CH 11: Mi Dolce Vita

Ten years had easily gone by since the singer had last seen Ceasare Borgia, but age had been kind to the gentlemen, perhaps making him look even less like a feared mob boss and more like a grandfather who liked to play Santa Claus for his grandkids. The singer purposefully made no attempt to greet Borgia or the two men he brought with him, only because she wanted this to be Conner's moment and not something that she put together. Conner was all smiles from the moment the large man entered her home, flanked by two men who were familiar to her as well. Sal was a fair-skinned man pushing into his thirties and she remembered seeing his face every now and then when she went on trips with her dad. They shook hands and then she looked past Sal to his brother. Jimmy was only a couple of inches taller than her and a couple of years younger than her. She had never asked, but it was just common knowledge that Jimmy was learning impaired, but he was the sweetest thing in the world and he always tried so hard. She walked up to Jimmy and put her arm around his slim shoulders as she gave him a hug. The young man blushed immediately and smiled until his dimples showed.

"Come on let's go downstairs." She looped her arm through Jimmy's as they walked down the steps. "Jimmy, I've got some cold soda pop just for you." The young man just smiled. Before, she could even ask Blue the woman had all ready sat out a soda for Jimmy, and drinks made to order for her guests. Conner raised an eyebrow at the singer, who pretended not to see the question in her eyes. Conner took a seat on a stool and looked from Borgia to Sal to Blue. "I take it I don't need to introduce any of you do I?"

The singer broke into a grin and Conner just shook her head. Blue winked at her and then looked up at Sal from behind the bar. "How you doin' pretty boy?"

Sal shrugged. "Not as good as you so Vincent says."

"Hey Jimmy." Light brown cheeks flushed as he bit at his lip and gave a shy wave to the singer. She smiled and turned towards Borgia who was pulling a cigar out of his breast pocket. "Borg." She slid the man his glass and he nodded.

"Hey honeypie, how you doing?"

"Not bad at all." She looked up at Conner who held a look of amazement on his face.

"Well Conner gave me the impression that things weren't that good." Both women shrugged.

Sal looked to his brother and patted him on the arm. "Hey Jimmy, why don't you see if you can go top Conner's score on the Galaga."

Jimmy smiled. "Can I?" He looked to Conner who nodded. "You don't mind if I beat your score right?" He hoped off the chair.

"You're welcome to try." Jimmy hit her with a smile and trotted off to the corner. "You should bottle that smile you could make some money I'm sure."

"Probably, so what' s the deal?"

Conner sighed and went into her story. By the time she was finished she had finished a glass of wine and Jimmy was on his tenth game. She explained that Ewan had returned and claimed that Montrose was doing his bidding, but that she felt it was all a ruse and the thin man was still pulling the strings. She told them that she got daily calls from the FBI and more than that Monty was doing his best to restructure the business. Sal had moved to the pool table and wracked the balls when Borgia was ready to respond.

"So you want me to take this off your hands or something?"

Conner shrugged and leaned on the bar as Blue left her to go play a game with Sal. "It may come to that, but it's not necessarily my first choice."

The big man puffed on his cigar. "I hope it's not, but I'll be happy to help you, you have my support without question."

"I know that, but to be honest I wonder if I can handle all this."

The man chuckled and touched Conner's cheek lovingly. "Sweetie what's not to handle?"

"My friend is dead, Wally's dead, Charlie's missing now, which means he's dead and last I heard Sean skipped town." She ran her hands through her hair. "I don't know what to do here, this wasn't the plan and with Ewan pulling a flip on me, I'm not sure if I have the heart or the support to do what needs to be done."

"First off you have all the support you need. I've got you and you know Brusio's got you."

"Not they way they've been acting lately."

"Child, Roberto is just an adornment, Papa runs things like always. If you're worried, then go see him, but I assure you Brusio is not dropping you any time soon." The blonde nodded. "Secondly, Conner I think you're forgetting something very important. Montrose is an outsider, you're not. Honey, this is your home, your city. You know this place inside and out and that includes the people. He doesn't have that on you and in the long run that's worth more than whatever money he's putting up."

She thrust a thumb in Blue's direction. "She swears to me that loyalty means nothing, when it comes to money."

Borgia rolled his eyes. "No offense, but she's not always right." Blue looked up from the pool table and stuck her tongue out at the old man and moved on with her game. He just shook his head and looked back at Conner. "Any way, this is your decision. And truth be known, loyalty means everything in this case. Conner, Baltimore is full of old money and old men. You know what old men like?"

Blue didn't even look up from the table as she spoke. "Icy Hot and prune juice." She dodged an ice cube and made her shot.

"Keep talking young lady." Borgia wagged a finger at her and then turned back to the softly giggling Conner. "Besides those things, they like cute girls and they love when their egos are stroked."

"Really?" Conner asked with a raised brow.

"Trust me. You go downtown and you smile at those old guys playing Bocci and tell them how much you admire the way they did things in the old days they'll be eating out of your hands." Conner laughed. "I'm not going to say that these young boys won't cause you problems, but these old men haven't avoided jail in twenty years or so, cause their stupid."

"So this means I have to announce myself right?"

"Not really. You need to get things in order first, word will go around on its own, but nothing is official until you say so. As far as anyone is concern you're still waiting on somebody to succeed you."

"So what do I do about Monty and Ewan."

"I apologize for saying so, but leave Ewan to the vultures."

"No need to apologize."

"As for Montrose, I'd contain him."

"That's not a code word for getting rid of him is it?"

Borgia chuckled. "No it means contain him. If he wants to stay on the East coast and eat away at your family, put him in a box, and you dictate where he goes and how he goes. If he wants out, he has to give up his agenda and find a new coast. And he won't be heading my way, I can promise you."

Conner smiled wickedly and nodded her head. "Box him up, eh?" Borgia nodded. "I can do that."

"You're damn right you can. If he wants a Maryland Crab, he's going to have to go to California and have it mailed to him. If he wants to get bids in on the triple crown, he'll just have to do without The Preakness and you can't do that triple crown without the Preakness." Conner and Borgia shared a smile as plans swirled in her head.

Later that night as the house emptied of her guest, Conner and Blue lay wrapped up each other on the floor of the parlor enjoying Diana Krall smooth melodies. Conner closed her eyes and just enjoyed the warmth of the body wrapped around hers. "Thank you."

Blue looked down at the woman in her arms. "For what?" she asked quietly, even though she knew the answer.

"For calling Ceasare."

A lazy smile came to Blue's face that she knew Conner couldn't see. "I don't know what you're talking about lady."

Conner tickled Blue's exposed ribs. "Fine, don't admit it, but thank you any way. I guess I needed some sound advice and some support that's all."

Blue hugged Conner close. "No one's going to let anything happen to you."

"I know. So tell me how you know him."

"Hmm. When I used to run errands for Tangelo I would sometimes go hang out with Borgia when he needed stuff. Half the time he was just calling me down so I'd go to bars with him." She laughed at the memory. "He's got the most wonderful voice you know?" Conner nestled herself into Blue's body and just smiled as she heard the happiness in her voice. "We would just go and hang out down in the Quarter or we'd make the drive into Mississippi and go to Biloxi, Tupelo, or Jackson and go to these seedy clubs and hang and just listen to these big, beautiful, black women sing their hearts out." She shifted as she ran a hand through her hair. "I remember going to this one place down in Biloxi and listening to this lady sing "In My Solitude". Jesus, I mean that lady hummed the opening bar and I was all ready weeping before she even started singing the lines. It was beatiful. But yeah, he sat me straight. Popped me upside the head a couple of times and told me I could do better. I didn't believe him until Tangelo was killed. I didn't have anybody to be loyal to anymore, and I think a lot of people expected me to pick up what he left, but I paid my respects, returned the favor and disappeared."

Conner kissed Blue on the neck. "I'm glad you disappeared."

The tall woman smiled. "Me too."

Conner yawned. "So, you want to go to Italy?"

"Brusio?" Conner nodded. Blue kissed Conner's soft hair. "You point and I follow."

"There's some stuff I should tell you."

The singer let out her own yawn. "Tell me on the plane, I'm sleepy." Conner just nodded and they mutually decided to stay on the floor where they were more out of being comfortable than just too lazy to move.


As they exited the airport and headed into Rome, Conner convinced herself that she had done a good job of explaining to her lover that they were actually going to see Sophia Brusio, but somehow she never got around to a few important items of information. Namely, that her relationship with Sophia had less to do with business and more to do with youthful endeavors. The singer wasn't sure what she expected as she listened to Conner explain why she needed to meet with Brusio by herself. They would be out in the open of course, but according to Conner Sophia was shy and didn't take kindly to strangers. Blue just smiled as the Limo from the airport deposited them at an outdoor café. Blue took a seat three tables away from Conner and got a good glimpse of the elusive Sophia Brusio.

Green eyes fell upon Sophia's long curly dark hair, kissable lips, blue eyes that were always green in the morning and the blonde did everything she could do to keep from swooning. Sophia stood up as Conner neared her table and took the shorter woman into her arms in a sincere embrace. She held Conner away from her body and just smiled as they exchanged kisses on both cheeks.

"Bella, it's so good to see you." Her accent was heavy and warmed Conner's insides like always. Conner smiled and allowed herself to be taken into another hug. "Sit down, sit down."

When they sat, Sophia whipped off her sunglasses and then grabbed hold of one of Conner's hands and smiled from ear to ear. "It is so good to see you, how've you been."

Conner returned the smile and hoped to God that Blue couldn't see the obvious sex that Sophia was throwing her way. "I'm good, I'm good. How are you?"

The svelte woman shrugged and waved her free hand carelessly through the air. "You know me, I no can complain. But forget about that, I'm so happy to see you. Damn, how long has it been?"

Conner couldn't stop the blood that was making its way to her ears. "About five years I think."

"That's too long Bella, way too long." Sophia licked her lips and stared at Conner with nothing but desire.

Conner coughed as she fought the blush headed for her cheeks, but knew it was no use. "And I apologize 'Phia, but um, I'm afraid I'm here on business."

"Oh, so she says." Sophia released Conner's hand and sipped from her expresso. "I ordered you a little café, but I'm sure you'll want something else later."

"I'm only staying for a little while 'Phia."

"Nonsense, Bella, we call the airport and change your ticket. You will not come to my home and stay for an hour, I'll not have that." She shook a finger at Conner and smiled.

"We can argue about that later, but I need to talk to you about business."

Sophia rolled her eyes. "No business, Conner."

" 'Phia." Conner tried not to whine, but she knew the woman in front of her to be a juggernaut.

"Oh come now Conner, what do you need huh? You need money, you got it. I write you a check right now. You want it in cash, bara-bonds, stocks, jewelry, whatever. You need some muscle, you can have whatever I have. Whatever you need, it's yours okay·.is that enough business."

'Phia talked so fast, that Conner had a hard time keeping up with the woman. She waved her hands. "Wait, wait. You don't want to know what's going on?'

Phia's laughed filled the surrounding area. "Bella, are you cutting me out?"

Conner shook her head. "God no, if anything I'll probably cut you more."

Phia smiled and touched a hand to her chest as she spoke. "Then fine, there is no more business to discuss, it's taken care of, now we can talk of other things." She leaned forward and took Conner's hand again, making the blonde blush to the ends of her hair. "Like how I've got a bottle of Finlandia Vodka chilling in my freezer waiting to be made into a Martini for your liking."

Conner groaned at the temptation. "Oh my favorite."

"I know, I'm the one who turned you on to it, so I better have it. So what do you say, you come home with me, we have a real drink, and if you're still coherent you can talk all the business you want."

Conner blew out a breath and removed her hand from Phia's as she tugged at her polo shirt. "Uh 'Phia we need to talk, I mean, um, that's nice and all·but, but I kind of can't, I don't, uh-

"What' wrong Bella, you out of practice?" Phia raised sculpted eyebrows and pouted her lips in such a way, that she knew the woman across from her was in need of a change of underwear.

Conner wanted to scream, but she just smiled and laughed nervously. "Well yes, I mean no! I mean yeah, sort of."

Phia shook her head. "Conner breathe, it's okay. I take it you have a little uh, how you say..complication."

This time Conner blushed with the thought of her 'complication'. "A nice complication, but you can say that."

The Italian woman just smirked as she sat back in her seat and regarded the red-eared blonde fidgeting with her coffee mug. "Would that complication be that deliciously delectable dark haired woman whose been staring over here with the most wonderful blue eyes I've ever seen."

Conner looked into her coffee. "She's staring, huh?" Phia nodded and Conner blushed even redder.

"What's her name?"


"Blue, you say. Funny she looks anything but sad. In fact I think she wants to come over here and tear me limb from limb." Phia raised her eyebrows and giggled.

"She wouldn't do that."

"You mind if I call her over?" Phia didn't even wait for Conner to answer as she looked Blue squarely in the eye and waved her to the table. Phia's eyes grew wide as the singer stood up from her seat. "Oh my. You know if she doesn't mind, I'd like to discuss business with you both."

Conner swatted Phia on the arm in shock. "Phia!"

Phia smiled innocently. "What?" She stood up as Blue reached the table. "I apologize from keeping you from your lovely, please join us." Phia held out her hand. "Azure right?"

Blue kept from arching an eyebrow as she took the proffered hand and proceed to bend at the waist and kiss the knuckles. Conner nearly choked on her coffee. "Si, and you?"

"Brusio. My associates call me Brusio, my family calls me Sophie, and Conner calls me 'Phia. It's a right I extend to you if you like."

"If it pleases you."

Phia winked at the woman still holding her hand. "To no end." She purred.

Conner watched the exchanged with her jaw on the table and finally let out a loud cough. "Hello, I'm down here. At the table. Watching."

The women released hands and Phia looked at Conner and blew her a kiss. "Oh, we never forget about you mi dolce. What do you say we go back to my house."

Conner rubbed her neck. "Uh, Phia I thought we talked about that."

The Italian woman feigned hurt as she glanced at the grinning singer. "What? I just want us to all go have a real drink and we can talk business, that's all. Conner you have such a dirty mind. You should talk to her about that."

Blue looked down at the blushing woman and held in her laugh. "She's stubborn you know."

"Oh yes, as what do you call it."

"A mule."

"Si, exactly. Like a mule, she is stubborn."

Conner slapped the table and stood up. "You two done." She glared at the singer who rocked back and forth on heels and wore a smile that resembled the cat that ate the canary.

Phia squeezed Conner's cheeks and then pressed a button on her phone. "Don't be sore Bella, you always manage to get yourself into and out of these situations, so don't pout."

"Yes don't pout, puddins." Blue teased the smaller woman and walked off with Phia to the car.

Conner just grumbled to herself as she left a few lire on the table and walked behind the two taller women thinking to herself. 'If I was a bit younger, massively drunk, and not so selfish, this could be quite a memorable night." Conner shuddered at the salacious thought and added an extra spring to her step as she caught up with the two women at the car.


Conner was too busy nursing her second Martini to be concerned with Phia giving her lover a tour of the mansion. Besides, she had seen it before, and she smiled at the memory that her tour was just a tad more thorough. She could hear them as they made their way back into the sitting room.

"All the frescos are original, and Papa hired a man to refurbish all the marble and everything. It took him some time, but I think it was worth it." Blue just nodded as they joined Conner in the sitting room. The singer ran her hand across the back of Conner's neck as she sat down in an arm chair to her right and Phia on her left.

Conner's hand immediately went to the spot that still tingled with Blue's touch. Droopy eyes tracked to a grinning Phia. "So Phia, tell me how you do it?"

"How I do what Bella?"

"Run all of this."

Phia smiled. "Shh, don't tell anyone." She laughed. "You might make the boys mad."

"Is your father still alive?"

Phia turned to Blue with curiosity. "If you can say so. He has cancer, but it's the Alzheimer's that is doing him in." Blue nodded. "Everyone knows he's sick, but I keep him hyped up enough that they think he's still at least half way holding it together."

"Is it just as easy as using his name?"

"Conner, my father had six boys and one little girl. Do you know where all his sons are? They're dead, all dead. And his nephew Roberto, in New York, he's a moron. Roberto knows I can put him in his place just like that."

"Yeah, well Roberto's been giving me shit."

"I know and for that I apologize, that was my fault." She sighed. "If Papa were still functioning he would have said, let's just cause a little cough, just to get some questions, but it would be precisely for show. That was all Roberto was supposed to do."

"Well he coughed up a freakin' lung."

"I know. Don't worry, he's getting a piece of my mind."

Conner sat up straight. "But seriously Phia, you're the head of one of the most powerful families on the East Coast and you act like you do nothing but knit sweaters all day."

Phia laughed. "Actually, I make love and eat lots of pasta, and then I go shopping in Milan." The women laughed. "Conner with the right people it's not that hard I promise. What are you worried about , you don't think you can do it?"

Conner shrugged as she sat her glass down on the table. "I don't know if it want to put myself out there like that."

"Then don't. Only a few select people know that I call the shots. Everybody else, think Papa is still running things and at the least Roberto has taken over. Conner you know I'm on your side. Somebody threaten you, then boom, they're gone, no questions." Conner grimaced.Phia nodded with understanding and glanced at Blue who sipped at her drink quietly. "You've always been such a peacemaker you know that."

"I know, but-

"No buts Bella. Look, you don't have to worry about that stuff, I'll take care of it and what I can't deal with Ceasare will deal with, and Marachi will do any thing to play cowboy. No problemo." Sophia started to say something, but she stopped as her father was wheeled into the sitting room by a nurse. Phia nodded at the nurse as she left her seat and gave the ailing man in the wheelchair a kiss on the head. "Papa, there's someone here to see you." She smiled at the old man, who appeared to be fighting for lucidity. Phia stood and turned to Conner and Blue. "He doesn't remember much, but he still likes a pretty face."

Conner knelt down in front of the old man and smile. "Don Brusio, it's good to see you." She touched the man's cheek and he smiled. Conner's nose wrinkled in delight.

"Little sunflower." he said in a rasp.

"That's right."

"Es bueno." He touched Conner's cheek and then looked off into space, losing himself in his own confusion. Conner smiled warmly as she stood and gave the man a kiss to his cheek.

Phia smiled. "Come help me find his record. We listen to old arias and then he goes to sleep." Conner followed Phia to the record player on the other side of the room, leaving Blue standing in front of the man in the wheel chair. The room was quiet except for the rhythmic whir of his oxygen tank, so both women clearly heard the singer when she spoke.

"It's good to see you Carlo, I bet the sunset is beautiful where you are." Phia turned her head around with a snap as she heard the woman use her father's first name and mention his favorite past time. With a creased a brow, she watched as the singer knelt and kissed the ring her father still wore. "Do you know who I am Carlo?"

Conner realized that Phia stopped talking to her as she stood up from her crouch and regarded the woman who was staring at Blue. Conner started to ask a question, but Phia silenced her with a wave of her hand. It was a quiet sound, but Carlo chuckled and then spoke. "How are the others doing?" Both Conner and Phia waited for Blue's response at the man's seemingly nonsensical question.

Blue smiled. "The other Olympians are quite fine Carlo. I'm just paying my favorite mortal a visit." Phia smiled with understanding as she put her father's record on and ushered Conner out of the room.

"You're joking about being worried right?"

Conner looked at Phia with wide eyes. "What are you talking about."

Phia laughed and pinched Conner's cheeks. "You've got the fucking Queen of the Gods at you beck and call and you're worried about not being up to the task."

Conner stepped away from her friend. "Phia what the hell are you talking about?"

Blue entered the hallway and answered before Phia could. "I haven't really explained everything to her."

Two sets of eyes focused on the singer, but Phia spoke. "She knows right?"

"I tell her what she asks about and what she needs to know."

Conner stared at the two women and then scowled. "Do I get an explanation?"

"It's okay I promise." Blue took a step towards Conner and locked eyes with her.

Green eyes searched Blue for some hint of betrayal or malice but found none. "We okay?" She asked almost in a whisper. Blue nodded and smiled.

Sophia coughed. "You guys are going to make me cry I swear."

Conner felt the tension break and stuck out her tongue at Phia. "Shut it Phia."

"Whatever, little one, but trust me you've got nothing to worry about with this one in your corner. I should be entrusting my business to you in truth."

"Well, she never ceases to amaze me."

Phia raised her eyebrows and eyed the tall woman openly. "How amazing is she Conner?" Phia turned on her heels and walked to the patio.

Conner rolled her eyes and followed the woman, calling after her, "Phia we discussed this."

Blue felt herself flush with the flattery and quickly followed the two women outside, entering the conversation as Phia spoke with casualty. "You Americans are such prudes sometimes I swear." Phia laughed.

"I'm not a prude Phia, just horribly selfish."

Phia smiled and pulled the smaller woman to her as Blue walked onto the balcony. "More selfish than I was?"

Conner blushed to her toes. "What do you think?" She fixed green eyes on the tall woman who was desperately trying to look modest.

Phia laughed heartily. "I would not share either." She waved Blue over. "Come Azure, come and tell me what kind of trouble our little Conner has gotten into of late." Blue grinned mischievously as she joined the two women on the patio. Conner groaned and tried to find a hole to crawl into but she knew it was still too early in the night to go diving off the deep end. Instead she raised her glass to starry sky, drained her drink, and hoped she passed out before they started trading sex stories.

* * *

CH 12: 'There's a little black spot on the Sun Today'

Conner was not normally one to gloat. She had been raised to believe that pride was a luxury best enjoyed through honor. She had never been one to rub someone's nose in anything, she had no desire to raise herself above anyone, so the feeling was quiet odd when it happened. Two months had sailed by since her visit to Italy, and it was as if upon her return to the states the world turned upside down and in her favor. The blonde took Borgia's advice and worked the city like she was running for mayor. By the end of a month she probably could have run for Mayor. For all intense purposes Victor Montrose was caught in a cat's cradle. Conner had the city wrapped up so tight, that no matter what string he pulled, it would all collapse on him. Conner was succeeding in pushing Montrose further and further west, so much so that none of the phone calls he made even landed on the East Coast.

Conner felt quite smug as of late and with good reason, but she respected the thin man enough to know that he would shake the tree just to spite himself. She still knew that his henchman was lurking around, but the triumph of Wilhelm breathing on his own, was enough to make them all celebrate. Conner leaned over the railing of the boat and breathed in the salty air with reverence. "Jesus, this is so strange." She didn't bother to turn as a strong arm wrapped around her waist and warm lips pressed to her neck. "Hello there."

"What are thinking about?"

"I can't just enjoy my skyline."

Blue laughed and looked out across the bay with Conner admiring the lights of the Harbor and the festivities of a mild spring night. "You want dock over by Fells and have a beer?" Conner shrugged. "Or we could go up to Federal Hill and neck." Blue nibbled on Conner's neck causing the smaller woman to giggle.

"You horny toad."

"Ribbit." The tall woman croaked and snaked out her tongue making Conner laugh. "So what's up really?"

The small woman sighed and squeezed the hand around her waist. "Just wondering if I should feel this smug."

"You getting paranoid?"

"No, no, not paranoid, but I just want to gloat you know. Look at me, look at us. I'm standing on the bow of a 60 foot Yacht that I can afford, sipping on a $100 bottle of Vodka like its Spring water, and I know I can get anything I want."

"Yeah, thanks for the dress by the way." Blue did an impromptu shimmy in her floor length Versace.

Conner sighed indifferently. "See what I mean. I just dropped an arm and leg for that outfit, bought Terry a fucking purebred Boxer, paid for Wilhelm's medical stuff, the restaurant will be ready in two months, the gym is ahead of schedule, and Agent Grimey is no longer even a wrinkle in my suit."

"So, you feel like you don't deserve it or it's too much."

"Hell no! Shit yeah I deserve it. We've been busting our asses for months, so I see nothing wrong with enjoying the spoils. Shit I'd buy Terry a fucking Iditarod team if she wants one. I don't know, maybe I'm just crazy and stressed."

The singer smiled. "Well I can definitely take care of the stress." She let her hand roam down the front of Conner's torso until she found her way underneath Conner's belt and inside her pants.

The blonde squirmed as her breath hitched with arousal. "You got a cure for crazy?" She asked breathlessly.

"Uh huh." Blue continued to explore Conner as she toyed with the edges of her underwear. "It involves me strapping you down and helping you release your demons."

Conner released a soft moan as a slender finger slipped under her underwear. "Um·Blue, my Uncle·

"You want me to call him over?"
Conner dropped her glass over the edge of the railing and gripped the railing letting her head fall back on Blue's shoulder. "Oh fuck." She seethed. "B-baby, they're people·we can't·damn."

The tall woman just smiled as she nipped at Conner's earlobe. "They're playing a rousing game of Spades, nobody is even missing us."

"C-can we at least go sit down."

"Nope." Blue picked up her pace and added a second finger.

Conner raked her blunt nails across the forearm that was still wrapped around her waist. "Christ·· this payback or something?"
Blue let out a throaty chuckle. "I'm just thanking for the dress that's all."

"So, you didn't like the bracelet."

The singer laughed and bit into Conner's neck, making the blonde hiss and grind her hips into the body behind her. "I'm getting there. So anyway keep telling me about how you're feeling bad about gloating and not deserving what you're getting and all that."

Conner bit her lip, baring down on the railing as she felt the beginning of her climax. "Shitshitshit, did I say that?"


Conner emitted a small whimper. "I'm gonna scream you know?"

The singer smiled fully. "I'm counting on it." She could feel every muscle in Conner's body tense and just before the blonde let her vocal chords rip, the singer covered her mouth in a forceful kiss that muted Conner's yell.

Both women heaved with heavy breaths as Conner leaned over the railing with Blue draped over her back. To the casual eye it looked like blonde was getting rid of her lunch. Blue removed her fingers, but left her hand inside Conner's pants as the smaller woman continued to tremble with aftershocks. "You still feel bad about giving Monty a hard time?"

Conner laughed. "If I let you kill him I can buy you a lot more dresses."

Blue shook her head. "That's evil honey."

Conner let out a breath and stood up. "No you're evil, I'm just being driven to insanity." Conner turned around and wrapped her arms around the neck of the pouting woman. "How's that song go. Between the devil and the deep blue sea."

Blue laughed, hummed a bar, and leaned down for a kiss. "So seriously what about the F.B.I. guy, you know he's going to pop up tomorrow."

Conner tweaked the singer's nose. "Did you do what I asked."

"But of course, madam." Dark eyelashes batted.

Conner stepped out of Blue's embrace. "Suddenly I'm in the mood for some Frank Sinatra and a Martini."

The singer looked at the smiling blonde with wide eyes. "You're just leaving me here?"

A small nose crinkled as Conner smiled and winked at the singer. "What?" Conner turned on her heels and descended the steps into the main cabin, as if nothing happened, leaving a bewildered and amused singer standing on the deck laughing at herself. "And I'm the devil you say." Blue sang a verse of the song to herself and sauntered off.


Supposedly the band was rehearsing, but by the time Remy and Greg showed up to stock the bar, Wilhelm hobbled through the door, and Vincent came around with Tan and Al, it was an impromptu jam session. Conner was lounging on top of the piano as if she was about to break into song and Terry was taking up the other half of the piano bench with Blue. Sam, Karl, Benny, and Elias were spaced out on the stage tuning their instruments.

Blue was working the scale when Sam caught her attention. "Do you want to work on the 'Anything but love'? The dark woman nodded and adjusted her range hat, that was turned backwards like always. She winked at Terry as she wiggled her fingers and began a moderately paced version of 'I can't give you anything but love' that quickly became a fast-paced free for all; regardless of who could actually carry a tune or even knew the actual words.

Ewan stood outside the club and watched them with a sadness that even he couldn't justify anymore. He hadn't even gone to see Wilhelm, except once while the man was still unconscious. He had been his friend since child hood and he couldn't even say he was sorry for the death of Sara and his unborn child. Ewan shoved his hands in his pockets and he wanted to be mad, he wanted to be raging with anger, as he watched his sister prance around the stage like a school girl with the singer. He wanted to hate all of them for having a good time and living their lives while he was desperately trying to figure out where he had lost his. If he never understood the meaning of 'on the outside looking in', he understood now. For the first time in years, his heart hung heavy with the thought of ripping away their happiness just to appease his own demons. He reached out absently to the door with the thought of walking in the club and falling to his knees, but it was a notion he thwarted as he saw Agent Grimey's car pull up. Ewan turned his head at disgust at himself and walked down the street before the agent could catch his eye.

Vincent looked over to the door just as Ewan had walked away, and he stood up. "You expecting somebody Conner?"

Conner stopped trying to play the drums and looked at the door with concern. She recognized the pinched features of Agent Grimes and broke into a wicked smile. "It's just Agent Grimey Vincent, let him in." Conner stood up and walked across the stage, only to be stopped by Terry as she hopped off.

"You want me to go with?"

"Nah, got it covered." Conner winked at Blue and squeezed Terry's shoulder before walking away.

"Have you girls been misbehaving?" Brown eyes turned to the singer who was pretending to be examining the keys on the piano. "Too bad we can't hear."

Blue smiled. "No biggy, you ready for the weekend?" Terry turned to the singer and just nodded.


Across the room Conner, couldn't completely wipe the grin off her face as she walked up to the Agent. "Agent Grimes, would you like a drink? Oh but wait --on duty, so sorry. Any way, I'd offer you a seat, but this should be short."

The agent regarded the blonde with an arched brow. "Then you will be cooperating I take it."

Conner crossed her legs at the ankle and leaned on one of the chairs to her right. "When have I not been cooperating agent. I've given you everything you've asked for and well I apologize if my legitimacy is throwing a wrench in your promotion plans."

"Ms. McGreely I have no doubt that as head of your family you intend to legitimize your family business, but the Bureau is clearly concerned with the means you are using to get there."

"Number one, Agent I'm accountant, like I have been since I graduated college. Even in dealing with my brother, I was only there in a counseling capacity, and if I'm not mistaken his books were clean. Number two, I'm not the head of anything and certainly not my family business, what ever that may be this week. We McGreely's like to hop around."

"Ms. McGreely I think you have O.C.C.B. fooled very well and Baltimore City cops are just eating out of your hand, but I've got you."

Conner mirrored his smiled and stood up straight. "Oh you do, I'm interested in hearing this tale." Conner folded her arms across her chest. "Hey guys, settle down, Agent Grimey, swears he's got me." The room grew quiet at Conner's request and all eyes turned towards the agent who suddenly felt like a paramecium under a grade schoolers' microscope. "So lay it on may Mr. Man."

The agent huffed and pulled out a manila folder. "I've got you making several long phone calls to your Uncle Cameron's residence, where you were overheard speaking about several money transactions."

Conner laughed genuinely. "Excuse me for calling my uncle. Anyway, I was talking to my niece, you know he has daughter's right. Well, I know I probably shouldn't have done it, and I apologize, but she needed help on her ECON project so I gave her a downed portfolio. It's ten years old and the guy is dead, but I didn't use any of personal information. Last time I checked that wasn't a federal offense." She shrugged.

The agent pursed his lips and tried to ignore the snicker from the group assembled on the stage. "Fine, then the calls to Sophia Brusio."

Conner winced like she'd been caught. "Not so loud, she gets jealous." She nodded her head at Blue who was doing her best to keep a straight face. "Truth is Sophia was picking up some stuff for me in Milan, some dresses for the amazon, but they're supposed to be a surprise so can you keep it down."

He tossed the folder on the table and sucked his teeth. "You seem to have answer for everything Ms. McGreely."

"Well my momma always told me to be prepared. Speaking of, can I show you my manila folder." She raised her eyebrows and walked over to the bar where she picked up a thick folder inside of a large envelope. "Well my reading is a little more tedious but I'll give you the highlights. Actually, I don't even need this since you're telling me volumes right now."

The agent eyed the blonde suspiciously as she tossed the folder back to the bar and sat down on a stool. "First off Grimey, can I call you Grimey?" She smiled and continued. "That's a $1500 hundred dollar suit, you know why I know? Because I used to spend all day with my brother and my dad in the damn tailors'. I won't get into your cuff links, but those aren't gold plated, I can tell that from back here. Your sunglasses are not even remotely standard issue, since last time I checked Oscar de la Renta does not fall into their cash bracket. Your shoes are ·.. right? I know Italian leather when I see it, and it's not like you've had those shoes for years, I bet the sole isn't even scuffed. Nice watch by the way·don't cover it now. One of those kinetic suckers, they're pretty nice. You want me to talk about your tie or how about the 12 other suits in your closets. Now unless you have the same Dresser as Scully and Mulder, your closets shouldn't look how it does. I won't talk about the boat you just purchased. Makes my little boat look like a dingy, but hey maybe you're a seafaring man and maybe you inherited a lump of money or you played the slots in Atlantic City." She hoped off the stool and walked towards the reddening agent. "Grimey, I've got you and you know it, so I suggest you turn tail and run. You leave now you might be able to intercept that little fax and e-mail that's going to make its way to the justice department."

His eyes grew wide. "You wouldn't, you can't."

"Try me, shit head."

The agent was fuming as he drew his nervous gaze across the room. He had no real intention of attacking the blonde, but he slammed his case down on the table a little to hard, and the quiet room filled with the sound of hammers being cocked on guns. Agent Grimes was smart even if he was greedy. He put his hands up and moved away from Conner as he saw all the guns aimed at him. Even if he wanted to hurt the blonde, the two guns aimed at him from the stage, would have cut him down even before the other two women standing behind him and off to his left, not to mention the tall black man who stood behind the bar and the large man with the broken arm. "Can I get my briefcase?"

Conner grinned. "I'll toss it out for you."

"For an accountant you seem to have lots of firepower."

Conner shrugged as she picked up his briefcase. "They've all got permits and besides they're my friends and just a little overprotective. Between you and me, I think it's all the caffeine, but they never listen to me." She gave the nervous agent a cheeky grin and tossed his briefcase out of the front door. "Remember, you're racing the clock Grimey." She tapped her watch and watched the man scoop up his briefcase and walk briskly to the car.





Conner turned to face her friends and hummed to herself with delight. She clapped her hands together in delight and stepped back on the stage. "Woo hoo! All right, let's party like it's 1999."

"It's past that all ready."

She flopped on the piano with a giggle. "Fine, like it's 2010." She laughed and then looked at Blue. "Do you think I should send it?"

Innocent blue eyes met with green. "Oops, did you tell me not to?" She touched a hand to her lips and winked.

"Bad girl." Conner and Blue shared a kiss, which garnered large groans and cat calls from their friends.

Sam ran a purposefully squeaky b-flat scale as the less occupied members of the band, broke into a rousing polka rendition of 'Friends in low places.'


Victor Montrose sat behind the large mahogany desk in his office, with his knee resting on his leg, and a snifter of brandy in his hand. His face held ho real expression and he didn't even appear to be thinking that hard. In truth, this was him flustered. If he let anyone with a few feet of him they would be able to see the throbbing vein that ran down the center of his forehead. Montrose was tied up and he knew it. A few street fights and skirmishes weren't providing him with the relief he needed. Preakness was only a few weeks away and by being cut completely out of Pimilico he stood to make no money on the entire Triple Crown racket. The sullen presence of Ewan seemed to make no difference and even the indomitable C.C. appeared slower.

C.C. walked into the man's office and Victor neither looked up from his drink or stopped his train of thought. C.C. dropped an envelope on the desk. "It's done."

Thin lips wrapped around the lip of the glass as Montrose drank. "It took you long enough."

"I had to go outside."

"And you can't do it why?"

"Cause she'll be looking for me, and you're not paying me enough to go upstate for you."

"But I'm paying you more than enough to get rid of the thorn in my side, so I suggest you stop trying to sulk and defend your selfish ideals and do your fucking job." C.C. rolled his eyes at the thin man and left without a word. Montrose sat his glasses on the table and let out a breath as he refilled his glass from the bottle to his left. "If you don't do it C.C. I'll just do it myself and match the rest of your body to your face." A thin hand waved in front of the Cd player and the thin man relaxed back into his chair as Puccini filled his office.

* * *


CH 13: 'This is going to hurt you, a lot more than it's going to hurt me'


Conner groaned as she looked out of the window into the early afternoon drizzle. She stepped into her sneakers and put on her jacket as she walked into the foyer. Smiling all the while as she placed the rose in the vase on the side table next Blue's note. 'Such a sap', she thought as she opened the front door and put on her navy blue American Eagle baseball cap. She hitched up her khakis as she bounded down the steps to meet the chauffeured Cadillac. Conner gave a smile as she opened the door and found Terry waiting within the tinted vehicle.

"Hey goob. I thought I was picking you up." Conner closed the door and turned to the driver. "Hi Marcus, que pasa?"

"Not the Birds.", the driver grumbled.

Both women chuckled. "It's still early Marcus, it's still early."

The driver shrugged and pulled off. Conner smiled and turned towards Terry as she patted her leg. Terry spoke up as she regarded the woman taking off her cap and running her hand through her hair. "Where's your stuff?"

"At the bar."

"How'd you manage that one?"

"The amazon grabbed both bags this morning before she left." Conner shrugged and then broke into a large smile. "So you all ready for a hot night in the big apple with Mr. Sam."

Terry rolled her eyes and waved Conner off. "Shut up." Terry tried to keep a straight face but couldn't help laughing at the faces Conner was pulling. She finally laughed and then slapped the seat as they turned onto the JFX. "Shit! We need to stop at my office, I got something you need."

"Can't it wait?"

"Yes and no. But truth be told I don't want it sitting in my office over night."

Conner arched a brow. "It's a pound of weed right?"

Terry swatted Conner in the shoulder. "No fool, but I've got a bright idea."

"Oh yeah."

"We've been so busy trying to bury Monty that nobody thought about shoving him into the light."

Conner pursed pink lips and then used her best Southern accent. "I thought we were supposed to go away from Light Carolanne."

Terry laughed out loud. "It can be done without involving us. Besides I've still got some folks over at Quantico so this can work."

Conner nodded. "Well let's turn this puppy around and get it."


As per usual, East Fayette was lined with cars so Marcus had to double park the Lincoln across the street from the office building. Terry unlocked the door and then began searching the seat. Conner noted her action. "Whatcha' looking for?"

"A damn umbrella."

"I got a hat."

She groaned. "Give up the jacket too."

"You're going across the street." Conner complained but shrugged out of her jacket none the less.

"It's pouring, give me the hat, knucklehead." Conner just giggled as Terry put on the jacket and pulled up the collar tight to her neck and then stuffed her hair under the hat and then opened the door. "I'll be two shakes I promise and then it's off to the spa, okay." Conner nodded as she watched Terry swing her legs out of the car. She stood up and then dropped down as her keys fell to the ground. Terry shook her head and rolled her eyes as she caught Conner's smirk. Then squatted to retrieve her keys under the car. Conner only shook her head as she watched Terry attempt to find her keys under the car. She was grinning so hard that she almost missed the man across the street.

He was standing across the street next to a double-parked jeep. The windows were blacked out and the passenger door looked to be open. The man wore a short jacket with no protection from the quickening slant of the rain. Perhaps it was the oddity of his ignoring the rain or his Napoleon like stance; hand in jacket, as he waited by the car or the quickening pulse of pain at the base of Conner's skull that put her on attention. Her latent fears came to fruition when Terry stood up straight and Conner saw the flash of chrome even without the aid of sunshine. The moment moved excruciatingly slow for Conner as she moved towards the door and yelped out Terry's name as the woman turned away from the car.

Terry turned towards the right back to the car as she heard her name. She never even registered the bullet that whizzed by her head, but the bullet that exploded into her shoulder turned her around with it's force so that her back was to the outside. Conner reached out and caught the falling woman, dragging her into the car and bellowing at Marcus to drive, before she could even close the door.

The car door swung shut as Marcus made a hard right onto the thoroughfare and began cutting through lunchtime traffic to reach the hospital. Conner was pressing her hand down onto Terry's shoulder hoping to slow the blood flow. She held her other hand to the side of Terry's face as her head rested in Conner's lap. Brown eyes were wide in shock, but Conner could tell by Terry's incoherent mumbling that she was on the verge of passing out. Conner pulled the hat off of Terry's head and pressed her forehead to Terry's as she urged Terry to hold on. "Where almost there bubba, just hang on." Conner was fighting to hold back her tears as she watched Terry struggle to keep her eyes open. "I've got you, you're gonna be fine." Terry's body shook with a coughing fit and Conner placed both hands over the woman's wound. Conner was so focused on the woman in her lap that she hadn't realized the car had even stopped. She cradled Terry to her in a protective movement as the car door opened. Her face relaxed somewhat when she saw Marcus.

Conner eased out from under Terry and was out of the side door before the medics could even get Terry on the gurney. With Marcus on her heels Conner followed Terry all the way to the double doors of the operating room. Marcus took a silent cue from the orderly and guided a frantic Conner towards the chairs. He managed to get the mumbling woman to sit so he could reach his phone. Marcus followed the small woman with his eyes as she stood up and began pacing the short aisle, wringing her hands together and rubbing them through her hair oblivious to the smears of blood she was leaving all over her face and clothing. That was how Blue was greeted when she and Sam, along with Vince burst into the emergency room ten minutes later.

Lackluster green eyes grew wide as large hands gripped her about the shoulders and turned her around. Conner took one look into Blue's eyes and collapsed into the tall woman's arms. It was all Blue could do to not burst into tears along with the sobbing woman in her arms. Blue bit down on her lips as drew Conner into her body as tight as possible and just held the woman as she released her frustration. Blue felt herself filling with rage, but she knew what Conner needed more than anything in this moment was her support and her compassion not her anger. Blue crushed her lips into Conner's hair as she mumbled words of comfort into small ears. When she felt Conner's sobs subside, Blue looked over to Marcus who stood next to an anxious Sam.

"What happened?" she asked quietly.

Marcus sighed as he removed his hat and gave a half shrug. "We stopped on Fayette to uh, to uh pick up something from Terry's office. Then, um, she, she got out of the car."

"Who?", she asked firmly. Marcus blew out a nervous breath and completely undid his tie. Blue stopped the urge to grit her teeth as she realized now was not the moment to blow her top. She nodded in understanding and softened her tone as she adjusted her hold on Conner. "Take your time Marcus, just tell me what happened."

"I apologize. Um, Terry got out of the car, she um, she dropped her keys. I was looking in the mirror and Conner was making a face at her, everything was fine. I go to change the radio station and then I hear Conner yell for Terry. Next thing I know, there's this pop-pop sound, and Terry's going down. Conner pulls her in and I just was hoping her legs were in the car when I pulled off. I-I, that's it." His chest heaved with a breathe as Blue nodded at him.

"Do you know what they were going to get?" Marcus let out a huff of air as he contemplated the question.

"Papers." All eyes turned to Conner as she poked her head out from Blue's embrace and spoke up. She locked eyes with Blue for a second and gave the woman a squeeze conveying the message that she was okay. Blue was hesitant, but she released her grip on Conner and let the woman step out of her embrace, but not out of her reach as she placed her hand on Conner's neck and began a subtle caress. Conner rubbed her eyes with her sleeve, suddenly aware of the blood on her hands. "It was p-papers. Something about Montrose. Uh, she wasn't really specific, but it was possibly something that was to be released to the press, I don't know." Conner looked from Blue to Sam. "She's going to be okay, she will."

Sam nodded as Conner answered his unvoiced concern. "You heard anything?" He asked quietly.

Conner shook her head. "She's still in there." Conner swallowed the lump in her throat as her voice hitched. She found herself in another warm embrace very quickly. She stepped back from Blue, still holding her arms and gave the tall woman a small smile. "I'm cool." Blue stood in front of Conner and caressed a red cheek with affection. "Really."

Blue attempted to lean in and give the smaller woman a kiss on the forehead, when she found herself being pushed aside. The countenance of Conner's entire face changed, and creased with anger as green eyes grew large and sparked with what Blue could only describe as hate. She tried to grab a hold of Conner, but the determined woman avoided her grip and moved past her. Blue turned around to follow the woman and then stopped in her tracks as she spotted where Conner was headed. Straight to Ewan.


Conner was red-faced and bloody as she stalked towards Ewan. For a brief second he thought she was hurt, but he rethought that assumption as he rocked back on his heels from the fist to his jaw. The lanky man didn't have a moment to touch a hand to his jaw as he felt Conner's hands grasp his collar. The compact woman drove him back towards the wall with the sheer force of her anger. He was trying to keep his footing as Conner began driving her knee into his gut. It was all he could do to protect his face and body as she bellowed her thoughts into his face.

He didn't really feel the need to focus on her words, since being called a rat bastard would still hurt with or without the accompanying blows. Blue watched as Conner exploded onto Ewan and held up her arm as Vince began to advance in order to break up the one-sided scuffle. It was only when Ewan blocked one of Conner's knees and pushed back, causing the two to tumble to the ground, that she finally moved forward. She stood near them as Conner rolled on top of Ewan and drove her forearm into his chest and pounded him as she punctuated her blows with, 'fuck you!' When Blue saw Ewan's face grow red she leaned over and pulled the still flailing woman off of Ewan. She held the squirming woman tightly as she walked away from Ewan and the stares of the bystanders in the alcove. Conner let her head loll back onto Blue's shoulder with force as the last of her fit moved through her. Blue kept her lips close to Conner's ear as she spoke in soft soothing tones to the fuming woman.

"It's all right Conner, it's all right. Let it go, just let it go...I've got you I promise." She chanted the words into Conner's ear until she felt the woman calm. Blue looked towards Sam who was helping Ewan up from the ground. She motioned for Sam to take Conner as she watched Ewan exit into the stairwell and then followed him.

The bruised man had managed to find an awning to stand under as he exited the hospital and leaned back onto the brick building. He was fishing for a lighter when Blue came out of the building. His heart was pounding in his chest so hard that he didn't register the tall woman's presence until a flame hovered before his face. He didn't bother to cast his eyes on the arm that was held out to him, he knew who it was as he leaned forward and lit his cigarette. They were both silent as they stood two full body lengths apart and leaned against the wall.

After three hard drags, Ewan licked at his sore lip with his tongue and then spoke. "You want one?" He held up the cigarette.

Blue folded her arms across her chest and spoke flatly. "No, it's bad for the voice·kind of like getting your throat cut." Brown eyes cut to the right with fury, but paled in anger, as they met with two chips of blue ice. Ewan mumbled something to himself and looked away. Blue took a deep breath and turned her head towards the hunched over man at her side. "So do I get to know what's going on?"

Ewan snorted. "You her proxy now."

"I could go get her, but I would think your ribs might want a rest."

Ewan smiled morbidly and then flicked the butt of his cigarette into the alleyway. He shoved his hands into his pants pockets and let his chin fall to his chest. "She thinks I did this?"

A black eyebrow raised as Blue turned her body towards Ewan. "You didn't?"

He straightened up as he let out chuckle. "Unbelievable, she thinks I tried to put a call in on Terry. Ha! That's just fucking great." He shook his head and ran his hand through his hair.

"So you didn't."

Ewan glanced at Blue, and looked away, knowing he wasn't ready to try to meet her eyes. "That's bad business and you know it." He waved a hand through the air in a defeated manner. "This city is in the middle of a turf war, my sister's calling in the big guns, Monty is calling in the dogs, there may be one chance to settle this without a Braveheart-esque battle, and you think that I would light the powder keg by killing Terry." He sighed as he kicked a wayward can and walked to the middle of the alley. He cocked his head to the side as he looked at the expressionless woman, barely holding her penetrating gaze. She didn't say anything so he kept talking. "Jesus, I've known Terry before she was Terry, good God. And I know what she means to Conner, so I wouldn't make a call on Terry."

Blue stared at the man as he kicked at a rock on the ground. A faint smirk crossed her lips and she caught his weak gaze for a moment. "I agree with you." Ewan looked up from the rock with wide eyes, in surprise. Blue spoke again before he could make a comment. "I don't think you made the call on Terry·for precisely all those reasons, and for one other." Ewan looked up again and the tall woman purposefully softened her look so that she could hold his attention. She spoke calmly. "The call wasn't for Terry."

Blue held in her smirk of satisfaction as green eyes sprinkled with gold, flinched in horror and met her eyes and held them. Ewan walked right up to Blue and stopped a foot away as they stood toe to toe, her boots making them even in the height department. He gnashed his teeth as he spoke to the grinning woman. "You're a fucking animal."

Blue's grin grew wider as she clasped her hands behind her back. "It takes one to know one."

Ewan shook his head in exasperation and shuffled his feet as he tried to figure out what to do with his hands that were clinched into fists at his sides. "Look at you, you're nothing but a punk thug tearing away at my family."

Blue threw back her head in laughter. "What can I say, I'm reverting to my Neanderthal ways, but I assure you, it was all you that tore your family apart." She took a deep breath and dropped her grin. "Same way you tore mine apart."

Ewan's cheeks flushed with heat as he fought the urge to lunge at the woman in front of him. He closed the distance between them so that their noses almost touched. "I wish we would have gotten rid of you too."

Every muscle in her body tensed, but she made no move as she bared her teeth and spoke in a rage filled rasp. "And every night, I dream that it was your bones I crushed with that bat."

For a long span of time, the two stood there quiet, except for the breaths they wear taking. Each was heavy and filled with anger, that neither wanted to act on, if only out of the curious yet mutual respect of the blonde upstairs. Blue crossed her arms across her chest and eased back a fraction of a step. She still held Ewan's angry stare, but allowed her own features to relax, so she could talk without growling. "You want to take out our dicks now and start pissing on our territory?" The crude sarcasm of the statement resonated in both of them as they relaxed their stares and returned to their neutral corners along the wall.

Ewan sighed heavily and then took out another cigarette. He caught the lighter tossed to him and lit up. "I want to have a sit down with her."

"Hell no!" The reply came out harsher than even she expected.

He chuckled indignantly. "I don't really have to ask."

"And I don't really have to let you see her." She held up her hand before he spoke again. "The only thing you can say along with an apology is 'goodbye and I'll call you when I get out of therapy'. This has gotten way out of hand and as far as I'm concerned you're privy to everything regardless if you're not calling the shots· and that's worse than pulling the trigger."

Ewan hung his head in a defeated manner. "She could always just walk."

This time it was Blue who rumbled with laughter. "Fat chance now. You're willing to turn over everything your family worked for and created because you haven't got the balls to take care of your shit. You do this because you're some kind of ego adrenaline junkie. She's doing this because she loves her family, and you want her to just hand it over and hide in a cave."

"Look, I may have my problems, but I don't want her dead."

"Issues, man, you've got issues." Blue leaned off the wall and tousled her hair. "Look, I'll tell her we should leave, hell that's fine with me, I'd rather be watching the sun rise over the ruins in Athens than staying here and playing cops and robbers. But," she paused as she caught his eyes. ", if she leaves, she leaves with what she put into this. Nobody's pissing almost a year of work away for a bunch of greedy pricks who'll no doubt be dead inside the next two years." Ewan just sighed as he looked away from the woman and rubbed at his eyes. "Understand something McGreely, this is Conner's decision, and if she stays then I stay. And if anybody comes near her or Terry or anybody she even waves to, I promise you, you won't have to worry about nightmares ever again."

Green eyes met blue as he regarded the blatant threat. He held her gaze and knew she meant it and he believed it. He watched the woman walk to the door and then he too stood away from the wall. "C-can you tell her I'm sorry."

Blue held on to the handle of the door as she regarded the pallid man. She almost shook her head at his obvious demise. "She all ready knows you're sorry." She made no change in her tone as she spoke the word, but the dullness of green eyes told her that he understood. She swung the door open and turned back towards Ewan once more. "In all truth McGreely, I think you should leave. You've got nothing left to offer and apparently nothing left to give. I don't know what Monty told you or has you believing, but in reality, none of this is yours to take and it's damn sure not yours to give."

Weary green eyes looked over to the door as the sound of it closing reached his ears. Ewan dragged his hand down his face and flipped his still lit cigarette into a puddle of water. It made no fizzle, just as he seemed to make no sound as he walked out of the alley and onto the rainy street.


As Blue made it up the three flights of stairs, her arms were quickly filled with the bundle that was Conner. The small woman looked to have been crying again, but the wide smile on her face gave Blue all the news she needed. "She's okay?" Conner just nodded as she moved out of Blue's embrace and began to drag her down the hallway. They joined Sam, who stood outside of one of the recovery rooms looking at Terry through the glass.

The big man gave a squeeze to the hand that Blue placed on his shoulder and smiled at her. "They're going to move her to her own room in a little while, but she'll probably be out at least until morning."

"Good, that's good." She gave Conner a kiss on the forehead and squeezed her. "Uh, why don't you take Conner down to the room and hang out with her, I need to run out."

Sad green eyes turned up to the tall woman and Blue almost punched herself in the head for even opening her mouth. "You leaving?" She sounded like a little girl.

"Well, I, uh-

Conner cut her off with a shake of her head and then spoke firmly. "Sam, you stay up here and wait for Terry, we're going down to the room." Sam nodded and watched as Conner and Blue walked to the elevator.

Blue waited for the doors to close before she spoke. "I'm not leaving?"

Conner gave her a small smile and shook her head. "No, I want you here." She looked down at the paneling and added softly, "I need you here."

The imaginary firing squad in Blue's head shot her on the spot. She reached out and pulled the small woman to her just as the elevator doors opened. "Which one?"

"Room 512."


Blue still held the woman to her side as they walked into the private room and closed the door behind her. She stopped Conner's forward motion and tuned the woman around by the shoulders and proceeded to kiss her senseless in the dim light of the room. She released Conner as she felt her own legs grow weak and then stepped back holding on to her hands to keep her anchored. Conner blinked away the haze of arousal and comfort and spoke first.

"You're still not leaving." She wiggled blonde eyebrows and both women laughed sincerely well needed laughs.

"Don't you need some clothes though?" She followed the woman to a chair and sat down with Conner in her lap.

"I'll get scrubs, besides we need to plan."

Blue chuckled. "Ha! I all ready have a plan. I'm calling Tan, Al, Gordy, and the entire Justice League of Superheroes and we're going to do some guerilla style interviewing." The dark woman grinned with malice as she stared into space. It was Conner's light giggle that broke her meandering thoughts.

"Emphasis on the guerilla." Blue shrugged and shared a grin with the woman on her lap. "While you disappeared I did a little thinking."

Blue arched a brow. "Oh yeah?"

Conner shook her head and brushed away dark tendrils of hair from Blue's face. "Yes. And as much as I am intrigued, yet slightly disturbed, yet surprisingly turned on by your interview techniques, nobody else is spilling blood on my watch."

Blue couldn't help the pout of disappointment that came to her lips. "What if we clean it up."

Conner groaned and rolled green eyes as she playfully swatted the woman on the shoulder. "Jasmine, seriously." Blue lost her pout and avoided the gently scolding green eyed stare. Conner gave the woman a kiss on the temple as she made herself comfortable on Blue's lap. "We've been playing this game all wrong, and Terry had an excellent idea which I think will work out in the long run."

"I'm listening."

"All of this has been about short-term possibilities. Like, who can I get rid of this week so two weeks from now I can have a break, meanwhile in the interim somebody is popping up ready to cap you the second you take a breather." She paused and ran clean hands through her hair. "The last few weeks I've been thinking like some green hoodlum getting the chance to steal my first car or something. Mt. Rushmore was right, I am the right person for this job. I'm smarter than these bastards because I grew up around people who did it right the first time."

Conner started to speak again, but stopped as the door opened and a nurse laid down a pair of teal green scrubs. Conner gave a wave to the smiling woman and stood up. She began taking off her clothes and talking as Blue made herself comfortable in the chair and enjoyed the show.

"Where was I?"

She threw a long leg over the arm of the chair and looked at Conner through hazy blue eyes. "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough·.and gosh darn it, people like me."

Conner rolled her eyes and flipped the lounging woman the bird. "Anyway, smartass, I say if Monty wants all of this, he can have it." Blue sat up. "Hold your horses daddy-O." Conner slipped the shirt over her head and began folding her clothes in a pile. "Monty's been living the life of Riley for almost the past year because he's been hiding in corners, while the rest of us have been scurrying around like roaches looking for our holes when the lights come on."

"Except all the holes are sealed." Blue interjected.

"Exactly." Conner walked to Blue and pulled up the other chair and collapsed into it. She stretched her legs out and rested them on Blue's thighs, where the tall woman immediately began an unsolicited foot rub. Conner moaned in relief. "Good Lord that feels great. So, if Montpelier thinks he can handle the job, than I'm going to give him the job."

Full lips curved into a wicked grin as Blue caught on to Conner's idea. "Why do I think we'll be paying a visit to Agent Grimey."

"And then some my dear. I'll be happy to call 'Phia and let her know that Monty doesn't want to use her boys for the cement work. Tangelos would love to know what's happening to his vic and Marachi will blow a gasket when I say it was all Monty's idea to pull out of Pimlico. Not only will the shit hit the fan, but the Vultures will be a swarming." Blue let out a laugh and gave the woman across from her a high-five. A full smile graced her features as she beamed at Conner with pride. "If Mongoose wants to be Don-Juan-Capo-head honcho, then he's getting all of it, including the backwash of shit that's more shady than anything they've pulled out of the Chesapeake of late."

"I'm impressed, but you know I have to ask." Conner titled her head as she regarded the woman working on her feet and calves. "What about today."

Conner slumped in the chair and cradled her head as she rested her elbows on the armrests. "Did you ask him?"

Blue eyes rolled. "We got into for a second."


Broad shoulders shrugged. "And I told him he was a pathetic bastard and that he should go back to hiding under whatever rock he came out from under."

"Jazz! You did not?"

"Well, not in some many words."

"What did he say?"

"He suggested you walk."

Conner sat up straight. "Fuck him!"

"I told him it was your call." Strong hands resumed their foot massage and then stilled. "Wait, you don't want to walk do you?"

Conner sort of shrugged as she slipped back down into the chair. "I don't know, I mean shit, I've, hell we've put so much into this, I don't know if I want to hand it over. Besides, who the hell gets it?"

"Uh, Cameron."

"I guess, but he's going to be a grandpa soon and I think him and Suz should just kick back and watch their girls make it through college without all the bull shit. He's a hell of a carpenter. He should go to Italy and make Gondalas or something."

"So wait, what about legitimacy? I thought you were just getting the ball rolling and stepping away?"

Conner made a squeak of a noise and lightly sighed. "Even I said it, legitimacy takes time and well·" She trailed off as a smile crossed her companions face. "What?"

"You little shit." She ran her fingers across the bottom of Conner's foot making her laugh. "You want to keep it, you want to run the show don't you?" Blue looked at Conner with equal parts amusement and understanding.

A faint blush reached Conner's ears. "It is mine. And!," she thrust a finger in the air, "legitimacy is still the goal, but hey it takes time and I wouldn't be my father's daughter if I didn't ride out the shit storm."

Blue chuckled. "So you ready to take the heat."

Conner cracked her knuckles and smiled impishly. "Who said I was boss?"

Conner's words hung in the air for a moment as understanding moved through the room and through Blue's mind. Blue eyes went wide with mirth. "Well, I do declare Miss Scarlet you've been a very bad girl." Conner raised her eyebrows causing them both to laugh. "Now on the flip side, what happens when Monty is called out to be a figurehead?"

"He'll be taking so much shit up his ass it's going to be coming out his ears. I on the other hand will be continuing to move my family towards legitimate avenues. Whatever slack exists will be taken care of."

"And all the families are willing?"

"Some more grudgingly than others, but one legitimate family is good business for the rest." She waved her hands through the air. "Look, I'm not trying to do this for the rest of my life, I've got other plans, but I need to make sure that who ever ends up taking over or inheriting this business understands what is was built on and how it will remain." Conner removed her feet from Blue's legs and leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees and reaching for Blue's hands. The taller woman obliged and leaned forward, entwining their hands.

"So what are your other plans?"

Green eyes gleamed with mischief. "You're my other plans."

"Should I be nervous."

"You never seem to be nervous in front of a crowd, but I guess a priest might give you the willies."

Two black eyebrows raised comically high. "I'm going to confession right."

Conner grinned innocently. "Well, I've always thought of it as declaring your love before God and family more than a confession."

Blue sat back a little as she regarded the innocent look on the blondes' face. "Oh·so this has just been one long engagement, huh?" Green eyes searched the floor as she tried to hold in her smile. Blue laughed silently as she lifted Conner's chin. She batted her eyes at Conner and watched the younger woman swoon. "I want you to say it." Her smooth alto resonated warmly in Conner's ears.

Green eyes met blue sheepishly. "Should I get down on my knee?"

"Only if you're going to stay there." Conner sucked her teeth and groaned at the smirking woman. "I'm just joking Red. If you want to stand on the table over there with your pants around your ankles it'll still be just as sincere."

Conner grinned from ear to ear. "Well in that case." She moved as if she was going to get up, but gave Blue a playful wink and sat back in her seat. Conner opened and closed her eyes slowly, as she took a deep breath and then spoke with a firm voice. "Will you marry me?"

Blue swallowed the lump in her throat and took a breath. "It won't be legal."

Conner chuckled. "Hey, I'm a Mafia Queen , I'll make it legal."


Both women laughed as they leaned in to one another and touched lips. Conner tangled her hands in dark hair as Blue caressed her face and they did their best to ease each others fears, comfort one another, and solidify their future together. A moment later they pulled away from each other breathless and far from satiated, but it would have to do for now. They touched their foreheads together and let out mutual sighs of contentment.

"You know Red, we need to work on your timing."

Conner's laughter filled the quiet room as she leaned back in her seat. "Timing you say. Hey, I'm sitting in a hospital waiting on my bestfriend, who got shot mind you, to come out of the recovery, I attacked my brother, I'm in the middle of a turf war, I'm on the verge of pms-ing, a nervous breakdown, and I just decided to run my family·my timing is impeccable." Conner cackled as she crossed her eyes and made fish lips with her mouth. "I'm insane I know, but I'm in love, so that has to count for something."

Blue just laughed as she pulled the smaller warmer to her and wrapped her in an embrace. "It counts for everything."

Conner settled herself on Blue's lap and rested her head on the woman's shoulder. "You're such sap you know that."

Blue just smiled as she felt Conner nuzzle her neck. "You getting sleepy?" She got a nod in response as she rubbed Conner's back. "I'm sure they'll be down soon." Another nod. "I love you, Conner Rose." She felt the woman smile against her neck and mumbled something that sounded like 'me too'. Blue stretched her legs out in the other chair as she absently rubbed Conner's back and ran her hand through the small woman's hair. She closed her eyes, not to sleep, but merely to meditate on what was being offered to her, what she had, and what she had to give. She silently sent her love to Gi-Gi and then when all was so quiet that she could hear the rhythm of Conner's heart, her honey lined alto filled the room with a sweet melody:

East of the Sun and west of the moon

We'll build a dream house of love dear

Close to the sun in the day, near to the moon at night

We'll live in a lovely way sharing our love in the pale moonlight

Just you and I ö forever and a day

Love will not die we'll keep it that way

Up above the stars we'll find a harmony of life to a lovely tune

East of the Sun and west of the moon·..

* * *


CH 14: Ghetto Physics 101; Scum always Rises to the Top

For a person who had just been shot a week before, Terry was in great spirits. For a person who had never been shot in there life, and had the experience just a week before, Terry was like a pro. She was proud of her battle scars and not to mention the excuse it gave her to go out and buy 25 silk scarves in order to camouflage her sling. Conner on the other, was wound tighter than a Swiss clock. She didn't even need to spike her hair up in the morning since it naturally seemed to stand on end. Blue on the other was trying to look on the bright side of things for once, and to lighten her own mood, she started a pool to see how long it would take Conner to actually crack. Vincent thought it cruel and sadistic, Terry reamed her, and Sam was mortified. Then they each put in twenty bucks a piece and took dibs on a week from Friday. For her part, it wasn't that Conner was fearing for her life or anything, not since she was living in Fort Knox and seemed to be surrounded by people who could have probably done two tours of duty in Vietnam and come out alive with the bullet holes to prove it. True to her unselfish nature, she was more worried about all the kids out there who were running around doing her bidding and making things run smoothly for her. She was worried about the random shoot outs, vanishing people, and impromptu bar room brawls that were anything but coincidental. What was worse, was that by the end of the week, once she finished floating Montrose's name through all the correct highways of information and passed of anonymous files to the O.C.C.B., she knew she was probably going to turn her city into viscous war zone.

Friday came and went and not even Terry's dictator like approach to wedding planning or Blue's sex-laden serenades calmed Conner down. She was all nerves, walking on broken eggshells, and waiting for the other shoe to drop. When it did, she cracked. Conner was actually twirling aimlessly in her desk chair, supposedly exercising, at least that's what she had gone downstairs for. She was thinking about nothing in particular when she heard Terry let out a scream, that was only a scream because it was loud, but technically it was just a laugh or in the case a roar of triumph. Conner stopped her twirl with an extended leg and sat up. Soon her basement sounded like she was sitting inside of Cole Field House watching Juan Dixon make a steal and send an alley-oop to a waiting Terrance Morris for the fearsome dunk. When Conner got to her feet a broadly smiling Blue was in the doorway.

"Come here, come here!"

Conner titled her head as she regarded the singer. She was actually on the verge of squealing, and since nothing Blue ever did sounded like squealing, Conner decided to motivate. Her shuffle was still to slow for the tall woman who scooped her up and walked her into the sitting room where the t.v. was. Conner stopped giggling and slid out of Blue's grip to her feet, where she practically tripped over her jaw. It didn't matter that Conner couldn't hear the t.v. the image was loud and clear.

In the middle of a pack of brow-beating reporters, was one very thin lipped, beady eyed, skinny Victor Montrose. Surrounding him and on the inside of the walking ring of reporters were several police officers holding Montrose's arms. Conner held up her hand and asked for quiet as she searched the couch for the remote. The room grew silent as the speakers burst to life. Rapid firing questions were hurled at Montrose and his attorney, with the latter bellowing out "no comment" as they were ushered into the police station. The picture remained for a moment and then cut back to the station house where a black woman with a smooth hair-do came on the screen stacking her papers as she affixed a serious yet no partisan look to her face which was meant to be trustworthy.

"If you are just joining us this evening one of Baltimore City's most elusive and sought after mob bosses was arrested this evening for his alleged involvement in racketeering cases across this state and throughout the East Coast. It appears that Victor Montrose assumed the head of the McGreely crime syndicate and has been making changes rapidly within the family ranks. It has been brought to our attention that it was these changes that led to Mr. Montroses' arrest earlier this evening and have been the result of an on-going investigation by the Organized Crime Control Bureau and the FBI."

The female anchor continued speaking but Conner turned off the sound and in only what could be described as slow motion, she fell to floor. It wasn't a hard collapse, especially since the berber carpet was quite comfortable and she didn't really have that far to fall. She was quickly surrounded by Blue, Terry, Sam, Vincent, Wilhelm, Tan, and Al, who all stood over the prone woman in their own state of shock. They were all concerned for the small blonde, but with her eyes wide open and the smallest of grins on her face, she actually looked happy. No one was sure who did it first, and in retrospect it may have been Conner herself, but the giggles started from somebody and they didn't stop until all nine of them found themselves rolling on the floor holding their sides, with Terry's puppy in the mix as well, hopping from body to body and yipping at the commotion.

Conner was red as a fire engine when she finally sat up. The news had moved onto the sports section, which was fine with her since she was afraid the sight of Montrose would send her into another fit of laughs. Eventually, they all sat up in a crooked semi-circle of sorts and began to calm themselves. A still wide eyed Conner turned to a teary-eyed Blue and nibbled on her fingernail as she spoke breathlessly. "Can we have a party? We should party. I think we should, yeah, yeah."

Blue wiped at her face and raised her brow at the dazed woman. "Wouldn't that be gloating Red?"

Conner shrugged. "I mean right here. Right now. Just uh, take out all the disco albums, and chill the tequila, and rack the balls on the pool table. Just here." Her sentences were choppy and quick. "I think we should. I think we should."

Terry looked at her friend with some concern. "You sure midget?"

Bright green eyes turned to Terry and Conner nodded. And with the silliest of grins she added, "and don't call me midget."

Terry let out a holler as she jumped up off the floor. "Yeah, that's my girl! You heard her, suckers. Let's par-tay!" Terry danced her own version of the jig all the way to the bar followed by the others leaving Blue and Conner on the floor.

Blue gently touched Conner's arm. "You sure you okay?"

Conner nodded. "I may break into tears at any second, but ·.yeah."

"You know-

Conner shook her head. "Yeah, I know. He's probably not going to jail right now and maybe things will be cool for a month, but for right now we got him. For right now he's on ice and the point is he's got to cool his heels and regroup. And by the time he's ready to regroup I'm going to be so far out of his reach I might as well be living on Jupiter."

"Number one how'd you get so smart and number two we going somewhere?"

Conner grinned and for the first time really focused when she stared at Blue. "Cause I listen to you that's why." The dark singer smiled sheepishly. "And as for where I'm going to be. I'm not planning on going anywhere, but since all of you guys walk around me like I have my own personal pope-mobile, I'm might be hard to hit."

"Oh you feeling invincible aren't you?"

"No, just, out of reach I guess." Conner shrugged.

Blue reached out and tweaked the blonde's nose, which caused her to smile. "Don't you go climbing up there too close to God, he might shake the tree."

Conner burst into laughter. "Is that some wisdom from Cookie."

"Yeah, and it came with an exclamation point." Blue rubbed her butt as if she was relieving the incident.

"Nothing like time-honored child abuse to get you going."

"Child abuse, ha! That was grown woman abuse." The two women laughed and embraced.

Terry called out from over the bar. "Can yall break that shit up and let's go here." She pounded on the countertop, which started everyone else pounding on the counter as well creating an impromptu drumroll for the woman of the hour. Blue hoisted the blonde to her feet, grabbed her around the waist, and walked her to the bar.

The small group of friends found themselves surrounding the bar with their glasses raised high, awaiting a toast. Conner beamed as she tossed her head back dramatically and sighed. "I'd like to thank the academy for this fine award, and for all the little people who made it possible." Her comments garnered laughs. She toned down her smile and took a breath. "Seriously, I don't know what's going to happen from here. I mean, I got an idea, but it could be crazy, it could be great, or we could all end up jail." Conner paused to let them hoot and holler. "Really, there are certain people who should be here and they aren't." Conner swallowed the lump in her throat as her eyes misted in her thoughts of her family and friends. Blue squeezed her hand and Terry gave her a peck on the cheek and whispered to her friend, "Sara's around lil' bit." Conner nodded and blew out a breath and then smiled. "I know I would normally toast to something raunchy, but for now, be this the calm before the storm or just the afterglow, I want this to be about them because intentionally or not we wouldn't be in this place if not for their sacrifices."

Conner re-raised her glass in the other and the others did as well. "This is for Sara, and for little Wilamena." She winked at Wilhelm who just nodded and then met the eyes of each of her friends as she spoke. "For Wally, Charlie, Sean wherever he is," she shook her head and met the blue eyes of her lover, "for Gi-Gi." Conner smiled as she removed the small tear that escaped the tall woman's eyes.

Blue seemed to read Conner's train of thought as stayed focused on green eyes and quietly added, "For Duncan."

Conner wanted to stay right in the warm place that she was, staring up at Blue with the same devotion that was being aimed at her, but her arm was getting tired, so just nodded and smiled. "Salud." The word echoed through the basement as glasses chimed against one another and they drank in the memory of those no longer present. Conner let out a giggle as she felt the puppy tugging at her warm up pants. She glowed with a smile as she scooped the puppy up and tried to dodge his licks. "And we should toast to this little monster that better not pee on my rug or I'm sending him back." She nuzzled the puppy's nose and the air of sadness left the room as they passed the puppy around, refilled the drinks, and shut off the outside world at least for a little while.


Month later

"Freak, are we really doing this in a church or what?!" Terry's voice rang out from the balcony of the soon to be finished restaurant.

A head of red-blonde hair emerged from underneath the countertop of the bar. Conner leaned her elbows onto the counter as she stood up and brushed back a stray lock of hair that managed to escape her ponytail, small as it was, but it had gotten too long to be spiked up. She chewed on her lip as she mulled over the answer to the question, and then shrugged, which sent Terry into a fit of groans as she flailed her arms and grumbled to herself about Conner's unhelpful attitude. "Terry, I thought you said you were handling this, so why are you yelling at me?"

Terry sucked her teeth as she hurled a towel across the room at Conner. "You said you'd help, you schmo, this is for you, I'm not the one getting married midget."

Conner smiled wistfully. "Aw, Terry, when you say it like that I get all warm and fuzzy inside." She made a face as she let the sarcasm eat into her words.

"Screw you guys, I'm going home."

Conner burst into laughter and met Terry as she came down the spiral staircase. "I'm just playing bean. What do you need. I am at your mercy, my liege." Conner bowed deeply and got a swat upside her head for her efforts. Conner stood and followed Terry over to the stage area, where they sat down. "I say we do it in the Basillaca."

Wide open brown eyes turned to the smiling blonde. "Are you trying for a one-way ticket to hell?"

"What can it hurt." Conner raised her eyebrows and the women both broke into laughter. "Seriously, I just assume go to St. Michael's and have it at that little chapel thingy. I mean it's non-denominational, so we should be able to offend everyone and no one in particular at the same time. It's small and it's private."

"I can do that. What's the Amazon want?"

Conner smiled. "You'd think I just told her I was having her baby or something."

Terry giggled. "Oh, so that's why she's so damn edgy, I thought she was worried about Monty Python sitting in a 2x2 cell."

Conner groaned. "He'll be out soon."

"No shit, but it's not like he can hang out around here. I hear there's a swell price on his head."

"That's nice, maybe his goon will take him out."

"I wouldn't put it past him." Terry shrugged and added quietly, "hell I'd do it myself for a small fraction of the price." Conner smirked and squeezed Terry's shoulder. They shared a smile of understanding and then Terry clapped her hands together and hopped off the stage. "Okay Daddy-O let's motivate! I need guest lists, food, beverages, music and musak, color schemes, flower arrangements-

Conner groaned as she collapsed onto her back. "Can't we just go stand, recite some cheesy lyrics, play a little Celine Dion, throw some rice cakes, and dance till we're all good and drunk."

"Fool, I may not be your mamma, but I'll will beat you like thought I was if you don't get up off your butt and help me." Conner moaned as she was hoisted to her feet, she was about to throw a tantrum, when she noticed the tall form of the singer sneaking out of the back door.

"Oh no you don't!" Conner scooted out of Terry's grasp and pointed her finger at the retreating singer. "If I have to suffer, so do you."

Blue eyes went wide as the singer held up her hands in a gesture of mercy. "I have to rehearse, yeah, yeah. Then I promised the girls we'd uh, uh, I don't remember, but it had something to do with weight rooms, and I think I'm supposed to go and see my mom. I know you want some cheese bread from Cookie and she's not hopping in the car."

"Shut it woman!" Conner glared at the wincing woman and then broke into a smile. "I have been subjected to the worse tortures of my life, in the last hour, and I will not suffer this alone. I thought this was about me and you, twelfth of never and all that, so park it."

Blue feigned hurt and pouted. "You can't just use that excuse for everything."

"Want to bet."

"Yes, let's." The small woman advanced on the singer attempting to tickle her into submission, but Blue caught Conner around the wrists and held the smaller woman off while trying to tie her arms and knots.

Terry just watched the wrestling pair with amusement. "Are you two finished?" The two women in question broke apart from each other and looked at the floor like two ten year olds caught eating desert before dinner. "Now, look I love you both, but I am not doing this by myself. All I want is a few ideas to get the ball rolling and then you two can go play naked twister all day long."

Conner clapped her hands. "Ooh my favorite." Terry snapped at the blonde and Conner fought to keep a straight face.

Blue shook her head, but managed to keep from smiling. "Terry, I'd just assume marry her on a plank in a damn loin cloth."

Conner's ears turned red. "That is so sweet." She gave the taller woman a kiss on the cheek. "And that loin cloth idea, doesn't' sound half bad." Blue and green eyes met in mirth as they seemed to read each others thoughts, causing both women to yell out, "Theme!"

Terry didn't know whether to laugh or cry. "Hell no! Hell no! There will be no theme!" The strength of her words seem to shake the wood beams in the next building and caused both woman to be on their best behavior. Terry huffed and sat down in a chair. "Now look here Abbot and Costello, there will be no theme here. No feather boas hanging from chandeliers, no female impersonators, no animal acts, nada, zippo. I still can't decide if you should both wear white."

Simultaneous looks of disbelief came over both Blue and Conner. The singer just pouted and Conner pretended that she was having chest pains. "Well I never!" Conner was trying hard to sound hurt, but her words came out with just a hint of a laugh.

Terry rolled her eyes. "You never what! Let's not play that game missy."

"I take offense at your thought that I have no virginal qualities." Both Terry and Blue laughed. Conner glared at both women.

"Conner, honey, you haven't been virginal since that senior week you spent in Ita-

Conner waved her hands frantically and gestured for Terry to stop talking before she could quite finish the sentence. Apparently, the presence of the tall woman hovering over her and breathing through her nostrils meant that more than enough had been said. Terry held in her laugh but not her smile as she watched the taller woman stalk up behind Conner and proceed to breathe down her neck. Conner turned to the side a bit, but kept her head down, knowing that if she saw that eyebrow raised high to the sky and those full lips pursed in question, that she'd crack.

"So what's this senior week business?"

Blue's purring alto rumbled through Conner, making the woman melt at the knees and go on alert all at the same time. "Welluh- you see, um, what had happened was, uh, it was you know, just seniors and um, well-

Blue raised a tapered finger to Conner's lips stopping the woman from talking. "Just stop, just stop." Guilty green eyes locked with amused blue.

"Kind of hanging myself aren't I?"

The singer nodded and then tapped Conner on the nose as she held the smaller woman's gaze. Blue licked her lips and grinned in a way that told Conner that telling the story might not be so bad. Blue intensified her gaze on Conner as she spoke to Terry who was off to the side, watching the encounter. "Terry, we'll wear whatever color you want, I like orchids and tulips, she likes roses and lilies. You want some music ask Sam to give you the key to the truck and go knock yourself out." The singer ran her finger along Conner's jaw line and moistened her lips. "I don't care what you eat cause I'm on a special diet. Anything else you want to know, will have to wait, because me and a certain young lady need to go have a long discussion about first-times and youthful excursions to·.Italy right."

Even if Terry wanted to respond, she quickly found herself standing alone in the middle of the dining room floor smiling to herself as she watched her two friends rush off to "talk". She slapped her thigh and laughed as she walked to the bar. "Maybe I should just tell everybody to bring SupersoakersÔ , so we can hose you both down." She laughed at her words and went work on the plans.


Thirty days can be so fleeting when you're enjoying the time or it can pass you by when you wish you were. Other times, thirty days can swallow you whole in its eternity. Sometimes thirty days can press upon you like 15 tons and the only thing one can think off of is never going back and never ever again sitting in the dark for thirty days. Even as the thin frame of Victor Montrose stepped out of the correctional facility, he knew that so called 'Charm City' had fallen out of like with him. Charm city had turned its back on Montrose and like any good man of infamy, if he was going to be cast out he was not going to go alone or go quietly for that matter. Only because of the money he had received, it was not surprising to Montrose that C.C. awaited him as he got into the tinted Jeep. C.C. was tempted to ask the man if he had lost a little weight, but he did have at least one brain cell left running on instinct, that told him to just nod and be quiet.

Montrose lit a clove and didn't bother to lower the window. "Two days." His voice was soft, but the concise words seemed to fill the back seat in volume. "What you do with the singer, you do on your own time, I would like it if you kept her busy though."

"And Ewan?"

"Kill him. If you're still alive in 48 hours burn it all and I'll permanently make it worth your while."

C.C.'s marred face lifted in what could be assumed as happiness. "Done."

* * *

CH 15: 'One for my baby·and one more for the road.'

It became quite clear to after the first day that the singer and Conner were never actually going to be apart from each other. Even when he saw Blue sitting outside of a boutique pretending to gag into her hat as she waited for Conner, the little blonde was always shadow by Vincent or one of the twins. All he was supposed to do, was deliver the girl to Montrose, but it was a little hard to deliver what you couldn't package.

It was moving on well into the morning on the second day, when C.C. just decided to be the juggernaut that he was and stop trying to think his way through this one. He didn't say she had to come to him in one piece, and knowing he had to go through Blue to get to her, he figured she'd be a little bruised anyway. C.C. didn't quite understand his luck at being able to follow them on the long strip of route 70, he just figured they were taking a spontaneous road trip at 4:30 in the morning. They were driving with the top up on the Corvette, so he didn't have to budge them to hard to get the desired effect. Conner noticed the large tank of a Sports Utility Vehicle bearing down on her car before she noticed the bend in the road. She let out a growl as she tried to down shift in order to let him speed past her. The sports car almost pulled off the desired effect, but the front bumper of the Suburban caught the right side of her hood and forced the car to the right, while she was trying to go left. She could feel the singer brace against the seat, as Conner yanked up the parking break and did her best to spin out of the sideswipe.

The car halted to a smoky stop as the car broke through one of the jersey walls and teetered over a small ditch. Even if the car slipped, it wasn't like they were about to fall over a cliff. Before Conner could even pat herself on the back for insisting that driving like a maniac sometimes came in handy, she felt strong arms enfold around her as Blue pulled her into her body. Whatever question was coming to Conner's mind, it left as she felt more than heard the crush of metal against metal, as the Suburban slammed into the car. Conner was sure she drew blood as her blunt nails dug into the singer's body and the car began the first off four rolls, down the incline.

The small car landed on the driver side as it came to a stop and the bottom of the incline. Blue still held Conner to her as she felt the car stop rolling, which was not the same for her head. She swiped at the blood running from her head and looked down at the bundle in her arms. "You awake, lil' bit?" Conner grunted. Blue smiled. "All right, I got to let you go, so I can get out of the car." Another groan. "We're going to go slow, so you don't fall through the window?" She could hear Conner moan out the word 'crap.' The singer would have laughed if she wasn't worried about the driver of the truck coming to finish. "I know, keep your eyes closed if you don't want to see this."

Conner eased back to the window. "Ugh, I feel like my eyeballs fell out, so don't worry."

Blue did laugh as she put her foot through what remained of the windshield and crawled out. "Hey, I want you to try to stand up and I'll pull you out through the door." With concern she looked down at the grimacing woman. "Conner you sure you okay." She waited for the blonde to answer, even though for the most part she looked okay, even with the bloody nose. "Baby? You with me?"

Green eyes opened slowly and Conner smirked. "I think I broke my ankle."

Blue sighed with relief. "That's because you drive like it's welded to the gas pedal."

Conner chuckled as she began to move. "Wait till I get out of this car smart ass."

Blue looked over her shoulder and tried to talk calmly when she couldn't see or hear the truck. "The sooner you get out the longer you have to kick my ass."

Conner could see Blue's hands hanging in through the passenger side window as she got into a squat and proceeded to stand. Green and blue eyes went wide together as Conner saw what the tall woman sensed. A strong hand forced Conner back into the car as the shot rang out. Conner did the only thing she could do as she saw the tall woman fall to the ground; she screamed. Her heart was pumping and her ears were ringing, but maybe if she got out this wouldn't have to end the way that it appeared to be going. Conner was frantically searching for a crow bar or The Club, all while keeping her eye on the still form of her lover. It was to dark to really see, but Conner could still make out the dark pool of blood on in the singer's hair. She turned her head instinctively as the rest of the windshield was kicked in. She didn't bother to struggle against the rough hand that grabbed her by the leg and pulled her out of the car. She winced in pain, but at least she knew her ankle wasn't broken.

Conner kicked at C.C. with her free leg, but a punch to her kneecap stifled another attack. C.C. hoisted the blonde to her feet and put her in a choke hold as he drew the woman into his body. "Let me go you fucker! Let me just see her you shit!"

"You want to see her." Holding onto Conner, he walked two steps to the still form of blue and kicked her in the side. No movement. She almost seemed to be stiff. C.C. grinned and for the first time in the past few moments Conner actually began to think the worse. "She's all ready going into rigor. Fucking bitch!" He spit on the back of the tall woman and began to walk away with his charge.

Conner knew she was in no shape to struggle, but she wasn't going to leave here without knowing, so instead of kicking and punching, she did the next best thing: she cried. Yes it was un-butch, it reeked of sissy tactics, and probably went against the grain of her feminist studies professor, but it was working. She sobbed and she wailed until she started hiccuping. C.C. groaned and stopped. "I will shoot you on the spot if you don't fucking shut up!"

Conner took a small breath and sniffled. "Just let me see her. If öif she's dead, I'll shoot me for you." Conner imagined herself to look like one of those pie-eyed porcelain figurines they sold on Home Shopping Network.

C.C. hawk-spit off to the side and shoved the blonde away from him. "You got five fucking seconds."

Conner made a show of sniffing up the snot about to come out of her nose, instead of asking the thick-necked beast if he could even count that high. C.C. groaned and shooed her away. Conner fell over Blue's body like she was acting out the role of Maria in a high school production of West Side Story. She appeared to be hugging Blue as she let her hand roam to the woman's pants pocket. She called out God's name a few times and was almost tempted to let out one of those gut-wrenching 'Superman' yells when she felt the rise of Blue's chest. She fell over the woman again and heard C.C. groan.

"You're going to make me laugh, in a second." Her voice was softy and groggy like it sounded in the morning.

Conner let out a squeal of happiness that sounded like a sob to C.C. "Oh fucking come on, the bitch is dead, ding dong, let's fucking go. I promise we'll put you both in the bottom of the same ocean."

Conner pressed her weight onto Blue in order to conceal the woman's flinch. "Be cool, I got the beeper, you got the phone, give me ten minutes." She whispered. She lifted up as she heard C.C. approach, and then pressed a soft kiss onto a warm cheek. Conner didn't know which one of them was fighting harder not laugh as she did her best to make C.C. carry her off kicking and screaming.

When Blue was sure she was only listening to the wind in the trees, she moved. She sat up slowly and put her hand to the bloody bruise on her left temple. She let out a relieved breath and a shaky chuckle. If C.C. was a better shot, she'd be missing part of her skull. She knew she was too far away from Baltimore to call Vincent, but she hoped like hell that the girls were closer to Ocean City by now. She pressed two on the speed dial and rolled on her back as she waited.

She was taking deep breaths when Tan answered. "City Morgue, Guido speaking."

"That's funny that's where I was heading."

"You sound like you're having an asthma attack. Who's in the morgue?"

"Me actually."

"Son of a bitch!"

Blue held the phone away from her ear as Tan bellowed to her sister in the background. "I'm on 50 East, just past Denton, by the broken jersey wall."

"Where's the shrimp?"

"Hopefully heading back into the city. She's got the pager."

"She's alive good."

"If she wasn't you'd think I'd be calm, but let's hurry this up anyway." Blue barely waited for the dial tone as she dialed Vincent.

"Blue! Jesus, I've been trying to reach you."

The tall woman got up to her feet and began a gingerly walk up the incline. "What's up?"

"Gordy got hit."

"Fuck! What happened?"

"Some chump was trying to start a small kitchen fire in Conner's kitchen."

"Damn it, that bastard's trying to clean."

"No shit."

"Did Gordy make it."

"Took one in the neck, nothing doin'."

"Ah, shitshitshit. Too late to call Brusio?"

"I'm ahead of you. Be here in less than an hour."

"Jesus, did he even wait for us to get out of the city?"

"I think he was expecting you to be here."

"All right," she took a deep breath as she reached the top and sat down on the jersey wall, ", you find that no good rat that is supposed to be her brother. Get Terry to my mom's and stay put."

"I'm not leaving you!"

"Vincent, if I don't find Conner," Blue's voice dropped to a malicious timbre, " you can forget about the wrath of the gods."

"Do what you have to do·.and when you both get back we can all just stay put."

Blue grinned into the phone and then hung up.

When Tan and Al showed up 15 minutes later the singer had changed into her work boots and exchanged her bloody t-shirt for a v-neck sweater and her hat. As she stood up, she looked down at her jeans and realized she looked like a walking Gap ad. She ignored the comical looks on her friends' faces and got into the car. "Don't even say it."

Al just shook her head and pulled on to the highway. Tan sat back in her seat and picked up the leather jacket on the seat. "It could be a good thing, I would let a clean cut girl like you into my house." Blue growled. "Here's a jacket though." Blue snatched the coat without looking at Tan.

"You got that shot gun?"

"You are not walking into somebody's house with a shot gun, think of the mess."

"How thoughtless of me."

Tan and Al both smirked. "I will carry the shotgun, you get the hand cannon."

"44's are so messy though."

"Perhaps, but they'll blow the average man out of a plate glass window."

Blue nodded. "True. Gimmie the semi and the sig."

Tan clapped her hands together. "You want the machete too Rambo." Blue turned in the seat and smiled ferally at Tan, causing the woman to hold up her hands in surrender. She spoke almost to herself, but loud enough so that they all heard her words. "Who needs machetes when you've got your hands." Blue winked and turned back around in the seat as she loaded the guns in her lap.

"Hey is the car ready?"

Al turned to Blue. "What for?"

"I was thinking of sending you guys after Monty and me going to find C.C. or the other way around, personal you can have that rat bastard."

"I was going to protest if you didn't."

Al laughed at her sister. "It's pretty much ready. It's not bright and shiny though and its still missing the hood ornament."

"Well so much for the surprise."

"Please don't get any bullet holes in that car. I've been busting my ass on it for weeks. And no blood on the seats or nothing."

"Maybe I should just go rent a car you think? Do we have time? "

"Don't get all testy. It's a nice car and I wouldn't want your little puddin pop to think we'd take the time to restore a damn Porsche, just to put some bullet holes in it."

Blue sighed and squeezed the bridge of her nose. "I apologize for not appreciating your handiwork, but if I promise to just use it as a mode of transport and not a battering ram will you let me keep it."

Tan folded her arms across her chest and sucked her teeth. She spoke in a nasal voice. "Fine fine, just fine."

Blue rolled her eyes as Al grinned. "Does everybody watch that damn show? I mean it's just little fucking one-dimensional drawings cussing at each other. What the fuck is that?!"

As serious as the woman was, neither Tan nor Al could hold in their laughter as the dark woman voiced her opinion about the cartoon in question. When she blurted out the question, "who writes a song called 'Uncle-fucker'" she too realized how silly she sounded, but she dared not break into a smile. Instead she just groaned and focused on the speeding road. "Can this damn thing go any faster?"

Al broke into a sly grin. "Thought you'd never ask little lady." Blue heard Tan strap herself in, Al pushed the overdrive button on the manual gear shift and opened up the Acura like she was testing it on the Autobahn.

* * *


CH 16: Queen of Pain


The beeper served the purposed of being a tracer, which made finding Conner very simple. The two cars raced each other through Howard County heading for Montrose's house. It didn't much matter who saw it first, but Blue slammed on the brakes as she did a 180 in the middle of the road and took off after the dented Suburban. The phone rang as she shifted gears and dodged traffic.

"Was that C.C.?"

"Yup, forget the house, it's a damn trap."

"No shit." The line crackled with white noise and the sound of screeching tires came over the line. "Little problem."

"Call Vincent, can you handle it.?"

"It's just a football team with coaches." The line went quiet as gun fire rang out. "Go get your girl·.and son of bitch!·uh, no bullet holes."

"Same to you."

"See yah."


The singer dialed Vincent but the line was busy, so she took that to mean he was on his job. She couldn't help but smile to herself as she broke into the beginnings of morning city traffic. Conner was going to love this car. By the time she realized where C.C. was headed, she had just enough time to take the back way. She avoided Charles street and road against the sparse morning traffic on Maryland. She stopped the car in the alley and hopped out as she found herself in the most surreal game of "Let's make a deal". Three doors, three choices, and the wrong one meant wasting time. Thank God empty buildings echo, so Blue heard Conner yell out from inside the building next to the restaurant.

Clouded by her enthusiasm, Blue forgot about C.C. as she blew through the back door of the building. At least she had enough sense to dive, which allowed her to avoid the advance of a rather shady man with a 2x4 in his hands. Blue hit the floor and rolled, but found her path obstructed by wood beams. She spun around her back so that she faced her attacker. The smile left his face as he looked down into the dark barrel of forty-five automatic. She pumped two bullets into the man, effectively lifting him off the ground and depositing him to the ground with a thud five feet away. Blue hopped to her feet, but couldn't avoid the punch to her kidney from behind. She stopped the arm heading for her throat, stepped back, and rotated her hips, sending the man on her back over her shoulder. She kicked him in the head, more mad because it wasn't C.C. than slowing the man down.

Blue began to head towards what was becoming the stairs and found herself diving for the rubble again as gun shots headed in her direction. She caught a glimpse of the gunmen and couldn't help but grin when she realized it was Montrose. He was firing with one hand and dragging the still struggling Conner by the collar. Blue attempted to take the steps again, but another hail of bullets greeted her. She knew it was no longer Montrose and the arm hanging over the railing was too skinny to belong to C.C. The singer fired back and then holstered her gun as she found another way up, seemly the piping on the back wall.

"Monty, she better be in one piece when I find your ass, or I'm going to make Jeffrey Dahmer seem normal!"

The man who had been firing at her was walking towards the back wall towards her voice. She watched his steps through cracks in the floor board and shook her head, as he walked straight to her. She pulled out the gun as she leaned away from the pipe, holding on with one arm and pointed her gun under the floorboard and fired. She heard his gun rattle to the floor as he howled in anguish. At that she came up the piping and quieted him without even a second glance. She looked upwards as she could hear Conner shuffling behind Montrose. The building only had 6 levels and the top was no where near done, but that was probably the point. Blue started to go for the stairs only to come face with two foreign looking men.

She gave a lopsided grin to the men. "So for every level I pass do I get to rip out one of your major organs!" She shook her head and regarded her attackers. "Quick draw or you want to wrestle for a while." She ran her tongue across her teeth, laughed, and charged the two men. A foot before she pushed off on her right foot and executed a forward flip, sending her behind the two men. The both turned at the same time, but she held two loaded guns in her hands. She wasn't one to waste bullets so two well placed shots were all it took. She started to holster her gun when she realized that there had been another person in the room. She didn't even have a chance to get the 'fuck' out as the board to her back sent her to her knees. She managed to avoid the blow to her head, but it was going to leave a nice bruise on her forearm all the same. Suddenly one pair of boots became two as she tried to curl into a ball and absorb the kicks to her body. She took a chance and fired one of her guns, which made her attackers stop long enough for her to move. She raised both guns and fired into the dust pile making them both scatter.

She spit out blood as she stood, and holster her sig and reloaded the automatic. She wiped the blood at her eye, and looked up just as she was tackled. She twisted her body as they fell backwards and she knew it was going to hurt, even before she felt the floor give under the weight of the man. Even if she hadn't fired her gun into his chest, the nail embedded plank that he landed on would have done the trick. Her own nose just missed the edge of a nail as their bodies came to an abrupt stop. She slowly rolled off of the man and immediately began searching for her gun, before he body registered how far she fell and decided to shut down. Blue was on her hands and knees, when she head a gun cock. She blew out a breath and was all prepared to yell out Conner's name with her dying breath. She braced herself as the gun fired. A long three seconds later, three seconds that shouldn't have been, she stopped holding her breath and turned around.


The gun was still raised high went Blue made it to her feet. Icy blue eyes focused on listless green as Blue and Ewan stared at one another. She made no move until he lowered the still smoking weapon to his side. Nothing moved between them, not even the dust, that seemed to settle in their silence. Without moving Blue let her eyes track to the man, who lay on the ground, with an extra hole in his head. She turned her eyes back to Ewan and gave a slight nod of her head, as she squatted down and picked up her gun, which she holstered. "Thank you."

He returned he nod in kind. "Thank you."

Blue couldn't help but arch her brow at his words. "For what?"

"For doing for her what I couldn't."

A wisp of a smile came to the dark woman's face. "She doesn't hate you."

Ewan shrugged and started to say something, but both craned their necks towards the ceiling as they heard footsteps. Ewan curtailed whatever speech he was about to give and looked towards the singer with confidence. "Me and you?"

Blue grinned and nodded as she understood his thoughts. "We're done." She checked the clip in her gun and walked to the steps. Ewan called to her as she made it to the first step.

Green eyes grew hard with the conviction of his words even before he spoke. "You hurt her and I'll come find you."

Blue smiled fully as she regarded the man who wasn't so much different from her own older brother when he was alive. She winked at what remained of green eyed demon. "I'm going to hold you to that McGreely." Words that would have normally sounded like a threat were simply an invitation in this case, and with the grin that crossed his features she knew he understood. Ewan nodded and watched her disappear up the broken stairs and then he left.


When Blue bounded up to the third floor and about to go to the fourth, the labored walking that she heard before became a frenzied panic of rushing footsteps. Footsteps that were chased by gunshots and then the sudden explosion of all 116 pounds of Conner into Blue's body. It was only on instinct that Blue didn't attempt to toss the small body off of her as she was forced back down the steps. Blue eyes teared up as removed the handkerchief from Conner's mouth and started to undo the rope around her wrist. For a split second, Blue almost wanted to put the handkerchief back in Conner's mouth as the small woman began to brandish the singer with rapid fire kisses.

"Con, mmph, Je..bab..I-I can't-" she stepped out of Conner's reach. "I can't get the rope off if you don't stop." Watery green eyes gleamed. "Where's C.C.?" Before Conner could answer, a volley of shots rained down on the two women. Blue shoved Conner away from her as she dove in the opposite direction. "Red! Get out and find the girls!" Blue eyes searched for Conner, but heavy film of sawdust that rose from the commotion was destroying her vision.

The singer made it to her feet only to go flying to her back, as C.C. slammed into her. She felt her gun dislodged from the holster and skitter across the floor out of her reach. Blue gnashed her teeth together as slammed her palms against the side of C.C.'s head. He flinched enough for her to get up, but he moved right with her and hit with a barrage of punches just to prove he could keep up. She managed to fend off C.C.'s attack long enough to see Conner scurrying up the steps in an effort to get away from Montrose. The blonde was actually making headway until a thin arm reached out and grabbed her by her ankle, effectively upgrading her mild sprain to definitely twisted. Conner let out a yell as she slid down two steps to find the thin man grabbing her around the waist and attempting to pick her up.

Enraged by Conner's yell of pain, Blue dropped her head and drove her shoulder into the cushy form of C.C. and drove them to the middle of the floor, as she attempted to run him over. She managed to get C.C. far enough away from her that she made it to the steps and grabbed Montrose by his belt and yanked him back. Conner broke free and headed back up the steps as Montrose fell backwards with Blue at his back. Admittedly, it wasn't the best situation for her to be in, but at least Conner was getting away.

Montrose used his lanky body to his advantage as he drove a sharp elbow back and connected with Blue's head. They rolled away from one another and Blue was greeted with a boot to her face. She groaned as she felt a tooth go loose, and then she was pulled up to her feet. "I want her dead C.C." Even though her ears were ringing, she clearly heard Montrose and then heard him pound up the stairs. C.C. chuckled and then turned the dazed woman around by the collar and slammed her back against the wall. He drove his fist into her gut and stood back to watch her double over in pain. Blue moaned extra loud in pain, but in reality she was just about to get started. As predictable as always C.C. drew back his leg in the purpose of kicking her. She caught him at the ankle an inch away from her face and twisted as she stood up. C.C. howled in pain, but managed to stay on his feet

"I really like that tooth piggy." She growled. Pale blue eyes bored into C.C. who was either in too much pain or just too stupid to realize that his number might just be up. Blue still held onto his right ankle as she kicked out her leg and connected with C.C.'s left kneecap. C.C. dropped to the ground like a puppet without its strings. "Let's go piggy." Blue spit out a wad of blood which probably had her tooth in it, and grabbed the man by his hair. She wanted this to be a much longer and torturous endeavor, but she had more pressing matters to attend to, so whatever this was to be it would be quick. She lifted the large man to his feet and worked him over like a worn punching bag. When her one of her punches missed his head and hit the brick wall, the tall woman knew she had done enough damage. He was still breathing, but he probably wasn't going to be conscious for too long as he slid down the wall into a bloodied heap. Blue took a second to catch her breath as she rested her hands on her knees and shook her head at the man, who was actually still trying to move. She stood and sighed. "Fucking stay down piggy."

She stumbled her way up the stairs and found Conner engaged in her own scuffle with Montrose. The tall woman hesitated for a moment as she decided what would best in the situation. Neither seemed to be aware of her presence yet, which meant the gun they were both vying for could be easily pointed in her direction and fired. On the other hand, tackling them both would probably send them all through layer of wood that the workman used as a blue-print. Blue waited until the gun seemed to pointed out of harms way and shouted to the blonde. "Midget!" was the first thing that sprang to her lips, but it did the job.

Both Montrose and Conner turned towards the singer, but Conner took advantage of the situation and drove her knee into Montrose's groin. He reflexively stepped back which left him wide open to Blue's running attack. It had been an attempt to just scoop him up and deposit him to the far wall, but Montrose didn't look like he ever fought fair, so he wasn't going to start now. While Blue controlled most of the thin man's body, he still kept a firm grip on Conner' wrist, so all three went down. They all heard the wood crack, but it was just a question of where and how long it would take to give. It didn't take that long. They only fell one floor, but landing in piles of wood was just as bad as falling all the way down to the bottom. Blue called to Conner, when she realized it wasn't her head that was wedge between her bicep and her ribs.

A shaky voice answered back. "Still here, but um..I'm fading fast."

Blue tossed Montrose towards the wall and crawled on her hands in knees through the brown haze of saw dust, until she found Conner. It was really impossible to miss the blonde dangling from a broken beam of wood over a chasm that lead straight to the bottom with nothing to stop her but concrete. "Now if you set the wood on fire, I'll really be a damsel in distress." Blue began to chuckle but it came out as a groan as she heard movement behind her. Green eyes met blue as they said silent I love yous. Conner grinned. "Don't worry I'm not moving."

Blue really laughed this time as she rolled to her side and grabbed the gun she had lost before. She rose to her knees as she aimed it on, what she thought was Montrose's attacking form. Instead, it was the bruised and battered form of Montrose being supported by an even uglier version of C.C. Blue gave a quick glance to Conner and reached her hand out to the woman as she held the gun on the men with her other hand. Blue bared her teeth as she regarded the two men. "You're not walking out of here. No way no how."

C.C. spit as he glared at the woman. "You going to shoot us both and save her too?"

A black eyebrow raised. "Did you grow a brain in the last ten minutes?"

"Fuck you! The board's breaking and you don't have enough time."

Blue growled as she looked back to the breaking board. "Can you take my hand?" Conner made the attempt, but had to regrip even closer to the break when her hand slipped. Blue scooted closer to Conner and grabbed her writs. She knew she couldn't pull her arm with one arm, and the way she was leaning over, she would barely be able to shoot straight. She held onto Conner and turned back C.C. and the barely conscious Montrose. She pulled back the hammer and aimed as best she could. At the least she'd hit one of them and maybe that one would bleed to death. "Pick a number piggy."

C.C. stood upright as well as could, while supporting the slumping Montrose. "Do it you shit!" Blue gripped Conner harder around the wrist and wondered if the recoil would send them both over. Her finger hovered over the trigger as the room grew quiet and whatever rage she wanted to strike out with, left her as Conner spoke.

"Jasmine, let it go. Just let it go."

Blue creased her face in the effort not to cry. "They'll come back, they always do."

"Jazz. Jazz, look at me. Please." With obvious struggle Blue turned to face Conner and she knew what the blonde was going to say even before the words crossed her lips and she was all ready to agree. "You promised."

At that, Blue tossed the gun and leaned both arms over the board for Conner to grip. With an easy swing, Blue pulled the blonde into her embrace. Blue moved towards the wall as she sat on her butt with the trembling woman in her lap, arms wrapped tightly around her neck, face buried in her shoulder. Blue squeezed Conner for all her worth and began to rub the smaller woman's back as she called to the retreating figures of C.C. and Montrose. "I don't ever want to see your faces again, you hear. Today, I had mercy, and know that if I ever lose her, you will beg me for the pain of this day. This is over and done." She saw C.C. turn his head back to her before he descended the stairs and a silent agreement passed between them.

When Blue could no longer hear their footsteps she fell back against the wall and let herself release. It was more than a whimper, but it wasn't quite a wail of anguish as she nuzzled her face in Conner's hair and just breathed. They sat in each others embrace, rocking back and forth, for long enough to see dawn began to break across the sky and filter through the building. Conner began to settle as she emerged from the cocoon of Blue's arms and touched her lips to Blue's. Conner could feel the salt of her lover's warm tears and she smiled as she leaned back.

"Hey." She whispered.

"Hey you too." Conner used the sleeve of her shirt to wipe away the blood from Blue's forehead, her nose, and around her mouth. "How's your nose?"

Conner winced in reflex as the pain registered with the thought. "Just a little out of whack."

Blue used the frayed ends of her sweater to clean Conner's face. She stared openly at Conner as she wracked her mind for the right thing to say. Conner brushed dark hair away from Blue's forehead. "What is it?" Blue just shook her head and then breathed deeply as her breath hitched. Conner grinned. "You going to cry?"

"Nope." Full lips formed a small pout as the dark woman fought the want to cry.

Conner chuckled and touched her forehead to Blue's. "Thank you."

"For what?"

"For loving me enough to let them go."

Blue smiled and took hold of Conner's hands. "I would have walked them to the car if you wanted me to." Conner laughed until it became a sob. Blue sat up straighter and wrapped Conner's legs around her waist. She lifted her chin as she looked into green eyes filled with tears. "It's over I promise. We'll go home and get on a plane and buy an island and just disappear if you want. Anything, anything." Blue repeated the word softly as she feathered Conner with light kisses on her face.

"I just don't want to lose you."

"Then, I'll stay home and knit."

Conner sniffled and laughed out loud. "Would not?"

"Would too?" Blue laughed with her and then caressed Conner's cheeks as she held her face in her hands. "Listen to me." Green eyes focused on blue. "I don't want to be anywhere but where you are. I don't want to do anything that isn't for you. If you want me to bake cookies or play golf, then let's go join a country club." The blonde shook with quiet giggles. "Okay, I won't bake, but I do want to be with you and I just want to love you and make you happy and make love and give you the world and some cars and puppies and babies and-

A blonde eyebrow raised. "Babies?"

"Did I say babies?"

"Loud and clear."

Blue shook her head. "I said babies? I-I uh, didn't mean babies."

Conner grinned. "You said it, you said-

Blue winced and shook her head. "Whatever, I said, that's not the point-

"But you said-

"Shh!" Blue made a zipping gesture across her lips, which Conner mimicked. "I'm making a speech here." Conner stopped trying to grin without much success and focused on the blushing woman. "Point is, I love you. Point is, I've probably always loved you even when I wasn't sure I wanted to give you the time of day. We probably shouldn't be together you know that? We should hate each other and we should have never met. But we did, and I thank God or whoever every day. I was forgetting what it meant to be alive and what it meant to give freely without want of reward. I forgot what it was like to look into somebody's eyes and know that they love you for who you are, who you used to be, who you think you want to be, and even the person you will become." She took a breath and nibbled at her lip as she searched for her next words. "I don't think I know enough song lyrics to explain how much you mean to me and how much I love you, but if it takes me the next forty years to sing them all to you then I'll do it." Both women smiled. "To steal from Mr. Porter, Conner, "you're under my skin·so deep you're apart of me.' I say it out loud and it's still not enough, but if it takes me from this life to the next and the next to show you what you mean to me and how much better I am with you, then I'll follow where you lead."

Conner sniffled as the words coursed through her body like heat. She leaned in and kissed her with all the force she could gather up, regardless of how much her busted lips hurt or how much her body ached from sitting in one position so long. She pulled away breathlessly. "You're only going to give me forty years?"

Blue bust into laughter that made her sides hurt and tears flow from her eyes. Conner laughed with her, until their heads ached from the laughter. "I figured you'll wear me out in 30, but I'll just be a vegetable for the last ten for your sake."

"I wouldn't want any other vegetable."

"Oh puddins', so sappy." They both laughed and hugged each tightly. "Now can we leave, cause I've large splinters in my ass that can probably only be removed surgically."


They both stood with caution and made their way to the steps. Conner stopped as she slapped herself in the forehead. "Where the hell is everybody else?"

Blue mirrored Conner's gesture. "Oh shit! If they're not in the hospital, they may need lawyers."

"Do I want to know?"

Blue laughed as the two women briskly walked down the stairs. "Reckless driving for starters. Reckless endangerment. Firing a weapon in open air. Use of an illegal weapon. Speeding, destruction of property, assault, negligence, uh-

"I get the point. Anything else."

Blue grabbed Conner's hand as they made there way out of the back door. The singer smiled from ear to ear. "I got you a present."

* * *





Ending/Epilogue: "And let's give our viewers a big dating game kiss."

Three weeks, four days, 6 hours, 32 minutes, and six seconds

"Where are you guys and why are you calling?" The normally smooth alto of the singer, was marred by the hint of nervousness.

Carmen laughed into the receiver. "Don't worry, we're in the car."

The singer groaned and then said teasingly, "I thought I told Marcus not to let you ladies use the phone. No running up the bill."

"Keep being smart and you'll be running from me Legs."

Blue smiled at Cookie's friendly threat. "I got it. How much longer."

"Child, be patient and let your mama and me enjoy this ride. These seats are softer than my bed."

Laughter filled the air. "You want to sleep in a Limo now, Cookie."

"I've done it before."

"Once a slummer always a slummer, eh?"

Cookie chuckled. "Takes one to know one."

"Oh that hurt Cookie, that hurt. Let me talk to ma."

"You'll never beat her you know that right?"

"Yeah, yeah. Lookie, when you get here, just ignore Terry she's on some type of hyper pill or something."

Carmen laughed. "And I guess you're just running on batteries."

"You can see me shaking through the phone?"

"Well I can't see it, but something sure is vibrating louder than a weed whacker.

Blue actually looked down at her robe-clad form and then realized she was just being silly. "Whew, you had me going there for a second."

"If you want I can tell you embarrassing stories about your dad."

"I don't know, I'm on the verge of puking, and well I think laughing might tip me over the edge."

"Your father lost his lunch."

The singer groaned. "Let's not, I'm begging."

Carmen held in her chuckle. "Okay, okay, but it'll help."

"NO! no, that's okay. I believe you. In fact I'm feeling fine."

"We'll see you guys in a little while."

Blue hung up the phone and then slid out of the chair onto the floor where she commenced to rolling around and holding her stomach until she was stopped by a pair of stocking feet.

"What in the name of all that is good and holy are you doing?" Blue lay on her back and looked at the scowling Terry upside down. She smiled lazily.

"She's so nervous she's about to blow chunks." Tan limped into the bedroom without aid of her cane and sat in the chair where Blue once sat.

Blue sat up and rolled her eyes at her friend. "Shut up gimp."

"Just until the hole in my leg heals." She stuck out her tongue. "You about ready."

"Well when you and the rest of the walking wounded get dressed, we will be." Terry said with a snap as she moved through the room.

Tan grinned at Blue who was rolling her eyes as she got up off the floor. "She's just yelling at me because she knows I'm to crazed to kill her."

"Whatever, where's your girl?"

"Probably hiding from El Dictator."

"I heard that smart ass!"

"That woman has got ears like a dog."

Terry stuck her head out of the bathroom. "What did you say about my dog."

Tan batted her eyelids. "No one is talking about itty-bitty Percy-ville. Little rat."

Terry laughed. "That rat weighs 60 pounds Tan and he can kick your ass."

"The day a dog named Percival kicks my ass, I'm joining the witness protection program."

Blue stood up and held her hands to her ears. "If you two are going to act like six year olds could you please do it elsewhere, you're making my head hurt."

Terry laughed as she walked up to Blue and pinched her cheeks. "Is the big baby upset?" Blue growled. "Down girl. Are you almost ready?"

Blue shrugged. "I've got three hours."

Terry just rolled her eyes and her let her eye twitch. She wanted to yell, but she wasn't going to. The woman took a deep breath and smiled politely at the grinning singer. "I'm not getting my blood pressure up over you, so don't even try it." Blue just smiled wider. "Take all the time you want okay, but in three hours if you are not standing in front of the clergyman·" Terry paused and licked her lips. "I will rip your spine out through your ass." Terry lowered her voice until it was on the verge of being a purr. "You got me?" She pinched Blue's cheeks and then left the room.

Tan broke into laughter as Terry exited. "She's got your number girlie."

The singer shook her head and stood. "Who do you think taught her that."

"Whatever slim, but I bet you she'd do it."

Blue stared at the door Terry just left from and pushed her tongue out through her teeth as she thought quietly. She snapped out of her daze and turned to the smiling woman on the bed. "She could so kick my ass, couldn't she?"

The two friends were silent until Tan started to nod her head and giggle. Blue just shrugged and disappeared into the bathroom.


A much calmer Conner was on the floor in the living room, roughhousing with a coffee colored puppy. Terry stood in the doorway and stared at the blonde who was letting her dog have her way with her stockings.

"Is this your way of telling me you aren't wearing stockings?"

Green eyes whipped up to Terry and she smiled. "Actually, Percy here is doing me a favor." Conner laughed as the puppy bounded over her leg in search of the nylon. "They had a run, and Percy didn't really like them, so we're recycling."

Terry smiled and knelt down next Conner so she curtail Percy. "C'mere you lil' rat." Terry scooped up the scrambling dog and scratched behind his ears until the stocking was no longer as appealing as stealing kisses from his mistress. "Whew! We gotta get you some gum baby." Terry and Conner laughed. "So you about ready hot shot."

Conner leaned back on her arms. "I just have to get into my duds and I'll be cool." Conner made a wave like motion with her hand.

Terry saw the tremble in small hands and looked at her friend. "Cool, huh?"

Conner blushed and put her hand back down. "I bet you ten bucks she's not even ready. Better yet she's rolling around on the floor groaning."

"I bet you five your right." The women laughed. "You make me laugh you know."

"I know, but I promise it's just nervous jitters of happiness. I mean she was just nervously happy right?" Conner suddenly sounded unsure.

Terry rolled her eyes and put the dog down as she stood up. "Your insane midget. I refuse to even justify that with an answer."

"I was just asking." Conner smiled coyly and then raised her hands in a gesture to be helped up.

Terry shook her head and lifted the woman to her feet. "Whatever, you clear on everything?"

Conner ran her hands through her hair. "What's not to be clear on. Saunter down the aisle in my little crème colored outfit." She paused and gave Terry a cheesy grin. ", meet her at the alter, we stare at each and giggle like crazy, then priest guy says some slightly religious stuff, Carmen and Cookie sniffle, then we pour out our hearts and try not to screw up the words. We exchange rings, mutually agree to kiss each other with respect to the people in the room, so no tongue·I think. Then the music plays again and we leave all cherry and teary eyed and go party half the night away until we sneak out and leave you all to your own devices." Conner leaned on the vanity and smiled.

Terry rolled her eyes. "Okay smartass, be that way. I'm just making sure you're not going to pull a Wilhelm on me and go praying to the porcelain god."

Conner laughed robustly and then stopped abruptly. "All ready did."

Terry smiled. "I knew it, Tan owes me three bucks."

"Do you guys ever stop gambling?"

"I think I bet her that you'd ask me that." Conner flung a plastic wrapper at Terry. "Don't be sore, puddins'."

Conner shook her fist at Terry and then sat in her chair. "Help me get dressed butt-munch."

Terry clapped her hands and then drew up Conner's hair in a high ponytail. "I'm thinking bows."

Green eyes stared hard at Terry in the mirrors' reflection. "If a bow comes anywhere near my head, I'm shaving it all off."

Terry laughed, but released Conner's hair. "I'm just saying I like it. It's a softer you."

"Do I want to be soft?" Terry shrugged and then both women laughed. "I'm still cutting it."

"Just not bald."

Conner pouted. "Blue said she'd still love me if I was bald."

Terry leaned over her friend's shoulder so that their cheeks were almost touching. "Sweetie, she was just lying to make you smile."

Conner nudged her friend. "You sure know how to make a girl feel special."

"That's why I'm straight."

"Give 'Phia ten minutes and you'll be peeling off your undies."

Terry steadied the brush and cocked an eyebrow. "Yeah, I'd do her."

Green eyes went wide as Terry went back to her task with no intention of making another comment. "Terry! You skank-

Terry put the brush down and cupped her hand around her ear. "Is that the doorbell I hear. Why yes it is."

"Terry, you can't leave now!"

She patted Conner on the head. "Doorbell Conner, doorbell. Buh-bye."

Conner just rolled her eyes as she watched Terry prance from the room, with a stumbling Percy right behind her. She turned back to the mirror and pressed her palm against the glass, as she did her best to stare into herself. She seemed to be searching for the exact words of confidence to give herself. The exact words to prove that this was all real and that with any luck, the only mishap would be Percy taking a whiz on the carpet. A misty eyed Conner suddenly found herself smiling as her eyes fell on a picture of the singer, laid out on the couch in the throws of a peaceful sleep. Just the thought of the dark woman calmed Conner to the core and assured her better than any words she could have come up with. She couldn't help but laugh as once again, she was sure that Blue had read her mind from where ever she was in the house, and was doing her best to tell Conner everything was okay. Conner put the brush down and sat back in her chair as her ears, and probably most of the upstairs, filled with a warm alto:

The mere idea of you---this longing here for you

You'll never know, how the slowly the moments go

Until I am near to you

I see your face in every flower, your eyes in stars above

It's just the thought of you

The very thought of you---my love.


Terry and Sam were both facing the small gathering of friends and family as they sat in the pews of the small church and awaited the arrival of Blue and Conner. Sam pulled at his tie for the tenth time in the last ten minutes and glanced over at Terry who was grinning a little too hard just to be happy. Sam closed the small gap between them and spoke quietly. "May I ask what you're grinning at. You look like you swallowed a Cheshire cat."

Terry chuckled but tried not to laugh out loud. "Just made a little executive command decision.

Sam leaned a little closer to the whispering Terry. "Such as?"

Terry wiggled her eyebrow. "Oh nothing, I just changed the processional song that's all no biggy." Terry shrugged.

Sam stuck his tongue between his teeth as he caught the mischief in brown eyes. "To what, Phyllis Diller sings show tunes?"

Terry let out a snort of laughter and quickly composed herself as she saw Conner and Blue standing at the opposite ends of the walkway prepared to meet in the middle. " Go to your side Sam, there about to start."

Sam glanced at the two women, who wore matching suits, that Sam best described as flowy and couldn't help but smile at the picture they made. So different on the surface and even on the inside, but it had become impossible to imagine the one without the other. He grinned and then brought his glance back to the grinning Terry. "Tell me quick." Terry kept her eyes straight forward as the music started. "Terry?"

Terry gave Sam a hard nudge as the two women started walking, but not before she whispered the title to him.

To both Conner and Blue, Terry and Sam made quite a pair as they both smiled from ear to ear. Blue figured they were both so happy that they couldn't help but stand there with those goofy looks affixed to their faces. Conner surmised that the two decided to stop beating around the bush and just commit to each other. Sooner rather than later, both women would realize that their friends weren't smiling on account of the joyous occasion, but rather on the tune that neither could get out of their head. Of course Conner would be mad, for a whole of 30 seconds, but well into the evening, the small blonde would find herself lazing ontop of a piano, focused on the blue eyes that were focused on her---belting out without a hint of shame----"She's a Brickhouse··

···..and all was right with the world.


*Good grief this took me long enough (or did it?) Once again, thanks for taking the ride and I sincerely hope you got a few jollies out of it and all that. Much love to you all. -Jp

Return to Main Page