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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, it's Edward."
"Edward. This doesn't sound like a courtesy call. What's up?"
"Ariel has received another note."
Quinn looked around. Ariel was stroking down the pool of yet another hotel. The security consultant turned back to the phone. "When?"
"Just this morning. We've been very careful with her mail. Julia has been checking it and she's just brought me a new note. It's another photocopy of a review. On this one he's written 'Enjoy the tour. It's your last.'"
"Ok Edward, here's what you do. I'm going to call Kris Cavendish at my office. She's going to come down there to get the note for analysis. Has Julia been wearing gloves when she's been opening the mail?"
"Yes. Just like you said to do. I am too."
"That's good. The second thing I'm going to have Kris do is call the detective we've been keeping up to date on this, Hank Walsh, and have him come by to ask some questions. As soon as I know anything from Kris about the analysis, I'll get back to you."
"Alright. Quinn, are you going to tell Ariel?
Quinn glanced again at her lover who was now stroking her way back up the pool. Vanessa, who had been keeping tabs from the water on what Quinn was doing, pulled herself effortlessly out of the pool and walked over to join Quinn, who was keeping her voice low.
"Don't know yet. Talk to you later, Edward. 'Bye."
"You going to tell Ariel?"
"Whatever that conference is about, you'd better tell me," said Ariel from the pool's edge.
Quinn grabbed up a towel and walked over to the writer. "Give me your hand." Ariel reached up and Quinn lifted her from the water. Vanessa did the same for Kelly, who by this point had joined the group. Quinn draped the towel around Ariel's shoulders and drew her over to some of the chairs around the pool's edge. Vanessa signalled Kelly to give them some privacy.
"You received another letter. Appears to be the same guy."
Ariel flinched, then looked down at her hands. After a few seconds she said "I don't know which is worse--when he leaves me alone, but I know he's there, or when he does something like this." Raising her eyes she asked, "Can you tell anything from this one?"
"It hasn't gone to the lab yet. Edward only phoned me minutes after Julia opened it. I was just going to call Kris to tell her to go get it."
"Oh, ok. You'll tell me when there's a report? Even if it doesn't tell you anything?"
Ariel, looking down again, simply nodded. Quinn leaned over and enfolded her. "We're going to get him, Ariel. We aren't going to stop until we do."
"I know. But this waiting is so hard!"
Quinn held her and rubbed her back. When the shorter woman was again composed Quinn said "We'd better get back to our room. You want to cancel the lunch hour book signing?"
"Have you any reason to believe he might be in this city?"
"No. The note was pretty non-specific, but I'd say he's not anywhere in the vicinity."
"Then No! This prick is not going to stop me. I'll see him in Hell first!"
"That's my girl," Quinn said cheerfully as they rose to their feet.
"Well, well. What do I see. Four pretty girls and all different so a man can pick and chose." The loud male voice belonged to one of two men, dressed in bathing suits, who had just entered the pool area. To Quinn's eye they were reasonably good looking, and both at some time had followed a fairly strict exercise regimen. That, combined with the attitude they were displaying made Quinn immediately peg them for ex-athletes who missed being the center of adoring female attention and the recipients of unlimited free tail. Then again, reasoned Quinn, having guarded one or two professional male athletes in her career, maybe she'd come to that conclusion because she couldn't stand loudmouths or male athletes of any stripe, whether they were college, professional, or little league, for that matter.
Vanessa stepped in front of Kelly, who was the focus of Big Mouth's attention. "We were just leaving, gentlemen, so stand aside."
"Plenty of me to go around, Stretch. I'll get to you sooner or later," he said as he started to reach around Vanessa to grab Kelly's arm.
Vanessa gave him a dazzling smile, which seemed to freeze him, (Quinn had seen that smile a time or two and knew its power) then, before the man realized what was happening, had him down on his knees, one hand on the floor with the other up behind his back. She bent one finger and prepared to break it.
The other man, realizing too late that his friend was in trouble, made a move to help, but was brought up sharply by Quinn's cold voice saying "Freeze," as she calmly leveled the Glock at him.
Vanessa, keeping her victim incapacitated, smiled even more widely and responded to his taunt, saying "Well, I'm sure you'd be the cat's ass, Sugar Plum, but I just can't wait around to find out the rest of your talents, so we'll be leaving now."
"Shit! Let me up you bitch! You're hurting me! I'll have the law on you."
"Well sweetie, I haven't done anything but defend a friend when you tried to attack her. I'm sure the law will be very interested in that."
"That's right," said Ariel. "He definitely made the first move."
"I can corroborate that," said Quinn.
"Me too," added Kelly. "I was terrified when he tired to grab me."
Quinn shot a quick look at Kelly, wondering if she had really been that frightened. The security consultant was relieved to catch a wink from her, which she was careful to hide from either of the men.
"Come on Jason, leave it be. We'll go somewhere's else where we're appreciated, " said the second man, who was plainly wondering what trouble they'd be in if the cops were indeed called."
"Alright, you castrating bitch. Let me up and I won't call the cops."
"Very considerate of you, Jason." Then leaning closer as she pulled him to his feet, said in his ear, "but it's not particularly bright to call me names that give me ideas." So saying, she gave him a slight push that caused him to stumble a few feet away.
Vanessa refrained from responding, and merely smiled as she took her things from Kelly, who had retrieved them from where the operative had dropped them on arrival. As the four women filed out, however, she couldn't resist a parting shot, saying "Y'all have a nice day, now, yuh hear!"
"Vanessa" said Quinn, warningly.
"Sorry, Boss, but that guy got to me."
"Umm. And you handled him with aplomb. I particularly liked the smile maneuver."
"Thanks. It comes in handy from time to time."
"I'm sure. And not just in hand to hand combat."
"Wel-l-l," drawled Vanessa, "what can I say? If you've got it, flaunt it."
Quinn laughed and slapped her on the back.
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