© Erin O'Reilly 2009
This story features relationships between adult women. If this bothers you, is illegal in the State, Province, or Country where you live or if you are under the age of 18, find something else to read. There are loads of general stories out there.
Please note : There is a brief scene of rape in part one of this story.
Language : There is the use of expletives.
Violence : There is violence in this story.
Hurt/Comfort : There are scenes of heartache to be dealt with by the characters .
For the next four hours, Remington and Parker rode in silence except for the casual comment about the landscape and the hour. Behind them, the sun was setting turning the horizon into a deep rich gold with blood red tendrils reaching for the darkening blue above. Parker navigated the Hummer down route ten until she turned right onto a two lane road. After fifteen minutes, she pulled the Hummer onto the wide shoulder of the road in front of the gate to her safe house. After deactivating the alarms, set when they left, she jumped out and moved quickly to the gate and released the chain that a padlock held in place. Back in the vehicle, she pressed a button and the gate swung open. After closing the gate and reattaching the chain and padlock, they continued toward the house.
“It's good that we came here,” Remington said as the vehicle rolled to a stop. “We need to find out the why there are all those terminations.” She put her hand on the handle, opened the door, and then looked back at Parker. “It will take all the cunning we both have. Are you up to the challenge?”
Dark eyes rested on the Wolf as grinding teeth made her jaw flex. “Are you?” Parker challenged. “You might not like what you find.”
Remington considered the question. “You're right…I might not like what I find. At the same time, I'm under no illusion that I'm invaluable to DOCO.” She turned and began to exit the Hummer only to turn back to Parker and say, “If push came to shove, they'd kill me without a second thought.” She snorted softly. “That applies to you too.”
Parker digested the words as the Wolf got out. “You're right,” she whispered, “I know that first hand.”
“Then, let's find out what's going on,” Remington said before closing the door.
Once Parker put all the security in place, she turned to the Wolf. “Can you hack into the DOCO mainframe and download all the pertinent information?”
“It will take some time but yes, I can do that. It will require lowering the defenses.”
Parker grinned. “Not with the set-up I have.”
Remington narrowed her eyes. “I thought you said when we were here before that in order to communicate you needed to shut down the security.”
“You're right, I did.” Parker shrugged. “I didn't know you then.”
“So that was a lie?”
“A necessary one. The cartel was after you and after your first contact with DOCO, it didn't seem they were going to give you the essential support you needed.”
Nodding her head slightly, Remington's green eyes fixed on Parker and her body language. “Is it true?” she asked. “Were you merely following orders when you kidnapped Olivia?”
Parker squared her shoulders and straightened her back as she looked directly at the Wolf's eyes. “It would be so easy to say yes but we both know that isn't the truth…right?” Once she saw a slight nod of the Wolf's head, she continued. “My assignment was to break up Olivia and Amelia and bring O back to DOCO…I made it personal. What I did to Olivia was appalling and I can't take it back…ever.” Her eyes held the green ones. “In the looney bin for all those months I had a lot of time to think about what I did to someone I professed to love and how I could make it better. I wanted to find O and tell her I was sorry.”
Remington cringed. “And what good would that do? She thinks you are dead.”
“I know,” Parker whispered. “I did go back there…to Portsmouth …and found her in a park that we often went to when we were together. She was with Amelia and two small girls—Dan's girls.” She chewed at her lower lip then said, “DOCO got wind of his communications with Amelia to warn her about me and what would happen.” She shrugged. “They gave me no options—I terminated him.”
“Because you didn't want him to reveal what you were up to?”
Parker shook her head. “No…well sort of…if I didn't do it I knew DOCO would take him out and kill me too.” She released the Wolf's eyes. “O looked so happy. She was rested and relaxed—even in our early days together I never saw that look—it was then that I knew it was over.” Her eyes rested back on the Wolf's face. “There's nothing I can do or say to take back what I did to her.” She rubbed her head. “This constant pain is my punishment.” She shrugged. “Somehow it doesn't seem enough. When I saw you lying in that limo bleeding heavily and close to death, I had two choices. I could take the money and run or help you. For the first time in a very long time I did the right thing.” She looked past the Wolf. “Perhaps in some small way I vindicated myself.”
Sardonic laughter filled the safe room. “You're kidding right? Helping me will never erase what you did.”
“I became what I swore I'd never become,” Parker whispered as she ran her hand over her face. “I'll leave you to it. Use whatever you need in here. I'm exhausted and am going to lie down…we can discuss what to do in the morning.” She turned away from the Wolf and left the room.
Remington sat in front of a large widescreen monitor as she worked her way into the DOCO mainframe before she downloaded the files. She'd spent the last hour trying to stop Parker's confession from taking over her every thought. As she talked, Parker's voice and body language conveyed sincerity and genuine shame over what she had done. Is it just another ploy to gain sympathy from me? Again she tried to reconcile the Parker she'd come to know over the last several weeks and the one that was little more than an animal.
As her eyes scanned the monitor, a vision of Parker sitting on the ground high above La Casa del Canon filtered through to her consciousness. She remembered how beautiful she thought Parker was and the stirrings of arousal that begged for acknowledgment. If she were honest, she had been attracted to the woman from the first time she saw her picture many years earlier. Fighting for equal billing was the look on Olivia's face as she related what Parker did to her. How can I ever forget that?
Three hours later Remington's weary eyes widened as she began seeing a pattern emerging. “Unbelievable.” Her hand navigated the mouse through a dozen other files before she sat back in the chair and tried to make sense of what she found. “If this is true I'm in a shit load of trouble…Parker too.” Her mind was too fatigued to think coherently about what to do. She pushed back from the desk and stood up. “Tomorrow I'll figure out what to do.” A vision of Parker surface and she sighed. “If I'm going to pull this off I'll need her help.”
Parker opened her eyes, stretched, and inhaled the smell of freshly brewed coffee. The nightmares she usually experienced never materialized and she slept better than she had in a long time. Inspite of DOCO's termination order she felt safe and she credited the Wolf for that. She got out of the bed and headed for the bathroom before she made her way to the kitchen.
Standing at the small bar between the kitchen and the common area, she watched the Wolf standing in front of the stove. The feelings that the scene caused were unmistakable—arousal. “Good morning,” she said as she moved closer to the woman at the stove.
Hearing Parker's voice, Remington turned slightly and immediately averted her eyes as her body reacted in pleasure. “How are you feeling this morning?” she asked as she quickly turned back to the stove and the cooking scrambled eggs.
Parker stood so close to the Wolf that she could feel the heat radiating from her body. Inching closer so their shoulders and hips touched, she said, “It was a good night for me what about yourself?”
Putting her cold and indifferent façade in place, Remington took a step, broke the contact with Parker's body, and immediately wanted it back. “Grab yourself a cup of coffee and once we've eaten I need you to look at what I found in the DOCO files.”
“Are you certain this is correct?” asked Parker after she read the Wolf's analysis.
“I ran it again this morning and the results were the same.” Remington leaned across Parker and tapped on the computer screen. “His name is attached to every one of the termination orders. In all, I'd estimate there are about thirty names marked for extermination—my crew isn't included in that.”
“How do you know he was the one who actually did it?” Parker shrugged as she looked directly at the Wolf's face. “You hacked into their system so why couldn't someone else?”
Remington laughed. “The DOCO security system is one of the best I've ever seen therefore it isn't something that just anyone could hack.” She bit her lip. “There can't be more than one maybe two people in the world that could do what I did.”
“There's a lot of misdirection in the code that makes a hacker go round in circles then back to where they came in. The real backdoor is cleverly hidden in an inconsequential code—I know because I put it there.”
Parker nodded and moved so her arm was touching the Wolf's arm. “So, the information is correct…what now…how do we bring Director Berkowitz down? Is there anyone in DOCO that you trust?”
Once she removed her arm from the contact with Parker, Remington stood up. “At this point I'm not sure. I trusted my team and they are all gone.”
“What about Edwards? He was still alive when I left him.”
Remington shook her head, set her jaw, and let out a growl. “He died when the others did.”
Parker frowned. “That can't be. His left arm was bleeding but it didn't look serious.”
“The crime scene photos show him with a bullet hole between his eyes.” Remington looked at Parker. “He was executed—do you kill him?”
Anger flared in Parker's eyes as she stood up and went toe to toe with the Wolf. “Again, if I was the assassin sent to eliminate your team you would be dead by now. In case you've forgotten my name is on the terminate list too.”
Green eyes pierced the dark ones and saw only truth. “Berkowitz isn't in this alone,” Remington said as she paced the floor. “We need to find out who else is involved.”
Parker's eyes never left the Wolf as she watched as she restlessly moved around the small room like a caged animal. “There's always is a paper or computer trail. If we find that and follow it we will know who that is.”
Remington stopped and looked at Parker. ”That's true as long as they haven't deleted them.” She looked at the equipment in the room. “Unless his mail is on the DOCO server...there's no way I could do that from here.” She squeezed her lower lip between her thumb and forefinger and pulled on it as she contemplated various scenarios.
“I think the logical link to Berkowitz is the cartel,” Parker said before green eyes fixed on her.
A genuine smile crossed Remington's face. “Of course. We know that someone from DOCO was working with the cartel.” She did a slight shrug before adding, “I'm willing to bet that the cartel's computer security isn't anywhere near as sophisticated as DOCO's is.”
It didn't take long for Remington to gain access to one of the cartel's servers. Or, to find that not only did Berkowitz communicate with Carlos Castellan, but he also was a high ranking member of the organization.
“This put a whole new spin on this mess,” Remington said as she leaned back in her chair. “The question is, what side is Berkowitz on. If he's infiltrated the organization for DOCO our outing him could do serious damage.” She blew out a long breath. “If he isn't, then we need to stop him from ordering the termination of other operatives.”
“You know, there's a simple fix—terminate him.”
Remington lifted her face and looked at Parker. “I guess that would take care of the problem. Too bad, we left that sniper rifle in Mexico . It would've come in handy.”
Parker grinned. “It's in the back of the Hummer.”
With a quizzical look, Remington said, “No way. Do you know what would have happened if they searched the vehicle when we crossed the border?”
“I knew we wouldn't be stopped—we don't fit the profile.”
“Nevertheless, it was a full hardy thing to do. You can't keep doing this, Parker.”
“Doing what, Wolf? Trying to make sure that we have the necessary equipment to defend ourselves. That hardly seems reckless to me.”
Remington narrowed her eyes and lowered her voice. “You can't go off half-cocked on your own with complete disregard for the consequences, Parker. How many times do you have to land in hot water before you get the message?” She put her hands on Parker's shoulders and shook her. “That is exactly why you have those headaches…all you had to do was follow orders and Dr. West never would have shot you.”
Parker shrugged the hands off her shoulders and advanced in a threatening manner only to take a step back when she saw the look on the Wolf's face. “You're right, I'm nothing but a fuck-up and I take complete responsibility for everything that has happened to me, Wolf.” She lowered her eyes as her shoulders slumped.
In an uncharacteristic move, Remington engulfed Parker in her arms and held her close. “Just think before you do,” she whispered.
Parker let her head rest on the Wolf's shoulder as her body relaxed into the comfort she felt. She tried to remember the last time she let someone comfort her in a nonsexual manner—only her mother came to mind. Reluctantly, she pushed away from the hug before she made eye contact with the Wolf. She swallowed hard then said, “How certain are you that no one else in DOCO is connected to Berkowitz?”
“I'm not,” Remington said without skipping a beat. “That's why termination is the only option.”
“Where do they think you are now?”
“I suppose they think I'm on my way back to headquarters.” Remington laughed. “Or heading west in a big rig.”
“Where did you tell them I'd be?”
“I didn't.” Remington saw a look of panic cross Parker's face. “What's wrong?”
“My family…will they go after them?”
Remington frowned. “Why on earth would you think that? I'm certain they think you and I are both going back to the east coast and headquarters.”
Parker let out a snort and shook her head. “Maybe…I was at my parent's farm before I left for Texas . It wouldn't be a stretch to think I'd go back there. With the termination order out on me they will be watching for me to show up there.”
For a minute, Remington watched various facial expressions cross Parker's face. “We will not let that happen, Parker.” She touched her arm. “I doubt they will go to the farm…like I said they are expecting us to show up there. Trust me ok?”
“It would be best for everyone if I make myself out to be a sitting duck and let them terminate me.” With that said, she turned and left the room as green eyes followed her.
The door closed quietly as Parker walked out of the house determined not to look back. She was convinced that she had put her family, the only people who she knew would always love her, in danger and that emphasized just how messed up her life was. She had finally voiced all her misdeeds along with her fears and doubts to the Wolf and cold indifference was her reward. The hot sun beat down on her as she walked away vowing not to let anyone—the Wolf in particular—see just how vulnerable she was.
“When did my hopes and dreams turn to this?” she voiced as she kicked a rock across the arid land that was much like her life—desolate and bleak.
Parker continued to walk as her thoughts replayed her life—she didn't much like what she did and where it took her.
She had left her parent's farm to attend college to get a criminal justice degree—she always wanted to be in law enforcement for as long as she remembered. She excelled in all aspects of college and found herself with a job in a one horse town as a deputy. The chief, Conrad Hopkins, had been a NYC police captain before he moved his family to the sleepy little town of Hamilton . The man had taught her more about the practical side of police work than any college course ever did. When she left the Hamilton Police, her goal was to head for New York City and join the NYPD, but her Mustang broke down and she was short of funds to pay for the repairs. That led to her joining the Portsmouth Police Department and her fascination with Olivia Santos.
To Parker, Olivia was everything she'd ever dreamed of in a woman, a lover, and a partner. Their partnership on the job and off was both fiery and passionate. Never before in her life had she felt so connected to someone—she was so captivated that she wanted to be around Olivia twenty-four-seven. Then it all went sour, Olivia began to move away from her. No matter what she did or tried, she felt the coldness in Olivia's heart and in her body—that was unacceptable. Then, after Olivia murdered the district attorney for killing her brother, Parker lost her completely. It wasn't until years later when she joined DOCO that she discovered that Olivia was working for them. It was then that she started dreaming of ways to get Olivia back—a bullet in the head at the hand of Olivia's new lover was her reward.
Parker kicked another rock. “I've really fucked everything in my life up.” She looked back at the house and it wasn't more than a speck. Her mind tracked to the Wolf. “Wonder if she misses me?” She shook her head and continued on the path she began until she stopped dead in her tracks.
Remington watched the monitor in front of her with her mouth agape. “Can that really be?” She looked at the time in the corner of the screen and frowned—Parker had been gone for almost two hours. “Wonder where she went?” She looked in Parker's bedroom and frowned when she wasn't there. A sudden chill made her rubbed the back of her neck where the hairs were standing straight up. A furrow deeply creased the space between her eyebrows as she walked quickly toward the back door. “I heard her leave,” she said as she opened the door and stepped outside. The heat was overpowering and she shaded her eyes as they scanned the horizon—Parker was nowhere in sight. Remington went back inside, picked up a hat, water bottle, binoculars, and for good measure slid her Glock in the back of her jeans. Then following her instincts, she began walking briskly out toward the vast horizon.
The intense brutal heat slowed her pace as she kept moving toward the west. Stopping, she brought the binoculars to her eyes and searched for Parker—nothing. Her gut told her that she was going in the right direction as she took a gulp of the water before she picked up her pace as a feeling of urgency overwhelmed her. She stopped the third time and scanned the arid land in front of her. She saw Parker standing stock still as a coyote had her backed up against scrub. In an all out run, Remington took off holding her gun in the air squeezing off rounds as screamed at the beast. When she got closer, she saw that the coyote running away and slowed down to a brisk walk until she reached Parker.
The woman had her shirt tied around her head and was standing there in her sports bra and jeans—sweaty. Remington held out the water bottle and Parker took it and gulped down the water. “Not so fast,” Remington said. “What the hell are you doing way out here without water?”
Vacant eyes looked at the woman who had just come to her rescue. “I didn't realize how far I'd gone. I was on my way back when my friend decided to visit.” Her dark eyes fixed on the Wolf's green eyes. “Thank you. I figured I might be able to take him but once he started howling I knew his friends would soon join him.” She looked around. “We should get back to the house before the pack gathers…we're sitting ducks out here.”
Back inside the comfortable adobe dwelling, Remington said, “Get cooled down then we need to discuss what I've discovered.” She looked at Parker who downed her second glass of water. After all the time together, Remington could spot the facial features that told her Parker was in extreme pain—this was such a time. Fighting the urge to hug and take care of the woman, Remington said, “You better take your meds,” in a low growl, then added, “When you get yourself together I'll be waiting for you in the safe room.” She squared her shoulders and left without looking at Parker.
With a quizzical expression mixed with agony, Parker's eyes tracked Remington's departure as her hand cupped her head. The fact that the Wolf had come to find her and rescued her was not lost on her. “If my head didn't hurt so much I'd make a move on her.” She let a small smile crease her lips before it turned to a grimace. “I need my meds,” she slurred as she got up and headed for her room.
Remington didn't look up from the monitor when she heard Parker enter the room. “Are you going to be able to focus on what I have to tell you?” she asked in a cold indifferent tone. “If you're not a hundred percent I don't want your input or help.”
Parker's eyes narrowed. “Look, I can run rings around you at fifty percent so don't go getting all high and mighty with me, Wolf. She crept closer to the Wolf. “Show me what you have?”
With irritation and anger bubbling just below the surface, Remington pointed to the screen. “Over the last two years, teams have been systematically terminated and replaced with who I believe are members of the Castellan Cartel. Director Berkowitz was directly involved in each termination order.”
Parker frowned. “I can't believe he did all that and no one in the organization caught on.”
“My thinking exactly,” Remington said as she tapped on a name. “The other person involved is Dana Bordello.” She looked at Parker. “Do you know who that is?”
Shaking her head, Parker said, “Not a clue.”
Remington ground her teeth before she rubbed her face hoping the action would stop the threatening headache. “Your take?”
“I don't see we have any option but to terminate them both.”
“I agree.” She lifted her eyes and fixed them on Parker. “We need a strategy.”
Parker and Remington lay on their stomachs side by side under an awning on a rooftop three quarters of a mile from their targets. Their sniper rifles held in place on tripods as they adjusted the sites to compensate for wind speed, trajectory, and the natural curve of the earth.
“Wind speed, calm with gust to three miles per hour…that's negligible,” Parker said as her rifle automatically adjusted.
“On target,” Remington said as had the person named Dana Bordello in the rifles cross hairs.
“Steady,” Parker softly said as her finger wrapped around the trigger. She watched as Director Berkowitz shook hands with each of the new cartel bosses—her site set on his temple. “Now,” she growled as she squeezed the trigger and watched as seconds later the director's head exploded. She swung her rifle to see the same fate befall Dana Bordello.
Without words, they quickly and efficiently gathered their equipment and left the rooftop leaving nothing behind to identify them. Once they arrived at the panel truck, they tucked their equipment inside before they got in and Parker drove casually away from the building—their targets eliminated.
It had taken a month of intense surveillance before Parker and Remington found the perfect time and place to take out Berkowitz and Bordello. During that time both women fell into a comfortable camaraderie that grew out of a common need. Often, late at night when they were at the safe house, they would sit out on a porch and listen to the sounds of the desert night. Coyotes that had once cornered Parker, howled but never ventured close enough to see.
Over that time, despite her growing attraction to the Wolf, Parker held her libido in check—the stakes were too high to compromise the mission with a sexual liaison. Yet, each night when she retired, she would lie in her bed and fantasize that they were making love. Often the feelings her dreaming evoked were so over powering that she would get up and go after the object of her desires only to stop. At last, she realized that going all in as she did with Olivia had dire consequences. Where Olivia caused immediate arousal that bordered on reckless, the Wolf caused a smoldering desire that she knew if acted upon would be earth shattering in its intensity.
Often she would catch the Wolf looking at her with what she identify as want and need. When Parker attempted to illicit more from the woman, she received cold indifference. Yet, she had seen the look many times before and knew it was only a matter of time before they would deepen their relationship—the Wolf would be hers.
Now, driving the van sitting so close to the Wolf, Parker could feel the warmth emanating from her body. “We need to monitor the chatter,” she said as her eyes watched the road ahead. She chinned at the police vehicle and the ambulance that sped through the upcoming intersection. “Right on schedule I see.”
Remington nodded. “We've got to ditch his van.”
“I will. Once we get out of town and back to the apartment I'll take care of it,” Parker said as she stopped at the curb for a police car that screamed past them. “It doesn't look like they're looking for us.”
“Not yet.” Remington rubbed her forehead. “Once they see the caliber we used they will expand their search.” She looked out the window. “It will then only be a matter of time before they find that rooftop.”
“No way will they link anything back to us.” Parker turned the van's steering wheel sharply and headed away from the crime scene and out of town. “We left that place clean.”
Remington turned her head and looked directly at Parker. “I've seen a case turn on clean so don't get cocky—we're not in the clear yet.”
Parker knew the truth of the words. It wouldn't have taken long for DOCO to discover that their tracking chips were gone. The question—would they connect the dots—would they know who killed Berkowitz and Bordello? “We'll be back to the apartment in five minutes then we will find out.”
Sitting next to Parker, Remington scanned through all the sites she knew DOCO operatives frequented. Most surprising—her name and password still worked. Pushing back in her chair, she turned to Parker. “Nothing.”
“Hmm, maybe it's too soon.”
Remington gave Parker a sharp look. “You can't possibly believe that.”
Parker lifted one shoulder and looked away. “I'm getting myself a cup of coffee you want one?”
Looking at the unyielding profile of the Wolf, Parker let out a small snort before she left the room. “Suit yourself.”
Remington heard the clanging of a coffee cup and looked toward the door. What's with me lately? The mission was a success so why am I so distracted. Her eyes tracked beyond the door and waited for the return of the woman she had worked closely with over the last six weeks. Parker Davis was a paradox—what she had heard about the woman was completely different from the person she now knew. When she saw Parker start to enter the room, her stomach did a flip and she felt the stirrings of arousal. Shaking her head to rid her mind of her x-rated thoughts, she scowled. “Something is not right. We need to figure out what it is and how it affects us.”
Once she put her coffee cup on the table holding the monitor, Parker sat down and scooted the chair closer to the Wolf.
With their shoulders a hair's breadth from touching, it took every ounce of resistance for Remington not to forget everything and kiss Parker. I won't let her get to me that way. Clearing her throat, she said, “There is absolutely no chatter about them—that fact alone speaks volumes.” She moved the cursor and the screen changed to a different page. “There's nothing in any news source about the shootings.”
With her fingers tapping on her coffee cup, Parker nodded then said, “I'll get rid of the van…we need to stay put until we figure out what's going on.”
“I've resisted calling anyone since this all started…I have one contact I can call for information.” Remington picked up the phone only to have Parker's hand cover hers. “Don't.”
“If you're wrong, we're both dead.”
Remington yanked her hand and the receiver free. “I'm not wrong.”
“They why haven't you called this person before this?”
With her jaw set, her voice low and ominous, Remington said, “I don't need to answer to you.”
Parker moved so she was within an inch of Remington's face. “My life is on the line too so yes you do.”
Ignoring the words, Remington dialed the number and waited. “It takes one to know one,” she said into the receiver. After hearing the response, she said, “Only if it rains tomorrow.” When she heard the appropriate response she said, “Tell me everything.” When Remington hung up, she looked at Parker and grinned. “It seems that we did DOCO a favor by eliminating Berkowitz and Bordello.”
Parker traded the panel truck for a Jeep Cherokee, which the two women loaded with all their equipment before they headed back to the safe house.
“Once we secure the rifles and the other equipment, we can head off on our separate ways,” Parker said after she finished pumping gas. “I figure we have about another hour and a half before we get there.” She turned briefly to look at the Wolf. “Did you make your reservations to go back to DC?”
Remington rotated her head and looked out the window—she didn't want Parker to see her face. “No,” she said softly. “I need to wind down first.”
“Yeah, I know how that is,” said Parker before she added, “do you want to stay at the house or are you going elsewhere?” she asked holding her breath.
With her eyes focused on the passing landscape, Remington whispered, “I'd like to stay at the house if it is ok with you.” The words were out of her mouth before she could stop them and she let out a low growl. God, when did I become so pathetic? She was dog tired and she didn't want to acknowledge her emotions that were swirling around her non-stop.
The words from the Wolf made Parker smile. “I'd like that.” She laughed. “Do you think we'll know what to do with all the free time?”
Smiling herself, Remington looked at her traveling companion. “Maybe we can work up a detailed plan about how we will relax,” she said with a chuckle. “It's been a long time since I've had time to just chill and read a book or something.” The truth of her words hit Remington square in the jaw and she flinched at the blow. Absently she said, “I've been so caught up in murder and mayhem that I forgot there is more to life than that.” She then resumed her observation of the landscape passing by—the discussion was over.
The interior of the house was cool as both Parker and Remington entered through the front door. Parker could feel her shoulders relax and the headache that was her constant companion seemed to give up some of its hold over her. Turning to look at the Wolf, Parker noticed the exhaustion along with something she couldn't quite figure out on her face. She heard the Wolf's comment about murder and mayhem and knew exactly what she meant. She unconsciously rubbed her head. The words described her before the bullet in her head made her stop and eventually reevaluate her life. If she were truthful, the three missions over the last six weeks didn't illicit the same thrill that similar tasks had before the shooting.
“You look beat,” Parker said. “Why don't you sit down and rest and I'll get everything unloaded.”
Remington looked into Parker's eyes and saw genuine concern. “I could stubbornly refuse and tell you that you are crazy but the truth is…,” she rubbed a hand across her face. “I never thought I'd say this, but I'm out of steam.” She looked at Parker and smiled. “You don't look that much better…why not leave the unpacking until later.”
Parker regarded the comment feeling her shoulders relax even more. “Want a beer?”
“Sounds good. What do you say I take you to the diner in town later for an early evening hamburger?”
Laughing, Parker put her hand over her heart. “Be still my heart…,” she laughed, “they actually do have one hell of a good burger. You're on.”
With one smooth motion, Remington fell into a leather chair and sighed at the comfort. For all the time she'd spent in the adobe house she had never sat on any of the furniture and she wondered why. Oh, yeah I had to figure out how to get my ass out of the mess the assassination of Castellan caused. Her eyes tracked to the woman reentering the room and she felt something she hadn't felt in a long time—an affinity to another person. She watched Parker approach her and smiled. Taking the offered cold bottle of beer she said, “Thanks.”
Parker flopped onto the couch and she too sighed at the comfort it afforded her. She laughed. “No one's after us, we have no directors out to end our lives, so what do we do now.”
Remington woke and her eyes cautiously glanced around the room. Parker was sitting on the couch reading a book. She felt a light blanket covering her body as panic filled her mind and body. There never was a time that she could remember when she'd let her guard down and fell asleep while another was awake. Even on that hill where she and Parker lie in wait to assassinate the cartel leaders, had she slept so deeply—it simply wasn't in her nature. Yet, for some unknown reason she had fallen into a deep sleep that let her be vulnerable. When she heard Parker speak, she shook her head and looked at the woman.
“You're awake,” Parker said with a lilt in her voice.
“What time is it?” Remington inquired as she pushed the blanket off and sat up straight.
“Just a little before six.”
Closing her eyes and running a hand across her face, Remington said, “Morning?”
Parker laughed. “No, early evening. You slept about three hours.” Looking directly into the Wolf's eyes, she saw what she suspected was panic. “I wouldn't let anyone harm you.”
Remington rolled her shoulders, stretched slightly, and let her in command exterior show. Yet, she still felt vulnerable—Parker made her feel that way.
With her stomach growling loudly, Parker smiled and rubbed her palm over it. “I remember you saying something about taking me out to the diner. Is that still on?”
She knew she should say no, that she should gather all her belongings, and get as far away from Parker Davis as she could. Instead, she stood up and smiled at the woman. “Yeah, I'm starving.”
“You were right, Parker, this burger is amazing…thick juicy and not overcooked.” Remington smacked her lips. “And these fries are so good. I bet they use lard.”
Parker laughed. “I think you're right about that.” She let her eyes rest on the Wolf's face taken again by her beauty. “Any idea of what you're going to do next?” she asked.
Remington put her hamburger down on the plate and shook her head. “Not a clue.”
Knowing she was on thin ice, Parker said, “I don't think I want to work for DOCO again.” She bit the inside of her cheek then swallowed hard. “I imagine that all you and I have been through over the last few weeks might be a positive note for DOCO, but…”
In a soft voice, Parker said, “I don't think I can do the job.” She rubbed the scar on her head and looked away—she didn't want to see the look of contempt on the Wolf's face.
When she reached across the table and took Parker's hand, it surprised her. When the woman's hand stiffened then relaxed into hers, Remington said, “In the last month or so working with you I never doubted your abilities. In fact, I think we made a good team.” She squeezed Parker's hand slightly before she let go.
Parker snorted before she let out a humorless chuckle. “We both know I'm a fuckup and I suspect DOCO knows that too. After what we just did without their sanction I'm fairly certain they don't want me back.” She fixed her dark gaze on the Wolf's blue eyes. “You on the other hand, are a valuable commodity…they probably think I somehow coerced you into working with me.”
“My, my you do have a big ego,” Remington countered. “No one and I mean no one , coerces me into doing anything.” Bristling with anger, she pushed her plate away. “What makes you think they want me back, Parker? If I recall, I was knee deep in everything we did…my bullets killed too.”
A small sarcastic smile curved around Parker's lips. “You are the golden child…their top agent and you can do no wrong.”
“Bullshit. If I was that valuable, why didn't they do something about the contract out on me? Why did they let Berkowitz and Bordello take out my whole team? If it hadn't been for you, I'd be dead too,” Remington said her voice thick with emotion.
The door to the diner opened and both women looked toward it. The kids that they chased off the property six weeks earlier walked into the area laughing and talking loudly. After they sat down, the tall boy with red hair, eyes opened wide before he hit his friend's shoulder and whispered something. Then, all the boys were looking at Parker and Remington with looks of horror on their faces—they left in a hurry.
Parker laughed. “I guess they weren't hungry.” She looked at the Wolf's partially eaten burger. “You done?”
Remington scrunched her nose. “Kinda lost my appetite.” She looked down at her plate. “It was very good though.”
“Did I lose my appetite?” Parker nodded yes and Remington lifted her eyes and looked toward the door. “My choices for a future are limited. Yours, on the other hand, are not.” She then made eye contact with Parker. “Amelia West did you the biggest favor of your life, Parker.”
Laughing, Parker said, “Yeah, right.”
In a low growl, Remington said, “She gave you a way out, Parker. With that head wound and all that entails what are your options with DOCO?”
Parker raised her eyebrows. “You know what they are,” she said in an ominous tone. “Unless you take me along with you I don't stand a chance.”
“Then the question becomes is that what you want…back with DOCO?”
“I could ask you the same question. As for me, DOCO paid me well for my services. I have several houses around the world and a seven figure bank account in Switzerland , so I don't need to work, but I need to do something. I'd go crazy.” She eyed the Wolf. “Are you going back to work for them?”
“I have no choice,” Remington whispered. “You know how they pursued Olivia...they will treat me the same.”
The sharp pain Parker felt at the thought of the Wolf leaving surprised her. “Are you taking me with you?”
“Not now. I need to see what the lay of the land is there before I bring you in.” Or risk your life, Parker. Remington felt her back stiffen at the thought. What the hell is going on with me? Since when do I start caring if something happens to another agent? Her eyes tracked to Parker's darker ones and she blew out a breath. “There's a distinct possibility they will eliminate me once I get back. The fact that I removed the tracking device is a cause for eradication…you know that as well as I do.”
Parker saw the sadness in the Wolf's eyes and desperately wanted to reach out and take all the doubt away. She did not. “They already think I'm a whack job…it won't be much of a leap if you let them think it was all my doing—that I forced you to remove the device.”
A thin smile curved Remington's lips. “I can't do that, Parker.” She pushed back her chair, picked up the check, and said, “Dinner is on me,” before she walked away from the table—the discussion was over.
Parker woke up with a start. The only sound was the howling of the wind outside as granules of sand pummeled the panes of glass in the windows. The wind did not wake her—it was the dream that had haunted her ever since the bullet entered her head. The Wolf's words earlier rang truer than any Parker had ever heard. Amelia West did you the biggest favor of your life. It was all so obvious to her now, clearer than anything else in her life had ever been. “Amelia did save me,” she whispered as she recalled the events leading up to the shooting.
Her obsession with Olivia Santos was nothing more than a way to get the woman back in her life so she, Parker, could be the one to leave. She had spent years plotting how to get back at Olivia for walking out of her life. And, that mania had turned her into a monster, which she now realized had fit neatly into DOCO's plans. Over the last six weeks, working alongside the Wolf, the fragments of memories that always were blurred came into focus. Now, in the darkness, with the wind whipping and rattling the windows she understood how her handlers at DOCO continually fed on her desire for vengeance against Olivia so they could control her—to turn her into a demon. What she thought of as her being in control was nothing more than a well choreographed puppet show where the puppeteer's strings manipulated her every move.
A small smile curved her lips as the vision of the Wolf came to mind. There was no denying that they worked together as if they were partners for years rather than weeks. She also couldn't deny her growing attraction to the woman—she knew she had to get her own life together before she could think about any type of relationship with the Wolf or anyone else. And, it was clear to her that she would never work for DOCO again—her life would take a new and different path. Although, she didn't know who would want to employ an ex-assassin of a covert government agency, she knew she would survive—she always managed to land on her feet.
After she let out a small satisfied sigh, Parker snuggled back under the sheets, yawned, and went back to sleep.
Yawning and stretching, Parker felt better than she had in over a year. The pain that was her constant companion was still there but only peripherally. Once she'd pulled on shorts and a t-shirt she made her way to the kitchen where she started the coffee before pulling out the ingredients for an omelet.
“That smells good,” Remington said as she made her way to the coffee pot. When her arm brushed against Parker, she shivered. That reaction now happened every time she was near the woman.
Parker looked up and took in the Wolf. Her green eyes that were normally bright were dull and dark circles framed them. It wasn't much of a leap for Parker to guess what was happening. “You've decided haven't you? You're going back aren't you?”
Remington sipped her coffee before she made eye contact with Parker. “I don't have a choice. You know what they're like…they will not be dissuaded.” She shrugged. “What about you?”
The bubble of excitement Parker felt spread over her face. “I'm going to take some time and decide what I want to do,” she said before she added cheese to the omelet on the griddle. “You know you can stay here. I don't think they'll find you.”
Closing her eyes briefly, Remington felt a swell of sadness engulf her. “I wish I could. It just isn't an option. Eventually they'd find me and that would compromise you.”
“I'm a big girl and can take care of myself,” Parker said as she plated two omelets. “Sit down, breakfast is ready.”
Not moving, Remington softly said, “I won't compromise you,” before she moved toward the table. “I've made arrangements for a limo to pick me up in town and take me to the airport,” she said as she sat down.
“Why?” Parker asked. “I'll take you to the airport.”
Around a forkful of eggs, Remington shook her head. “They know I'm coming in…it isn't unreasonable to think they'll be watching.” She put the fork down. “There's no way I'm going to let them get their hooks back in you, Parker.”
Parker, taken aback by the emotion that colored the Wolf's words, said, “But you will let them do what they will with you?”
“It's the best solution all the way around.” She looked directly into Parker's eyes. “There's no way I'll let them know where you are.” Pushing away from the table, Remington stood and gently squeezed Parker's shoulder before she left the kitchen.
“Wait,” Parker said as she too got up and followed the Wolf. When she reached the woman, she reached out and stopped her. “I know you won't let them know my whereabouts.”
Remington spun around, her jaw set with resolve. “I'll never betray you,” she said in a cold even tone.
Parker took a step closer and cupped the Wolf's face in her hands. “You don't have to go…you can stay here with me.”
“I can't,” Remington whispered.
Trembling lips met in a soft gentle kiss that said so much in its simplicity.
Taking a step back, Parker sighed then leaned in and let her forehead meet the Wolf's soft skin. “Let me take you to the airport,” she urged.
“No,” Remington said with a note of sadness. “That's not a chance I am prepared to take.” She wrapped Parker in her arms. “I have a few aces up my sleeve that may convince them to let me go.”
Parker hugged the Wolf closer and whispered, “I'll be here waiting.”
Parker watched as the Wolf put her suitcase by the door. “Let me take you to the airport,” she said again, for what seemed like the hundredth time.
“You know I can't do that, Parker. Just letting you take me to town if risky enough. That's why we will arrive there two hours before the scheduled time.”
With a light laugh, Parker said, “What makes you think the driver has anything to do with DOCO?”
Remington ran her palm over Parker's cheek. “I don't but, as I've already said, I won't do anything to compromise the life you can have without DOCO.” She smiled and picked up her suitcase.
“Do you have all the Federal Marshall documents and badge?”
“Yep,” Remington said patting her pocket.
“And the weapons?”
She pulled up her pant leg and divulged a small revolver before opening her jacket to reveal a shoulder holster. “I will keep all the passengers safe,” she said with a snicker. “I know for a fact that DOCO will be monitoring the airport for me. At least this way I'll have some sort of protection if I'm to be eliminated.”
Parker shuddered at the cold matter-of-fact way the Wolf said those words. “We'd better get going then,” she commented with little enthusiasm. “We can share coffee at the café until the limo arrives.”
From a distance, Parker watched as a small woman in a black suit loaded the Wolf's suitcase into the trunk of the limo. Remington Wolf looked in her direction and a smile curved her lips for a moment before it disappeared. Once the back door closed and the Wolf was out of sight, Parker let a tear roll down her cheek. She wished things were different but she knew that the choice to leave wasn't hers to make. Just as she needed to follow a new path so did the Wolf. If the fates were good to them, their journeys would bring them back together. For now, their attraction occurred at the wrong time and place. Her chance for a new life may or may not be with the Wolf and that it was ok.
Tomorrow is another day she thought as she started the Hummer. She watched the limo fade from sight and a satisfied smile curved her lips. “And it will be a new start for me.”
I always appreciate feedback. E-mail Erin
If you'd like to read more about Olivia and Amelia and Parker you can find all the stories of this series here .
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