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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 sat at the kitchen table making notes. Everyone else she knew made notes on a computer, but to Quinn, when you really wanted to think, nothing beat a notepad and pen.
As she re-read what she had written she noticed, in her peripheral vision, a small gray paw moving warily toward the pen, unattended on the table top.
"Ah ha! Caught you! She exclaimed, as she slapped a hand down on the object in question. "So you are the pen and pencil thief."
A solemn, gray face contemplated her. "Mew," it said.
"Mew to you too. What did you do with my brand new highlighter last week?"
"Well that's informative. I need more detail. Where'd you put it?"
"Probably under the refrigerator or the stove," suggested a voice behind her.
Quinn turned to see Ariel in T-shirt, shorts and bare feet.
"Hi, Love. How are you?" She got up quickly, gave the smaller a woman a quick hug and kiss and said "Sit down and I'll get you breakfast."
The writer did as Quinn suggested, without comment. Bad sign, thought the dark-haired woman, as she sliced, then popped a bagel into the toaster, and poured juice and a cup of coffee to set in front of the smaller woman. Scooping up the kitten, Grise, she sat down again.
"Not swimming today?"
"Don't feel like it right now. Maybe later," responded Ariel, "after I wake up a bit more. And speaking of that, did you sleep at all?"
"Oh yeah, sure," said Quinn, trying to dodge the question. In truth, she'd only slept about two hours before finally giving up all further attempts and moving downstairs to the kitchen to think, play some music, and finally go for a swim, au naturel, at about 5:00 am. The toaster popped up at that moment and Ariel retrieved and spread peanut butter on the warm bagel. Quinn noted her lover didn't pursue the sleep thing, which was also a bad sign.
"What'cha working on?" asked Ariel, as she added jam.
"Just going over this thing again in my mind. Trying to eliminate some possibilities. See where there's holes we need more information on. That kind of thing."
The writer nodded, and played with her coffee mug. "Quinn, do you ever think we'll find him? I mean, really? I can't help but think I'll be going on like this for years. And I just don't want to think about that."
Quinn stretched out a hand and placed it gently on her lover's wrist. "Yes. I believe we'll find him and it won't be far off, if only because he will keep doing things like writing on car windshields--sooner or later someone will get a good enough look that we'll be able to identify him. In the meantime we keep you safe."
"Safe." Ariel fell silent and drew designs on the table top with her finger.
When Quinn was sure she wasn't going to continue she stood up, moved behind the writer's chair and slipped her arms around the woman. "Yeah. Safe," she murmured in her ear, "no matter what it takes."
Ariel turned her head to meet Quinn's gaze and gave her a wan smile.
Quinn gave her another squeeze and then returned to her place and picked up her coffee cup. Ariel's listlessness worried her. She ached to see the writer's usual damn-the-torpedoes attitude, but it had been missing since last night, after the message had been scrawled on the limo.
Hank Walsh had got there in minutes, which was a good thing because Quinn was getting frustrated, having been stonewalled by the police. Hank, however, had quickly determined that the rookie cop, who'd been left with the vehicles while the older, experienced cops had gone to check out the gunshots that seemed to come from the front of the museum, had abandoned his post, thinking he could help. The kid had already been reamed out by the sergeant on duty so Hank didn't add anything. The problem was, it left them back at square one.
Quinn consoled herself that at least there had been no bomb, and that they'd been able to leave after only an additional hour of police procedure. But now that the book had been launched Ariel had to leave almost immediately on a book tour that included the talk show circuit. A few days before, Quinn had suggested that perhaps she could do the talk shows from the local studios of the networks, which would shorten the tour by three days. Ariel had vetoed the idea but maybe she might reconsider. Of course, the possibility existed that Ariel might actually be safer outside the city, on tour, if whoever was after her was not able to follow. That, however, was cancelled out, at least in Quinn's mind, by the possibility that there might be other nutcases in the cities they would visit who might like to take a shot at the dyke writer. And she, Quinn, would be working with security personnel that, in the main, she had never worked with before. Shit! She had a bad feeling all around about this.
Ariel finished her breakfast and got up to clear her dishes away into the dishwasher. Quinn momentarily thought about telling her to leave them, that she'd take care of them, but stopped herself--she didn't want Ariel to think that she thought she was an invalid. Keep things as normal as possible, she told herself. Habit is the best way to get her back to her take-no-prisoners ways.
"I think I'll go read for a while," the writer said.
"Ok, Babe, see you later," responded Quinn. After the writer left the room, the security consultant picked up Grise, who was playing at her feet with the pen he'd somehow managed to make off with. Quinn held him in front of her face and said "Ok, little guy, you're good at planning things. How about some suggestions to make Ariel feel better."
"Mew. Yeah, right."
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