Disclaimer: See Part 1
“C'mon girls,” James clapped his hands for attention. “We ate dinner too early. How about some popcorn and a movie? He held up the remote control. “Let's see what's on…”
Caroline snagged the remote from her father's hands and began to flip through the channels. Infomercial…no, commercial…no, wrestling…yuck, sports…not soccer so, no, news…ick, news…sigh, no… commercial… commercial…
“Wait!” Cassidy tried to grab the remote. “Go back…”
“What?” Caroline kept her grip on the channel controller. “Why?”
“Just go back!” Cassidy pleaded. “I think that's where Mom and Andy are.”
Shaking her head, slightly confused, Caroline did as her sister asked and turned back to the news channel. They watched the screen avidly as a news reporter spoke into the microphone in a matter-of-fact tone.
“Once again, there has been at least one shot fired.” The reporter put her hand to her ear and nodded. “Apparently the police have established a contact inside the ballroom and we are now being told that there are no injuries. The gunman has not yet been identified but he is believed to be this man.” A picture appeared on the screen of a middle-aged man with rather messy dark hair, a bit of a scraggly beard and a large scar on his right cheek.
Caroline gasped. “No!” She buried her face in her hands. “No, no no…”
“Quiet!” Cassidy waved her sister silent, wanting to hear what was going on. Slowly growing as frantic as her sister seemed to instantly be.
Staring at the face from her nightmare, Caroline was oblivious to both her sister and her father's growing concern as the reporter continued to inform them of the hostage situation at the gala charity event.
Miranda ground her teeth together. For the better part of three hours now she had endured the man's understandable, but infuriating, attentions toward Andrea. Holding her hand at dinner was bad enough but then the dancing had been worse. Now they were seated back at the main table and the man's roaming hands were sliding far too close to places on Andrea that no one's hands should be but hers. She didn't know why Andrea was putting up with it, but she was tired of it and could only think one thought. No more. It was not only her she was thinking of, she knew that Andrea had been pushed nearly to her limit as well.
“This whole thing is ridiculous.” She gestured to him in her usual imperious manner. “Take your bag of jewelry and go.” Andrea's eyes met hers and Miranda saw sheer panic in those dark eyes.
“Ahhh… see, there's the problem.” He grinned, not pleasantly. “I'm going to need a hostage to get out of here.” He grabbed Andy's arm and with the gun pointed at her temple spoke to Miranda. “Get up, Granny.” He grinned as Miranda stood fairly quickly. Alternating the gun between them, he asked Jo for her opinion. “Which one should I take, Detective?” It wasn't really a serious question. He knew who was coming with him. It would be interesting to hear Jo's evaluation though.
“Honestly, I'd say neither of them.” She stood slowly and walked toward the head table. “You could take me.” She saw Blair's lips part, her wife's face the picture of terror as it had been for the majority of this ordeal but forced herself to continue. “A police detective makes a pretty good hostage.”
He seemed to consider that for a minute. “Ehhhh…. No.” He shook his head. “Too well trained,” he again waved his gun between Andy and Miranda, “one of these two would be easier to handle, I think.” He studied them both, knowing the feeling within himself, knowing he was going to take Andrea with him. Still, he asked Jo. “So which one?” He'd seen a flyer about tonight's event and knew Miranda was the guest of honor. “This one was gonna get an award tonight…” That meant she was important and would likely make a good bargaining chip. Still, the brunette was so… Mmmm…
Jo considered the question. “Well, yes, Miranda is highly respected and you would probably get more leverage with her, but if you take her the D.A. will throw the entire weight of his department at you to take you down. Plus I don't think it would look all that good on the evening news if you took an old lady hostage.” Jo's lips twitched at the collective gasp from the watching crowd and now locked her eyes with Andy, who nodded almost imperceptibly. “Andrea on the other hand, I think would give you sufficient bargaining power… so long as the police make sure their left hand knows what their right hand is doing.”
Adam nodded. “I'll take the brunette.” Like that wasn't the plan from the moment he'd seen her.
Miranda had heard Jo's analysis of the situation and was sure she was going to recommend that the man take her, but then she heard him speaking, watched the scar on his cheek jump as his lips moved in almost slow motion saying he would take the brunette and remembered what Andrea had said about Caroline's dream; that the man with the scar on his cheek had killed her. That thought froze her. She was so frightened she literally couldn't move. She saw the gunman reaching for Andy.
He reached for her. “C'mon, Baby.”
Andy watched him move to capture her, and snapped. As he reached for her, she grabbed his hand, “ I ,” spun around and going with the motion, “ am not ,” flipped him over her shoulder. Stepping on the wrist of the hand his gun was in, “ your ,” was all it took to open his hand, a flick of her foot sent the weapon a few feet away and off the raised platform before she seemed to dance away. “ Baby! ”
“You bitch!” He jumped to his feet and forgetting the gun moved toward Andy with his hands ready to grab her throat.
Miranda blinked and moved, fast, twirling she swept his legs out from under him, landing him squarely on his back. Everyone heard the whoosh of air that was forced from his lungs at the impact. She stepped out of her shoes as he rose to his knees, gasping for breath. Another whirl connected the flat of her foot with the side of his head and the man was again stretched out on the floor, groaning.
Before Miranda could do anything else, Jo was there. Flipping him onto his stomach, knee digging into the small of his back, the detective dragged his arms behind him cuffing his wrists together. “Dude…” She laughed as she clicked the second restraint around his wrist. “‘Granny' just kicked your ass.”
With a deep breath, Jo controlled her amusement and got down to the mechanics of the job. “You, have the right to remain silent.” She patted him between his pulled back shoulders and helped him to his feet. “You have the right to an attorney, if you cannot afford…”
Andy tuned out Jo's businesslike voice and turned to Miranda. “Are you okay?”
With a crisp nod, Miranda put her shoes back on, smiled and reached up to caress the soft cheek. “I'm fine. You?”
“Yeah, I'm fine.” Adoring doe-eyes twinkled and she remembered something Miranda had told her a few days ago. “Black belt, huh?” She chuckled. “We make a good team.”
“You bet we do.” Miranda winked then glanced at Jo hauling the man away. “Wait!” She crossed the distance between them and reached into the man's shirt pocket retrieving the ring he'd put there. Tilting her head at the detective, she gestured for them to continue out the door.
Jo laughed and spoke quietly as she passed, “Lady, you're somethin' else.” Unclipping her badge, she pushed the exit door open with Adam's body while holding her badge above her head. “It's all clear…” she announced, surprised at the unusually large amount of police cars and officers at the scene. Holy Hell, the entire force is here. “Somebody give this guy a ride to the station.” She handed the man over to a uni, “Thanks.” She raised her voice again, “I need an evidence bag.”
Blinking at her name, she turned to see a uniformed officer that she'd worked with at her first assignment. “Hey! Jimmy… how'ya been?”
“Fine…” He looked at her quizzically. “How'd you get in there and why are you dressed like that? Wait, are you here with The Chief?”
Laughing, Jo rolled her eyes and waved off the rest of his questions. “Long story.” She accepted an evidence bag from another officer and would have liked to talk to Jimmy longer but, “Listen, I've got some things to do inside, but call me, we can catch up.” She waved over her shoulder as she quickly returned to the ballroom.
Aware that every eye in the room was on her, Miranda walked directly to Andrea. She spoke softly, but the room was so quiet, everyone heard her. “I thought you might want this back.” She lifted Andy's left hand and slid the ring on the appropriate finger, again.
Andy sobbed and wrapped her arms around the older woman, just holding her, reassuring herself that they were both okay. They vaguely heard Jo asking if anyone had touched the gun, and heard her inform everyone that they'd need to leave their names with the officer at the door and could give their statements now or else they would be expected to come in to the station and give their statements within the next two days.
One of the officers had pulled the cell phones out of the bag and placed them on a table. He was now handing them out to the rightful owners. The jewelry would take a bit longer to sort out and return to the rightful owners.
Jo collected the gun into the evidence bag and handed it over to the ballistics guy. “Thanks. Tell Alan I'll be in later to start on the paperwork.”
“You got it, Jo.”
With a hand on each of their backs, Jo asked her friends. “You guys okay?”
“We're fine, Detective.” Miranda turned her head, resting her cheek against Andrea's soft hair. “Go take care of your wife.”
“Right. When you get ready, go ahead and take off, we'll get a ride in one of the squad cars.” Jo went to find Blair.
“Miranda?” Andy murmured.
“Yes, my Darling?”
“Can we leave now?” Andy knew she sounded whiny but at this point she didn't care. She'd had enough of guns, and criminals and near death experiences. “I just want to go home.”
“Yes, Andrea.” Pulling away slightly, Miranda tangled their fingers together and led the young woman toward the exit. They stopped at the table to retrieve their cell phones then for another moment to give their names to the officer at the door. That was long enough for an observant Roy to have the car ready and waiting at the curb.
As they walked to the car, both women were grateful that the police had moved the reporters back.
Jo found Blair, again sitting on the floor, but she had moved to a secluded corner, back against the wall. The detective sat next to the blonde and didn't say anything, just held her hand, and sat there, waiting.
“Joanna Marie Polniaczek-Warner …” Blair's voice cracked as she looked straight ahead. “… Never scare me like that again.”
Pulling Blair into her lap, Jo smiled as Blair's arms wound around her neck and the blonde head rested on her shoulder. The detective kissed Blair's forehead, then rested her cheek against that very spot and closed her eyes. “I'll do my best, Princess.”
They continued to sit there in silence when a man walked up, stopping in front of them.
Jo took a deep breath and opened her eyes to look up into the stern face of The Chief of Police. She made no move to release Blair. “Yes sir?”
He looked at her, them, for a long moment then nodded. “Good job, Detective.”
“Yes, sir.” She copied his nod as he walked away. “Thank you, sir.”
She could feel Blair shaking and held her tighter. “It's okay,” Jo soothed, “it's over, no one got hurt.”
“I know.” Blair tried to calm herself down. “You let him think you were married… to a man.”
“I couldn't let him know about you, that you were here, it would have put you in danger.” Jo berated herself on how close she had come to joking about how she didn't mind the flirting at work so much, but her wife might have taken exception… she would have never forgiven herself if she'd put Blair in danger for a thoughtless joking comment. “All I wanted to do was keep you safe.”
“You did.” Blair hugged her, and kissed her lightly. “You kept everyone safe.” Sitting up she looked directly into the blue eyes she loved. “My hero.” Suddenly her eyes narrowed and she frowned. “Now, about these women flirting with you at work…”
“Uh oh…” Jo smiled and chuckled. “I'm in trouble now, right?”
“You bet your ‘beautiful detective just like on TV' butt.” Blair sighed and laid her head back on Jo's shoulder. “Later. Right now, I just want to hold you.”
Tightening her embrace, Jo sighed. “That's the best plan I've heard all night.”
“Roy,” Miranda spoke to the man quietly. “Take us home.”
“Yes, ma'am.” He pulled away from the curb and upon seeing small kisses in the rear view mirror, he raised the tinted dividing window to give them some privacy. He hadn't known what to think when the police began arriving, but when he finally figured out the situation it had been very scary. Several cars had arrived in a very short amount of time and he learned that the Chief of Police had been in attendance. Roy chuckled; when the police found out who he worked for the number of black and white cars had tripled. The news van count had increased considerably as well. He was very glad when he saw the couple appear in the doorway. It was among the longest three hours of his life and he was sure the women in the back seat could say the same.
“Andrea, there were several news vans. We need to call and let the girls know we are okay.” Miranda took out her cell phone and dialed James' number. He had obviously looked at the caller ID because his first words were, “My God, Miranda, are you alright?” The phone was immediately pulled from his hands and an anxious little voice transmitted through the phone.
“Mom! Are you okay? Where's Andy? What happened? Is Andy okay? Where's Andy!”
“Yes, Darling… I'm fine and Andrea is too, she's right here with me.” Miranda handed the phone to Andy. “Talk to her, she's frantic.”
Andy took a deep breath, knowing which one would be frantic and why. She smiled into the phone. “Hey Munchkin…”
“It was him, Andy… the man from my nightmare… are you sure he didn't hurt you?”
Nodding, Andy tried to reassure the girl. “Yes, I'm fine. Honest, I'm really okay. Nothing major…just a little bruise on my wrist, I promise, I'm fine. Jo was there and your Mom was awesome…no worries. I love you.” She heard Cassidy rip the phone out of Caroline's hand.
“Andy? Are you okay?”
“Hiya Sweetie, I'm just fine and so is your mom… Enjoy the rest of your weekend at your Dad's okay? Love you.”
“Love you too, Ma.” Cassidy breathed easier now that they knew everyone was safe. “Take care, okay? Can I talk to Mom?”
“Yep, will do… Here's your mom.” She handed the phone back to Miranda.
“Yes, Bobbsey, we're really fine. Enjoy your weekend, we'll see you on Sunday.” Miranda smiled. “I love you too, darling.” She ended the call and sighed, “I'm glad we called, they were worried sick.”
Andy gasped, “I wonder how widespread the news is?” She quickly got her phone and dialed. The phone only rang once when a worried Dorothy answered. “Andrea, what's going on? My God the news said you were taken hostage!?”
“I'm fine, Ma. Not really hostage, the guy held everyone at gunpoint.” She recounted the event, compressing three hours of tension and a few moments of terror into less than a minute, and managed to keep it light for her Mother's benefit. “He got my new necklace and Miranda's pearls.” She looked apologetically at Miranda who waved off the concern.
“We will get the Blue Heart Sapphire, and my pearls, back when the police are finished with them as evidence.”
Andy's breath caught in her throat. Blue Heart Sapphire? Oh my God…a named gem? Her mother's voice in her ear brought her back to reality. “Yes, Ma. We really are fine. I'm gonna call Gram okay?”
“Your Gram isn't home.” Dorothy sighed. “She's been staying in the room on the first floor of the B&B, helping her friend, Mary, while Mary's husband has been in the hospital…”
“Oh, yeah… I remember you telling us that. We sent flowers to his room.” Andy sensed something was wrong. “Ma? What is it?”
“He passed away. The funeral was today.” Dorothy sighed. “I think your Gram will be staying at Mary's for quite a while to help her through it.”
“I'm sorry to hear that,” Andy said. “That he passed I mean, I have the number for the B&B from when we stayed there. I'll call Gram there.”
“Oh, okay then.” Dorothy sighed. “I'll talk to you later, honey. I love you.”
“Yeah, we still have wedding plans to make.” Andy looked at Miranda. Now more than ever. “I love you too, Ma.” She disconnected the call.
Miranda looked expectantly. “Passed?”
“Mr. King.” Andy wrapped her arms around Miranda's shoulders and recalled the man's loud boisterous laugh. “He seemed nice.” She felt really sorry for Mrs. King to have been with her husband for so long and then suddenly be without him. I can't imagine. She was glad for the warmth of Miranda in her arms. What would I do without her? Her mind flashed to the horrible thought of being without Miranda; a horror that was multiplied by her partner's quiet comment.
“He wasn't much older than I am.”
“Oh God! Don't say things like that!!” Andy clung to Miranda, “Please, not after the evening we just had. I can't think about… that.”
“I'm sorry darling. I wasn't thinking.” Miranda tangled her fingers in the dark hair and held the young woman close. “It was just an observation. I didn't mean…”
“Don't leave me, Miranda.” Andy couldn't control the tears. “Please, don't ever leave me.”
“Andrea, shhhhh…” Gentle caresses finally soothed her fiancée's great heaving sobs down to mere deep breaths. “We will discuss it another time.” She promised. “But if it is at all within my power… I will not leave you.”
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