glove’ her if she’s brought in, okay?”
“Thanks - I owe you partner.” Olivia closed her eyes and sighed. “I wish they would stop screwing around and just start....” She searched for the right phrase. “Screwing around.” She didn’t see El’s eyes widen. “She and Alex are driving Casey and me nuts with their dancing around.”
“Cabot and Carmichael?” He turned his head to peer outside. His eyes glazed and he smiled dreamily.
Olivia looked over to her partner. “You are thinking about them together, aren’t you?” She punched his arm. “Pig.”
“One hundred percent male.” Elliot responded calmly. He rubbed his arm.
Olivia narrowed her eyes at him. With tongue firmly in cheek, she asked, “So, did you think about Casey and me like that when we first got together?”
He looked back at her and answered quickly, “Nope.”
“Liar.” She punched him again. “Why not? What’s wrong with us?”
“Ow. Liv, Liv, Liv, you are my best friend and my partner. You are the closest person to me besides my wife. What kind of a person do you think I would be if I entertained thoughts of you two like that?”
“Male.” She answered deadpan. A glint entered her eyes and her voice took on a purr. “Y’know, Casey and I have thought about it. About you. How nice it would be to have a male around the apartment for certain....” She paused for effect. “... activities.”
He adjusted in his seat and turned towards Olivia. She had his undivided attention now. “Really?”
“You were the only male we considered. Well, we both know how handy a man can be to... y’know, do all those things that we just, y’know....” her voice trailed off and she blinked her eyes innocently at him.
“And you thought of me?” He smiled at the visual his brain just provided. “Wow.”
Liv waited for him to get totally engrossed in his fantasy. “Yeah, we thought you would be great for lifting heavy stuff, opening jars and killing bugs.”
His smile disappeared in a flash. “You suck, y’know?” Olivia bit her lip to keep from laughing. Elliot pushed on her shoulder playfully. “And to think I have a solution to your current A and A problem.”
January 1, Monday 1:15am
Abbie sat alone in the holding cell. She was surprised that the cell was not loaded to the gills with intoxicated revelers of the New Year. Maybe the Federal badge she turned in with her effects actually got her a bit of preferential treatment. She rubbed her shoulder. Damn that kid. That wall will never be the same. Abbie smiled. But then again, neither will Ronnie. Or maybe he should be called Rhonda - I’m sure he can hit those high notes now. Abbie scuffed her boots along the cement floor. I love these boots.
She looked up as she heard someone approaching.
“Officer....” She squinted to read his name tag. “Richard. Or can I call you Officer Dick?”
“Ooh funny - like I’ve never heard that one before.” He rolled his eyes. “C’mon, some detectives want to question you.”
“How would I know? They just said to bring you to the interrogation room. Let’s go.” He gestured for her to stand. The officer opened the cell door and Abbie stepped through. “Uh uh.” He motioned her to stop. The officer removed a set of cuffs from his belt. “Hold out your hands.”
“Oh for Pete’s sake....” Abbie whined. “I’m a Federal Attorney. Are these really necessary?” She motioned to the sling on her one arm.
Officer Richard snapped the cuffs around one of her wrists and then struggled to include the other. Abbie held her one arm up even with the one in the sling. “I know; I wanted to bring the leg irons too but we were fresh out.”
They walked along the corridor through the hallway to the interrogation room.
The room was small with a table and a couple of chairs but nothing else. A one way mirror was on one wall and bars on a small window on the opposite side.
The officer kicked one of the chairs out from the table. Abbie sat down. Officer Richard then jingled the keys in front of Abbie’s eyes. He took the cuff off the wrist in the sling and reattached it to the table.
“What the hell?”
“The detectives wanted to make sure you were nice and secure. You are accused of assault, after all. Wait here.” He chuckled. “Be a good girl.”
Abbie sat back in the chair. Letting her head lean all the way back to look at the ceiling. She turned to see who was coming through the door. Her eyes widened in surprise.
“Butch! Stabler! Please tell me I can get out of here now?”
Benson threw a file down on the table and walked around to the window behind Abbie. She remained silent. Stabler pulled out the second chair and sat down opposite her. “Ms. Carmichael, I’m Detective Stabler; this is my partner Detective Benson. We are here to question you on some recent events.”
“Knock it off, Stabler. Get me out of these.” She pulled on the cuff, her eyes pleading with him.
“I’m sorry, Ms. Carmichael; we can’t do that just yet.” Olivia said, deadpan, still standing by the window.
“Butch, what the hell?” Abbie tried looking behind her at the brunette detective but the arm cuffed to the table would not allow her to turn fully.
“Detective Benson.” Olivia corrected her.
Elliot, it was decided beforehand by the partners, was going to lead the interrogation. Olivia would just ask a few follow-up questions. He pulled out a small tape recorder and set it on the table. He pushed the start button. “Detectives Benson and Stabler, interview with Ms. Abigail B. Carmichael. Suspect has been accused of trespassing, breaking and entering, possession of a weapon and assault. Suspect was mirandized by the arresting officer. For the record, state your name please.”
“Your name, please?” Elliot asked politely.
“Abigail B. Carmichael.”
“What’s the ‘B’ stand for?” Olivia asked.
“Parents weren’t good spellers?” Olivia commented and she walked back into Abbie’s sight.
“Ms. Carmichael,” Elliot continued, ignoring his partner’s snarky comment. “Could you tell us what happened tonight?”
Abbie looked between Elliot and Olivia.
“I flew in from DC to surprise Alex at her apartment.”
“Alexandra Cabot. Like you don’t know that already.”
Olivia slapped her hand down on the table making Abbie jump. “So you do know whose apartment you were trying to break into. It wasn’t just a random burglary?”
“Yes... I mean no... I mean.... Yes, I know Alex lives there and no, I was not trying to burglarize anything.” She looked between the two. “C’mon guys - cut the charade and get me out of here.”
“Ms. Carmichael or can I call you Abbie?” Elliot asked with a charming smile.
“Fine.” She narrowed her eyes at him. “I’ll play too,” she answered through gritted teeth. “Abbie is fine.”
“So you went to the apartment and then what?”
“No one was home....”
“Well, that’s always a plus for a burglar.” Olivia said, sarcastically.
“Like I said, no one was home and then my phone rang. Alex called me.”
“No, Alex Rodriguez; he wanted me to give him batting tips. Yes, Alex Cabot.”
“You want us to believe that Ms. Cabot called you the exact time that you were attempting to break into her apartment?” Liv cut in.
“Yes... I mean no. Will you stop asking questions like that?”
“Oh, Elliot - we got a live one here.” Olivia walked back over to the window.
“Okay, so Ms. Cabot called you...?”
“She told me she was in DC.”
“How convenient for you,” Olivia snarked back.
“What Detective Benson means is that it just seems rather odd that Ms. Cabot picked that exact moment to call you and that she told you she was elsewhere. Are you sure she didn’t tell you that earlier and that’s what made you decide to burglarize her apartment?”
“No. I am not a burglar.” Abbie grinned. “Y’know, you both got me good. Now cut the crap and get me out of here.”
Elliot held up his hand to forestall a comment by his partner. “Ms. Carmichael... Abbie, I don’t think you realize just how serious these charges are for you.”
“I don’t think you realize who you are dealing with.” She answered back, smugly. “I am an attorney.”
“An attorney who is cuffed to an interrogation table.” Olivia came over and looked under the table. “Elliot? She isn’t in leg irons. I thought all attorneys were put in leg irons too.” Olivia walked back to the window and stared out into the night.
“Okay, you guys are good. You almost have me believing I’m in trouble.” A thought occurred to Abbie. “Hey, wait - you are both SVU detectives, correct?”
“Then why are you interrogating a suspect for burglary?”
“You are also a suspect for a set of prior acts upon the victim here that do fall under our jurisdiction.”
“What?!?” Her face took on a panicked look. “Is Alex all right?” She looked between the both of them.
“Let us ask the questions here, Abbie, okay?” Elliot said reasonably.
“What is your relationship to the victim?”
“So you admit she is your victim?” Olivia responded.
“No, I admit I know her.” Abbie answered, peeved. “Nice try.” She acknowledged with a slight head nod.
“We were acquaintances. She followed me into the ADA position with SVU.”
“So you barely know each other?”
“Well we have gotten closer over the past few months. We are friends.”
“Friends?” Elliot repeated.
“Is that all? Is that all you want from her... friendship?” Olivia chided.
“I see. So it was a different Abigail Carmichael that sent Ms. Cabot a series of presents for weeks. Sometimes daily,” Olivia reminded her.
“Well, no that was me.”
“Really?” Olivia leaned down by Abbie’s ear. “Underwear is appropriate for *friends*? Risque chocolate is appropriate for *friends*?”
“Ummm, it was new underwear.” She gave Liv a crooked grin.
“Look El, we got our first hygienic perp.”
“I think you’re right Liv; she’s lying.” He shook his head. “Where were you on October 28th?”
Abbie thought for a moment. “At a Halloween party.”
“Was Alexandra Cabot there?” He continued.
“Yes. But so were you two.”
“Irrelevant,” they answered together.
“Where were you on November 11th?” Again, Elliot led the questioning.
Abbie thought back once more. “At a softball game.”
“Was Alexandra Cabot there?”
“Yes. But so were you two.”
“Irrelevant,” in stereo again.
“Where were you on Thanksgiving Day?”
“At the Macy’s Parade.”
“Was Alexandra Cabot there?”
“What, no *you two*?”
“Benson was; she left.”
“So you were alone with the victim.”
“Is that when she clocked you? What exactly did you do to merit that?”
“Abbie, Abbie, Abbie, this is not helping you.” He shook his head. “I want to help you. Where were you the weekend of Christmas?”
“At Alexandra Cabot’s home upstate.”
“Kind of? By Ms. Cabot?”
“Not exactly. I didn’t know I would be staying there. She was there too.”
Abbie sighed and closed her eyes.
Elliot calmly leaned in. “You have a headache, don’t you?”
“You want some aspirin?”
“All you have to do is admit it.”
“You have been stalking Alexandra Cabot.”
“I have not been stalking anyone.”
“Gifts. Notes. You keep showing up at the same places. And now you showed up at her apartment. With no luggage. What do you call it?” Liv pushed.
“Poor planning? I was hoping Alex would let me stay at her place overnight.”
Olivia leaned in to ask. ”Didn’t think you would need clothes? Were you hoping for sex?”
“Yes... no... I don’t know. I just wanted to talk to her face to face with no one around.”
“Sounds like stalking.” Liv slapped the table with her hand.
“NO. I just want to spend time with Alex.”
“I needed to tell her something.”
“I think I am falling in love with her!” Abbie banged her head on the table.
Olivia leaned in; she kissed Abbie’s temple and then whispered in her ear, “It’s about time.” She turned to Elliot. “Look, El, my baby girl is all grown-up now.”
Abbie looked up between the two who were grinning broadly at her. “You both suck.”
Olivia pulled the handcuff keys out of her pocket and freed Abbie. She grabbed her in a loose hug. “You needed to stop dancing around this, Abbie. It’s for your own good. Time to stop playing and be a grown-up.”
“You and Cabot, huh?” Elliot asked, with a smirk.
“Yeah. And Stabler?”
“Stop picturing Alex and me together or I’m gonna introduce your ass to my boots.”
Just then the door swung open. Casey entered and threw her briefcase on the table. “Stabler.” She turned to him. “Happy New Year.” She leaned down and kissed his cheek.
“Happy New Year, Case.”
She walked a couple of steps over to Olivia. “Benson.” They stared at each other and grinned. Casey leaned in and kissed Liv on the lips. “Happy New Year, honey.” Casey leaned into her partner for a hug. “You owe me for this late night call. I expect payment in full on demand. And you get to answer to Teddy’s every need for the next few nights. He’s exhausting. Deal?”
Olivia acknowledged her with a nod. “Deal.”
Casey looked between the two detectives. “Now I say this with all sincerity -get out. This interview is over. My client is invoking her right to counsel and to silence.” She saw the tape recorder. “Oh no you didn’t....” She pointed at it. “I want a copy.”
“Relax, Counselor. The recorder was empty.” He popped it open to show her. We were having a friendly chat.” Elliot stood up to leave. “Well, Ms. Carmichael, we leave you in very good hands.”
Olivia joined him at the door. “I’ll see you at home, Case.” She turned her attention to Abbie. “You remember what we talked about.” She pointed at her for emphasis.
Abbie mockingly saluted. Then smiled warmly. “I will. Thanks, Butch. Elliot.”
Elliot opened the door and waved Liv through ahead of him. “Hey, who’s Teddy? I thought I was the resident male.”
“At least you’re housebroken.” She waited for him to turn to her. “I think....”
Abbie Carmichael’s Office
January 5, Friday 10am
Abbie reached for the phone and picked it up. Deep in thought, she tapped the receiver on her chin a few times and then put it back. She sighed and picked it up again, only to drop it back on the cradle immediately.
“C’mon Abbie, she won’t kill you. Bite the bullet.”
Her hand just made contact with the phone again when it rang. Abbie jumped and juggled the receiver and held it against her chest. Dammit. I hate that. After she allowed her heart to slow back down, she raised it to her ear.
“Carmichael,” she growled.
“Don’t you take that tone with me, young lady. I could kick your ass when we were kids and I can still kick your ass.”
“First of all, I am older than you.”
“By a couple of months - big hairy deal.”
“Yes, you are.”
Abbie snickered. “Secondly, I doubt you can kick my ass anymore.”
“Sure I can, I can kick it more now than I could before. I’ve got an active job - not like you, you pencil pusher. I mean, what is the most activity you get these days... rising out of your seat to yell objection?”
“Face it - you are a big marshmallow.”
“Bring it on, Ace.”
“I’ll tell Mom.”
“Oh, you suck. You’d threaten to sic Aunt Emma on me? I hate to break the news to you, sweetheart, but she likes me best anyway.”
Abbie snorted and heard matching laughter on the other end of the phone. “How have ya been?”
“Pretty good, we wrapped up that case that was driving me nuts. Don’t say it. And everything is pretty much back to normal. The new year seems to be starting out pretty good.”
“I read about that. The story was picked up by the Post here. Well, now that you cleared the case - whatcha gonna do?”
“I’m going to Disney World!” she shouted on the other end.
Abbie shook her head and smiled. “Will New York work? We don’t have scary amusement rides but we do have subways and taxis and those can be death-defying at times.”
“Oh and you can probably find a rat in the city that answers to the name Mickey if you really look.”
“Try to keep up here, okay? I was going to call you this week and ask if you wanted to come visit.”
“Ummm, Ace you live in DC. You do know that, right? I mean I know geography was not your best subject, but....”
“Yes, you smartass. I was hoping that you could fly to New York though. We Feds have that long holiday weekend coming up this month and I’m headed there. Do you think you can meet me?” She put on an exaggerated drawl, “It ain’t Texas but they do have some purty sights to see anyways.”
“Do those sights include the blonde you have been mooning over for the past few months?”
“Yes... no... maybe... I don’t know.”
“And to think everyone thought you got the brains in this family.” She closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose.
“I would like you to meet her, YES. You are the only close family I have besides my mom and I’m not ready to spring this one on her yet. NO, I don’t know if she wants to meet you. MAYBE we can pull it off anyway and I DON’T KNOW how just yet. The last time we were together, she got... she got....”
“It seems that every time we are in the same vicinity," waving her hand around, "something weird happens and somebody ends up with a... a... boo boo."
“Oh, for that one I am sooooo going to kick your ass. Let me check with my girl. I can get the time off; God knows I have accrued vacation time on my vacation time. I just don’t know if she can get off.”
“Losing your touch, cowgirl?”
“That’s two. But I gotta tell you - you need to be careful around her. She’s very protective. A fiery redhead... hot and spicy with a kick. Just how I like my women.” The smile was evident in her voice.
“Pul-eeze - the only requirement you have for your women is that they be breathing. Well, find out if you can come visit. I’d love to meet her.” She paused. “I’m glad you are happy, Cuz.”
“Thanks darlin’; I really am. I’m sure she’d love to meet you. She’s heard me talk about you before. Oooh, we can play show and tell... I’ll show you mine and you show me yours.”
“I hope so. Tell her I will give the native’s tour of New York. We’ll hit all the sights and I’ll even take her ice skating.”
“You just want to see me fall on my butt a few hundred times again.”
“Well, that is always a bonus. But seriously, I’ll show you guys around. And I have some PD friends you are just gonna love.” Then she muttered low to herself, “Especially Munch.”
“What’s a Munch?”
“I can’t believe you heard that.”
“Ears like a bat.”
“I thought you had those fixed right after college.”
“You are so funny.” Then a quick change of subject. “Hey, do you think we can meet that Jack person you worked for?”
“McCoy? Sure. Why?”
“I remember all those phone calls I got late at night where you cursed him, his ancestors and all his unborn children. I’ve been wanting to do an attitude adjustment on him for years. No one picks on my cuz but me.”
“Ooh, how butch. I’m swooning.” She exaggeratingly sighed. “We make much better friends than co-workers. I’m sure I can arrange a lunch with him.” She paused in thought for a second. “Actually, I would pay good money to see his face when he meets you.”
“Cool.” Her cell rang. “I gotta go; my better half is calling my cell. I’ll call you back later and tell you what we are going to do, okay?”
“Great. Give M a hug for me, okay? Later.”
“Will do. Bye Cuz.”
DOINK DOINK ~~~~~
Bureau Chief’s Office
January 12, Friday 10am
Alex was so engrossed in her legal brief that the person on the other side of the speaker phone had to repeat herself several times.
“Ms. Cabot? Ms. Cabot? Ms. Cabot, the reporter who called yesterday is here for the interview. Would you like me to send her in?”
Alex pulled her glasses off and threw them on her desk; she reached over and tapped the speaker button. “Yes, Melissa, give me a couple of more minutes to get this last part of my closing on paper and show her in.”
Alex put her glasses back on and resumed her notes. A few moments later, the office door opened and her secretary ushered in the reporter. “Give her a few more minutes Miss and she’ll be right with you.”
“Thank you, ma’am.” She watched Alex write a few more notes and then pause. Alex never looked up but was aware of another person’s presence.
“Ms. Cabot, I’m Cindy Thomas,” she said as she moved to sit down. She approached holding out her hand for a handshake. “We spoke on the phone yest....”
Alex, still engrossed in her writing, held up one finger in a gesture for Cindy to be silent for a moment. Then, absently waved and pointed her finger downward to the chair in front of her desk. The ADA finally ended her notes with a flourish and swiveled in her chair to drop them on a table beside her desk. She sighed in relief and straightened back up in her chair hoping to work out a kink.
Cindy took that as a sign that she could now speak; since she hadn’t sat down yet, she held out her hand in greeting again. “As I said, Ms. Cabot, I’m Cindy Thomas. We spoke yesterday about a possible interview concerning your time in the Witness Protection Program. I was hoping to show the readers just how....”
Alex finally looked up. Her eyes widened. “It’s you!”
Cindy Thomas nervously wiped her hand on her jeans and held it out again. “Yes, ma’am; we talked on the phone about an interview....”
“NO, it’s you!”
A puzzled look crossed the redhead’s face and she tilted her head to one side. “Have we met before? I mean, I don’t have a picture that runs with my byline and I’m not on any book jackets. Well, not yet anyway but Lindz says maybe someday because I have some kind of imagination and I think it would be....”
Alex vehemently growled out again. “It’s you!”
Cindy stepped back quickly in surprise and when the back of her legs hit the chair she plopped down with a dull thud. She pulled her bag in front of her defensively. “Look Ms. Cabot, if you changed your mind and don’t want to do this interview, that’s fine. I’ll just be on my way and leave you to your....” She waved her hand around and her thought trailed off.
“Oh no; we need to talk.” Alex tossed her glasses on the desk then slammed both hands down and pushed herself up to standing. “We have a lot to talk about. I have questions too.”
Cindy regained her composure and straightened in the chair. “Well, if you have questions about the interview process I will be glad to answer anything I can. I’ll try to make this as painless as possible.”
“Painless?” Alex snorted. “You already helped break my heart... you cheater you.”
“Whoa, lady - I am not sleeping with your husband. I don’t do stuff like that.”
“Not my husband.”
“I’m not sleeping with your boyfriend either. I’m a one person at a time type and I have someone.
“Yes, I know; I saw you kissing.”
“You have to be mistaken; I have a significant other. Her name is Lindsay. She’s the only one I am kissing.”
“I am not mistaken. Her name is not Lindsay and I saw you kissing her.”
“What? Who? Where? Why? How?”
“I saw you two kissing.”
“NO - that part I got. What do you mean her name is not Lindsay?”
“It’s Abbie.” She rolled her eyes skyward and then back to Cindy. “Not only is she robbing the cradle – you’re what... twelve years old?”
“I am twenty-six. What is it with you people? Geez. I’m of legal age to do all kinds of stuff.”
“Sure you are. As I was saying, not only is she robbing the cradle; she is lying about who she is too.”
“I don’t know who you think you are talking about, but it can’t be Lindsay.”
“Tall, brunette, deep brown eyes, gorgeous dimple, struts when she’s dressed up and swaggers when she’s in jeans and boots....”
Cindy interrupted; her voice cracked a little betraying the bravery she hoped to convey. “That could be lots of people.”
“And don’t get me started on the leather jacket. Oh and she has a Texas accent which shows up most when she is trying to be charming, which in her case is all the time.”
“Okay, well that sounds like Lindsay.”
“Ha! Gotcha,” Cindy said smugly. “I saw that in a Bugs Bunny cartoon when I was a kid. Didn’t know it actually would work though.”
Alex glared back at her and arched an eyebrow. “When, last week?”
“Y’know, you and Jill would get along so well.”
“Who is Jill?” Alex asked, confused.
“She’s a lot like you. Jill's a DDA in San Francisco. She sarcastic and blonde with a brilliant legal mind but seems to jump to wrong conclusions... a lot." Then added in a whisper, "Especially about me." Cindy leaned in toward Alex and winked at her. “Would you like me to introduce you to her?”
Alex mockingly appeared to mull the offer over but changed back to the subject at hand. “I want you to leave Abbie alone.”
“I can assure you that I am not doing anything with your Abbie person.”
“You were kissing her!” Alex cried exasperatedly.
Cindy thought back for a second and then addressed Alex. “Let’s see we covered the ‘what’ and ‘who’ already. So let’s move on to the ‘where’, ‘why’ and ‘how’, shall we?”
“I saw you kissing Abbie. You were standing in Times Square.”
“I was kissing Lindsay in Times Square.”
“Oh, let’s not start that again, Daffy Duck.” She grinned.
“I would think I would know Abbie when I see her.”
“I can assure you that I know Lindsay and I am not only seeing her but have seen her in... well, in the - you know what I mean.” Cindy blushed. “Are you and Abbie together together?”
“So you haven’t seen her....” she gestured as her voice trailed off.
“No, we haven’t slept together.” Then she added in a low tone, “Yet.”
“So you don’t know if this Abbie person has a....”
“Abbie has a tattoo.”
“So does Lindsay.” Cindy closed her eyes and grimaced. “Where is the tattoo?” She took a deep breath and held it.
“On her ankle. It’s a snake with a tequila bottle.”
Cindy let out the breath and sighed. She shook her head and smiled broadly. Everything just fell into place. She began to giggle.
“What are you laughing at? I am not finding this amusing.”
Cindy dug through her purse and pulled out a digital camera. She flipped through the shots stored on it until she found the one she wanted. She handed the camera to Alex. “Is this Abbie Carmichael?”
Alex took the camera and looked at the display. She frowned at the obviously happy smiling face of the tall Texan standing next to the redhead in front of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Centre. “Yes, that’s Abbie,” she said in a defeated tone. “She usually wears her hair straight, not wavy, but yes, that’s her.” She handed the camera back. “Waitaminute, I never told you her last name.”
Cindy ignored the last comment and flipped to another shot. “Actually, Ms. Cabot, that was Lindsay and me.” She handed the camera over again. “This is Abbie.”
Alex looked at the screen. Her eyes looked up in surprise at Cindy and then she looked back at the screen. “How?”
Cindy stood up and leaned over Alex’s desk to point at the display screen. “That’s Lindsay on the right, me in the middle and Lindsay’s cousin on the left. Lindsay calls her Ace. Which I am guessing is for her two initials. That was the way Lindsay introduced me to her. I was told to meet her cousin Ace ‘hang ’em high’ Carmichael. I didn’t know what her real first name was until now.”
Alex set the camera down on the desk and fell boneless back in her chair. She sighed in relief. “They are two different people.”
“Lindz’ and Ace’s mothers were twin sisters. The dynamic duo here are only a couple months apart in age. Lindz told me they used to have all kinds of fun messing with folks when they were kids.” She smiled reassuringly at Alex. “For awhile there I thought we really did have some kind of problem. It’s only when you described the tattoo that I knew for sure who you were talking about. Lindz has a tattoo as well, but not on her ankle.”
“Where is it?” Alex asked with a twinkle in her eye.
“Ummmmmm, nevermind that.” Cindy cleared her throat but couldn’t stop the blush creeping up her face. “So about that interview?
“Sure, Ms. Thomas.” Alex looked at her watch. “How about some lunch first?
Then when we get back I’ll answer any of your questions. But at lunch, you get to answer mine. Sound fair?”
“Are you going to make me blush, make more age jokes, give me laser looks and make me tell you things I probably shouldn’t be telling you?” She crinkled her nose and cringed.
“Yes,” Alex, smiling, nodded her head in agreement. “Probably.”
“Great; I’ll feel right at home then.”
1 Hogan Place
January 12, Friday 4:25pm
The brunette and redhead continued arguing as they walked down the hallway.
“Lindz! I can’t believe you are pouting.” Cindy gesticulated wildly.
“I’m not pouting.” The tall brunette replied testily.
“Yes, you are.” Cindy put her hand on Lindsay arm to stop her forward motion. They paused in the hallway. “If your lip dropped any lower it would have carpet burn on it.” Cindy put her hand up to touch the object in question but Lindsay slapped it away.
“I’m not pouting.” Lindsay turned to her companion. “Much.” She gave her a half grin. “How come you got to meet the mysterious girlfriend first?” They started walking again.
“Ya snooze, ya lose, Boxer. Face it.” Cindy bumped her with her hip causing Lindsay to lose her stride.
“I didn’t pout because you got to go play with the cops today, did I?”
Lindsay’s face brightened. “You would have liked them. Especially Munch. What a character. Besides, you’ll see some of them this weekend. We were invited over to Casey and Olivia’s on Sunday.”
“Well, you are going to meet Alex tomorrow, y’know. Abbie did invite her to join us playing tourist. C’mon, I just wanted to check her out. It’s what I do.”
They stopped walking again. Lindsay looked down into Cindy’s eyes. “It’s what *I* do. Investigative Detective. Plus she is dating my cousin.”
“Investigative Reporter, helllllooooo????” Cindy smiled, her eyes twinkling. “Technically, they aren’t dating... yet,” she mumbled and started walking ahead of the Inspector. “I think McCoy’s office is down here.”
Lindsay stared at her back. “Hey, what else do you know?” She started after her companion. “You investigated her too, didn’t you?”
“Not exactly,” Cindy looked away guiltily. “Isn’t this an intriguing carpet color? It’s not exactly beige but it’s not tan either and the pattern is kinda subtle.” Cindy refused to look at Lindsay.
“Worst. Liar. Ever,” Lindsay muttered and rolled her eyes. “When?” She stopped their walking again. Lindsay gently turned Cindy’s face up so she could look in her eyes. “Spill.”
“Waitaminute.” A realization dawned. “You said *too*.” Her eyes darkened and narrowed. “You had her investigated?” The reporter poked Lindsay in the chest accusingly.
“Ow. Stop changing the subject.”
“Same subject. When?”
“I asked you first.” Lindsay stuck her tongue out at the redhead.
“And everyone thinks I’m twelve years old.”
“When?” Lindz insisted and crossed her arms.
“Before we left home - when you mentioned her name. It sounded familiar. When I did a quick Google search, I got the idea for a story.”
“You could get the idea for a story watching paint dry.” Lindsay smiled.
Cindy smiled and mentally had to agree with that.
There was a second of silence and then....
“What did you find out?” they asked simultaneously.
“You first,” in stereo again. They smiled at each other.
Lindsay cocked an eyebrow at her but Cindy wouldn’t budge. “Fine. I’ll go first.” She paused for a second and started ticking off the information on her fingers. “Single, attorney on the fast track to the DA’s office. Comes from money. Went to Harvard. Pissed off the wrong perp, ended up being shot and sent into WPP. She came back to put the bad guy away and then went back into WPP. You?”
Cindy bit her lip and grinned. “Same.” She waited a second. “But Benson and Stabler knew she wasn’t dead. She used to date Olivia, by the way. She has a black lab named Teddy Bear that your cousin gave her. She plays piano and skis, not at the same time but both equally well.” Cindy smiled up at Lindsay who returned it. “She loves a game of backgammon, although she sucks at it. Alex drives a sweet Benz and just moved into a new apartment. OH and for some unknown reason, she finds Texan accents utterly charming. But then so do I. Go figure.” Cindy leaned into Lindsay.
“What’s her favorite color, smartass?”
“Red,” Cindy looked up and answered back smugly. “This applies to wine too, so remember that when we go to dinner tomorrow night.
“Damn, you’re good, Lois Lane.” Lindsay was very impressed.
Cindy buffed her nails on her sweater. “Yeah, I am.” She pointed out a door they were nearing. “That's her office but she said she had an appointment this evening. That's why you won't meet her until tomorrow.” Then added with a big grin, “Neener neener.”
Lindsay shook her head indulgently.
“I think McCoy’s office is down this other hallway.” Cindy grabbed Lindsay’s hand and pulled her along.
A few moments later they were standing outside the office door of the EADA.
Lindsay checked her watch, then held it so Cindy could see it. “What time did she say she was meeting us here?”
Cindy looked at the time. “In about fifteen minutes. I’m sure we can wait inside.” The redhead opened the door and motioned her partner in.
Lindsay entered first. Cindy was right behind her. The only occupant of the room was a small dark haired woman who was sitting behind a desk typing into a computer.
“Just a second; I’ll be right with you,” she said and continued typing. She finished with a flourish and looked up. “Now what can I....” her eyes widened. “As I live and breathe - c’mere you tall drink of water and give me a hug.” She got up from behind the desk and scooted around the front. She wrapped Lindsay in a hug.
The woman was short and Lindsay had to hunch slightly but the brunette did not make an effort to return the hug. Lindsay gave Cindy a shrug and her face took on an extremely puzzled look. “Who is this?” she mouthed at her girlfriend.
Cindy looked over at the name plate on the desk. “Michelle,” she mouthed back.
“I can’t believe you are actually here.” The secretary loosened the hug but kept her arms around Lindsay’s waist, as she stepped back a half step. “Look at you. And your hair....”
Lindsay held out a strand of hair. “What’s wrong with it, ummm... Michelle?”
Michelle paused for a second. “Nothing. It looks nice all wavy like that.” She turned Lindsay loose, tilted her head and looked at her again. “Jack didn’t tell me you were coming.”
“Uh, he didn’t know that... I... was coming.” She gave Cindy a glance. “It’s... we’re a surprise.”
“Well, he is going to love the surprise. He misses you. Those others just don’t argue the same way with him.” She backhanded the brunette playfully in the stomach. “You kept him on his toes.” She looked over at the redhead.
“And who is this lovely person?”
“Where are my manners?” She put her hand out and pulled Cindy forward a step. “This is Cindy Thomas; she’s a reporter for the San Francisco Register.”
“San Francisco? I thought you were in DC?”
“Me?” She winked at Cindy. “Nope, I’m in San Francisco.”
“I see. Can I ask you one more question?”
“Who are you? You aren’t Abbie but damn if you aren’t the spitting image.”
Lindsay laughed. “I’m Lindsay Boxer. I’m Abbie’s cousin.” She exchanged glances with Cindy. “When did you figure it out?”
The secretary laughed. “You called me Michelle. Abbie always called me Mickey. She gave me that name. Said I was small as a mouse and it fit better.”
“I didn’t mean to lead y’all on. We get mistaken for each other a lot. Our mothers were twins.”
The secretary took a good hard look at Lindsay. The perusal was actually making Lindsay uncomfortable and she started to blush.
“Amazing.” Mickey shook her head.
“Well, Jack is over at Arthur’s office wrapping up his last case. He should be back in a few minutes. Go ahead into his office and make yourself at home. He won’t mind.”
They entered Jack’s office and shut the door, then broke out in laughter.
“Geez, the look on your face when she hugged you.”
“I’m surprised I don’t have bruises she squeezed hard.”
“Oh you poor thing. Should I check?” Cindy reached for Lindsay’s shirt.
“Not here. Keep your hands to yourself Thomas,” Lindz slapped her hands away, “But later, definitely.”
“C’mon, my intrepid reporter sense wants to explore this Jack person’s office.”
Cindy pretended to think for a minute. “Yeah, pretty much.” She began to walk around and browse the walls and shelves. “Wow, how macho can you get?” She turned and looked at the complete room. It was all in dark paneling and wood. The chairs were deep brown leather.
Lindsay looked over Jack’s desk while Cindy looked at all the plaques and certificates on the walls. “Hey look - a baseball signed by Lou Piniella.” She held up the item.
“Piniella? Somehow that makes sense for a lawyer.”
Lindsay tossed the ball up in the air but missed catching it on the way back down. It bounced and rolled to just under the desk. “Crap.” She started to bend down to get it.
“Want me to get that, grandma?” Cindy bit her lip trying not to laugh.
“No, I can get it, smartass. Although, you are normally closer to the ground than I am,” she snarked back. Lindsay bent over at the waist to grab the ball.
“Michelle!” Jack McCoy bellowed as he came barreling into the outer office. “I need you to take these and have them signed. They need to be filed with Judge Harris’ office by close of business tonight.” He put the file on her desk.
Mickey sat perfectly still with her hands clasped and resting on her desk. She just looked at him.
“C’mon, chop chop, what are you waiting for?” He checked his watch. You only have a half hour to get this done.”
“A please would be nice.”
Jack gave her a look.
“Yeah, I know. Why start now?” She stood and grabbed her purse from the lower desk drawer. “I’ll take them and drop them off on my way home.” As she made her way around her desk she added, “Oh Jack, you have a couple of visitors waiting for you in the office.”
“Ah, Abbie is here already. It will be good to see her again.”
“Not exactly.” She mumbled with a mischievous grin. Oh to be a fly on the wall.
“What did you say?”
“Nothing. I’ll just go get these off. See you on Tuesday, Boss. When you see Abbie, give her a big ol’ hug for me, okay?” The secretary laughed as she exited the office.
“She could have done that herself.” Jack opened his office door. Cindy had to step behind it to avoid being hit with it.
“My office always did have the best view in town.” He waited for the tall brunette to straighten up and then moved to give her a hug.
Cindy saw what was about to happen and stepped forward between the two. She held out her hand. “Cindy Thomas. You must be Jack McCoy.”
Jack ignored Cindy’s hand and gently took her by the shoulders and steered her aside. “In a minute.” He turned toward Lindsay again. Lindsay’s eyes darkened when she saw him handle Cindy. She started to back up a step but was hemmed in by the desk. Jack grabbed her for a hug.
Lindz struggled to remove herself from the hold. When she finally pushed him back, she gave an apologetic grin to Cindy.
“Abbie? What the hell?” Before she could say anything he made a move to grab her again. Lindsay reacted and reached for her gun.
“I don’t think so,” Cindy put her hand on Jack’s shoulder and turned him around. “Get your hands off my woman,” she demanded.
“Go away, kid; nobody owns Abbie Carmichael.” He turned back to the brunette.
Cindy grabbed him again and when he turned this time, she punched him. Jack ended up on the floor.
“Ow.” She shook her hand.
“Are you okay?” Lindz asked. “Let me see.” She examined Cindy’s hand.
“You could show a little concern for the man on the floor.”
“Why, Jack? You pretty much deserved it,” came a husky drawl from the doorway.
Jack looked over to find a second tall brunette leaning casually on the doorjamb. Her arms were crossed and one eyebrow was cocked. He looked between the two women. Lindsay moved closer to the doorway to make it easier on him.
“Who? What? How?” he stammered.
“Jack, meet my cousin - Lindsay Boxer. Lindsay is a decorated Homicide Inspector in California. Her mother and my mother were twins. And she’s just lucky she got to look like me.”
Lindsay elbowed Abbie in the side.
Jack made his way back to his feet. He rubbed his jaw. “And the little red freight train?”
“Hi, ummm sir. I’m Cindy Thomas - Lindsay’s girlfriend.” Cindy managed to get out. She held out her hand but Jack didn’t take it. She wiped it on her jeans and grimaced. “I’m sorry, but I did warn you.” She made her way over to Lindsay and wrapped her arm around her waist. Lindsay smiled down at her.
“My little protector.”
“Don’t apologize to him, Cindy. If he had tried that on me I would have done much worse.” Abbie offered. “He should consider himself lucky he doesn’t sing soprano. What were you thinking, Jack?”
“Yes, ahem. Sorry, Abbie and ummmm, Inspector Boxer.”
“Lindsay is fine.”
“It was so worth it to see your face. I wish I had a camera.”
He ignored that and changed the subject. “So, I guess I’m buying everyone dinner?” He continued to work his jaw back and forth.
“That was the plan.”
“What would you lovely ladies like to eat?” All three looked incredulously at each other and then Jack. “Right, steakhouse. Got it.” He looked over at Cindy, then back at the other two. He pointed his thumb in Cindy’s direction. “I’m assuming the little red pitbull takes hers rare.”
Cindy grinned impishly then narrowed her eyes. “Grrrrrrrr.”
January 14, Sunday 12:30pm
Alex and Abbie walked side by side as they made their way into the park. The pathways had been cleared of the recent snow but the white stuff was still evident on the grassy areas.
“Butch was real subtle getting us out of the apartment, wasn’t she?” Abbie snarked, watching her breath vaporize.
“I’m surprised she let me grab my hat and gloves.” Alex pulled her coat tighter and shivered. “What was that all about?”
“I think she was going to try pumping Lindz for childhood stories. The better to blackmail me with later.”
Alex began to turn back the way they came. “And I’m missing it. Let’s go back.”
Abbie grabbed Alex by the arm. “Not so fast there, blondie.”
Alex grinned at Abbie. “No?”
Abbie shook her head. “You got to hear most of those stories yesterday while we played tourist. Plus I think your boy there would be really disappointed if he got this close and had to go back.” Abbie pointed to a spot a few hundred feet ahead. The dog spied it at the same time.
“Teddy!” Alex cried out exasperatedly as the dog suddenly took off. “Come back here, you little rat.”
Abbie laughed as she watched the growing lab bound down the pathway tugging furiously at the leash. The blonde on the other end of was trying desperately to slow him down.
Alex called to the brunette. “You could help, y’know?” She turned slightly while still being pulled forward.
“Maybe he has a hot date you don’t know about,” Abbie joked as she jogged to catch up.
“Great, my dog has a girlfriend.” Then she added in a mumble, “He’s doing better than me.”
Alex finally reached the fenced in dog park area. Teddy was dancing from foot to foot as he waited for Alex to open the gate and let him inside to play with the other dogs. As soon as she unhooked his tether he dashed off without another glance back.
“You’re welcome. Play nice.” She called after him, then hooked his leash onto the fence. Alex motioned for Abbie to join her on some nearby swings. They were close enough to still observe the dogs playing.
Abbie reached the empty playground first and dusted some snow off of a swing. She gave a mock bow and gestured for Alex to sit. Alex accepted with a curtsy and a smile.
“Whoa!” she squealed in surprise as the swing began to move. Abbie was behind her slowly pushing her skyward.
Alex leaned back on every backswing giggling and smiling up at Abbie. Abbie mirrored her smiles and continued to push her. As Alex began pumping her legs, Abbie pushed harder.
“I’ll have you know, that I was the queen of swings in grammar school. No one could swing higher than me.”
“Uh huh. What was your favorite?”
“I was pretty good on a swing but my favorite was Monkey Bars.” Abbie waved a finger at Alex who had looked back, “Don’t say it.”
“Spoil sport.” Alex grinned. “C’mon Tex, saddle up and let’s see if you can keep up.” Alex pumped harder.
Abbie gave her another push. “I don’t think so, Alex.”
“It’s time to see if your Texas size ego can live up to all its claims of being bigger and better.”
“I really don’t think it’s a good idea.” Abbie stepped out from behind Alex and moved to the swing next to hers. She sat then jumped right back up. “YOW!”
Abbie frowned at Alex’s laughter, then swept some snow off of her own swing. She sat down and swung idly back and forth, her hands clasped in front of her. Her head was down.
“What’s a matter, Abigail? Chicken?”
“I just don’t....”
Alex looked at Abbie sitting looking so forlorn. She scuffed her feet to slow her own swing. “Abbie, what’s wrong?” Alex leaned over and touched Abbie’s arm.
“It’s just.... The way things normally go with us – every time we are alone... together....” She paused for her thought. “This is where someone would be getting hurt.” She looked sideways at Alex. “Where *I* get hurt. I’m jinxed, Alex.”
“What?!?” Alex looked at the brunette’s face. “Come on. Abbie?” Alex’s brows knit. “You’re serious?”
“Think about it. The ballgame - concussion; the parade - broken nose; skiing - a separated shoulder; New Year’s - arrested and re-injured my shoulder.”
“I was nowhere near you on New Year’s.”
“We were talking on the phone.”
“Still. Abbie, this doesn’t make you jinxed.” She thought for a moment. “Wait, you aren’t the only one who got hurt.”
“You sprained *YOUR* finger breaking *MY* nose.” She glanced at Alex. One look and she knew that Alex was not going to give in. “Fine.” She threw up her hands. “*WE* are jinxed. Feel better now?”
“No, and there is something very wrong with your reasoning. You are forgetting one very important fact.”
Abbie turned in her swing to face the blonde. “What’s that?”
“We were never alone during those incidents.”
“Yes we were.”
“Ballgame - lots of people; parade - lots of people; skiing - lots of people.”
“You can’t blame this on various random people. The common denominator is us.”
“Okay, what if it wasn’t random people? What if there was another common denominator?”
Abbie looked skeptical. “Go on.”
“Think, Tex. Ballgame - Liv and Casey; parade - Liv and Casey; skiing - Liv and Casey.”
“I called Liv on the phone when yours went dead. She was there too. So you see... it’s them.”
“I dunno, Allie. That’s kind of a stre....”
Alex leaned over and grabbed Abbie by her coat collar. “I can prove it.” She pulled Abbie close and kissed her. Alex pulled back slowly. She laughed in amusement at the look of utter surprise on Abbie’s face. “There. See. We are completely alone now and nothing bad happened.”
“Do it again.” Abbie whispered.
Alex leaned in again. Starting at her temple, Alex ran her gloved fingers through Abbie’s hair and gently down her cheek. Abbie’s eyes fluttered shut. The kiss was soft and sweet. When it finally ended, Abbie’s eyes snapped open and she bolted out of the swing. She stopped a couple of yards away.
“Abbie?” Alex asked, puzzled at the attorney’s action.
Abbie turned and looked at Alex. She grinned goofily from ear to ear. Her eyes rolled back in her head and then she fell over backwards in the snow.
“Abbie! Abbie!” Alex launched herself out of the swing and crossed to where Abbie was laying. She knelt down. “Sweetie, are you all right? Are you hurt?” She patted Abbie’s cheek. “Honey?”
Abbie opened one of her eyes and stared up at the blonde. “Did I spontaneously combust??
“Uh, no.” Alex giggled.
“Why am I so hot?”
Alex just shook her head and smirked. “Good genes?”
They grinned stupidly at each other, then Alex laid down beside Abbie in the snow. She grabbed Abbie’s hand and entwined their gloved fingers. She held them up to look at them. “So, now that I proved to you that you <.ahem.> WE are not jinxed - are you finally going to ask me out?”
“I dunno,” Abbie hesitated. “You still can be a dangerous woman.” Abbie pulled their joined hands closer to her. “Bumps, bruises and broken hearts - I think we need to just take this a little slow.”
“Any slower and we’d be standing still.” Alex let go of Abbie’s hand and rolled onto her side. She rested her head on one hand. She watched as Abbie’s face took on a faraway look and a slight grimace. The blonde trailed one finger over the lines on Abbie’s brow, then down her cheek. She gently turned Abbie’s jaw so they were face to face. Alex then asked seriously, “Are you really worried I will break your heart?”
Abbie snapped out of her reverie and captured Alex’s hand again. “NO...” she answered quickly and then followed it with, “yes... maybe... I don’t know.” She kissed the gloved hand and then grinned to take the sting out of her last admission. “But actually right this second, I’m worried more about whether or not if my insurance covers frostbite. I think my ass is frozen to the ground.”
Somewhere in Greenwich Village
February 13, Tuesday 4 pm
Olivia pulled the small piece of paper out of her pocket for the third time and looked at the address printed on it. She glanced up at the next storefront and took notice of the number. Another block, I think. She stuffed the paper back into her jacket pocket.
The detective continued on along the walkway, dodging others who were busily on their way to other destinations and the slush being thrown up by the passing cars. She noticed a small coffeehouse and decided to stop in and get out of the cold for a few minutes.
After giving the clerk her order, she retreated to a corner table. She sat looking out to the snow filled street and grinned. Olivia pulled her cell out and dialed a number.
“Cabot.” The gruff voice answered.
“Whatcha wearing?” She replied in a low voice then breathed heavily into the phone.
Alex grinned, took off her glasses and tossed them on her desk. She leaned back in her desk chair. “Why don’t you come over and find out?”
“Because not only would your girlfriend beat me up but mine would kill me.”
“Very true.” Alex laughed. “So, Detective, what are you up to other than making harassing phone calls?”
“I just wanted to thank you again. Casey and I are so looking forward to this trip.”
“You’re welcome. I heard she is up in Montreal with the McNally extradition. When is she due back?”
“Yeah, sucky timing all the way around. She’s going to take the redeye back. I’ll meet her at the airport in the morning and we’ll grab our flight. She can sleep on the plane.”
“I guess you’re ready to ditch all this cold and snow?”
“You know it. A week of sun, bikinis, sand, fruity drinks, surf, bikinis, fun and did I mention bikinis?”
“I hope she packed her own bag. Knowing you, it only has those bikinis in it. You and Abbie are two peas in a pod.”
“Yeah, well - pack light I always say.” Olivia laughed. “Speaking of my best bud....”
“Yesssssss?” Alex dragged out.
“Got anything planned for Valentine’s Day?”
“I have no clue.” Alex sighed. “She’s been working non-stop on that RICO trial for the past few weeks. We’re lucky to get a ten minute phone conversation in. She fell asleep the other night while we were talking.”
“Phone sex technique lacking?”
“Not funny, Detective. I’m really worried about her. She’s driving herself so hard.”
“You know Abbie and the whole dog with a bone thing, but I’m sure she will really try to make it up here for Valentine’s. Even if it’s just for the day. Maybe you should fly down and surprise her.”
“Been there, done that. She was surprised all right; she was here in Manhattan and I was in DC. She has so little down time I don’t want to add any more stress by forcing myself on her.”
“She should be so lucky,” Liv mumbled.
“Nevermind. So how about having dinner with a different adorable brunette tonight?”
“You want me to go out with Fin?”
“Cute. We can meet in the Village at that Thai place you like so much.”
“We don’t have to go all the way there.”
“Well, I’m sort of in the Village now. I have an appointment and I figured we could meet up afterwards.”
“Liv?” Alex asked, concerned.
Olivia sighed. “What do you know about Jake?”
“Liz’s ex? Wait, are you thinking about getting a tattoo?” Alex squealed excitedly. “I want to watch.”
“Well, it’s not like I got to see mine being done and Casey and Abbie were in other rooms. Come on Olivia - let me watch. I can be there in less than an hour. I just need to pack up for the day.” She paused. “Think of it as moral support.”
“Well, that wouldn’t be too ba....”
“Or physical support if you lose too much blood.” Alex cut in, chuckling. “I’ll be there as soon as I can. Bye.”
Pookie’s Piercings & Body Art
February 13, Tuesday 4:45 pm
Olivia read the sign on the door. She took a deep breath and ran a nervous hand through her hair. You can do this. She opened the door and as she stepped in a buzzer sounded in a back part of the establishment.
Olivia glanced all around the room at all the tattoo art adorning the walls. There were posters of sample tattoos in every style and color. Her eyes were drawn to a poster of flower images and she smiled.
“Can I help y’all?”
Olivia turned to the voice and then turned and looked behind herself. “Y’all? Ummm, it’s just me.” She paused a second then added with a grin, “Scarlett.”
Dite’s eyes narrowed. “I can see that.” She tilted her head and stared at Olivia. “You are one of those native Yankees, right?” She waited for Liv to nod. “All righty - let me speak your language.” She mockingly cleared her throat. “Whasda problem? Can I help youse wit’ anyting?”
Olivia smiled. “Point made.”
“Good; otherwise I can make sure you get the point... literally. I have a needle gun and I know how to use it. I can pierce parts you never considered piercing faster than you can say ouch.” Dite held her hand up like a gun and blew on it. “Now, what can I do for you?”
“I’m here to see Jake.”
Dite walked over to the desk. She leaned over it and flipped through the appointment book. “Do you have an appointment?”
“No.” Olivia replied as she tried looking at the book.
Dite closed the book and looked back up at Olivia. “Then you aren’t getting in to see Jake. He only works by appointment.”
“But he told me to come down anytime.” Olivia pulled the business card out of her pocket. “Can’t he squeeze me in?”
“I’m sure he can but he isn’t here to squeeze you anywhere.” She looked at the disappointment on Olivia’s face. “How do you know Jake?”
“He’s a friend of a colleague. Dammit. I really need to get the tattoo done today. My girlfriend and I are going away for Valentine’s. I wanted to get the tattoo as a surprise for her. She got one a few months ago.”
“You know Lizzie?”
“Lizzie? *NO* one I know would dare refer to her as Lizzie.”
“So you do know her.”
“She brought my girlfriend and two other of our friends in here a few months back. They all got tattooed.”
“Waitaminute. Stop me if you heard this one - two blondes, a brunette and a redhead....”
“Redhead sort of....”
“Redhead sort of walk into a tattoo parlor blitzed out of their minds.”
“That sounds right.”
“Which one was yours?”
“The redhead sorta,” Liv replied with a grin.
“I did your girlfriend.” Dite exclaimed.
Olivia undid her jacket and pulled it back on the right side.
Dite’s eyes grew large at the exposed gun. “Whoa, I mean I did her tattoo. Her tattoo.” She held her hands up in surrender.
Olivia looked at the woman as if she had grown a second head. “What?!?”
She then followed her sight down to the weapon strapped to her hip. She shook her head and pulled her wallet out of her back pocket. “I was going to jog your memory. I carry a picture of the unholy trio in here.” She laughed.
“Whew.” Dite lowered her hands.
Olivia showed her the picture. She pointed them out. “That’s my girlfriend Casey; Alex is the blonde and Abbie is the brunette.”
“I remember them. I did Casey’s tattoo. It’s....” She tapped her chin. “... a red tulip with y’all’s initials on it.”
“Yeah, that’s it. She got that for me... us... and I want to get one for her... us.”
“You want the same thing?”
“No, tulips are my favorite flower. I want something that is a favorite of Casey’s.”
“Have any ideas?”
“Not a one.”
“Well, that always helps... NOT!” Dite rolled her eyes. “Okay. Let’s go into the booth and we’ll see if we get any ideas. Follow me.” She turned to walk away, then called over her shoulder, “Unless you want to wait for Jake to come back. But I honestly do not expect him back today.”
“No. I really need to do it today.”
“Okay, so you want a set of entwined hearts with your initials in one and hers in the other, correct?”
“Well, it’s not original but it is right to the point. What colors you want?”
“Green and purple for her and blue and orange for me.”
“Whoa, okay?” She tilted her head and looked intently at the detective. “I can understand the blue and orange but green and purple? I never did get to ask her about that when I did hers.”
“I don’t really know why. It’s just a Casey quirk.”
“Well, y’know what they say - love is blind but in this case, I’d say colorblind. Although I can do the heart outline in red with a bit of yellow and give you the whole rainbow effect, if you want.”
Olivia mulled it over for a few moments and nodded.
“Okay. Let me get the stuff together and we’ll get started.” Dite took out all the equipment and ink pots. She donned a pair of fluorescent pink rubber gloves and began preparing the equipment for usage. Once she was ready, she turned to Olivia. “Where are we going to put this?”
“Same place as Casey’s.” Olivia tapped her chest.
“All righty then; you need to take off your shirt and while you’re at it, take off the gun too. Please and thank you. You can put it in the drawer on your right.”
Dite put her hands on her hips and glared at Olivia. “Because I said so. If you must know, I have to lean over you to do this. I’d rather not have a gun poking me in the ribs while I am poking you.” She looked where her hands were. “Dammit, now I have to change gloves again.”
Olivia stripped off her shirt and dutifully put her gun in the drawer. She sat quietly in her sports bra while Dite donned new gloves. She watched Dite pick up a small bottle of alcohol and a disposable razor.
“What are you going to do with that?” Liv pointed at the razor.
“You don’t need a shave.”
“Not me - you.”
Dite pointed to the tattoo area.
“Excuse me? Shave? My chest?”
“I do not have a hairy chest,” Liv replied, indignantly, then she crossed her arms over her breasts.
“I can see that. But we need to make sure the area being inked is clean and absolutely smooth.” Olivia didn’t budge. “Look, I did this to Casey. Does Casey look like a gorilla now?”
“Only when she gets really mad,” Liv replied, grinning.
“I’ll be sure to tell her that the next time I see her.”
“You wouldn’t dare.”
They stared at each other. Finally Olivia gave in and lowered her arms.
“Umm, okay fine.”
Dite finished her prep work and tested the needle gun to make sure it was working properly, then set everything aside. She just leaned over to start the image transfer to Olivia’s skin when the door buzzer sounded. She closed her eyes and silently cursed. “Ill be right back.” She put the paper down and stripped off the gloves.
Dite rounded the corner. “Can I help y’all?”
Alex turned to the voice and grinned. “I reckon so.”
Dite rolled her eyes. “Oh, it’s you. C’mon back. We were just getting started. If you want to sit, bring one of those chairs with you.”
Dite arrived first and quickly pulled on a new set of gloves. She picked up the transfer paper again and then pressed it against Liv’s skin. She was standing in front of Olivia and blocking Alex’s view as the attorney arrived.
“Hi, Liv.” Alex said as she walked into the booth. She set her chair down. “So, what are you going to get?”
“Hey, Alex.” Liv leaned to the side to see her friend. She began to raise her arm to wave. Olivia stopped at Dite’s admonishment.
“Uh uh. Stay still.” The artist then removed the paper. She looked at the image transfer and smiled. “Okay. I want you to look and make sure you are happy with the placement.”
Olivia swiveled her chair around and turned to the wall mirror. “Yeah, that will work.” She turned back. Dite was ready with the needle gun and leaned over.
Alex stood and maneuvered closer. She looked down at the image then laid a hand on Dite’s wrist, stopping her progress. “Oh, I don’t think so. That’s just not... not... you.”
Dite looked down at the hand on her arm and then back up at Alex, she cocked an eyebrow.
“Sorry.” Alex removed her hand with a slight grin. “Liv has no imagination. The hearts are nice but not very original. I’m sure I can come up with something better.”
“You two discuss, while I go get another box of gloves. I’m pretty sure I’m gonna need them.” Dite stood up, muttering something about feeding gators as she stripped off another pair of gloves. She tossed them into the trash and exited to go to the storeroom. When she returned a few minutes later, they were still bickering.
“What kind of a dumb idea is that?” Liv asked.
“C’mon Liv, it’s a good idea. Casey loves coffee, so why not?” Alex reasoned.
“I am not going to have a coffee cup tattooed over my heart. You’re crazy.”
“I think it would be cute, plus you could have the coffee mug personalized with your names or something.”
“No. No how - no way.”
“Okay, then I am out of ideas.” Alex scratched her nose as she thought. “I know. Give me your phone.”
“Who are you calling?” Olivia asked but reached for her phone and handed it over.
“Ghostbusters. Just give me your phone and stay quiet.” Alex found the number she was looking for and hit the speed dial she then set up the phone on speaker option.
“What’s up, partner? I thought you were headed out on vacation with your better half.”
“Actually, Elliot, this is Alex.”
“Is Liv okay? Where is she?”
“She’s fine. Honest.”
“You’re using her phone.”
“I just borrowed her phone. I have a question. You’ve been partners for years, so you know her pretty well....”
“Yeah, but I wouldn’t feel right discussing Liv without her knowing about it.”
Olivia smiled smugly.
“I just wanted to ask you a question, that’s all.”
“Okay, but no guarantees I’ll answer it.”
“Understood. If your partner was to get a tattoo, what do you think it should be?”
“What? Liv’s getting a tattoo?” Elliot apparently had pulled his phone away from his mouth and covered the receiver. Alex only heard a muffled voice and then nothing at all.
“Elliot, you still there?”
“Yeah, Alex. I’m going to put you on speaker. Kathy is here too. Tell her what you told me.”
“Great,” Liv mouthed.
“Hi Kathy, I was just asking your husband for an opinion about a tattoo for Olivia Benson.
“Liv’s getting tattooed? Y’know, I always wanted one.”
“You did?” Elliot asked seriously.
“Yeah, but it was never a priority.” Kathy shrugged. “I always thought a flower like a rose with some filigree work around it would be really pretty, Liv could do something like that or maybe a butterfly.”
“Too girly.” Elliot replied.
“Well, she is a girl.”
“No, this is Liv we are talking about here.”
“HEY!” Liv exclaimed. “I am too a girl, you ass.”
“Oh Liv, you’re there.” He chuckled sheepishly. “Ummm, I know that. Geez, I’ve seen the parts.”
‘What is that supposed to mean, Elliot Richard Stabler?” Kathy asked, peeved.
Elliot gulped. “Well, I have. Ummm, I’ve seen her in hooker get-up; it’s hard not to notice she’s a woman when she’s dressed like that.”
“Uh huh,” Kathy replied.
“Nice save, perv.”
“Don’t help me here, Liv. Anyway, weren’t we talking about tattoos?”
Alex chimed in, “So do you have an idea, Elliot?”
“Well, maybe you should get lips tattooed on your butt, so the next time you tell anyone to kiss your ass they have something to aim for. I’m sure they would appreciate the directional help.”
“Kath...?” Liv pleaded.
“Hey!” Elliot rubbed the back of his head.
“Thank you.” Liv replied cheekily.
“He deserved it.” Kathy glared at Elliot. “I still think something lacy and feminine would be nice.”
“Actually, what Alex didn’t mention was the fact that the tattoo is kinda for Casey. She got one a few months back. It was my favorite flower with our initials on it. I thought I would get something for us.”
“So you want something near and dear to Casey’s heart, right?”
Kathy and Elliot turned to each other. Liv didn’t see their twinkling eyes just heard the stereo reply. “A coffee cup.”
Olivia rolled her eyes. “You two are of no help.”
“C’mon partner - it’s perfect.” Elliot laughed.
“Hanging up now. Remind me to kick your ass when I see you in a week.”
“Have a good time....”
Olivia disconnected the call and pointed the phone at Alex. “Don’t say it.”
Alex bit her lip to stifle the laugh and held her hand out for the phone. “Let me call someone else.” Alex looked for the number and hit the call button. She again put the phone on speaker option and gestured for Liv to be quiet.
“Hey baby girl, wha’ sup?”
“It’s Alex Cabot, Fin.”
“Is ‘Livia okay? Why are you callin’ from her phone?”
“She’s fine. I needed to ask you a question and needed your number. She let me borrow her phone.”
“Oh, a’right. So what’s the big question?”
“It’s a hypothetical question.”
“You called me to ask me a hypothetical question?”
“What’s the real problem, Counselor?”
“Okay, look - here’s the question. If you were a certain brunette female detective and you were going to get a tattoo....”
“Baby girl’s getting inked? Cool!”
“I didn’t say that, I said it was a hypothetical question.”
“Anyway, if you were this person, what would you get?”
“No, the <.ahem.> hypothetical female detective.” He paused. “She’s as feisty and tough as they get. So she needs som’thin that shows that. Maybe a tribal armband with som’thin like ‘fearless’ on it. Yeah, that fits.”
“Hell yeah. She’s as fearless as they come. I know she always has my back.”
“Aw, thanks Fin.” Liv spoke over the speaker phone.
“Hey, Liv baby. You really gonna do it?”
“Yeah, but I want something more for Casey than me. You know about the one she got a few months ago.”
“Oh, for Novak. Shoot, that’s easy.” He paused then laughed. “Get a coffee cup.”
Alex put her hand over her mouth to stifle the laugh.
“You guys are real funny.”
“You and my partner said the same thing.”
“Damn, Stabler and I agreed? I need to go. I gotta go wash my brain. Later babe and I expect to see what you got when you get back, ‘kay?” He ended the call before she could reply.
“I’m telling you....”
“And I’m not listening,” Liv cut Alex off.
“Okay, you’ve heard from Elliot and Fin, might as well go for the Trifecta. Let’s call Munch.” Alex picked up the phone and dialed the number.
“Hey Liv, what can I do for you?”
“Hey John, it’s Alex Cabot.”
“Good evening Counselor; is Olivia okay? I see that you are calling from her phone.”
“She’s fine. I need your opinion on a very important matter. YOW!” Olivia kicked Alex in the shin. Alex glared back at her.
“Sorry, sudden sharp pain in the leg there.” Alex moved to kick Liv back but Liv moved her legs out of the way. “Anyway, John, if you were a certain brunette detective and were going to get a tattoo, what would you get?”
“Well, I actually am a brunette detective and I already have a tattoo. The location of said image is top secret but suffice it to say, I got it during my rebellious period.”
“You had a rebellious period?”
“It’s a cannabis leaf.”
“You little radical you. I bet you were real popular in the academy.”
“Two words. Big band-aids.” He then added, “But I don’t think that would be quite right for Olivia. That is who we are talking about, is it not?”
“Is she there?”
“Right here, Munch.”
“Good, because I wasn’t going to suggest this unless you were there to hear it.”
“What would that be?”
“How about Foghorn Leghorn in a FDNY uni?”
Dite and Alex looked at each other with identical puzzled looks.
“John,” Liv warned, “ Do not go there. Besides....”
“Let me guess,” John interrupted. “The tattoo is more for your better half than for you. You want to surprise her like she did for you, correct?”
“Well, my dear, there is only one thing that the esteemed counselor holds most near and dear to her heart - that is, other than you.”
“Really. Coffee. Get a coffee cup.”
“Hanging up now.” Olivia replied, tersely.
“It’s just that you, El and Fin said exactly the same thing.”
“I can assure you that it’s not a conspiracy this time. It doesn’t take a detective to know that Novak loves her coffee - anytime, anywhere.”
“She doesn’t drink yours.”
“I didn’t say she was a discriminating drinker. Come to think of it, I wonder why she doesn’t? Maybe she knows something about the NYPD provided blend. Maybe I should bring a bag to Warner and get her to analyze it.”
“The truth is out there. Why don’t you call her right now? Gotta go John; the artist is getting antsy. Good luck with your investigation.”
“Yeah, bye Liv.”
The three women dissolved into giggles.
Dite stopped laughing first. “Okay, we’ve apparently heard from the nuts <.ahem.> peanut gallery and they were ever so NOT helpful.” Another round of snickers. “Look, why don’t you just describe Casey to me?”
“Well, she’s about five foot ten with red....”
“Ow.” Olivia rubbed the back of her head.
“No, you moron. I meant tell me what she is like. What does she like to do? What’s important to her? That kind of stuff.”
“I dunno. She likes all kinds of things.”
Dite sighed. “All righty - let me ask a few questions and we’ll go from there, okay?” She waited for a nod. “What’s Casey’s favorite animal?”
“Actually, Alex, her favorite animal is a duck.”
“What? I saw the way she fawned over Teddy. She loves puppies.”
“She does love puppies but her favorite animal is a duck. She had one named Dudley when she was a kid. Didn’t you notice all the plush and figurine ducks all over the apartment? Do you remember those when we were dating? Those aren’t mine, y’know.”
Dite motioned between the two. “Y’all dated?” She shook her head in disbelief. “Oy vey.”
Olivia and Alex both stared at the artist.
“What?!? I can’t know a second language?” Dite brows knit in puzzlement and she directed a question to Alex. “Waitaminute. If you two dated, why do you know so much about Casey?”
“She’s my friend and we’ve spent a lot of time together these past few months. Liv here may be a detective at work, but she is horrible at paying attention to life’s little details. One of the reasons we don’t date anymore.”
“Funny, I seem to remember the main reason we don’t date anymore is that you dumped my ass.”
“See. You get the big picture and miss all the little pictures.”
“Is that so?” Olivia’s voice got louder.
“Ladies! Can we please get back to the matter at hand? I would like to go home to my family sometime tonight.” She waited for each to nod. “Good. Now, let’s try another one. What are Casey’s hobbies?”
“Alex, the bike is a mode of transportation, not a hobby. She doesn’t do it for fun.”
“I’m guessing you don’t want a book tattooed on your chest, right?” Dite tilted her head and shrugged. “How about her favorite sport’s team?”
“Mets. Liv? C’mon. Casey went nuts over that autographed photo of Tom Seaver. I thought she was going to pass out.”
“She *did* faint the time we met Joe Namath at a charity function.”
“Well, this isn’t really getting us anywhere. Favorite color?” Dite asked and then added, “Nevermind. I already know this one. Lime green and....”
“Purple,” Alex added.
“Wrongo again.” Olivia chuckled. “Blue.”
“Casey sat right here and told me her favorite colors were lime green and purple.”
“Yeah, Liv; she’ll never live down that outfit.”
“Outfit?” Dite inquired.
“Casey once wore a lime green suit with a purple blouse to court. They have been riding her about it since then.” Olivia explained. “Those are the colors most people identify with her, unfortunately because of that, but her favorite colors are blue and green.”
Dite thought for a second. “Come to think of it, she did say they were signature colors not necessarily her favorites. No wonder she liked my tats. The girl has taste.”
“You wouldn’t think that if you saw her in that outfit,” Alex snarked. “C’mon. I’m not buying.”
“Alex, think about it. The apartment used to have white walls. What color are they now?” She paused then answered her own question. “Various shades of blue and the bedroom is light green.”
Alex sighed. “What’s the next question?”
“What’s Casey’s favorite flower?”
“Oh I got this one nailed,” Alex jumped in.
“Then you go first Alex,” Olivia offered. “I’ll bet you still get it wrong.”
“A swing and another miss.”
“Uh uh, no way. She absolutely went nuts over the peach roses Abbie sent me during her stalking phase.” She waved a hand at Dite dismissively, “Don’t ask.”
“Her favorites are wildflowers,” Liv said matter-of-factly.
“Nope, not this time Liv. I’ll prove it.” Alex took her phone out and dialed Casey’s number.
“Hi Alex, what’s up?”
“I just need to ask you a quick question, Casey.”
“What’s your favorite flowers?”
“Flowers? What kind of flowers do you like?” Alex leaned in close to Liv and held the phone between them so Liv could hear the answer.
“Well, I have always loved the scent of roses. I mean who doesn’t love getting roses. I was so jealous when you got those peach ones from Abbie. They were incredible.”
Alex moved back a bit and stuck her tongue out at Liv.
“But the first time Liv brought me flowers they were just a bunch of wildflowers. I think she raided Elliot’s yard for them. But she picked them just for me and they came straight from the heart. So wildflowers are my favorite now.”
Olivia chucked Alex under the chin causing her to bite her own tongue, then she smiled smugly.
Alex’s attention was drawn to Liv’s ringing phone.
“Oh, okay, thanks Casey. Sorry to bother you. I have to go now. The phone is ringing. Have a great time in the Bahamas. Bring me back a shell. Bye.”
Casey looked at her phone and shrugged. “I don’t think I really want to know.”
Liv pulled out her phone and looked at the caller ID. She grinned widely. She pointed to the other two and held up a finger to her lips. She set the speaker option up. Alex and Dite exchanged glances.
“Hey Buddy,” the caller answered. “I just wanted to wish you a safe trip. What time is your flight?”
“Tomorrow morning. Casey is out of town with an extradition. She won’t be back until early tomorrow. Plus I had something to do today first.
“Stepping out on the girl?”
“Sh’yeah right. I don’t have a death wish. “I’m at Jake’s.”
“I wanna get a tattoo for Casey - any suggestions? And if you say coffee cup I am going to smack you into next week when I see you.”
“Coffee cup? What kind of looney tune would suggest that?”
Olivia snatched up the phone and took it off speaker. “A quartet of loonies, actually. Alex, Elliot, Fin and Munch.”
“Uh oh, my girl? Ummm, don’t tell her that I called her a looney tune, ‘kay?”
“Your secret you calling your girlfriend a loonie is safe with me,” Liv repeated grinning evilly at Alex. “I won’t tell her.” She stuck her tongue out at Alex. “So do you have another idea, Tex?” Olivia listened intently. “Wow, that’s original. It’s perfect. You’re the best. I could kiss you.”
Alex reached over and grabbed Liv’s chin with one hand. She smooshed her cheeks together. “I. Don’t. Think. So. Understand?” She shook Liv’s head in a yes gesture. “Good.”
“Ummm, Abs culd you r’peat wha you sad to Dite, peas?” Olivia mumbled out of her pursed lips. She handed the phone to the artist, then slapped Alex’s hand away from her jaw.
“Just keep those lips to yourself Benson and no one gets hurt,” Alex warned.
“Possessive little lawyer, aren’t you?”
Before Alex could form a reply, Dite handed her the phone. “Someone heard your voice and wants to talk to you.” Dite turned to the light box and started to draw.
“Umm, Abbie?” Alex queried.
Hi, how are you?”
“Better now. You there giving my buddy moral support?”
“And a hard time.” Alex arched her eyebrow and stared at Liv. “Absolutely.”
“Good.” Abbie answered. Alex then heard Abbie answer a question on her end. “Damn, I gotta go back in. They are calling the verdict. I’ll see you tomorrow, ok?”
“You’re coming up, sweetie?”
“You bet. I’m not going to miss Valentine’s Day with my best girl. Be ready around six thirty. Dress up; we’re going to paint the town and make everyone jealous.” More muffled voices. “Coming. I really have to go. Bye darlin’; see you tomorrow.”
“Bye, baby.” Alex ended the call. She looked over to find both other women staring at her.
They then turned to each other and simultaneously uttered “Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.” Olivia added a gagging noise.
“Shut up.” Alex sat back and crossed her arms.
“How’s this?” Dite drew Liv’s attention to the light box and the quick line drawing. “I’d need to clean up the lines but you can get an idea....”
“It’s perfect. Let’s do it.”
Atlantis Paradise Resort
February 14, Wednesday 3pm
Casey finished unpacking and closed the drawer on the chest. She puttered around the room looking at all the decorating details, then wandered over to the balcony door and looked down on the beach. The attorney called out over her shoulder to the rooms other occupant. “Honey, c’mon; we’re burning daylight here.”
“I’ll be out in a minute,” was the muffled reply through the suite’s bathroom door. “The strap on this suit is bothering me.”
“I can get you a different suit. You packed a couple.” She made her way back to the dresser.
“No, I ne... want to wear this one.” There was a pause. “Be sure to take the sunscreen with us.”
“I’m redheaded and freckle like a Dalmatian; I have several types of sunscreen in the tote. But we won’t need them if the sun goes down, so get out here.”
The door opened and Liv emerged dressed in a dark blue tankini. Casey looked puzzled at the suit choice. She looked down at her own bright print bikini.
“I thought....” she was puzzled. “You are making me feel seriously underdressed.”
Olivia walked over and threw her arms around Casey’s waist in a loose embrace. “Not at all.” She tugged on the knot holding Casey’s skirt wrap in place. “You look fantastic.” She kissed her.
“What’s with the tank top? I don’t remember ever seeing that suit.” Olivia bit her lip, then moved to step away but Casey would not let go. “Liv?”
“I was going to wait until later tonight to show you.” Olivia stepped out of the embrace and turned her back to Casey.
“Show me what?”
“Yesterday afternoon I stopped off in the Village.”
“To buy that suit?”
Liv took a deep breath and muttered, “IstoppedatJakesandgotatattoo.”
The attorney had to run what Liv said through her mind twice until it actually sounded like real words. Casey’s eyes lit up. “You did it? Really? Where?”
Olivia turned back at the sound of excitement in Casey’s voice. She looked at the smiling face and mirrored it. “Same place as yours.” Liv stepped closer. She kissed two fingers and ran them gently over Casey’s tattoo. “That’s why I needed the tank top. I can’t expose it to sun until after it heals.”
“I wanna see.”
Olivia took a deep breath and began to lift the tank top over her head. She hissed and winced at the pain.
“Let me help. I know what that feels like.” Once the top was off Casey’s eyes were drawn to the tattoo. “Oh, Liv. It’s... it’s....”
“See, your initials are in the glove webbing and my initials are worked into the stitching on the ball.” She looked at Casey. “I know you love softball and you did catch me....”
Olivia’s sentence was cut off by a kiss and then another and another. “I.” Kiss “Love.” Kiss “It.” Kiss “I.” Kiss “Love.” Kiss “You.”
“Good, because I don’t think it’ll wash off,” Liv joked. “Cause if I went through all this pain and it does, I’m going to go back and ring that southern belle.”
“Dite did it?”
“Yeah. What a character. Okay, help me get the top back on and we’ll head down to the beach.” Liv looked at the clock on the credenza. “We can get a little sun in before it sets. Then tomorrow we can see the sights and do some island exploring.”
“I have a better idea. How about I help you remove the rest of that suit, I see some of *your* sights and do some exploring?” Casey waggled her eyebrows. “Then later we can get some dinner and go for a romantic moonlight walk on the beach.”
“Oohh.” Olivia threw herself backwards on the bed and lay with her arms outstretched. She closed her eyes and put on her sexiest grin. “Mar-co....”
Casey, on all fours, crawled up Olivia’s prone body, careful not to put any weight on her partner. She brought her lips down close to Liv’s ear and whispered, “Polo.”
“Gotcha,” Liv gleefully replied as her arms closed around Casey.
February 14, Wednesday 11:55pm
It took a few tries but the giggling twosome managed to get the door open. After Alex keyed the lock, Abbie pushed open the door and held it while the blonde entered. She closed it behind them and locked the deadbolt while Alex continued into the apartment. Once Alex had placed her purse on the end table, she turned back to her companion.
“Oh Abbie, that was so much fun. A carriage ride to the restaurant. An incredible dinner and that decadent mocha chocolate dessert. Casey would have loved it. Speak of the devil duo, I wonder what they are doing now?”
Abbie took a few steps forward and embraced Alex loosely. “Probably having their own dessert.” She grinned rakishly. “I’m glad we did the carriage ride first. I’m stuffed. I don’t think my stomach could have taken the jostling now.”
“Oh, well and here I was going to offer you some coffee, tea or mi... ow!” Alex broke the embrace and took a small step backwards.
Abbie smirked. “Meow?”
Alex slapped her shoulder playfully. “Stop pinching the Cabot goods, Carmichael.” She turned to make her way to the kitchen. “And to think I baked you cookies today.”
“You baked me cookies?” She asked in puzzlement. “You baked?”
“Better change that surprised tone or no cookies for you.” Alex called over her shoulder on the way to the kitchen.
“<.ahem.> Wow, golly gee Alex; I didn’t know you could bake.” She answered brightly and followed her. “Why thank you.”
Alex was standing near the counter with her back to the entering Abbie. She removed the plastic covering the plate of cookies. She turned, her voice suddenly quiet, “I tried to make them heart shaped first but that didn’t exactly work out well.” She held one up.
Abbie crossed to her and took the cookie out of her hand. Alex ducked her head shyly. Abbie looked at the cookie and smiled. She used one finger on her free hand to raise Alex’s chin so they were staring blue to brown.
“Well, it might not be that tired overused commercial conventional heart shape but yours are anatomically correct.” She turned the cookie slightly around in her hand until it resembled a real heart and she held it up to her chest. “See?”
Alex smiled. “And you know this how, Ms. Carmichael?” She tugged on Abbie’s jacket lapel.
“I played doctor a lot as a kid,” Abbie quipped. She took a small bite of the cookie and chewed. “MMMM, I love choco-chips.” She took a closer look at the cookie. “Two kinds of chips... oh and macadamias. You wild woman you.” She took another bigger bite. “These are delicious,” she said around chewing.
“Slow down there Abs; there are plenty more.” Alex turned and grabbed the plate. “Like I said, I tried making heart shapes but that didn’t work too well. Then I decided to make letters. I was trying to spell out your whole name. But only one A-C-M and E survived intact. The others broke apart when I went to take them off of the cookie sheet.”
“Well, it doesn’t matter what they look like; they taste great.” She leaned over and kissed Alex softly. “Thank you.” She took another bite. A small piece broke off and fell to the floor. “Sorry, Alex, let me get that.” Abbie bent to pick up the piece. “Hey, where is your canine vacuum cleaner?” she asked as she stood back up.
“Teddy is at Evie’s having a sleepover with Jimmy,” she took the broken piece out of Abbie’s hand and took it to the trashcan. “I was hoping we could have a sleepover too.” Alex turned back to face Abbie.
Abbie rubbed her nose as if she was thinking, then frowned. “All my jammies are at the hotel.”
Alex stepped closer and leaned in to whisper in the brunette’s ear. “This is a special sleepover - no boys, dogs or clothing allowed.” She kissed the ear once and then continued to whisper, “I’m sure we can find some games or movies or something to occupy our time. What do you say?”
Alex leaned back and looked into Abbie’s eyes. Abbie smiled. “What side of the bed do you sleep on?”
“Oh darn,” Abbie snapped her fingers. “Me too.” She sighed exaggeratedly.
Alex grabbed her collar and turned her around. She began to walk her backwards to the bedroom. She removed Abbie’s jacket and watched it hit the floor. “That’s okay.” She began unbuttoning Abbie’s blouse. “I really don’t think much sleeping will be going on.” She let her hand trail down Abbie’s arm until their fingers met and joined. They walked together the rest of the way.
Alex and Abbie took their time removing each other’s clothing. They alternated buttons and zips with kisses and caresses. Finally they fell together on the bed, giggling. Abbie propped her head up on one hand and stared at Alex. Alex mirrored the position.
“Before I let you have your way with me, Allie....”
“Excuse me, Abi-gail - *my* way with you? You have been chasing me for months.”
Abbie kissed her deeply. She waited for Alex to open her eyes again. “I let you catch me.”
“Your memory going there, Counselor?” Alex jokingly tapped Abbie’s head with her fist. “You let me catch you?”
“Isn’t that what I just said?” Abbie replied grinning.
Alex shook her head in mock disbelief, then ran her fingers down Abbie’s face. “Let’s get the facts straight. One, you chased me. Two, even with discouragement....”
“... and numerous injuries....”
“... and numerous injuries, you continued chasing me. Three, I felt bad for you expending all that effort and four, I let you catch me.”
“Yes. But there is a more important thing.”
“Now that you got me, what are you going to do about it?” Alex raised an eyebrow.
“First thing I am going to do is finally satisfy my curiosity.” She grinned. “I have to know.”
“You know what.” Abbie gestured to Alex’s behind.
“One. Track. Mind.” Alex began to roll over. “You know, you think you could have figured this out sooner. You had hints,” she chided Abbie.
“Oh Allie.” Abbie looked at the tattoo. “It’s so cute. The blue and the purple feathers. And you put your sexy black glasses on it.” Alex rolled back to face Abbie. “So if this is you,” she pointed to Alex.. Alex nodded and smiled. “Then that makes me....” Abbie, pointing to herself, paused to think back over the past few months. “OHMIGOD!”
DA BIG DOINK DOINK~~~~~the end
Christmas Songs used without permission:
Bob Rivers/Felix Bernard-Winter Wonderland Parody (Walkin' Round In Women's Underwear)
Ross Bagdasarian-The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)
John Rox-I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas
Abbie Carmichael/James Pierpoint-Jingle Bells Parody
Additional characters used without permission:
Lindsay Boxer and Cindy Thomas of The Women's Murder Club belong to James Patterson and ABC.
Judge Harold Stone of Night Court belongs to Reinhold Weege and NBC.
FINAL AUTHOR NOTE:
Well, that’s all folks. I hope you enjoyed the ride. Four stories, over three hundred and fifty pages and a year’s worth of my time from start to finish. WHEW!
Big Big BIG thanks to the Beta. It wouldn’t have ever made it without her and especially wouldn’t have been nearly as readable. You rock darlin’…now where’s MY update? <.g.>
Back to the Annex