Fatal Hesitation

(A story in the When Heaven Meets Hell series)

Part Three

© JM Dragon 2006


Love/Sex:This story features relationships between adult women. If this bothers you, is illegal in the State, Province or Country you live or if you are under the age of 18, find something else to read. There are loads of general stories out there.

Language:No strong language.

Violence:There is implied violence in this story.

Hurt/Comfort:There are scenes of heartache to be dealt with by the characters.

Sharon Agnew watched the detective from her kitchen window. The evening was drawing in and the woman was settling down for an all night surveillance of her property. At first, when the detective had told her what she had planned, it worried her. What will the neighbours think? Almost as quickly as the thought occurred it was dismissed, they aren't interested in my problems. Only old man Randall ever gives me the time of the day. She was certain the only reason for that was his ogling of her chest and not due to any repartee that might pass between them. The least she could do for the detective was make her dinner, but the invitation was declined. Although, the detective had finally accepted the flask of coffee she offered for the long night. As in all the good movies, the night watch was by far the hardest or at least that is how she perceived the situation. Switching back the curtain, she walked into the lounge and switched on the television. Soon she was lost in her favourite soap.

Olivia shifted in her vehicle for a few seconds to get the right posture for her night-time surveillance. As she found the right spot, she settled back and replayed the information Teal had found out about her client. Information about Sharon Agnew was sparse even with David Tourney's help. It was at times like these when she missed her connection to the Feds - there was a tentative line of communication between them, at her choosing it was tentative at best. Teal's search had pretty much told her what was already obvious at Olivia's end. The woman was a school teacher, had a blemish free career and no criminal record and had never defaulted on a payment for anything in her life. She was, according to the records and by anyone's standard, a law abiding citizen working through what life had to offer. A dead end.I'm sure there is more to Sharon Agnew than the lily-white information that has turned up so far.

What I need is someone like Amelia around to give me her opinion. It would be a bonus and was one of the reasons she had no trouble accepting the doctor as her business partner. In many ways, she felt that their respective career paths melded together perfectly although she would never tell Amelia that. Not right now anyway. Now, she had too many other questions running in her head that had to be answered. Besides, if the doc decides to go back to being a full-fledged nun it will be pointless to even mention it. That particular thought made her cringe inside and make a bad taste surface in her mouth. Picking up the flask of coffee, she poured herself a liberal amount then drank it quickly. Replacing the cap on the flask, she glanced over to the nearest neighbour's house - a guy called Randall lived there. According to Agnew, he was harmless and, in a small way, a bit of a pervert. Well, small or not I'll make his acquaintance tomorrow unless he shows himself as the perpetrator tonight.

Her cell rang. Normally she would have ignored it but as it was in the early stages of her vigilance she looked at the caller ID. Interesting she must have been listening to my thoughts. "Hi doc how's the vacation?" Olivia was pleased to take the call. Hearing the doctor's voice made her feel somehow whole again - not that she realised something was missing.

There was a splutter at the other end. "How did you know it was me?" An accusing voice echoed in the ear piece.

Laughing softly at the idiotic remark Olivia said, "Ever heard of caller ID in the convent Doc?"

Olivia imagined Amelia shooting a hand to her forehead in a gesture of her idiocy. "Of course, stupid of me."

"Not stupid Doc…one thing I would never let anyone say about you is that you're stupid. In my book, you are far from it. Of course there are other things I might describe you as being," Olivia said unable to keep a smile from forming. "But tell me, why am I honoured with a call at this time of the evening? I thought you'd be out gallivanting all over town?" Olivia grinned as she teased Amelia.

"I don't gallivant as you call it!" Indignation was heavy in Amelia's tone.

Olivia heard the annoyance and reigned herself in. "I'm sorry it was the wrong choice of words," she said calmly. "Please tell me why you are calling."

Olivia's words mollified the doctor who replied, "Teal tells me that you're away on a case and I thought… well I was thinking." Darn this is harder than I thought it would be. Olivia is probably laughing at me right now and who can blame her.

Olivia heard the frustration at the other end and it made her smile. I guess I'm not the only one who has difficulty asking for help. "You know something Doc? I was thinking that right now I could do with some of your insight into this case. Pity you're on vacation."

Amelia silently thanked God that he heard her prayer. "That's just it Olivia, I'm not on vacation any more. I can help you out. In fact, I'm on the road travelling home. Why don't I take a detour and meet up with you?" The sound at the other end was hard for Olivia to describe. It almost sounds like a yelp, but that can't be.

Olivia grimaced at the thought of Amelia driving through the night on her own… then again maybe she isn't alone. "Are you driving alone or do you have someone to help you on the drive?"

"Oh don't be silly Olivia. I'm not a child I've driven in the dark before. Anyway, you do it all the time."

"Yeah I do, but I'm better prepared for any eventuality. Look I'm in a town called Ransomville which is about three hours north of the city. If you're highway six-twenty you can probably take the thirty by-pass and it will bring you right into town. Did you have the garage put that navigational system I bought in your car that?" There was a silence for a few seconds. "Okay, I'll take that as a no. When we go home I'll see to it myself. Where are you now?"

The censure evident in Olivia's voice had Amelia glancing furtively to the side of the road hoping for a sign, but there weren't any. "I passed a place called Baron's Creek about ten minutes ago if that helps."

Using her car's navigation system, she entered the name and located Baron's Creek. Several key strokes later, she had a detailed route for Amelia to follow. Modern technology, you gotta love it. Fold-out paper maps take forever to map out a route from point A to point B. According to this, the doc should, barring any traffic hold ups, arrive here around mid-morning. "Pull over to the side I want you to note this down."

Amelia decided there was no use in arguing besides, she was too happy about being allowed on one of Olivia's case. I don't want to break the lucky streak I have going for me. Safely taking a rest area exit, which fortunately came into view, she dropped the car down the ramp and pulled over. "Okay I'm stopped let me get some paper." Scrambling around the car, Amelia found a pad and pencil and quickly began to write down the details as Olivia precisely narrated them.

"Do you understand all of that?"

"Sure do. I'll see you soon. Who knows, I might be earlier than you think." Amelia announced cheerfully before she was dumbfounded by a caustic response.

"You'll get here at the time I said. I don't want to hear about you ending up in jail or worse in a body bag because you decided to speed. Got me?"

"Okay, okay I'll do the speed limit. Do you know something?"

Exasperated and wishing she hadn't taken the initiative in the conversation to invite the doc to help, she replied, "And, that something would be?"

"You're worse than my parents. I know how to look after myself."

Olivia breathed out a silent expletive. Shit. "I'm sure you can. I'll see you tomorrow…drive safely. Bye Amelia." She abruptly ended the call.

Yawning, she replaced her cell in the holder next to the wheel. Olivia felt suddenly bone weary, which was not like her at all. This kind of work is the bread and butter of my part of the agency. Maybe I'm the one who needs a vacation. Closing her eyes for a moment usually worked - a slight catnap on duty wasn't unheard of. And, Sharon Agnew, by the looks of the flickering television in the window, was still up. It is as good a time as any to close my eyes for a minute. Reopening the flask, she poured a large cup of coffee and gulped the hot brew down almost in one draining drink. A shot of caffeine is a wonderful pick-me-up for tiredness.Now I'm set for the night and before Amelia arrives I'll book motel rooms for us…if I can find one in this town.Strange I didn't see one while driving around today. Maybe I'm losing my edge and my heavy workload is taking its toll. She frowned at the thought. That can't be it. Yawning once more, she settled down in the leather comfort of her car seat and took that catnap.

+ + +

Amelia had had several hours of mindless driving on empty roads through the night that had given her one bonus. Nope strike that two. The first, and for her the most important, had been the fact she was travelling to help her partner for the very first time. Secondly, she'd had time to sift through all the things that were causing her to doubt who she was and what her vocation should be. At the end of the day, the prime factor was what motivated her now, not what prompted her when she was a teenager. It isn't that I don't want to follow God's path, help others and worship him, I still do. No one could ever place doubt in her faith, not even after the fall from grace of Father Johansson - that had been tough to take. At the end of it all, the boundaries I vowed to keep as a nun are not for me. They are way too restrictive.

She watched Teal blossom and change over the years and a part of her had always wanted to join in the fun that her friend enjoyed. Going back to the convent every evening had initially been easy, but as the years passed and she spent more time out of town on cases, she felt irritated by that factor. The seed had been sown and she had known certain aspects of becoming a nun would be a strain. After fifteen years should I still be feeling this way? Actually the fact is I feel worse. Then, Sister Marie, and ultimately the detective, had crossed her path in what she first perceived to be a normal case scenario. It ended up far from that. But, when Olivia needed me most I chose to be holed away in a convent in seclusion. When she'd finally been told Olivia needed her support, it broke down all her attempts to cleanse herself of the real world. Deep down I knew my only path was to leave the convent for good.

The Mother Superior knew that, but hadn't wanted to be the one to close the door permanently on that life. I always knew the door was slowly closing – it was like a slow moving tortoise but it was still closing. It is time to face up to the fact I am no longer a nun and come to terms with that and all it means in my life.One thing I knew for sure, I'll never go on vacation with my parents if there is any chance Don will be there. It was a bit of a shock…his attempts to… I really don't know what he was going to do to me, do I? Her romantic experience had been far from honed at eighteen when she joined the convent. Well who knows, I just might make my parents happy after all and marry someday. Yeah right, aren't I already married to God?

Turning onto the last street in the directions Olivia had given her the night before, she drove onto a tiny street with about four homes. She didn't need to look at the addresses because she saw Olivia's SUV parked on the street. Heading towards it, she pulled up behind it careful not to block the SUV's path. If I do that Olivia will be riled big time. The dashboard clock blinked out seven. That was a good time for she didn't speed or not that she'd noticed anyway. Climbing out of her vehicle, she felt the muscles respond slowly along with the odd creaking of a bone as she stretched her whole body. After driving for over eight hours without her body needed to move. She took in a deep breath, fresh air how wonderful!

Glancing at the driver's side of the SUV, she was astonished to see the profile of Olivia in the vehicle looking like she was asleep. Curious! Tapping on the side of the window she tried to catch Olivia's attention but to no avail. She's not moving. Now that is odd, very odd indeed. Returning to her car, she opened the trunk, selected the first aid kit, and a set of keys. Returning to the SUV, she inserted the key in the lock and opened the door. Another of Olivia's ideas - although it hadn't made sense to her at the time, Olivia insisted that everyone in the office have a set of spare keys for all the vehicles. They sure are coming in handy now.

As Amelia opened the door, she saw a deeply sleeping detective. Amelia took a few seconds to gaze openly at the detective. In repose, Olivia looked younger than she would have imagined. The lines that furrowed her brow most times and the crow's feet around her eyes were either gone or hardly discernable. There appeared to be almost a gentle aura around her that belied the woman's professional and awake demeanour. She looks like a beautiful princess. As the thought struck her, she pulled herself from her daydream just in time. Her hand had been about to touch the soft facial structure of her business partner. Instead, she placed a gentle hand on Olivia's shoulder and shook her. There was no immediate response. Then she used both hands and mustered as much strength as she possessed and really shook hard. For her efforts, there was a groggy reaction from Olivia. Thankfully she seems to be conscious.

"Hey sleepyhead I didn't realise you slept on duty?" Amelia smiled, teasing Olivia gently, as dark long lashed eyelids blinked slowly then stared at Amelia as if she didn't know her.

"What the hell!" Olivia sat up in her seat dramatically and then groaned as she placed a hand to her head. It was aching as if she'd spent the night shooting back shots of hard liquor.

Amelia gave the detective a puzzled frown. "Well I was hoping you'd be a little more civil to me as I'm here to help. However, it looks like you could do with a shower and breakfast, which is on my agenda too."

Olivia didn't understand any of this. The last thing she recalled was actually talking to Amelia and giving her directions. After that, everything else was a blur, so much so that she doubted she had done her duty as the doctor had pointed out. Hopefully, the culprit hasn't struck again or I'm going to have to come up with a slick cover-up. "I was going to book us into a motel in town, but haven't managed that yet. Let me check on the house first then we can go together after I find out what the client's plans are for this morning." Climbing out of her vehicle, Olivia felt her legs buckle. If it hadn't been for the quick observation of Amelia who gave her support by providing a steady arm to hold, she would have ended up on the sidewalk. How embarrassing would that have been for me?

Amelia was worried now. What is wrong with Olivia? She looks terrible almost as if she's been sleeping in a car…dah she has, but she hasn't been sleeping all night or has she? Deciding to ignore for the moment that Olivia wasn't herself she said, "Okay, want me to come up to the house and meet your client?" After the detective had showered and eaten she would broach the subject of her sleeping habits.

"No! Look, let me fill you in on the case over breakfast and then you can do your shrink thing, deal?"

"Sure. I'll wait in my car for you," Amelia replied softly leaving without another word.

A hand reached out preventing her from going very far as Olivia stared into Amelia's intelligent eyes. "Thanks." Amelia gave her a quiet smile. They both knew that the thanks was for more than the explanation just given.

Olivia groggily managed to walk unsupported up Sharon Agnew's drive. Her head hurt like hell and how she was going to explain her current situation was hard, real hard. She didn't have a clue why she felt like she did and what had happened to the intervening hours since her phone call with Amelia. Arriving at the door, she groaned inwardly as she saw a small symmetrically square package about the size of her hand. Peering down at the object, she saw the now familiar scrawl of the author. It looked the same as all the others. The only thing that went through her mind was I have failed dismally in my efforts to find out who the perpetrator is. Then she thought the person responsible must have known who I was and why I'm in town and somehow took me out of the equation. Without another second lost, she retrieved the package and deftly placed it behind her back just as the door opened.

"Why detective, I was just about to check if you needed any coffee as a reviver after your all night vigil? I slept like a baby knowing you were out here protecting me." Sharon Agnew beamed a warm genuine smile at Olivia.

Olivia cringed inside. If only this woman knew just how unprotected she had really been. In return, she gave what she hoped was a reciprocal smile. As her lips forced themselves into a smile rather than a grimace of the pain, a pain shot through her temples giving her a jolt. "Thanks but I'll have to decline. My...a business associate has arrived unexpectedly and I promised to discuss her visit over breakfast."

There was no denying the disappointment on Sharon's face as Olivia tried to move tentatively backwards. She was, however stalled as Sharon spoke again.

"I take it there wasn't any activity last night or early this morning?"

Now that is a question and a half. Should I lie? Who will know? It certainly won't benefit my client to know that another package has arrived. At least this time around, she could have the chance to open it first and check out the contents. Then I can admit to its existence, if indeed I ever have to do so. Closing her eyes briefly in reaction to the one person who wouldn't take kindly to her bending the truth she spoke. "Nothing you should worry about. What are your plans this morning?" I'll deal with Amelia later.

"In an hour I'm due at a church finance meeting. We'll have lunch afterwards and then I'm normally home by two."

Olivia considered her options. She needed to speak with the doc and get her opinion about what was happening. I have somehow been compromised kept racing through her mind. The only place I ate was at the diner. Maybe the waitress was too friendly. It will be a good place to take Amelia and have her give it the once over, or rather the waitress if she works the shift. "Sounds like a plan to me. I'll follow you there and have my business meeting while you're in church. Call my cell when you are on the move and I'll be right behind you watching your every move."

Olivia didn't know what she'd said but the woman beamed out a brilliant smile as she accepted the instructions. As the door closed softly behind Sharon Agnew, it brought a sigh of relief from Olivia. She retraced her steps back to the two cars parked in the street across from the house.

Amelia had taken refuge in her vehicle waiting for her to return and lowered the window as she popped her head out fractionally. "Are we going now?"

Regretfully, because she sure could do with a shower and change of clothing, she shook her head no. "Can you hold on for an hour or I can meet you at the diner on Main Street."

Amelia saw the white lines around the detective's face, she really doesn't look her usual boisterous self and that worries me. "Why don't I go book us a couple of rooms at the motel and I'll catch up with you at the diner? On Main Street you said, right?" Wonder where the motel is. Can't be hard to find this seems like a fairly small town.

Olivia felt a sense of loss that Amelia wanted to leave. It must be from the headache and the disorientation I'm feeling. I can't let the doc know that I'm not quite up to full strength right at this moment. No way do I want her practising her shrink techniques on me. "Yeah, that sounds great. According to the map, you get to the motel by going to the end of Main Street, turning right then going another a half mile down the road. It should be on the right."

Nodding her head slowly, Amelia gave Olivia the once over in a long serious glance that had the detective's hackles rising slightly. "Meet you in an hour at the diner." The vehicle's throaty engine roared into life and Amelia set off in search of the motel.

Standing and watching the receding vehicle with a blank expression on her face, Olivia realised she still had the package. I'll open it while I wait for Sharon to come out. I can be useful for that at least. Settling back into her car seat, she slowly and carefully noted every detail of the package. Once she completed her observations and mentally catalogued the object's characteristics she cautiously began the process of opening the box to see what lay within.

+ + +

Amelia checked her watch and then the clock on the wall of the diner. It was well over an hour since she'd spoken with the detective. Where is she? The friendly waitress brought her a second cup of coffee and had appeared a little sceptical when she had said she was still waiting for a friend to arrive. Pulling out her cell phone, she was about to dial the code for the detective when the woman appeared at the doorway and glanced around obviously looking for her. The detective saw her just as the waitress struck up a conversation with Olivia. Her body language appears way too friendly for a casual encounter Amelia thought and that annoyed her although she couldn't figure out why. As she waited, her impatience grew as the two were apparently involved in a deep conversation.

After what seemed like ten minutes, when in fact it was barely a minute, Olivia climbed onto the bench opposite her. "Sorry I was delayed."

"I could see that. I thought you would have at least acknowledged my presence before you idly chatted with some waitress." Amelia retorted sharply and then closed her eyes briefly as she heard her words.

The detective's head shot up at the caustic tone she heard. That can't be, this is Amelia.No way does a nun speak in such a tone, well not this nun anyway. If it hadn't sparked another jarring motion in her head Olivia would have thought it amusing. "Ok, I'm sorry for not acknowledging you first. Let's order breakfast…I need to replace this bitter taste I have in my mouth."

Amelia was thankful that Olivia had ignored her caustic comment and ordered her breakfast. Before Amelia could finish ordering, a cold shudder ran down her spine as the waitress cut her off and turned to take Olivia's order. It took, what seemed to her, like an inordinately long time. It niggled at her so much she had to ask after the waitress left, "Do you know her?"

"Not really, why is there a problem?" Olivia waited and a perverse thought went through her head, maybe she is jealous, which she pushed away for it was far too ridiculous.

Amelia felt foolish as she peered reluctantly into the dark eyes of her business partner. A change of subject is needed. "I think you should tell me what you need me for?"

Olivia silently agreed with the change of subject. Somehow the other conversation was taking a strange road that she was sure neither, at this moment, wanted to pursue. Duly, the detective gave the psychiatrist a run down of the client and what so far had transpired. Mentally debating with herself, she hesitated, but decided to gloss over the events, or lack of them, on her behalf for the night before.

"You say the police in town didn't appear worried about your client's claims. Is that right?" Amelia couldn't believe it. "That's kind of strange in this day and age. Statistically single women are most vulnerable and usually the local law enforcement will take cautionary actions immediately."

Olivia smiled so discreetly it wasn't observed by Amelia, clever girl. "Appeared that way to me. The local sheriff was more interested in me than my client."

"What did you do to deserve that, break a minor law in town?" Amelia smiled at the detective and they exchanged a warm glance.

Olivia broke the connection as she felt it tugging her towards a situation that could never be. "No, merely asked a few pertinent questions of the good sheriff. She wasn't…"

"She?" Amelia squealed out and several pairs of eyes looked in their direction as she bent her head in embarrassment.

Oh it is a shame I'm not in the mood to tease the doc, because she sure placed the morsels on the plate far too easily this time. "Yep she, they do have women in those positions. It isn't the dark ages. Anyway, she wasn't helpful."

"When did Ms. Agnew receive the last communication from her… stalker?"

The food arrived conveniently at that moment and they both began to consume their respective meals in earnest. Several minutes ticked by before Amelia spoke again. "I'll need to see the items Ms. Agnew received. It helps to get to know what's going on."

"That isn't a problem I have them in my truck. When we visit the motel you can look them over while I shower. Incidentally, you did book us rooms at the motel didn't you?"

This time Amelia hesitated. "Yes I did. Now finish your meal you look like you need it. Although a bowl of muesli and a yogurt aren't exactly what the doctor would order."

Olivia caught Amelia's gaze in a powerfully searching one and began to speak but changed her mind. "My doctor would approve trust me." Her doctor would too for more reasons than merely health ones.

Half an hour later, they were finished and, as time was vitally important, they dispensed with a leisurely coffee to end the meal. Each woman departed in their respective vehicles and arrived at the motel one after another. Once they were out of their vehicles Olivia turned to Amelia with an outstretched hand.

A blank expression crossed the doctor's face until she realised what Olivia wanted - the key to her room. Hmm this is going to be interesting. "We only have one key."

Stunned at the simple statement, Olivia blinked rapidly. Did I hear her correctly? We only have one key. That means… "We're sharing?"

"They only had one room available. Apparently there is a fishing tournament in the area and… look I took it, we both needed a shower." Amelia felt that she was explaining herself needlessly. What is wrong with sharing a room? We are both women, it isn't as if we are opposite sexes. The blood rushed to her face as she looked at the tall woman standing in front of her. There was something primitively provocative about everything regarding Olivia.

Softly Olivia replied, "A shower sounds good. Lead the way."

Stuttering slightly over the number of the room, Amelia walked decisively, if not in a straight line, towards their allocated room. Olivia shook her head in wonder as she watched Amelia walk in the direction of the room. Life is certainly never boring. Opening the trunk of her car, she took out an overnight bag, slung it over her shoulder then reached for the box of accumulated letters and items from Sharon Agnew's home.

+ + +

Amelia listened to the shower in the next room. The splatter of the water against the shower curtain was a peaceful sound to her. From her first memories she had always loved the water. Much to her mother's annoyance, her dad bought her water wings when she was one year old. By the time she was two she could swim like a duck and made other children twice and three times her age look like a fish out of water. She had been the top swimmer in her group for several years. When she decided to commit herself to God, swimming had been the first to be deemed a frivolous action that she needed to dispense with. It brought a faint tinge of regret when she remembered her school coach hanging his head in major disappointment when her plans had been disclosed. He shouldn't have been too surprised, after all, she did attend a church education establishment, but he had been nonetheless. No point in thinking about what might have been. I need to concentrate on the here and now. Right then she was delving into the box of items Olivia had given her before she'd taken to the shower.

Within ten minutes the items were categorized by type and date order beginning with the letters, followed by the packages, and then the various trinkets if you could call some of them that." The bed was now what one could call a tidy mess, a little like my head is at this moment. The thought brought a smile to her face as she laughed at her strange analysis of herself.

"Want to share the joke?" Olivia remarked laconically as she stood in the doorway of the bathroom towelling her damp hair.

Amelia had to admit being a nun, even one allowed as much freedom as she had, did not prepare her for the woman standing there in a pair of… are those boxershorts? Surely not! A woman doesn't wear boxer shorts, or, have things changed that much? She also wore a cropped T-shirt with a slogan on the chest she didn't recognise. As before, her thoughts were definitely chaotic and all she could manage was a strangled sounding, "there's no joke," in reply.

"Hope you're not going to hog that bed. I was hoping to take a short nap before I go back on duty." Olivia smiled as she said the words because Amelia looked as if she had never seen a half naked woman before in her life. The thought careered in her head, maybe she hasn't! Wow that will be some weird situation,especially since the room we rented has a king sized be and I sleep in the nude..

Flushed, Amelia began to remove the items she had carefully correlated. She was stopped when a strong arm with an equally strong hand pressed lightly on hers. "Amelia it's fine I was teasing you. Look, let me put on some clothes and we'll go over anything you can bring to the table on this case."

"Okay," she said taking a shuddering breath as Olivia left for the bathroom. A few minutes later the detective was back fully clothed in another of her dark, leather outfits.

"Right, let's get down to business. What can you tell me Doc about this crackpot?"

In her element because her business partner was asking for her professional help, she immediately gave a general view of what she perceived as crucial tell points in the character of this person. "Whoever is sending these items feels very antagonist towards your client. Though nothing specific, at the first pass I'd say that everything your client does is wrong. From the brief initial correlation of the details, the evidence is mounting that the attacks, for want of a more technical description, will escalate, possibly including a physical attack. Is that your take on this too Olivia?"

Olivia pulled at her lip in thought before she answered. "I agree. Take a look at this." She handed Amelia the package that had been left that evening/morning when she had lapsed in her duty.

Amelia took the package and looked at the writing. It was the same as all the others down to what she thought was the identical ink used. Carefully unwrapping the package, she pulled out a black plastic zipper lock bag and was about to open it when a hand paused her action. Looking up, she was in very close eye contact with the detective, a quizzical expression filled eyes.

"You might want to take a deep breath and get ready to visit the bathroom in haste if you don't like body parts disengaged from the whole," Olivia stated matter-of-factly. In her business, she was use to this type of thing but willthe doc… well exish-nun, be prepared.

Wide-eyed, Amelia dropped the small plastic bag on the bed and jumped up from her sitting position. "There are body parts in there? Meaning human ones?"

Picking up the offending bag, Olivia zipped open the bag and peered inside and stated calmly, "Looks that way to me. Some poor schmuck has lost an ear I'd say. Or it could be the very person we're looking for."

Swallowing hard, Amelia's breakfast made a fast track back up her throat, which was a disconcerting and unpleasant feeling. "I'll take your word for that, old or young?"

After zipping the bag back up, she dropped it on the dresser then sat on the bed and motioned for Amelia to do the same. The doctor resumed her sitting position on her side of the bed as her stomach began to settle down. "Old. I'd hazard a guess it hasn't been detached for too long, maybe twenty-four hours at the most."

Staring at the detective, Amelia was amazed she could assess that so easily. "How would you know all that? Have you a degree in medicine or something?"

With a chuckle, Olivia reclined on her side of the bed. Several of the neat piles moved around and slipped out of position much to Amelia's chagrin. "Nope, but I've seen a few items in my time. I guess that means that the escalation you talked about is upon us."

"Yes it does. When did that arrive?"

Now, should I save face and tell her it arrived before or after my surveillance began. Hmm this will be tricky. "Does it matter when?"

Amelia sighed in exasperation. Why is Olivia prevaricating about such a thing, unless… "It was last night wasn't it and you were asleep."

Olivia felt her hackles rise. It was the first time she'd screwed up on a job since moving into the private detective business. Having the naïve nun state it in such accusing terms was a hard thing to take. "Yes," she said petulantly.

The one word answer that was given out, seemed to the doctor, like an angry hiss from a snake and made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. "I was going to ask you about that. You didn't look well when I arrived, was that the problem?" This was obviously a sensitive area with the detective so Amelia held her breath while she waited for a reply.

"I was drugged… at least that's what I think happened. How it was administered is something I'm working on." Olivia bit out reluctantly.

The silence stretched out before them and Amelia was hesitant to offer her help. Isn't the reason she asked me to came here was to help? Taking a deep breath she began, she said softly, "If we go over your movements, particularly if you ate anything in the time you've been in town maybe two heads might be better than one, what do you say?" She shrugged and waited for a reply if any.

After another few moments of silence, Olivia glanced at her watch. "I need to go over to the church hall now. We can have that conversation later."

Amelia watched Olivia stand and straighten her clothes. Moving towards the door, Olivia picked up her truck keys before she heard Amelia softly say, "It might be too late if we leave it.

"It might, but I'll take my chances. I usually do."

The simple reply was infuriating to hear and Amelia stood up and strode with purpose towards the detective. "Is that your idea of funny? No one is invulnerable detective, not even you! Okay, if you don't care about your own personal safety, what about your client's?" Amelia's tone was explosive and totally out of character.

Peering down at the pint sized doctor, Olivia felt the urge to crush her as she would a bug. It would be so easy. The damn woman is far to maddening to have around. What was I thinking asking her to come here? It was a stupid move. Instead, she did something she might live to regret the rest of her life. Without thinking, she placed her strong arms around Amelia, bent her head and gave her a crushing kiss on the lips. As the kiss ended Olivia immediately stormed out of the motel room without a backward glance.

In any event, it was as well she left the room because Amelia, reeling from the kiss, landed ignominiously on the floor in a heap when her legs buckled and gave out. How embarrassing would it have been for her to see me like this? From her position on the floor, she pressed the tips of her fingers to lips, which felt like they were burning where Olivia's had touched hers. The strangest thing of all was that she was not the least bit outraged as she thought she would have been…or people would have expected her to be. No, she felt elated with the sensations the kiss had created, in marked contrast to the kiss she shared with Don Clayton. She wanted to know one thing and one thing only… why!

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