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Copyright: Although the main characters in the following do bear a strong resemblance to a cute couple with whom we are all familiar, all the characters in this work of fiction are the product of my own imagination and are therefore copyright to me.
For the rest of the disclaimers, please see the first chapter
by Helen Smith, (firstname.lastname@example.org) September, 2000
Quinn was bored. It was the fifth day of waiting for something to happen. She was tired of reading. She was tired of watching movies. She was tired and sore from exercising. The only thing she wasn't tired of was sex but that was only because Ariel said she had to work during the day. Scratch that--she doubted she'd ever get tired of sex with Ariel, since with Ariel it was more than just sex. She gave the heavy bag a particularly vicious one-two combination. Damn it! Surely Ariel's insistence on following her usual routine had given whoever this was a chance to try his luck, but nothing, no go, nada! Mind you, if the threat had been mailed two weeks or so ago he had already had some time before Ariel got the note, and didn't try anything. Maybe he was all talk and no action. That just didn't fit, however, with the tone of the note. Thinking about it was making her head ache. Might as well go do some laps in the pool, she decided, and give the old girls next door a thrill.
Quinn had just started up the stairs to change into a swimsuit when Ariel opened the door at the top.
"Oh, there you are. I've just been talking with Scott."
"He in town already?"
"Yes. He got in a couple of days ago and has been getting settled in. He was wondering if he could come over to visit. What do you think?"
"Sure. I guess. When were you thinking of?"
"Well, why not this afternoon, say, about 4:00pm. I have to admit, I'm curious, and he sounds like a nice guy."
"Ok. I'll let him in when he arrives."
The antique grandfather clock in the hall was chiming 4:00pm when the doorbell rang.
"Well he's punctual," said Quinn. "You stay back here and I'll let him in." She went to the door, drew her gun and checked the video monitor. A handsome young man in a short-sleeved light coloured shirt was facing the door. She couldn't say definitively from the black and white image, but she'd bet his hair was blond. Wonder if he has green eyes too, she thought.
They were grey. And looking a little nervous when greeted at the door by a six foot, competent looking woman carrying a gun.
"Uh, hi. I'm Scott."
"I'm Quinn. Ariel's inside. Come on in." She shut and locked the door after him. "Sorry for the welcome," she continued, indicating the Glock as she holstered it, "but we've had some trouble so we're not taking chances."
"Scott." The young man turned around.
"Aunt Ariel?" He extended his hand. "I'm Scott. Um, but I guess you already knew that." A faint pink tinged his cheeks.
Ariel smiled and took his hand in both of hers. "Scott, it's good to see you. "Please," indicating a doorway, "come in." Ariel saw him settled in a chair in the living room, ascertained what he'd like to drink, then went to the kitchen.
"Um, nice house."
"Yes it is,' responded Quinn from where she lounged on the arm of the couch.
"It's about 150 years old, isn't it?"
"Yes, I think so."
"Has Aunt Ariel lived here long?"
"As long as I've known her." Quinn watched him. He seemed what he appeared, a genuinely nice young man, but appearances could be deceiving. Still, the preliminary report she'd got from Joe didn't indicate anything out of the ordinary. Good grades in school, starting an MBA program in the fall, a summer research job with a professor at the university, girlfriend at home.
Ariel returned at that moment, much to Scott's relief, distributed the drinks and sat down on the couch.
"I don't know whether I would have known you," she said. You're all grown up."
"Yeah, well, it's been 13 years. You look different too."
"Well, I'm wearing my hair shorter now. That makes a difference, I suppose."
"Um, well, um, I remember you taller."
Quinn stifled a laugh and Scott turned pink again, as Ariel glared at her lover. "Five feet six inches is not short, I'll have you know," she said to Quinn, who was desperately fighting to maintain her game face.
"Gee, Aunt Ariel, I'm sorry, it's just I was eight the last time I saw you and you were taller than me then."
"That's alright Scott. I was addressing the Valkyrie at the end of the couch who thinks anything under 5'10" is tiny."
"Hey, just like the police department I've relaxed my standards a bit. Now it's anything under 5'8"."
Scott looked from one woman to the other. The dark-haired one had the ghost of a twinkle in her eye and his aunt didn't look too ticked off. He relaxed a little, and tried a small grin. His aunt smiled back at him.
"So tell me, Scott, what's happened with your family since I left?"
For the next hour, Scott caught Ariel up on thirteen years of life back home. The family had moved to a new neighbourhood, but they went to the same church. His father still worked for the same marketing company. His mother had become a lay preacher and her life revolved around the church community. Scott had shone at school, and participated in a lot of church activities. His sister, Katie, however, always rebellious, had run away from home when she was 16, two years before. They hadn't heard from her since and his mother forbade either her husband or her son to mention her. She also refused to admit that best-selling author Ariel Pedersen was her sister.
"I love her Aunt Ariel. I mean, she's my mother. But I just don't understand her. She wouldn't explain why you left, and one day a month or so later we were on the bus and I saw you and tried to get your attention and she pulled me back down and told me that I no longer had an Aunt Ariel."
He stopped and gulped. "It wasn't until two or three years ago that I discovered you were an author." A pause as Scott examined his well-worn sneakers. "I was at my girlfriend's house and there was a book open on the arm of a chair. I was just moving it to sit down when I noticed the picture on the back. At first I didn't know it was you, I just knew you looked familiar. I can't describe the feeling when I realized the author was you, my Aunt Ariel. It was wow and oh boy all mixed up together, you know? And, uh, when my girlfriend told me what the book was about everything fell into place, about why you'd left so suddenly, and Mom and everything. I..." Scott, paused, cleared his throat and started again. "Everybody's life is their own business. Nobody has the right to make judgements about anybody else. I'd like us to be friends." He looked at Ariel hesitantly.
Ariel felt her vision blur. "Thank you, Scott. That means more than I can ever say." She stood up, leaned forward and embraced him, hugging him tightly. After several seconds she sat back down and wiped her eyes.
"So Scott, if you don't have any other plans would you like to stay for dinner?"
"I'd love to Aunt Ariel but the prof. I'm working for wants the three of us who are on the project to come to his place tonight for beer and pizza so he can brief us on the research he wants us to do. Could I have a rain check?"
Ariel grinned. "Sure. Just let us know when you're free."
Scott cocked an ear to the grandfather clock as it chimed, signalling 5:15pm, and checked his watch. "In fact, I better get going." He stood up, as did Ariel and Quinn.
While they walked toward the front entrance, Ariel slipped her arm around his waist and Scott, in turn, laid his arm across her shoulders. Quinn went ahead, checked the video display of the front step, pulled her gun and opened the door. Ariel and Scott followed her out and turned to each other.
"I'm really glad you got in touch, Scott. I hope we'll see you often."
"Count on it," he replied with a grin and embraced her.
Ariel hugged him in return and stepped back saying "Now don't hesitate to call or..."
A flying body took Ariel to the ground and knocked the feet out from under Scott as shots rang out from a dark car roaring by. Quinn was on her feet in an instant, sighting and firing. With a grunt of satisfaction she saw the back window explode, but the car kept going and hung a hard right at the end of the block. That was the fastest way to the Expressway, she knew.
"Shit! I didn't even get the fucker's plate." Turning quickly she checked Ariel. "You ok?"
"Yeah, just shaken up a bit. I'm glad you spotted him so quickly."
"Well if I'd spotted him as quickly as I should have, it would all be over, by now."
"Uh, Aunt Ariel? I think I need a doctor."
"Scott! Oh Scott where are you hurt?" Scott was still sitting on the step where he'd fallen and Ariel was at his side immediately, simultaneously noticing how pale he was and the arm he was holding.
"Let me see," said Quinn, taking his arm gently. She peeled off his fingers and checked a wound underneath, that oozed blood.
"Looks as if you were either grazed or" glancing at the pockmarked stones of the house, "hit by a stone or bullet fragment. Come on, you two. Back inside. We've got to call this in."
"But my prof..."
"Save it. You can call him from inside and explain. That's got to be looked at and the police will want to talk to you too."
"Yeah. They take a dim view of attempted murder."
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