See part 1 for disclaimers and warnings

Note: Astolpho's at the Marcello Hotel is a completely fictitious restaurant and hotel.


Leather and Lace

Part Three

By Greek Warrior (Joan)



Chapter Eight:


The plane landed at Bolling Air Force Base, just south of the DC area, to a grey overcast drizzling October day.  They stood under the plane's wing to stay dry while waiting for the representative from the State Department that was meeting them.  "I don't remember it being quiet this cold this time of year."  Kris moved to stand beside Raven.  "Thanks for the parka."  She had her hands stuffed inside the pockets and her head squished down inside the collar of the drab olive green coat resembling a turtle inside his shell.


Raven had to stop herself from putting her arm around Kris' shoulders and pulling her close.  Instead she smiled at her companion.  "You're welcome."  The sound of footsteps approaching drew her attention.  She watched the Ambassador close the distance between them.


"Captain."  He stood nervously beside the taller woman.


'Well that's an improvement.'  She inclined her head in acknowledgment.  "Ambassador.  What can I do for you?"  She indiscreetly winked at Kris letting her know that it would be okay if she left them alone.


"I had a conversation with General Mitchell after we landed this morning.  He's on his way here along with the State Department's representative."  He paused a minute to organize his thoughts.


'Oh boy.'  Raven rolled her eyes.  'I wonder if the General told him that he's still going to be stuck with me for awhile.'


"I was informed that your team would be...with us a little longer."  He cleared his throat and stared off into the distance.  "I was also told about some of your...accomplishments and the general also told me in no uncertain terms, that I ought to consider myself lucky that you took this assignment in the first place."  He rocked back and forth from heel to toe with his hands clasped behind his back.  "Doug, General Mitchell, basically told me that I was being a fool and if I wanted to live to be an old fool that I had better listen to you and if you say jump, the only thing I should question is how high."  He looked at her for the first time since he had started talking and saw what he thought might be a sparkle of amusement in her eyes.


"General Mitchell seems to have a way with words."  She turned serious.  "Ambassador, I just want to do my job and keep you and your family safe.  If what I ask of you seems unreasonable, I assure you it's not.  I'm not in the habit of explaining myself or my actions, but I will try to answer legitimate questions."  She looked sideways at the shorter man.


"Fair enough, Captain.  But I'm still not comfortable with a woman in charge."  He turned his head to meet her gaze.


"I can't change your...opinion of what you see as 'a woman's place', but I am very good at what I choose to do, Ambassador."


He grunted an acknowledgment and watched her back as she moved away from him towards her team members.  He had sarcastically asked Lieutenant Logan just before they took off from the air base in Turkey, how it felt to 'betray his gender and tag along through life clinging to a woman's skirt'.  And was surprised by the brown eyes that looked at the Ambassador, filled with pity.  "Pretty damn good."  The Lieutenant had said.  "Considering that I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for 'that woman' pulling me out of hellhole after hellhole.  Be careful of what you say about her, Ambassador, you might find yourself up shit creek without a shovel.  This team respects her and would follow her anywhere, hell, she's saved most of us at least once."  That answer had at least quieted the Ambassador during the flight and at most gave him pause to rethink one of two of his opinions.


Kris filled the vacated spot beside her father.  "Is everything okay?"  She questioned wearily.  She had overheard part of the conversation, surprised by her father's almost apology, which had surprised her and exonerated her father somewhat for his earlier behavior.


Andrew looked at his daughter's profile and sighed.  "That is one very dangerous individual, Kristen."


"Yes, she can be."  She forced her gaze away from the woman in question and looked at her father.  "But I suppose anyone can be dangerous if given the right circumstances."  She countered.  She sighed deeply; she knew where this was leading.  "Father, I won't stay away from her, she's my friend.  And that's something that I haven't had too many of in my life, so I won't give that or her up."  A test of wills, the first one between father and daughter, was interrupted before a clear winner could be determined, by the arrival of the General, the person from the State Department and the cars to take them home.  Kris knew it was just the beginning, but she also felt like she had accomplished a Major victory by just standing up to her father in the first place.


Andrew Whitfield watched in silence as the cars slowly moved closer.  He turned to his daughter to correct her assumption that this discussion was concluded but she had moved away from him to join her sister.  On the surface he was annoyed that she had challenged him.  But deep down he was proud that she had stood up to him for someone she believed in.  He also grinned a little at the fact that she had gotten the last word in, something that no one had done in a long time, except his wife that is.




For Raven and her team the rest of the day was spent installing security cameras at the Whitfield's house that was located in the Bethesda area off MacArthur Blvd in Montgomery Country just outside the central DC area.  The Captain quickly discovered it was more of a mansion than a house.  It had been an early wedding present from Regina's parents.  They had sold their restaurant, retired and moved to Marsh Harbour in West Ocean City on the coast of Maryland leaving their daughter in D.C. attending classes at Georgetown.  They hadn't realized their mistake of their overindulgence and how it contributed to Regina's supercilious attitude until it was too late.


The house was centered on two and a half acres of landscaped grounds, surrounded by a ten-foot high brick wall.  The house was a huge two-story colonial that looked to be perfectly square.  Six bedrooms and three full baths occupied the second floor, while the first floor contained a formal dining room to the right of the front foyer and a living room to the left.  A modern kitchen with a walk-in pantry, a den/office for the Ambassador and a study for his wife and a library, plus a few small workrooms for the Ambassador's staff, completed the ground floor.  There was a half basement that had been converted into a family room.  The area behind the main house was taken up with six small connecting cottages for the staff.  Which consisted of Issy, the maid Leila that had been with them in Istanbul, Eleanor the maid that had remained behind at the house, the butler Robert that had also remained behind, and the two secretaries Stephanie and Ismail. Raven learned that Parker would be occupying one of the empty bedrooms in the main house.


The Captain commandeered the remaining unclaimed room for the members of her team to use while on duty.  They would run round the clock shifts until the Sate Department could spare personnel that could take over for them.  Which wouldn't be until four days from now since the White House was having a costume ball on Halloween.  'Bet that put the Secret Service's undies in a wad.'  John had stated once the representative had joined the Ambassador in his office.  The off-duty people would share rooms at the Grand Hyatt at Washington Center.


Raven had just finished the conversation with Colonel Albright about the additional checks on the butler and maid that they hadn't had a reason to check before now and she talked at length about her concerns of a possible leak on their end, when Kris found her.  "How about some dinner since I know you skipped lunch?"  She stood behind the dark head with her hands resting on broad shoulders.


They were, for the moment, alone in the spare bedroom, which now looked like a security control room with all the small TV monitors that were showing different parts of the house and grounds.  Raven tilted her head back to look up at her companion and let a tired smile cross her face.  "I'd love some."


They entered the dining room to find most everybody else gathered there.  Issy had set up a buffet style dinner for them and the two women joined the end of the line just in time to hear Regina complaining about the arrangement.  "I don't like eating food that other people have come in contact with."  But that didn't stop the fork in her hand from completing it's journey into her mouth, which was almost always in the open position.


Kris shook her head and rolled her eyes.  "I happen to like a good buffet myself."  She said loud enough for Issy, who was filling the soup tureen, to hear.  Which earned her a wink and a huge grin from the cook.


"They've got the best buffets that I've ever eaten in Las Vegas.  Some of the hotels have a Champaign brunch on Sundays."  Raven responded.


"That sounds decadent."  She wiggled her eyebrows up and down.  "I've never been there, is it a fun place?"  She piled her plate high with spaghetti noodles then poured sauce over them then added several meatballs and on top of them dumped Parmesan cheese."


Raven watched in wonderment at the mountain that was taking shape on top of the plate Kris held.  'She probably had lunch too.'  She was getting full just looking at the plate.  "You forgot the garlic bread."  She announced when Kris bypassed the basket.


"Oops, thanks for reminding me."  She leaned back and snatched a couple of pieces.


"Yes."  Raven remembered the question she had been asked.  "It's a lot of fun even if you don't gamble.  They sat down at the table next to each other.  She caught herself before she added 'We'll have to go sometime'.  That was something the rest of the people in the room didn't need to hear, yet.


"Do you?"  Kris asked after she wiped the sauce off her chin.


"Do I what?"  Raven speared a fresh mushroom out of her salad bowl and popped it into her mouth.


"Gamble."  Kris clarified.


"Oh.  Not really, but I do like to play the slot machines.  I've been known to try blackjack, but I'm not very good at it, I usually lose more than I win."  She explained.


"Are you talking about the computer games?"  Viv asked when she overheard their discussion.


"No, Las Vegas."  Her sister corrected.


"Now there's an immoral place."  Martin jumped into the conversation.


"Correct me if I'm wrong, brother dear, but you've never been there so how would you know?"  Viv challenged.


"Because of all the gambling and drinking.  And I bet you didn't know that prostitution is legal there."  Parker jumped to Martin's defense.  "The good thing about that is at least they have to pay taxes like the rest of us and they don't have to hide any 'medical' problems at free clinics that we pay for."  He added smugly.


"Considering you don't live in Nevada, Parker, you wouldn't be paying for them."  Kris pointed out.  "Besides, they're just supplying a demand."


"Ooh, good one."  Viv complemented her sister, which aggravated Parker.


"Well, if wives would give husbands what they need, there wouldn't be a market for it."  He replied with indignation.


The two sisters were looking at him like he had finally gone off the deep end.  "Were you born this stupid or do you have to take pills everyday?"  Viv asked.


"Parker."  Raven had been sitting quietly through the 'discussion'.  "You seem to have several opinions on prostitution.  So tell me, where did you learn all the, ah, ins and outs about it?"  She kept the smile off her face by the hardest considering Kris and Viv were snickering.  She couldn't just sit by and let them have all the fun.  'This guy is just too easy.'  She thought as she calmly watched the meaning of her jest sink-in.


Parker's face was turning a dangerous shade of red.  He sat as still as a statue for a minute before he threw his napkin onto his half finished plate of food and stood.  "You."  He pointed at Raven.  "Are an unnatural bitch.  And I'll advise you to stay away from my fiancée.  She's mine!"


Kris jumped to her feet at the comment.  "I don't belong to you, Parker.  And I'm not your fiancée.  You never asked me to marry you.  You, mother and father just assumed it because that's what all of you wanted."  She never raised her voice.  "And I'll pick my own friends and thank you to keep your nose out of my life."  She refused to let him see how upset she was and calmly sat back down to finish her meal.


Parker opened and closed his mouth a few times without any sound emerging before storming out of the room.  "Good for you."  Viv praised her sister.  "Bout time you told him off."


"You okay?"  Raven moved her hand under the table, placed it on Kris' thigh and squeezed encouragingly.  'So much for a quiet night.'


Kris pushed a meatball around with her fork.  She heard her sister's words of praise and shrugged her shoulders as if to say, 'I should have done that long ago'.  A smile immediately came to her face at Raven's concern and a burning feeling traveled through her body to settle between her legs when she felt the woman's hand on her thigh.  She shuttered and almost moaned.  "Yeah, I'm, ah, fine."  She managed to say and rein in her desire.  She cleared her throat.  "I'm just glad mother and father had left the room before that happened."  'I know he'll go tell them but maybe I'll get a reprieve until tomorrow.'




The next four days passed uneventfully.  Parker had either not said anything about the argument or Andrew and Regina had chosen to let it go.  Viv stated that she thought Parker was so embarrassed about being told off, that he decided to pretend it didn't happen.  Either that or the fact that the morning after the confrontation in the dining room, an invitation for the Ambassador and Regina to the costume ball at the White House had arrived and distracted them.


Halloween morning came too quickly for Kris, she knew she was running out of time to tell her parents that she was leaving with Raven when she went back to Seattle.  The Division's team would be packing up the next day to make way for the Secret Service.  Although she and Raven hadn't been able to talk about their plans, she did know that the Captain and John would be staying a few extra days to brief the team that would take over security.


"Kris?"  Viv knocked on her sister's bedroom door and entered.  "Gwendolyn is downstairs."


"Gwendolyn?"  She sat up in bed surprised.


"Yeah, you know, the person you were like this with growing up."  Viv had crossed her index and middle fingers.


"I remember who she is."  Kris stuck out her tongue at her little sister.  "I'm just surprised she's here."  Kris' correspondence with her childhood friend had dwindled over the years.  When her father became an Ambassador and the family moved away, the two girls wrote each other religiously.  After several years, the contact became cards at holidays and birthdays and only an occasional letter.  "Tell her I'll be down in a minute."  She asked Viv as she grabbed her jeans and started getting dressed.  In fact a card last Christmas was the last time they had been in touch.


Kris found her old friend sitting in the living room, sipping tea.  Gwen had dark red hair that fell to her shoulders with eyebrow length bangs.  A light dusting of freckles dotted her nose and cheeks and even though Gwen's pallor was rather pale they had started to fade somewhat, with the onset of winter and the lack of sunshine.  Her friend was a couple of inches taller than Kris but probably weighed about twenty pounds more.  Kris didn't remember Gwen being quite so heavy looking, she had always been skinny, so much so the other kids in the neighborhood called her toothpick.  But she looked healthy and happy and that's all that mattered.  The woman was dressed in a wool tweed skirt that came to her knees, brown, orange and white in color with a white cashmere turtleneck sweater.  "Gwen."  Kris called to her friend.  "It's so good to see you again."  A smile on her face as pale green eyes met darker green ones.


Gwen returned the smile as she stood to hug her childhood friend.  She placed a peck on each of Kris' cheeks as she stepped back.  "Let me look at you."  Gwen grasped Kris' hands and held her arms away from the young woman's body.  "You you just woke up actually.  You did, didn't you?"


"Yes."  Kris admitted laughing.  "I still don't do mornings.  But this morning I went back to bed after we got home from early mass.  So I have an excuse."  They sat together on the couch.  "Tell me what you've been doing."


"I have a feeling my life has been boring compared to yours.  We heard why you came back so suddenly, with the terrorists and all."


"Really?"  Raven pushed off from the doorframe she had been leaning against and stood menacingly in front of the redhead.  No one had informed her of the stranger's appearance at the door and she was pissed to say the least.  "And just who did you hear this from?"  It came out more as a menacing growl than a question.  She looked down on a pale face that suddenly turned whiter.


" father."  She explained to the dangerous looking woman towering over her.  "He...he works at the Pentagon."


"Raven."  Kris stood up with her hands on her hips looking quite miffed at the way her new friend was trying to intimidate her old friend.  "Captain Raven Chandler, meet Gwendolyn Mitchell.  General Mitchell's daughter, we grew up together."  She turned back to Gwen.  "You'll have to excuse tall, dark and deadly.  She takes her job rather seriously."


"I, ah, didn't mean to frighten you."  Raven felt like a fool.  Her protective instincts started working overtime when she saw the stranger sitting with Kris.  She was also a little jealous at the affection the two women seemed to share.


"Actually it's not Mitchell anymore, I got married last January."  She turned her attention back to Kris.  Her father hadn't really told her about the reason for the Whitfield's return, she had overheard him talking to the Ambassador on the phone.  She had also overheard the part about the person standing in front of her now, and that person was even scarier in the flesh she decided.


"Really?  Who'd you marry?  Anybody I know?"  Kris interrogated her old friend, totally ignoring her new one.


Raven tuned out the conversation.  'Damn, I really think she's pissed at me.  Well, why wouldn't she be you idiot?  You practically threatened her friend.'  She stopped kicking herself and turned her attention back to the two women.


"No you don't know him, but that's the reason I stopped by, to ask you to go to the opera tomorrow night with Harold and I.  We could go to dinner before hand and it would give you and Harold a chance to meet.  We have two extra tickets so you can ask your fiancé Parker to go.  I just met him before you came downstairs; your mother introduced us.  What do you say?"  Gwen asked.


Kris was a little apprehensive with telling Gwen about Parker.  That would mean she would have to explain why she wasn't marrying him, she never could keep a secret from her childhood friend and she wasn't sure how Gwen would react to the news of her falling in love with Raven.  Especially after a few minutes ago when it looked like Gwen would faint from the look the Captain had given her.  'So what do I tell her?'  She refused to look in Raven's direction thinking she would see a look of pity on her friend's face at what Kris was sure was cowardliness on her part.  "I, ah, don't know.  I mean we'd have to clear something like that through security.  So maybe we should plan on doing this another time."  'Please drop it so I don't have to deal with this.'  Kris silently begged.


To Raven, the sound of Kris' voice conveyed distress and reluctance.  'Why doesn't she just tell her about Parker?  I don't understand.'  But then one of the few insecurities she had reared its ugly head.  'Because that would mean questions that Kris what?  Is too ashamed or afraid to answer?'  Raven's expression turned hard when Kris wouldn't look at her.  'That gives me my answer, she's ashamed.'  She stood and left the room now wondering if the shame stemmed from her being a woman or from the type of person she was.


Kris had not noticed the array of emotions crossing Raven's face in her reluctance to face her companion but did give her a curious expression when Raven stood suddenly, which went unnoticed since the Captain didn't look in Kris' direction as she left.  Kris vowed to find her friend later and focused her attention back on Gwen.


"Kris?"  Gwen shivered and picked up her friend's hand.  "She's scary."




Raven paced the length of the command room several times before stopping to stare out the window, which overlooked the staff cottages.  The two members of the team that were monitoring the views from the security cameras glanced in the direction of their Captain with puzzled expressions.  They were use to their Captain being stoic or indifferent or angry, they were even use to bored.  But they didn't know what to make of the expression of defeat that inhabited her face.  The two men exchanged worried looks.


"Corporal Franks."


"Yes, Captain?"  The older of the two men acknowledge her.


"I'm taking your next patrol."  She informed him and left the room.  Leaving the two men scratching their heads in confusion.




During the next hour Kris and Gwen talked, slowly catching up with each other.  The entire time, Kris tried to think of a way to politely get out of going to the opera in case security allowed it.  The only thing she could come up with was to tell Gwen the truth but she still wasn't sure she could handle that.  She was contemplating how she would react to her friend's negative response if that were the case, when her mother entered.


"Gwen, good you're still here.  I told Parker about tomorrow night and he said that he would take care of the Secret Service."  She turned to her daughter.  "Kristen, you will have to have something new to wear.  I'm sure that you didn't pack any of your dresses before we left the embassy considering that horrible woman and her orders for packing only one suitcase."


"Mother, you know perfectly well that there was a valid reason for that."  Kris said with a tinge of anger in her voice.  She didn't notice the questioning expression she received from Gwen since she was glaring at her mother.  'My reason for not going just flew out the window, thanks mother.'  She thought as she rubbed her suddenly aching temples.  'Oh well, how bad could one night be?  Besides, I'm going to see Gwen and meet Harold, not to be with Parker.'


"Whatever, dear."  Regina dismissed the possible confrontation.  "Now go find one of 'those people' to take you shopping.  I'm sure Gwen would be happy to help you since I can't go.  Invitation to the White House you know."  She stated with self-importance as she glanced in Gwen's direction.  "Go on, Kristen."  She added when her daughter hadn't moved.


Kris left the room in search of Raven.  'God, if I can just get through today and tomorrow night, maybe everything will be alright.'


The Captain had returned from her circuit of the grounds to her vigil at the command room window.  She had hoped having to concentrate on the patrol and the solitude would clear her head and her heart from the feelings of pain and betrayal, but it hadn't.  'Shit, Raven, get over it.'  It wasn't working.  She felt like crawling under a rock and hiding.  'You're a big girl, deal with it.'  A sigh escaped her throat as she rubbed her eyes.


The door opened and Kris' head appeared.  "Ah, there you are."  She turned to close the door and didn't see Raven's posture stiffen.  "I seem to be stuck with having to go to the opera tomorrow night and I need something to wear."  She stood beside her friend at the window and reached her hand out with the intention of placing it on top of Raven's that was resting on the windowsill.


Raven saw Kris' hand moving towards hers.  Before contact was made, she stuck her hands in her pants pockets and turned towards the two men at the monitors.  "Who's available to escort Ms. Whitfield shopping?"  To Raven, the gesture meant a double standard.  'It's okay if my friends and associates know about us; she probably thinks she's an improvement for me.  But I guess I'm a step down to a lower class, an embarrassment to her if her friends found out.'


Kris looked at Raven quizzically.  She had no idea what her reluctance over not telling Gwen, had done to her friend.  "I thought maybe you could take us."  She addressed the Captain's back.


"I have other things to do."  She answered.  'I just have to last until six tonight, then John takes over.  Then a couple of hours tomorrow morning when we turn everything over and then I can get out of here for good.'


Franks answered his Captain's inquiry.  "Hardly and myself."


"You're it."  The Captain ordered.  This time she left a very confused young lady behind as she hurriedly left the room.


"Uh, ma'am?"  Franks addressed Kris.  "Anytime you're ready."


'She's got some explaining to do when I get back.'  Kris pulled her eyes away from the door Raven had disappeared through.  "Let's go."  She told the man waiting by her side.




It was after six when the shoppers returned and Kris was told that the Captain had already left.  Not deterred in the least, she went in search of John and found him in the kitchen talking with Issy.  Kris, still unaware of her roll in Raven's withdrawal, questioned the Lieutenant on his Captain's behavior.  Yes, he had noticed that something was wrong.  No, she hadn't said what it was and no, he didn't ask.


"I have found, over the years, when she's in that kind of mood it's definitely better not to ask."  He explained.  "The only thing she did say that I found puzzling was, and I quote, 'Don't call me unless the house is being invaded or someone disappears, if anything else happens, I don't care and I don't want to know', then she left.  Did you two have a fight or something?"  He asked as he stuffed the rest of Issy's apple pie in his mouth.


"No."  She replayed the day in her head.  "We barely spent any time at all together."


"Nothing you can do tonight.  I suggest you talk to her tomorrow.  She'll be here to turn things over to the 'SS'."  He rinsed his plate and put it in the sink.  "Don't worry about it, I'm sure whatever is bothering her has nothing to do with you." He reassured Kris.  "Damn, I hope she's not still having problems from the last mission."  John mumbled, but it was loud enough for Kris to hear.


"What problems?"


John wanted to kick himself.  He hadn't meant to say that out loud.  "She was captured and...hurt during her last mission.  It was my fault really but she'd tell you it wasn't."  He held up his hands to stop the questions he knew were coming.  "It's not my place to say anymore.  You'll need to ask her about it, but I'm not sure she'll be willing to talk about it."


John left a worried young woman and headed up to the control room to start his watch, while Kris headed for the dining room and dinner.




Raven was walking along the river, parallel to the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway.  She wondered at her own sanity when she looked up and noticed the building directly across from her.  The Kennedy Center, which is where the Washington Opera preformed, which is where Kris will be tomorrow night.  "Kris."  She mumbled under her breath.  She had tried to stay angry with the young woman, but couldn't.  The feeling of desolation settled on her shoulders like a wet wool blanket on a hot summer's day, heavy and suffocating.  She turned and faced the water, sitting down on a wooden bench and propping her bluejean-covered leg on a concrete bearer.  'She said she didn't want to be separated from me.'  She thought back to their conversation on the plane.  'I guess it was just a spur of the moment thing, an experiment.  Maybe she just changed her mind before we went too far.'  She rested her head along the back of the bench and stared up at the few visible stars that twinkled above her on this overcast night.  'But I've never trusted someone so quickly or completely before.'  She wondered if all her instincts had left her to migrate south for the winter.  'Wouldn't blame them too much, it's cold out here.'  Raven rubbed her hands together briskly and blew on them.  She had left her coat and gloves in the car, when she had parked and started her walk.  She hadn't been thinking about anything except that she shouldn't be behind the wheel of a car since she hadn't even remembered driving back towards the city so she had stopped in the first parking lot she found.  She turned and started back towards the warmth of the car not paying any attention to her surrounding and didn't notice the two men sticking to the shadows and following her.



Chapter Nine:


Kris dragged her body from bed and dressed.  She hadn't slept well last night, tossing and turning thinking of Raven and what could possibly be bothering her friend.  She descended the stairs to the kitchen, poured herself a cup of coffee and sat down at the table with her sister.


"Good morning."  Viv cheerfully intoned until she saw the bedraggled appearance of her sibling.  "You look like death warmed over.  What's the matter?"


"I'm not sure.  Have you seen Raven?"  With her sister's negative response, she looked to Issy with a questioning tilt of her head.


"No child I hasn't seen her since yesterday."  Issy dried her hands on the dishtowel she had thrown across her shoulder.  "Is you two havin' problems?"


"You're the second person that's asked me that."  She replied as the cook joined the two sisters at the table.  "I don't think so but I'm beginning to wonder."  She started filling them in on the day before but was interrupted by Viv.


"Wait, why are you going anywhere with Parker?  I thought you didn't want anything else to do with him?"


"I don't, but I didn't want to explain the situation to Gwen."  She stared down at the table.  'Let it go, Viv, please.'  She silently pleaded with her sister.


"What situation?"  Vivian asked innocently.  She was going to make Kris come clean and admit her feelings for the Captain however strong they may be.


"It's okay, child, tell us."  Issy softly encouraged as she patted the young woman's hand.


Kris looked up at the old woman that been her friend since she could remember and saw understanding in her eyes.  She took strength from those eyes and decided to confess her feelings for the Captain.  "I didn't want to answer questions about why I wasn't marrying Parker.  You both know Gwen; she wouldn't let it rest until she had me admitting my deepest, darkest desires."  Kris chuckled to herself at her use of adverbs.  "I'm, ah...I'm in love with Raven."  There, she'd admitted it, out loud, now if she could just admit it to Raven.  She cringed and waited for their laughter or their reluctance to be around her, but they hadn't laughed at her or run away.  " doesn't bother you?"  She looked from Issy to Viv.


"Good heavens no.  Why would you think that?"  Issy looked genuinely perplexed.


"Because most people don't think that, I mean, well, most people believe it's wrong."  She stumbled around her words, trying to explain what had made her apprehensive.


Viv took her sister's hand in hers.  "I am a little surprised that it's this serious, but I don't think it's wrong for two people to love each other.  And besides, I was wondering what it would take before you blew off Mr. Numb Nuts."


"Miss Vivian, I'm gonna wash yo' mouth out with soap."  She gentled her expression and turned to Kris.  "Child."  Issy explained.  "We's not most people, we are your friends and family and we care about you.  So, what makes you happy, makes us happy."  Issy winked at her.  "Now, go find your Captain and clear up whatever's wrong."


Kris jumped up and ran out only to run back into the room and hug both women.  "Thank you."  She smiled and charged out the door again.  She found John in the command center packing some of their gear.


"Morning, Kris."  He continued to coil the cable from a disconnected monitor.  "How you doing?"


"Okay.  Where's Raven?"  She leaned against the wall close to the case he was packing the cable into.  "I thought she was supposed to be here this morning."


"Oh, there's been a slight change of plans."  He looked around on the floor. " Where did that, ah, there it is."  He bent down and picked up the clamp he had dropped.  "The agent in charge won't be here until this afternoon, so she called in to let me know that she was meeting with him at his office downtown."


"Damn."  Kris mumbled an almost never used curse.  "I need to see her, John, I have to find out what's wrong."  She was almost panicking.  'Was she just going to leave without seeing me?  What's going on with her?  Maybe she changed her mind about us.  No, she said I wouldn't be able to get rid of her and I know she couldn't just change her mind.'


John interrupted her thoughts.  "Come back to the hotel with me and wait for her there."


"I have a previous engagement tonight."


"Can't get out of it?"  He was beginning to think that he had been wrong last night and maybe he should have questioned his friend and not just let her storm off.


"I could, but I'd like to spend some time with Gwen, an old friend."  She explained.  'I don't know when I'll get the chance to see her again if I leave with Raven.  If, where did that uncertainty come from?  I was sure of our life together when I woke up this morning.'


"Come by tonight then, afterwards."  John interrupted her doubts.  "Here, I'll write down the hotel and her room number for you."  He pulled a piece of paper and pen from his jacket.


"Thanks, John.  I should be done around 11:00 or so."  She folded the paper and put it in her pocket and left him to his packing.




Raven exited the tall grey office building and slipped her sunglasses down from their resting place on top of her head, to cover her eyes.  The sun had decided to make an appearance in direct contrast to her sullen, gloomy and dejected mood.  She had dragged the briefing out as long as possible not because she liked being cooped-up in a room full of stuff-shirt, over-paid chair warmers, the Captain hated upper management.   But she knew she would have to make an appearance back at the house and the chance of running into Kris was high.  'Maybe she'll have started getting ready for tonight.'  Raven sighed deeply and headed for her rental car.


The Captain convinced herself, last night after much floor pacing, that her instincts hadn't left her after all and she hadn't miss-judged the girl.  Kris had simply changed her mind and wasn't sure how to tell her.  About the time the sun was rising, Raven decided that she would make it as easy on Kris as she could and just avoid her until time to leave.  That way neither of them would have to be embarrassed by the awkwardness of a possibly unpleasant meeting.  With that decided, she tried to get some sleep but spent the next hour tossing and turning.  Funny the things one can talk themselves into when trying to avoid being hurt.




Kris took her time soaking in a hot bubble bath since she wouldn't have a chance to see Raven until later tonight.  She had driven herself crazy the past day and a half with worrying about what was bothering her friend and if she didn't put it out of her mind before tonight, she'd be a raving lunatic by the time she confronted the woman.  She peeled one eye open and looked at her white and wrinkled hand.  'Yuck, I'll be a prune permanently if I don't get out of here.'  Water sloshed over the edge of the tub, as she was standing up and an unrestrained smile spread across her face.  She remembered the hours she and Gwen would spend in the tub making up stories of fairy tale princess and the knights that would brave horrible dangers to rescue them.  And the one time they had gotten a little too enthusiastic and just about flooded the bathroom.  Her mother had been furious even though the maid would be the one cleaning it up.  Kris shook her head and returned to her bedroom to find her sister sitting on the bed waiting.


"Don't you think this dress is kinda, oh what's the word I'm looking for...drab, conservative, boring!"  Viv was staring at the cream colored, long sleeved, calf length, high necked and unadorned dress that was hanging on the closet door.


"That's three words."  Kris sat down in the chair at her dressing table and held up her hand to forestall her sister's rebuttal.  "Those are the exact reasons I bought it.  I'm not real sure why Parker agreed to go, but I'm not going to be some kind of ornament he can hang on his arm and show off.  In fact I plan on spending the entire night pretending he's not there."  She turned around to face the mirror and removed the towel from her head.


Viv leaned back on her elbows laughing.  "That sounds like it's going to be a fun night.  I'd give anything to be a fly on the wall."  She let her amusement die down.  "Have you had a chance to talk to Raven?"


Kris turned to face her sister.  "No."  She played nervously with the brush in her hands.  "I'm going by her hotel after the opera."


"With Parker, Gwen and her husband tagging along?"  Viv asked wide-eyed, thinking Raven wouldn't be too pleased with that entourage showing up on her doorstep, so-to-speak.


"Oh no."  Kris reassured her.  "John's going to talk to one of the Secret Service guys he knows and for one of them to drive me to the hotel in a separate car."


"Ah, I see."  Viv saw her chance at some good-natured teasing.  "So, you going to pack an overnight bag?"  She glanced up at her sister and the blush that was covering her face and burst out laughing.


"VIV!"  Kris threw her damp towel at her sister.  "I can't believe you."  But soon found her siblings laughter contagious and joined in.


Unfortunately Raven picked that moment to sneak past a certain bedroom door and heard the unreserved mirth.  She blinked her eyes at the sudden moisture she found blurring her vision and hurried down the stairs and out the front door.  She sat in the car with her head resting on the steering wheel.  'Just be happy for her Raven, she deserves better than you and you know it.'  She sat back and started the engine.  'But does she have to be so damn cheerful about it?  Couldn't she at least act like it was a hard choice?  Like we might have had a chance together?'  She looked over her right shoulder as she backed down the drive and into the street.  She put the car in drive and sped away, refusing to look back.




Gwen and Harold met Kris and Parker at the house and drove to the restaurant with them.  The two men seemed to have found a common interest, investing in the stock market, which left the ladies free to entertain each other.


"So, where are we going to eat?"  Kris asked.


"We are going to Astolpho's at the Marcello Hotel."  Gwen had a euphoric expression on her face as she placed her hands together, one on top of the other, and brought them to rest against her chest.  "And, Kris, one doesn't eat at Astolpho's."


Kris glared at Gwen, confusion written across her face.  "I thought we were going to dinner?  I'm hungry."  She crossed her arms in front of her.  "I didn't eat lunch.  Don't you dare tell me this is one of those places where you pay through the nose for a sprig of parsley and a glob of raw fish."


"Oh, Kris."  Gwen laughed.  "We will have dinner.  But you go to eat at McDonald's.  You go to Astolpho's to have a dining experience."  She patted her friend's leg.  "And I promise, no sushi."


"They better have normal food on that menu, Gwen."  Kris threatened.


"They have great food."  Harold leaned forward and joined the conversation.  "Loin of venison, that comes with chestnuts and mushrooms in a wine sauce."


Kris interrupted him.  "I don't eat venison and before you go down the entire menu, I also don't eat veal or lamb."


"I would have thought that with living in Turkey you would have developed a taste for lamb.  Isn't that one of the main food staples over there?"  Harold asked.


Parker laughed and jumped in.  "Yes it is."  He answered the question.  "Ask her why she won't eat it."  He added laughing harder when he remembered Kris' silly explanation.


Kris sent an irritated glare in his direction that abruptly quieted him down.  "I've never actually tried any."  They looked at her funny.  "It's just that deer and calves and lambs are so cute.  I could never bring myself to try any."  She shrugged her shoulders, not about to apologize for her soft heart.


Gwen shook her head and smiled, she had forgotten what a soft heart her friend had when it came to cute fuzzy little animals.  "Okay, how about other than raw fish?  They've got a really great salmon steak."  She paused until Kris confirmed her fondness for seafood, then Gwen told her about desert and the restaurant's specialty, The Crunchy Napoleon.  Layers of caramelized dough between creamy vanilla custard drizzled with butterscotch and dark chocolate.


Kris closed her eyes and knew she was in trouble.




Raven sat in her suite staring out into the night and finished her second rum and coke.  She had been berating herself most of the afternoon, for letting Kris get inside her normally impenetrable walls that she had painstakingly built around her heart.  She still couldn't blame her for wanting out of the relationship.  'Kris deserves better than an emotional cripple like me.'  Raven kept telling herself.  Other than John and his fiancée Sharon and Granny, she hadn't let anybody close since she lost her younger brother and walked away from her family.  She stood and walked to the floor to ceiling window that looked out over the city and rested her forehead against the cool glass.  "If I could just stop thinking about her."  She stated angrily at herself for not being able to get the blond woman out of her head.




John jogged over to Sharon and hugged her.  "Sorry, it took me forever to find a parking space."  He placed a kiss on her cheek.  "How was the flight?"  He had asked Sharon to meet him in DC.  He had wanted a few days for them to spend together away from the wedding preparations and their families.  Both families got along great, but their mothers were driving them crazy.  What had started out as a simple wedding, planned for Valentines Day, was turning into a three-ring circus.


"It was good.  Bad weather over the mid-west, but we were above it."  She placed her arm around his waist as they started down the concourse, towards baggage claim.  Sharon was a foot and a half shorter than her husband-to-be and had a darker skin tone than John did.  Her light brown hair was shoulder length and straight.  She was a small boned woman that looked almost like a kid next to her tall fiancé.  But John learned early in their courtship that this petite woman packed quite a temper.


"You ready for dinner?"  He asked with a smile.  John had been amazed the first time they had gone out to dinner, Sharon had easily eaten at least twice as much as he had and still demolished her piece of cheesecake and most of his cherry pie.  It reminded him of Kris.  'I guess it must be a special gene short people only get.'


She elbowed him in the gut.  "What do you think?"  She grinned.


John grabbed the two bags as Sharon pointed them out.  "Two?  You're only going to be here a couple of days."  John had learned early on in their relationship that Sharon packed for any conceivable emergency.


Sharon knew something was bothering John even though he was trying to hide it, but waited until they were in the car to ask.  "Is whatever's troubling you something you can talk about or is it the last mission?"  Being a naturally curious person, she was downright nosy and she knew it, it had bothered her in the beginning of their relationship that John couldn't talk too much about his work, at least the part involving the assignments and their clients, all the juicy parts she had kidded him once.


He paid the parking attendant and pulled into the lane of traffic leaving the airport.  "Both."  He told her of Raven and Kris' relationship and his growing concern over his Captain's despondent mood. And that she had avoided him and Kris the entire day.  "I left a message at the hotel that Kris was coming by tonight, but I don't know if she's gotten it or not."  He turned into the hotel drive and stopped the car.  "Do you think I did the right thing, telling Kris to come by tonight?"


She patted his leg reassuringly.  "Something's definitely wrong, at least as far as Raven's concerned and it sounds like they need to work it out.  So yeah, I think you did the right thing."  They headed towards the elevators after planting a kiss on his cheek.  "You want to see if Raven wants to go to dinner with us?"  She asked after they had gotten off on the ninth floor.


"Yeah."  John smiled at his fiancée as he held the room door open for her to enter.  "Maybe you can get her to open up."




Kris was able to ignore Parker, for the most part, during dinner.  She divided her focus between Gwen, sitting to her left and Harold to her right.  She never looked in Parker's direction, across the table from her, even when he tried to gain her attention with a question, which she replied to with one word monotone answers.


Gwen had been observing the interaction, or lack thereof, between the couple and assumed that they had probably just had a fight.  It wasn't until halfway through dessert that her brain kicked in and she realized that Kris wasn't wearing an engagement ring.  "Have you two set a date for the wedding yet?  I assume it's going to be here, in town."  She asked.


Parker, who had looked at this evening as a way to get Kris away from 'that unnatural woman' and back under his protective influence, answered.  "We haven't set a date yet."  He turned from Gwen to Kris.  "We probably should do that soon.  Shouldn't we, dear?"


Kris looked surprised, which quickly turned to anger.  "Excuse me."  She through her napkin into her plate stood abruptly and headed toward the restroom.


Gwen had followed her friend and as she entered the lounge area, the restroom attendant was staring nervously at the pacing, mumbling young woman.  Gwen patted the older woman's hand.  "Give us a minute, please."  The attendant nodded and left.


"No, I don't want to talk about it."  Kris firmly stated as Gwen stood in front of her to stop her pacing.


"Okay, okay."  Gwen put her hands up in a placating manner.  "Everybody has arguments.  Harold and I fought up until the day before our wedding."  She was still curious about the missing engagement ring but didn't want to push her fuming friend.  'I have the rest of the night to wheedle it out of her.'


A change of subject was definitely in order.  "Shouldn't we be leaving?  We don't want to be late."  Kris felt guilty for not confessing the truth about Parker to her friend but also felt relieved that she still had her secret about her feelings for Raven.  No matter how nonjudgmental Viv and Issy had been, it didn't mean everyone else would be.


"Yes.  I hope they've paid the check so we don't have to wait."  Gwen stated as the two friends walked out the door with arms linked together.


Kris was a little surprised at Gwen giving up so easily but wasn't going to debate her good fortune.




After putting the luggage in their room, Sharon and John headed up to the top floor to see if they could talk his depressed Captain into joining them for dinner.  "Maybe she's already gone to eat?  It is getting kind of late."  Sharon commented when they received no answer to their knocking.


"Maybe."  John responded.  "Let's head down to the desk and see if they know if she left the hotel."  Their inquiry at the concierge desk pointed them towards the health club.  "I should have headed here first."  John sighed.  "When she's upset she works out."  He explained to Sharon, who was still learning about the sometimes complicated Captain and her moods.  He easily spotted the tall figure that was in the small free weight area doing arm curls and headed that way.


Raven put the weights in the rack when she saw their reflection in the mirror and turned around.  "Sharon." She opened her arms and had a devilish grin on her face.  "Come on, give me a hug."


"Ugh, get away."  Sharon hid behind John.  "You're all sweaty."


"I thought you said you liked me that way?"  Raven mustered a hurt expression.


"You know I only like it when we're both hot and sweaty, girl."  Sharon answered in a sensual voice.


"Something you two need to tell me?"  John tapped his foot, trying to look menacing.  Which didn't work since both women were laughing at him.  "I don't know why I put up with the two of you."  He said as he joined in, glad of the playful banter between the two most important people in his life.


Raven grabbed her towel and water bottle and headed out of the club with them.  "No, you two wanted time alone.  And three's a crowd, especially on Sharon's first night here."  Her answer to the dinner invitation from John.  They had finally taken no for an answer with the understanding that Raven was to join them for breakfast in the morning.


"Yes, I got your message about Kris coming by tonight."  Which is why she had been working out in the first place.  Then they were politely told to drop the subject.


She made her way back to her room, stripping when she reached the bedroom and headed for a long hot shower.  She was curious as to why Kris wanted to see her.  'Why wasn't she taking the easy way out?  Am I wrong thinking she wants out?  That's right, Raven, get your hopes up so it'll hurt again when they come crashing down around you.'  She sighed deeply.



Chapter Ten:


After the opera, that Kris didn't see or here more than five minutes of because she was constantly checking her watch and thinking of a certain Captain, she pulled Gwen to the side and asked her to cover her absence with Parker.  "Why?  Where are you going?"



"I can't tell you, Gwen.  Please just tell him I left with the Secret Service instead of riding back in the limo."  She pleaded.  "For old times?"


"Alright."  She gave in.  "But you owe me an explanation tomorrow morning, early."  She told her as Kris hurried off in the opposite direction with the agent.


"Where's Kris?"  Parker asked when Gwen entered the car.


"She had somewhere to go, said she would be home later."  She explained to the suddenly fuming man sitting across from her.  "She left with one of the agents, she's not alone."  Gwen tried to reassure him, thinking that he was afraid for Kris' safety.


The drive back to the Whitfield's house was silent after Harold had tried to start a conversion with Parker but had been ignored.  Parker was too busy trying to plot a strategy that would remove the 'bad influence' from Kris' life, once and for all, without any embarrassment to him.  Kris had done enough of that lately.  He barely managed a polite 'thank you for the evening' before leaving the limo.


"I think I'll have you drop me off here in the morning, dear."  Gwen said in a curious and somewhat worried voice.




The agent that had accompanied Kris waited by the elevators as she continued down the hall to the Captain's room.  She discovered that her hand was shaking as she raised it to knock.  She looked down at her feet and clasped her nervous appendages under her armpits as she waited for the door to be opened.


Raven took a large swallow of hot cocoa when she heard the knock.  She had promised herself, after learning that Kris intended to see her tonight that she wouldn't have another drink.  Subjecting Kris to myself mixed with large quantities of liquor was not something she wanted the young woman to have to endure.  She took a deep calming breath and opened the door.


"Hi, can I come in?"  Kris asked shyly.  'God, I'm acting like a schoolgirl with their first crush.  I mean, gee wiz, we've slept together, well not, I mean we didn't do anything but sleep, but we shared a bed.  And we've kissed, so why am I so nervous?  And why am I carrying on a conversation with myself?'


"Sure."  Raven replied and opened the door wider.  "You want some cocoa?  I've got a carafe full."


"Yeah, thanks."  Kris sat in silence until Raven handed her a mug.  She took a sip before she turned to face the Captain, who was sitting in an armchair angled towards the sofa, which Kris occupied.  She could tell be the slightly distant expression on her friend's face that there was definitely something wrong, she hadn't been imagining things.  "Tell me what's wrong.  Please don't shut me out."  Her voice cracked with anxiousness.


Raven put her mug down and pushed the long sleeves of the heavy cotton t-shirt up past her elbows.  "Kris, I..."  She leaned forward and rested her forearms on her sweatpants covered thighs.  "I need to know why you went with Parker tonight."  Her eyes leaving her fingers that were laced together in order to stop her hands from trembling to look at the confused young woman.


"Is that what's bothering you?  Me going with them tonight?  I just wanted to spend time with Gwen."  Kris was perplexed; she couldn't believe Raven could be jealous of Gwen.  "Is Gwen the problem?  Raven, she's just a friend."


"No, I would never begrudge you spending time with a friend."  Raven looked back down at her hands.  "You let her think that you and Parker are a couple.  Why?  Did you change your mind about us?"


The unguarded scared expression on Raven's face took Kris' breath away.  "No...god, no.  I want to be with you.  I do...I just..."


Raven waited for Kris to continue, but had to prompt her when the silence continued to stretch.  "But?"  She thought her original assessment had been correct after all when she saw the tears filling the young woman's eyes.  She ran her hand through her thick hair and tried to school her emotions.  "But you're ashamed."  She sighed deeply and looked down.


"Ashamed?"  Kris frowned until it dawned on her what Raven had been thinking.  "I'd never be ashamed of you."  She said with conviction.  "I'm confused and a little afraid."  She admitted and then remained silent.


Raven poured more cocoa for both of them and then settled herself cross-legged on the floor in front of her friend.  "Here."  She handed Kris her mug and put hers on the table.  "Sagira?"  She placed her hands over Kris'.  "I don't want to lose you."  It was a simple statement that was said with a tremendous amount of love and conviction and a little fear.  "I convinced myself that you had changed your mind and the easiest thing for both of us was for me to leave.  Then when John left a note saying you were coming by tonight, it confused the Hades out of me.  If we're not the problem, please tell me what is."


Kris took a couple of deep shaky breaths, trying to settle her nerves.  "You remember the other morning when mother dragged us off to mass?"


"Yeah, that's the morning that Gwen came to see you, when all this started."  Raven acknowledged a little warily.


"Yep."  Kris chuckled humorlessly.  "Mother has a sixth sense when it comes to giving me a guilt complex, I think.  The priest talked about, what he called, 'The Anti-Family in Today's Society'.  Care to guess what topped his list?"  She continued before Raven could answer.  "Being gay."  She sighed.  "I'm not a practicing Catholic, mother isn't either until it suits her, but it just brought all that earlier conditioning back to the surface.  Is God going to condemn me because I...I'm with you?  And are my friends and family going to disown me because I want to make a life with you?  Issy and Viv gave us their blessing, but I'm worried about my grandparents and I don't see eye to eye with mother and father, but I don't want to never see them again.  I don't know what to do, because I don't think that I can lose you either."


'Oh boy, religion.  This is certainly not my forte and I'm certainly not the one to try and relieve her concerns.'  But she had to try.  "Kris, I'm not a religious person and I don't even know if there is such a thing as a 'higher power', so I'm not sure I'm the one that should be trying to advise you."  She paused to try and organize her scattered thoughts.  "I don't think that any God that you choose to believe in, could hate anybody, much less hate the good and caring person that you are especially for loving another person, no matter who that person is.  About the only thing that I remember thinking, after my admittedly short studies on religion, is, that the 'powers that be' only seemed to be tolerant and compassionate of a person as long as that person believes in what they believe, if you didn't you were a sinner and were on the fast track to hell.  I think religion and faith are two separate things.  Religion is believing in what you're told to believe in.  Faith is believing in something that makes you a better person, that makes you treat others with respect and kindness."  She paused until Kris looked her in the eye.  "I don't know how Gwen or family will react to us being together.  The only thing I'm certain of is that I want to spend my life with you, I care about you more than anyone or anything, and I don't want to have to try and survive without you.  But I don't want you to lose any part of your life just to be with me."  Raven shut her eyes and took a deep breath.  She was exhausted after her unusually long and emotional speech.


Raven opened her eyes at the strangled gasp.  "Whoa."  She caught the flying form of her friend as Kris launched herself off the couch.  Raven ended up flat on her back with the smaller woman sprawled on top.


"I'm sorry I hurt you."  Kris sobbed as she wrapped her arms around Raven's neck.


"And I'm sorry I jumped to conclusions."  Raven replied sincerely as she rubbed her hands up and down on Kris' back in a soothing motion.  "I guess we're going to have to work on the communication thing."


"Can I stay here with you tonight?"  Green eyes looked shyly into blue ones.  "It only took one morning of waking up in your arms for me to become addicted to it and I've missed you."  Kris explained and hoped she'd been forgiven for causing the pain she had glimpsed earlier in those oh so very penetrating eyes.


"We should clear that with your escort, but I'd like it if you stayed.  I've missed you too."  She hugged her captive tightly.  "Come on.  Let's send 'big brother' on his way."  After a short conversation and even shorter phone call, the agent left his charge in the Captain's care.


"You got something I can sleep in, Taz?"  Kris followed Raven into the bedroom and circled her arms around a slim muscled waist.  She smiled as her fingertips massaged suddenly quivering muscles.  She pressed closer to the solid warmth she was holding, which enticed a low moan from the tall body leaning back into hers.


"Much more of that and I guarantee you won't be needing anything to sleep in, since you won't be sleeping."  Raven forced her body to stand up straight and move away from Kris.


"Sorry about that."  Kris wiggled her eyebrows up and down.  She was both sorry and not sorry, she wanted Raven as a lover and a friend.  But in the days since returning home, she had the opportunity to wonder if her meager sexual knowledge could please the Captain, who must have had her share of lovers.  She had decided not to ask about those.  It would only make her feel...inadequate.


Raven tossed a t-shirt at her tormentor and saw the expression of regret tinged with a little relief cross the young woman's face.  She suddenly wondered if her companion was really as innocent as she looked.  'I assumed she'd had some experience.  Huh, maybe not.  Maybe I should just ask her.'  Raven pulled off her sweat pants and long sleeve shirt and replaced them with her boxers and sleeveless sleep shirt.  "I've only got one toothbrush.  We'll have to share."  She raised her voice to reach into the bathroom, where Kris had gone to change.  "You want it first?"


"No, you go ahead."  She answered as she reentered the bedroom folding her dress.  "I washed out my underclothes since I don't have a change.  Hope you don't mind unmentionables hanging in the bathroom."


Raven felt a jolt that coursed through her body and landed at her center when she realized that the only thing covering Kris was a thin cotton shirt.  'Oh boy!  This is going to be a very long night.'  She quickly brushed her teeth and exited the bathroom.  "All yours."  She informed Kris as Raven sat on the bed with her legs folded under her.  "Can I ask you a question?  A personal question?"  The Captain amended.


Kris had to shake herself out of her fantasies that the innocent statement of 'all yours' had implanted in her brain and proceeded to brush her teeth.  She paused as the question registered, then stuck her head out the door and nodded her head since her mouth was full of toothpaste and brush.


"Have you...I mean, are you...a..."  Raven ran her hand nervously through her hair, she had never had to be concerned with any of her previous partners having this particular condition and she was certain she was embarrassing herself, since she could feel the blush rising up her cheeks.  "Oh Hades, what I'm trying to if you've had any...experience?"  She looked at the young woman leaning against the doorframe with her arms loosely crossed over her chest.  "Sexual, I mean."  Raven looked down at the comforter she was sitting on and traced the pattern with her finger.  Anything to keep her from looking at her friend's face.  "I know we...almost...on the plane.  But that was spur-of-the-moment and we did manage to control ourselves."  She was uncharacteristically babbling but couldn't stop.  "I know we're just going to sleep and hold each other, now.  But if you are...a virgin, I want to I'm extra careful not to hurt you when we do...ah...decide to take our relationship...further."  She finally glanced up as she felt Kris settle on the bed in front of her.


Kris sat down facing Raven.  Her right leg was folded under her while her left one remained on the floor.  She caressed Raven's calf muscle that lay under her fingertips.  "I', I'm not a virgin."


Raven clinched her jaw.  It wasn't that she thought that her companion should be pure and innocent, but Kris was hesitating like she was remembering a bad experience.  And the sudden thought of Parker possibly being the one that Kris had been with that was making her blood boil.  'That worthless piece of arrogant trash.  If he hurt her...I'll kill him.'  She calmed down when Kris' words penetrated her infuriated mind.


Kris had not noticed her companion's rage and continued.  "We were in Brazil.  I had just turned 16 and thought I was in love.  Father had told us one night at dinner that he had been assigned a new embassy and that we would be moving in the next month.  I told Lazaro, that was his name, the next day when I saw him.  We had to keep it quiet that we were seeing each other, I knew mother would not approve of him.  Anyway, to make a long story short, I asked him to make love to me before we moved away and we did.  But he didn't have hardly any experience and I had none, so there weren't any fireworks going off, to say the least.  He was very gentle but I was disillusioned since I had read all these books and poems about love and how the earth would move and how you would glow after you became a woman.  Well, the earth didn't even tremble and I was certainly not glowing, I was just sore.  The only thing we did right that night is take precautions so at least I didn't have to worry about being pregnant."  She took a deep breath.  "Sordid little tale, huh?  I bet you've felt the earth move and seen those fireworks though."


"No, to all questions."  Raven stretched out her long frame, pulling Kris with her.  She waited for the young woman to cuddle up and lay her head on the Captain's left shoulder.  Arms and legs wound around bodies until both were comfortable.  "It's not shameful to want to show another person how much you love them.  I'm sorry it wasn't as wonderful as you thought it would be."  She pulled the blanket over them and reached over to switch the light off.


When she paused and didn't continue, Kris' curiosity overrode her resolve not to ask.  "What do you mean, 'all questions'?  I know you've bound to have had...lovers."  She had begun to wonder if she was pushing for too much information when she felt the chest underneath her arm, take in a deep breath.


"I mean, yes, I've had sex, both very good and...bad, but I've never had a lover or been in love...until now."


The last part was whispered but Kris heard.  She knew she held the older woman's heart in her hands and needed to be very careful.  She propped up on her elbow and looked down into eyes that refused to meet hers.  "Even after we left Brazil, I continued to think that I loved Lazaro, until I met you that is.  You made me realize that what I felt for him was sorely lacking."  Blue eyes tracked to hers and Kris saw the hope they held.  "Those books and poems also say that when you fall in love with someone you get goosebumps and a tingly feeling all over when they touch you.  Well, all you have to do, my friend, is walk into the same room and I get those and a lot more.  Do you know the first time you kissed me I thought I was going to pass-out and you still make me weak in the knees."  She smiled and caressed Raven's cheek.  "I love you, too."  She barely finished her declaration of love before she was pulled into a bone-crushing hug.




Parker quietly entered the house in case anyone other than the agents were up and about.  Fortunately for him, the Whitfield's had retired for the night.  He closed the door to his small office located on the ground floor beside the Ambassador's and pick up the phonebook and phone.  He was going to call every hotel in the DC area in order to find his fiancée and drag her back if he had to.  Parker had thought that everything would be back to normal when that deviant, perverted woman left and his Kristen would return to the shy and quiet girl he remembered.  He sat down and started dialing.




"Hey, Taz...I can't breathe."  But Kris was holding Raven just as tightly.


"Oh...sorry."  She eased the strangle hold she had on the young woman sprawled across her.  "I, ah...sorry, didn't mean to crush you."


"You didn't crush."  Kris assured her as she raised her head to look at the face below hers.  "I just don't want to pass out from lack of air, because I don't want to waste a single minute more.  I want us to be together, tonight.  Please make love to me and teach me how to please you."  Kris wasn't totally in the dark about how to love another woman.  She had read stories that had females as lovers and she knew how to please herself.  But she was still nervous because she wanted very badly to bring this woman that she loved, to an earth moving release.


Raven didn't need to ask if Kris was sure, she could see the love and desire smoldering in the green eyes gazing deeply into hers.  'I had something like a candlelit dinner and soft music in mind, but being with her anywhere would be special.'  She raised her head slowly and captured the soft lips waiting above hers.  She ran one hand under the back of Kris' shirt and placed her other hand on the back of the young woman's neck and pulled her close.  Raven tilted her head, as the kiss became more heated and tongues explored and tasted each other's mouth.  "Gods, Sagira, I want you so bad."  Raven forced out on a ragged breath when they broke for air.  She could feel the moisture growing between her legs, which intensified when she ran her hand down Kris' back and across a bare bottom and was reminded that her companion's only attire was the shirt she had loaned her.  Raven growled, sounding every bit like the predator that she reminded her companion of.


Kris moaned as she felt Raven's hand move down her body and onto her butt.  She ground her hips into the body below hers as she propped herself up on her arms and looked down at her lover.  "Oh...yes."  Kris groaned as they continued to grind their hips against each other and felt a rumbling from deep within Raven's chest.


Raven took advantage of the access to Kris' chest as she brought her hands around to fondle the young woman's breasts.  Kris wasn't 'top heavy' by any means, but her ample chest size filled the Captain's hands and left plenty of soft yielding flesh for her long tapered fingers to tease.  She alternated between massaging already erect nipples with her thumb and forefinger and lightly pinching and pulling them until her lovers breathing became erratic.  "Sit up, I want to take this off."  Raven tugged on the shirt that was blocking her view and pulled it over Kris' head when she brought her knees up and straddled Raven's hips.  "By the gods, Sagira, you're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen."  She announced as her eyes took in every inch of the young woman's body.


"To my eyes, you hold that title."  Kris replied as she was pulled back down and rolled over onto her back so that she was the one now looking up at her dark-haired lover.  "Your turn, take these off."  She demanded as desire was quickly overwhelming her.  She was trying to pull Raven's shirt over her head and push her shorts down at the same time, until the Captain stilled her hands.


"I have...a few scars.  There not too bad, but you might not want to look at them while we're making love."  Raven tentatively admitted as glanced down at the soft unblemished smooth skin below her.  She knew that later, questions of how they came to be would probably be asked by her curious mate, but she wouldn't think about that now.


Kris sat up, grasped Raven's head in both hands and caressed her cheeks with her thumbs until their eyes met.  "I don't care.  They're part of you and I love you, all of you."  Raven quickly disrobed and returned to her kneeling position between Kris' legs.  "Um, you are sexy."  Kris leaned back on her right elbow and admired the strong bronze body and ran her left hand slowly over quivering stomach muscles.  She heard the sharp intake of air when her hand firmly squeezed and manipulated the older woman's breast.  She sighed in contentment.  "I'm glad your breasts are so sensitive because I think playing with them is going to be one of my favorite things to do."


"Um...yes...that good."  She managed to force out between ragged breaths as Kris' mouth now suckled her breast.  One hand held the young woman's head purposefully to her chest while the other caressed and fondled Kris' breast.  The scent of both women's arousal filled the air making it hard to control their building passion.


Kris released Raven's breast after making sure both received equal attention.  Her heart was pounding heavily as she struggled to draw air into her heaving lungs.  "I can't wait...I need you now."


Raven pulled Kris up so that the women were both on their knees, facing each other.  She claimed the smaller mouth with her own and they spent several minutes mapping out with their hands, the newly discovered territory of each other's body.  "Baby, spread your legs a little for me."  Raven requested when they broke for air.


Kris complied quickly with the request when Raven's fingers made their way down her stomach and tangled themselves in the moist blonde hairs at the gateway to her womanhood.  Her hips jerked forward and she had to grab Raven's shoulders in order to remain upright.  "Please."  She threw her head back and moaned.


Raven steadied the young woman with an arm around her back, and then her fingers continued their path downward and into smooth silkiness.  Raven moaned out her pleasure as she moved her fingers slowly back and forth through drenched folds, carefully avoiding her clit, as Kris' hips continued to buck.  "Together."  Raven whispered in her ear.  "I want us to release together, to experience each other's pleasure throbbing in rhythm with each other."


It took a minute for Kris' overloaded senses to kick her motor skills into gear.  She moved her hand between Raven's legs and into wet heat.  "God...incredible."  She mimicked the fingers driving her so thoroughly to distraction.


Raven claimed Kris' lips and pushed her tongue into her companion's mouth at the same time she impaled the young woman on two fingers.  Raven swallowed the aroused moan torn from Kris' throat and continued to slowly and rhythmically thrust in and out of the smooth wet warmth that was her lover, moving deeper with each thrust.


Kris' fingers followed a heartbeat behind and entered Raven.  She moaned at the feeling of liquid fire surrounding her fingers.


They broke apart, both gasping for air.  Raven plunged her body down onto the digits filling her.  "Ugh...gods...more."  Raven begged as she rode the two fingers penetrating her.


Kris added a third finger and moved her thumb over the pulsing nub.  She could feel Raven's muscles starting to clinch as if trying to imprison her fingers inside.  She had little time to marvel over the intimate feelings as Raven's thumb found Kris' sensitive bud and sent sensations through her body that took her breath away.


"Gods you...feel...incredible."  Raven moved her thumb in a circular motion, making the young woman whimper.


Both women felt the building of their climax and pushed in deeply one last time as both erupted with a powerful orgasm.  They leaned against each other in order to remain upright and stayed inside one another until the tremors dissipated.


"I definitely think the earth moved."  Kris stated as she laid her head on Raven's shoulder for several minutes waiting for her heart to stop racing.


Raven chuckled.  "I'll take that as a compliment."  The husky voice whispered close enough to Kris' ear that she shivered in response to the rush of air that moved seductively past her sensitive body part.


Kris removed her fingers and moaned as Raven did the same.  She lifted her head from it's resting place and was mesmerized by the sight of her lover slowly bring her hand to her mouth and erotically cleaning her fingers of Kris' juices.  She didn't think the flames of passion could ignite again so quickly, but found that she was starting to burn with desire once more.  "I can't believe what you do to me, how much I want you again."  Her eyes never leaving the vision in front of her.


Raven chuckled.  "You good as you look."  She licked her fingers one last time as she ran her eyes over the body in front of her.  "I want you again."  She brought Kris' digits that were covered in her own juices to her mouth and lick them clean, also.  "And I'll have you again and again until we pass out from lack of bodily fluids."  She promised as she hungrily claimed Kris' mouth.


Kris whimpered, as she tasted both her and Raven's essence mixed into one, on the tongue that explored her mouth.  "Take me."  Kris growled as lips disengaged.  She lay back on the bed and placed her arms above her head.  She gazed up seductively as she placed her feet flat on the bed and opened her legs in an invitation for Raven to mount her body.


Raven felt a tug at her center at the erotic sound that escaped from the young woman's throat.  And came close to climaxing at the brazen request.  She licked her lips as she watched Kris present her body in such a lustful way.  Raven spread her legs, forcing Kris' further apart as she kneeled between them.  She lowered herself onto Kris and started a grinding and thrusting motion with her hips that pressed their mounds together in a primitive sexual dance.  Grunts and groans from both women filled the bedroom and Raven was sure that if the next room were occupied they would be getting an ear full, but she didn't care.  She curled her arms under Kris' shoulders and grasped them with her hands, pulling their bodies into each other, as their thrusting became almost frantic.


Sex had never really interested Kris after her not so great first time, which is one of the reasons she had kept putting her mother off about the wedding.  She was a romantic at heart and the thought of being with Parker was not a pleasant one.  But now, with Raven, she wasn't sure she could ever get enough.  She briefly wondered if she had overnight turned into a nymphomaniac or if she was just trying to make up for lost time.  Then decided that as long as it was Raven who loved and wanted her, they could spend the rest of their lives in bed and it would be okay with her.  She wrapped her legs around her lover's hips, trying to pull her closer and meld them into one.  She raked her, fortunately, blunt nails down her lover's back, hard enough to raise welts.  The animalistic sounds coming from them both drove her passion higher as their sweat soaked bodies bucked against each other.


They screamed each other's name into the night as once again their orgasms thundered through their bodies within a heartbeat of each other.  Raven moved down Kris' body.  She didn't want to miss the liquid ambrosia that was flowing freely from her lover.  She inhaled deeply and a hedonistic smile spread across her face.  She sighed in pleasure and dove in, lapping like a starving kitten.  Long thorough licks of Raven's tongue, starting at Kris' ass and running all the way up and through her folds made sure she didn't miss a drop of her reward.


"Oh god."  Kris groaned as she felt the tongue cleaning her sex that started the passion coursing through her body again.  Her eyes flew open when she felt the muscle lightly pressing against her anus and felt her body's reaction to it.  Desire danced through her veins double-time.  She tangled her fingers in midnight hair and pushed herself into the mouth that was devouring her.  She stared into blue eyes until the overwhelming burn of release started to spread throughout her body, forcing her eyes shut.  "Ugh."  Grunted over and over again as she continued to press her sex into the face between her legs.  Kris cried out as she went over the edge again and, totally spent, fell into the pillows behind her.


Raven watched as Kris shuttered with another climax and continued to consume her prize until the young woman weakly stated that she couldn't take anymore and begged her to stop.  She moved to lie beside her contented lover and pulled her close.  "So, did the earth move again?"  Raven asked.  She was extremely pleased that she was able to satisfy her lover so completely.


"No, this time I had the most amazing fireworks display on the inside of my eyelids."  Kris chuckled and snuggled up on Raven's left side.  "I love you so much."  She placed a kiss on her cheek.  "You're my cute little Tasmanian Devil and my great big wonderful warrior all rolled into one."  She sighed in contentment as she laid her head down on Raven's shoulder and felt the woman's arms cradle her in a gentle strength.


"I love you too, Sagira."  She placed a kiss on top of the blonde head.  "Go to sleep my little one."  She reached down and pulled the sheet and light blanket over them.  The comforter had long ago landed in a heap on the floor.  Raven pushed the nagging thoughts of her not deserving this incredible woman to the back of her mind.  'Deserving or not, Kris wants me and I'm not going to question my good fortune.'  She cleared her mind and joined her lover in sleep in the wee hours of the morning.



Chapter Eleven:


Parker had spent several hours on the phone trying to find the two women, without any luck.  He had spent the last hour pacing.  He was angry, tired and all around infuriated.  The only thing that the idiot hotel clerks had been happy to tell him, was their management's policy on not giving out any information over the phone, on whether someone was a registered guest or not.  He was about to resign himself to having to wait for Kris to come home when he decided he might as well finish calling the hotels on the list he had made.  He sat down and picked up the phone again and dialed another number.


He grinned when he recognized the name on the other end of the line.  "Dan?  This is Parker.  Long time no see."  They chatted about old times for a few minutes and Parker learned that his old fraternity buddy was now the assistant manager at the hotel.  He also learned that 'Yes, there was a Raven Chandler registered there in room 1229'.  He hit the off button and tossed the phone on his desk.  'Not long now, Kristen.  Then you'll be back where you belong.'  Parker decided to take a shower and change before retrieving his wife-to-be.  He also went to inform the head of security that he would need an agent at his disposal this morning.


Gwen and Harold pulled into the drive of the Whitfield's house and saw Parker and one of the Secret Service agents getting into a car.  She ran to the passenger side before the car could pull away.  Gwen had told her husband on the drive over that she had a bad feeling about the whole Parker and Kris situation.  "What's going on?"


Parker glared at Gwen.  "If you must know, I'm going after my fiancée that YOU let get away last night."  He turned back to the driver.  "What are you waiting for?  GO."


'This guy's elevator doesn't stop on all floors, hell I'm not even sure it gets out of the basement.'  She thought as she high-tailed it back to Harold.  "Follow them."  She instructed her husband.  "I'm not sure if he's crazy or just possessive, but I'm worried."  Gwen filled Harold in on what Parker told her.






"What the heck is that?"  Kris groaned at being disturbed.  She woke up just after sunrise and was quietly admiring her lover's face in peaceful slumber when the racket started.


"What's what?"  Raven stretched and rolled over, kissing the now trapped young woman.




"That."  Kris looked towards the suite's living room, deciding that's where the noise was coming from.


"Damn.  I'm supposed to meet John and Sharon for breakfast."  Raven jumped up and threw her shirt over her head.  "Just a minute."  She yelled before the noise could start again.  She hopped on one foot, struggling into her boxers, as she headed towards the door.  "What's with all the"  She flung open the door expecting to see John standing there and was actually quite surprised when she found Parker, Gwen and some man standing there instead.


Parker barreled past her into the room.  Gwen followed him, slowly edging around the imposing woman, even though she was wearing purple silk boxers with little Dalmatians on them.  The unknown man walked in and stuck his hand out.  "Hi, I'm Harold, Gwen's husband.  Nice shorts."  He grinned.


She recovered her composure and shook the man's offered hand.  "Thanks."  She returned the grin even though she wasn't happy with the situation.


"Where's my..."  Parker started and suddenly stopped as the object of his search entered the room.


"What is going on here?"  Kris stood just inside the room in front of the doorway leading to the bedroom with her hands on her hips; clad only in the shirt she had borrowed the night before.  She moved slowly to stand beside Raven.  "What are all of you doing here?"  She knew now that the cat was out of the bag.  No way to avoid it now, even if she was still a little reluctant, she was not about to be the cause of anymore of Raven's insecurities.


Harold stayed quite; he was going to let Gwen explain.  Gwen clamped her jaw shut; she was going to let Parker explain.  Realization suddenly dawned on Parker as he stared at the vacated doorway at the now visible bed.  A bed that was entirely too crumpled and mussed up to have just been used for sleeping.  "You pervert!"  He jerked his head around to look in disgust at the two women standing close.  "I should have known you were a dyke and kept you away from Kristen."  He walked toward them and Raven put her body in front of her lover's.


"Parker, stop it."  Kris maneuvered out from behind Raven to stand beside her.  She placed Raven's arm across her shoulder and wrapped her arms around the older woman's waist.  "I love her and she loves me.  And that's not going to change."  She felt a reassuring squeeze from the arm holding her.  "I'm sorry, Parker, but I don't love you, I never did and you don't know what the word love means.  You just love the idea of having someone under your thumb.  Someone to order around."


"I'll tell your parents that you gave yourself to this queer."  He looked like he had swallowed something offensive.  "That the two of you...rolled around in bed together."  He threatened, with a smug expression on his face, sure that a threat of her mother's disapproval would make her crawl back.  "You know what that will do to your mother."  He coaxed.


Kris was usually a basically non-violent person, wanted to deck this worthless piece of shit and wipe the self-satisfied look off his face.  "Oh, Parker, rolling around wasn't what we were doing last night.  I'd try to explain it to you, but I doubt you would understand the first thing about making love and believe me, Parker, we both gave and gave and gave and still begged for more.  Make sure they know that."


Raven was so surprised by Kris' 'stick that in your pipe and smoke it' attitude, she almost missed Parker raising his arm to strike the young woman.  "Don't even think about it."  She caught his wrist in the iron grip of her left hand and held on.  "If you ever," she curled the fingers from her right hand around his throat and lifted until his toes were barely touching the floor.  "Ever, try to touch her again, I'll rip your spine out through your throat and beat you to death with it."  She shook him like a rag doll.  "Do we understand each other?"


Parker squeaked out a yes, which was all he could manage with his air supply being cut off.  He had never been so frightened of anything or anyone in his life as he was of this incredibly strong and very scary and extremely angry woman.  He stopped being concerned about his dignity, which was a good thing considering he had wet his pants when she had grabbed him and looked at him like he was the lowest species on the food chain.  He was concerned, however, with getting away with his life, so he was damn sure going to agree to any and every thing she wanted.


"Good, now get out of here."  She dropped him like a sack of potatoes and used his coat to wipe away any trace of him that might be soiling her hands.


He stood just long enough to make sure his legs would hold him before bolting for the door and safety.


Raven turned to Kris.  "You okay, Sagira?"  She asked as she wrapped long arms around the young woman and held her tightly.  She felt Kris nod her head and heard the deep sigh that escaped her mouth.  Raven placed her fingers under Kris' chin and tilted her head up.  "Has he hit you before?"


She saw the storm clouds gathering in blue eyes and answered quickly.  "No.  That's why I just stood there.  It caught me by surprise."  She laid her head down on Raven's chest.  "Thanks for coming to my rescue again, Taz."


They both were reminded that they still had company by the chuckling and slightly higher pitched giggling coming from the couch.  "Sorry."  Two voices said in unison after receiving a dauntingly raised eyebrow from the Captain.


"It...this doesn't bother you?"  Kris asked.


"It probably would have a few years ago, but no, not now."  Harold answered.


"What happened to change your mind?"  Raven questioned.


"My brother introduced me to his boyfriend and I had to either change my bias opinion or lose my bother.  It wasn't much of a choice, I love my brother very much."  A sheepish grin spread across his boyish face as he explained.


"What about you, Gwen?  I was scared of losing your friendship if you found out."  Kris held tightly to Raven, still fearing the answer.


"Kris, my college roommate was gay, a lot of our friends are gay and I volunteer at the Aids Clinic at the hospital.  So, no, it doesn't bother me.  Besides, it shouldn't matter to a true friend."  She winked at her longtime friend before looking at the Captain.  "You are still scary."  She paused and pointed a finger at the menacing figure.  "But what you did to that imbecile was priceless."






"It's me."  The low gravelly voice said.  He paused waiting until the kid and woman got into the car that was parked beside the pay phone he was using.  "I think I've finally got what you'll consider good news."


"I don't pay you to think."  Informed the voice on the other end of the phone.  "What do you have?"


"The Ambassador's daughter stayed the night at the hotel with Captain Chandler."  He opened his notebook, flipping through several pages.


"Go on."  The voice eagerly encouraged.


"Early this morning, the girl's boyfriend headed up to the Captain's room like a man on a mission.  He was up there about 15 or 20 minutes, no more, before he came charging back down and through the lobby like the hounds of hell were nipping at his ass."  The voice laughed at the memory.  "He looked both terrified and infuriated at the same time."


There were several moments of silence on the other end of the phone.  "Yes, interesting."  The drumming of fingers against what sounded like a wooden surface.  "Keep up the surveillance and keep me informed.  And it better not be another five days before I hear from you.  I want a phone call at least every other day, so I'll know you're doing your job."


"What about"  He started to ask when he heard the click and a dial tone greeted his ear.  "Damn sorry son of a bitch."  He slammed the receiver back onto the hook.




Going down in the elevator, Parker had taken his coat off and folded it across his arm.  He held it in front of him in order to hide the dark stain that spread across his crotch and down his pants leg.  He hurried through the lobby and out the front door, trying to avoid running into his old friend.  She had humiliated him yet again but he saw no reason to announce that fact.  And now that he had escaped with his life and was safely on his way home, he was already trying to devise a plan of revenge.  He was also trying to decide what, if anything, to tell the Whitfield's about their daughter's whereabouts, wondering if it might work to his advantage.




Sharon and John made their appearance after all the excitement had died down and joined Raven, Kris and Gwen in a leisurely breakfast ordered from room service, Harold had to leave for work.  Sharon made Gwen repeat the story twice.  "I always miss all the fun."  She complained good-naturedly and received a raised eyebrow from Raven.


John had been hard pressed during breakfast, to keep the grin off his face after seeing Kris' attire, or lack of it.  Only twin glares from his Captain and his fiancée had kept him silent.  And the occasional kick to his shin from Sharon when she had seen the gleam of mischievousness in his eyes.


"I don't even know this guy and I dislike him.  Honey, I don't know how you put up with him for so long."  Sharon said to Kris as she frowned and wrinkled her nose in disgust.  "Describe his face again."  Sharon requested of Gwen.


"Well."  Gwen started, then stopped.  Turning to Kris she asked.  "How did you describe Raven the other day at the house?"


Kris looked confused.  "Oh."  She started laughing.  "Tall, dark and dangerous."  She supplied.


John lost it.  He had just taken a large gulp of orange juice and ended up spraying it over the table before he could swallow any of it.  Raven gave him one of her most intimidating stares, but it had no effect on the howling man considering her face was also generously covered with the juice.


Raven took the napkin from Kris' shaking hand.  The young woman was trying hard not to laugh out loud, but her body was vibrating from the effort.  "Oh, shut up, all of you."  She tried to look annoyed but a grin made its way across her face.  "Yuck, this stuff is sticky after it dries."  She announced as she wiped her face.


"Give me that."  Kris snatched the napkin and dunked it in her water glass before proceeding to clean her partner's face.  "Hold still, Taz."  More chuckling and giggling.


"John, if any, and I mean any of this gets back to headquarters."  She leaned over the table and poked him in the chest with her finger.  "I'll tell'em you've been hit in the head once too often and to put you on a desk job."


"Okay...Deadly."  He jumped up and hid behind Sharon and Gwen.


"I give up."  Which solicited more laughter from the group.  Raven groaned and slid down in her chair.  "My reputation is irrevocably in shambles."  She glared at Kris who was slowly sliding out of her chair and onto the floor in her continued effort not to laugh.


A short time later, Raven and Kris declined an invitation for a day of sightseeing with the engaged couple and Gwen also left, stating a meeting at the clinic.


"Well...I guess I have no more excuses not to go and face the music."  Kris absently twirled a piece of parsley between her thumb and forefinger.


"We,"  Raven interjected, "will go face your parents."  She intertwined her fingers with Kris' unoccupied ones.


A deep sigh.  "There's no telling what Parker has told them."  She stopped playing with the greenery that had adorned her stack of pancakes.  "And you certainly aren't one of mother's favorite people to begin with.  Although I think maybe father might have at least a reluctant respect for you now."


"Come on, my dear, I need a real shower after my unexpected one earlier."  She pulled the young woman to her feet by their joined hands.  "They might surprise you, ya know?  Your parents, I mean."


Kris looked at her like she had lost her mind.  "Yeah, right.  I might develop a total lack of interest in food too.  But I kinda doubt it."  They walked through the bedroom and into the bathroom hand-in-hand.


"We'll go to the back-up plan then."  Raven said when she stopped laughing.  She explained after starting the water for her shower.  "I'll just walk in, wrap my arms around your mother."  She demonstrated on her partner.  "And say 'Hi, mom, I'm so happy to be the newest member of the family.  I know we'll get along just peachy, don't you?'  She'll faint and you won't have to worry about it.  We'll be packed and gone before she comes to."  She grinned and wiggled her eyebrows up and down.


Kris stood in Raven's arms with her mouth hanging open and an unreadable expression on her face.  She opened and closed her mouth a few times but no sound emerged.


"What?"  Raven wondered if she had taken her joke a little too far.


"I, uh...was just trying to picture my 'proper and ladylike' mother, down for the count, spread eagle on the floor.  Makes for an amusing and really peculiar picture."  She shook her head and looked up.  "Would you really do that for me?"


"Oh yeah."  Relieved that Kris could laugh at the tense situation.  "Just let her start mouthing off and saying bad things about you and I'll change into 'Ms Warm and Fuzzy' so fast her head will spin."


"Ms Warm and Fuzzy, huh?"  She kissed the skin that was exposed by the v-neck of the shirt Raven wore.  "I'll buy warm, but there's not a fuzzy place on you, Taz."


Raven felt the fire coursing through her body when the lips connected with her skin.  "I...ah...what did you say?"  She lost the thread of the conversation when Kris' hands migrated underneath her shirt and moved over her skin and a trail of molten lava was left behind.


"I said that you weren't fuzzy."  She answered as she cupped two breasts in her hands.  "Although."  Kris was starting to breathe heavily, also.  "Your mind seems to be a little out of focus at this particular moment."


Raven couldn't take it anymore.  She wrapped her arms around Kris' waist, picked her up and carried her into the shower, clothes and all.  It wasn't that her mind was out of focus, it's just that it was only focused on one specific little blonde that had stolen her heart and who was proceeding to drive her to distraction.


End Part Three----Continued in Part Four

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