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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

Hunting Season

by Helen Smith, (continuum@sprint.ca)September, 2000

Chapter 16

"Good evening. Tonight we are conversing with Ariel Pedersen, best selling author of Midnight Madness, who is here to talk about her new book, After Dark."

Quinn watched the interview intently. Sixth day on the road. Fourth city. Umpty-umpth talk show. When Ariel wasn't doing interviews, she was signing books, although Quinn insisted on personally checking out the security arrangements very carefully before the book signings went ahead. That was the only part of the tour on which Ariel had allowed Quinn the final say. In all other instances, she'd listen carefully to Quinn's opinions then make her decision, sometimes agreeing with her lover, sometimes not. Quinn wished Ariel would just take her opinions as law but knew her well enough to know she never would.

Glancing at the monitor, Quinn noted that the camera had discovered Ariel's legs and was sharing them with the audience, via a medium shot from close to the floor. On the one hand, she mentally congratulated the remote control camera operator on his good taste. On the other she didn't like him objectifying the writer, and she knew Ariel would be pissed since this show was a literary showcase where she hoped to convince people to read her book, not for the steamy sex scenes but for her exploration of prevailing societal attitudes.

Quinn looked up as Vanessa tapped her on the shoulder. The other woman smiled then moved to the back of the set where the camera operator sat. Quinn had noticed him chatting up Vanessa before the taping, although the tall, statuesque operative had not seemed to be showing much interest. The security consultant noted that in less than a minute the camera abruptly switched to the writer's face and stayed there, except when the host was asking a question. Good, Quinn thought, and nodded at Vanessa when she returned. The other woman winked and went back to watching the interview and the surrounding studio.

There had never been any question that Quinn had to take along at least one operative on the tour. She couldn't keep tabs on Ariel all by herself. The question was, which one. Kris was the most experienced. But then again, she also had the administrative experience to run Thanatos Security while Quinn was away, which neither John nor Vanessa had. Well, by the time the tour was over, John would have a lot more knowledge since Quinn decided it was time for him to learn. Kris wasn't so happy having to teach him, but she'd adapt.

The security consultant had been momentarily surprised at Ariel's reaction when she'd told her which one was accompanying them on tour. "Oh, why Vanessa?" she'd asked, causing Quinn to respond dangerously, "Why not Vanessa? Is there a problem I don't know about?" Ariel, recognizing the tone of Quinn's voice, hastily replied "No! Not at all. But Quinn, she's so tall! Between the two of you I'll look like a midget!" The security consultant had pointed out that John was tall too, so what was her point. "Well sweet thing," responded Ariel, "in case you hadn't noticed this tiny detail, John is male. I wouldn't look short in comparison to him, since women are usually shorter than men. But with you two, people will wonder which one of you brought your kid sister along." Quinn had hugged her then and pointed out that it was a good thing that the fourth member of the group, Kelly Sanchez, the PR liaison from McQuarry's, was even shorter than Ariel.

Kelly had been the liaison on the tour the previous year, and Quinn had been very glad of it: in addition to handling the PR she'd looked after all the extraneous details as well. Right now she was concentrating on the interviewer who was winding up his chat with Ariel. Once the all clear was given, she strode purposely across to the writer, who was shaking hands with her host, and got ready to update Ariel on the rest of her schedule for that day.

"She's cute," said a voice in her ear.

Quinn looked over her shoulder at Vanessa, who grinned at her. "She is indeed. I didn't know you were interested."

"Feisty disposition. Smart. Funny. Short dark hair and blue eyes. Sure I'm interested. Who wouldn't be."

"So the camera guy isn't in the running? He sure did what you asked him to quickly enough."

Vanessa snorted. "Quinn, it's true I like women and men, but Camera Guy was obnoxious from word one so even though we're here over night there was no way in hell I was going out with him. As far as the leg shots go, you can persuade people of all sorts of things if you're 6'2," have a black belt in karate and tell them you know how to cause them extreme pain if they don't do what you want right away."

Quinn only had time to grin at this response when Ariel and Kelly re-joined them.

"What did you think?" asked Ariel.

"I think it went well, but see for yourself this evening when it's broadcast," replied Quinn.

"Yeah, I have it in my day planner." Ariel's stomach suddenly rumbled. "Oh, boy, I'm starved and it's only 4:00 pm."

"Well, why don't we go have a drink and some munchies in the hotel bar? I've already checked the place out and it looks pretty secure," volunteered Vanessa.

"Sounds good to me," said Quinn. "What's the rest of today's schedule like?"

Kelly replied "the last appointment is postponed until tomorrow at 10:00 am. As far as eating goes, I could eat something too, but I'd better check in with the office first."

"Yeah, it's about time to call home," agreed Quinn. "We can call while we're on the move."

The four women left the broadcast studios and headed out into a large interior mall area, at one end of which was their hotel. Quinn and Kelly pulled out phones and punched in numbers as they walked.

"Thanatos Security, Kris Cavendish speaking."

"Hi Kris. It's Quinn. How are things going?"

"Ah, the prodigal phones home. We are honoured."

"So you should be. Anything to report?"

"Not much. New clients today. John is doing administrative stuff, as we speak, that is helping him gain a new appreciation of what an evil taskmaster you are. Other than that it's pretty much business as usual."

"Good to hear. And are things still ok at the house?"

"Still no problems, you'll be glad to know. And Michelle loves the pool more every day and adores the kitties. I'll have a hard time persuading her to go home when this is over."

"Start working on it. Only two more weeks and we'll be back to stay. Anything new from the police?"

"You have to ask? A big zero. By the way, Hank Walsh dropped by yesterday after you called just to see how things were going, but he had nothing to tell me. Whoever your perp is, he seems to have gone on vacation."

"Yeah, well, let's just hope it's not a whirlwind tour of 16 cities in 21 days."

"Amen to that. And speaking of which, how is everyone holding up today?"

"Not bad. Ariel just finished an interview that'll be broadcast nationally tonight--"Book Talk" is the name of the show. Her last appointment for today has been rescheduled to tomorrow morning so we're off for some r&r in the hotel bar."

"Humph! Must be nice! I, on the other hand, am looking at about two hours overtime."

"Well, you know what they say--no rest for the wicked."

"Oh yeah, I'm bad!"

"Talk to you tomorrow, Kris."

"Right-o fearless leader."

Quinn closed her phone, just as they got to the end of the long indoor mall. Kelly was completing her call too.

"Anything new?" asked Ariel.

"Nope," said Quinn. The kittens are still entertaining, the pool is popular and John and Kris hate me.

"That's all to be expected. How about you, Kelly?"

"No, things have settled down a bit," replied Kelly.

"Good. Wow! You mean we're free until tomorrow morning? Don't know how I'm going to cope," exclaimed Ariel.

"Why not a night out?" asked Vanessa, as she held the door open to the bar. "I used to live here and I'd be happy to show you the sights."

"Um, what do you think Quinn?"

Quinn looked at Ariel. She could see lines of stress in her lover's face. "I'm a little tired, myself," she replied. "Would you mind staying in?"

"Actually I wouldn't. Sorry Vanessa, but Quinn and I will have to take you up on that some other trip. Maybe Kelly has more energy."

"Yeah, Actually, I'd like to."

"Ok!" Vanessa grinned. "There's a small Italian restaurant not far from here. Why don't I call for reservations, for, say, about 7:00 pm?

"Sounds good," said Kelly. "Perhaps we'll bring you guys back some cannoli."

"Italian pastries! What a lovely thought," said Ariel. "Indulge yourselves. We'll be having a quiet evening in, for a change."

Ariel rolled off Quinn and checked the time on the bedside clock. "Almost time for the broadcast."

"Umm. One question."


"This is your idea of a quiet evening in?"

"I'm lying down."


"And so are you."

"After what we just did I don't think I could stand."


Rather than answer, Quinn grinned and leaned over to brush her lips over her lover's. "Glad you're back to your feisty self, even if you do call me names at times."

Ariel sobered and stroked Quinn's cheek. "You know, I forget about the danger for hours at a time. And then it suddenly comes roaring back, when I least expect it. I feel a lot better than I did, but I won't really be able to relax until he's caught."

Quinn slipped an arm around the shorter woman and hugged her. "I know, Love, I know." Then, catching sight of the clock, she said "Hey, time to turn on the tube."

"Oh! Ok." Ariel picked up the remote and clicked it at the info feed. She rapidly went through the channels until reaching the one she knew would carry "Book Talk."

"...Talk is brought to you tonight by Shumizu-Ford-Daimler. We know what you want."

"I want you to shut up and get to the program," said Ariel.

"Shush. I hear they're interviewing some cute dyke writer tonight. I want to listen," responded Quinn. "Ow!" she added as Ariel gave her an elbow in the ribs.

"Good evening. Tonight we are conversing with Ariel Pedersen, best selling author of Midnight Madness, who is here to talk about her new book, After Dark."

Quinn glanced at Ariel frequently through the next half hour. The writer was a picture of total concentration. At the end of the program she turned to Quinn and said, "So, now you've seen it twice, how do you think it went?"

"Pretty good, I think. He seemed to ask all the right questions, to which you gave the right answers. What about you? Did you think it went ok?"

"I think so. I'm glad they didn't continue with the low angle shots for very long. They made me look like I was getting ready to model in some sleazy men's magazine."

"Umm." Quinn nuzzled her neck. "With you in it, it would no longer qualify as sleazy. Actually, though, they might have continued with those if Vanessa hadn't had a pointed chat with the remote camera operator."

"Really? I'll have to think of something nice to do for her."

"You already have."

Ariel pulled back and looked at Quinn, with one eyebrow raised. "And that would be?"

"You introduced her to Kelly."

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