For complete disclaimers see part 1.
If you’d like to tell me what a wonderful writer I am or that I royally suck, feel free at: XenaNut@hotmail.com. If you have suggestions or corrections, please don’t bother as that’s my publisher’s editor’s job.
Grace sipped her coffee, patiently waiting for Remmy to get off her shift at the store. She was late, but that was okay- Remmy had told her she might be. The detective had considered having this meeting down at the police station, but decided it was best to be more comfortable, not so stodgy and sterile. The coffeehouse seemed the best place to go. Plus, they had the best muffins of anyone in town.
She was on her second, having skipped lunch, by time Remmy stepped through the door, some of the scattered patrons bidding her hello. “Do you know them?” Grace asked, amused, nodding toward the older couple with a smattering of bird-watching magazines spread out over their table.
Remmy shook her head as she pulled the chair out. “Not a clue.”
“I think you’ve become a legend, my friend.”
Remmy glared up at the dark woman, then both cracked a smile. “Somehow I don’t think so. I imagine they’ve seen me at the store.”
Grace shook her head, waving the young waitress over. “That’s a negative, captain. They don’t just embrace new folk here just cause you happen to sell them gas and lottery tickets.”
Remmy looked away, feeling embarrassed and shy. “Stop,” she said with a dramatic wave of her hand, making her friend laugh. They both looked up, seeing the young waitress, accompanied by an older man, whom Remmy recognized as the owner of the place.
“Remmy, you tell Michelle what you want, and it’s on the house.” His grin was big and solicitous.
“Oh, uh, that’s not necessary-“
“Sure it is! Our very own hometown hero!”
“What about me, Ron?” Grace asked, looking somewhat wounded.
“You want a refill, Grace?” he asked, completely missing the meaning of the question.
Grace glanced at Remmy- so not fair!- then handed her cup to the manager. Remmy gave her simple order to Michelle, and the girl came back with the mocha breve, and half of an apple pie. Remmy’s eyes lit up, grinning at Grace’s glare.
“Alright, I’m assuming you’ve had time to look at the pictures?” Grace asked, back to business.
Remmy didn’t say anything for a moment, then glanced up at the detective through her bangs. “The baby’s still alive, Grace,” she said softly. “Though I really don’t have any idea how much longer.”
Grace sighed, running a hand over the tension at the back of her neck. She figured the baby was long dead, just like his mother. “The killer did a good job of covering his tracks. I think he used gloves. Not a fingerprint anywhere.”
Remmy’s brows drew. Again she could see the bloody hands. Shaking her head, she sipped from her drink. “I don’t think so, Grace. Or at least he messed up somewhere. There is a fingerprint at that house, I know it-“
The ring glinted in the light, blood splattered on it. Large ring. Hefty ring. Look at the stone, look at the stone…
Remmy shook herself from the vision. “He wears a ring. I’ve seen it twice now. A big ring…” Remmy’s voice trailed off as she looked around at the patrons surrounding them. She was trying to find something, anything that reminded her of what she saw, the fingers of her right hand wiggling of their own accord as she felt the weight of the ring on her own finger. Finally she spotted a boy sitting at a table by himself, working on homework. “Like that!” She rose from her seat, headed over to him, Grace following.
“Jerry,” the detective said as the boy looked up at them with questioning eyes. “Can I see your ring for a sec?”
“Uh, sure, Grace.” He grunted as he tugged at his high school ring, the silver finally giving way. He handed it to her. Grace handed it over to Remmy, who studied it intently.
“A class ring, yeah,” she breathed, no longer seeing the details of Jerry’s ring, but those in her mind.
“What’s going on?” Jerry asked, watching Remmy.
“Working on a case,” the detective murmured, not wanting to break Remmy’s train of thought.
“It’s gold,” Remmy said, turning the ring around and around in her fingers, but every time she tried to turn the face of the ring to her mind’s eye, it became blurred. She shook her head, mildly frustrated, handing the ring back to Jerry. “I don’t know. But it’s like that, just gold.”
“You feel this ring is important, don’t you?” Grace said, as they made their way back to their table.
Remmy nodded. “It keeps coming back to me.” She grabbed the fork Michelle had dropped off with the pie, and began to dig in, moaning at the exquisite explosion of tastes. “Have you found the murder weapon, yet?”
Grace shook her head. “Nope. Our victim, Linda Hartman, was beaten to death, blunt force trauma, but we’re not sure with what. Nothing was missing- perfectly clean hammer in the garage. No wood lying around. Very neat, tidy residence, actually.” Grace watched Remmy eat. “How do you know the baby’s still alive?”
Remmy met her dark gaze. “Cause he’s crying in my head.”
Julie chuckled as Bonnie nearly ran into the wall as she shook herself completely dry after the bath and toweling she’d received. Her brother followed, sniffing where some loose water droplets had splattered the wall in the hallway.
“You guys are nuts,” she murmured lovingly, heading past them and down the stairs to get all three of them some dinner.
It was a beautiful night in April, most of her windows standing wide open, as they’d been for a good part of the day. She’d probably be closing them soon, however, as though beautiful, the night was stating to cool down. Once in awhile she caught the scent of rain on the incoming breeze. That, alone put a smile on her face. She loved rain, always had. Once upon a time rain had eased her body into a wonderful state, making her skin tingle as she craved to be touched. In short, rain made her horny as hell.
Somehow she doubted that would be the case anymore, as she had no desire to ever be touched like that again. Other than friendly affection, her body had become something that she held sacred, and couldn’t imagine allowing anyone to touch again. The temple her mother used to talk about, that is what Julie’s body had become to her. She had not even allowed her fingers to wander. Never again.
In all honesty, though, she had to wonder if denying herself sexual touch was actually quite the loss someone else might perceive it to be. She’d had plenty of sexual partners over the years, and she definitely felt desire and need, but more often than not, she was left wanting and unsatisfied. She could probably count the times on one hand that one of her boyfriends had ever brought her to climax. Typically she just took care of it herself after they’d rolled over and gone to sleep.
Julie pushed the thoughts from her mind- a subject that no longer mattered in her world. She filled the dogs’ bowl, then set about looking in cabinets and the fridge to see what she had to make herself.
“Seems like you and Julie have began a true friendship,” Grace observed, sipping her bottle of water, coffee’d out.
Remmy nodded, shoving the nearly empty pan of pie away. She hadn’t eaten all day, and the dessert really hit the spot. “She’s wonderful. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a close friend in such a short time before.” She shrugged. “I really enjoy the time I spend with her. Even if it is usually helping her out with something.”
Grace returned her grin. “You’ve become her handyman.”
“Something like that. I love it, though.”
Grace had watched them together, and it always brought a smile to her face- not just because of the happy ending of Julie’s ordeal, but because it was more than obvious the two have a real connection, a bond like she’d never seen between two people before. “Do you still feel her? Like you did before?” she asked softly.
Remmy nodded, sipping from her third breve. She knew she’d be up al night, and probably with a stomach ache from the strong brew. “I won’t allow myself visions, though. It’s not right. It would be like invading her personal space, you know?”
Pasta already beginning to boil, Julie looked back and forth between the jar of marinara and Alfredo sauces. She chewed on her lip in her indecision. Finally her hand reached out for the marinara. Alfredo was so rich, and she just wasn’t sure her stomach could handle it tonight.
Closing the cabinet door, she set the jar of Prego on the counter and reached for a rubber spatula from the holder on the counter when she heard a knock at the door. Dark blonde brows drawing, she turned the stove down and headed for the front door, Bonnie and Clyde beating her there as their tails wagged in anticipation of a new friend.
Julie looked through the window, seeing a dark-colored car parked in her driveway. She groaned when she saw Ray Lambert standing on her front porch, blinking rapidly from the suddenness of the porch light. Unlocking the locks, Julie pulled the door open, leaving the glass screen door between them.
“Hey,” he said, holding up a hand in greeting.
“What are you doing here, Ray?” she asked.
“I came to see you, see how you’re doing. My daughter told me about everything that happened.”
“That was months ago. Why are you here now?”
“Julie, can I come in, please? It’s starting to rain, and I’m not too keen about having a discussion with you through a glass door.”
Against her better judgment, Julie flipped the lock and turned away from the door, Ray pulling the screen door open and following her inside. “I think it’s going to be a pretty good storm tonight,” he said, glancing outside over his shoulder. The night sky was starting to light up as lightning raced across the sky.
Julie ignored him, stopping in the middle of the living room and turning to face him, arms hugging herself. Ray stepped to a few feet of her.
“So, how are you?” he asked, genuine concern in his voice.
“I’m fine. Doing well, actually.” Her heart was pounding, and she wasn’t sure why. She could feel sweat beginning to gather and tingle under her arms and between her breasts.
“Good. That’s really great t hear. I’m sorry I didn’t come by before, but I’ve been working on a new plant in Florida for the past six months so…”
“That’s good. Sounds exciting.” Julie tried to sound interested, but she could think of nothing but the fact that she wanted him to leave. She hadn’t forgotten about the problems she’d been having with Ray just before she’d been abducted. And that plain and simple fact that their relationship was very much over, and she had no desire to see him, not even on a friendly level.
“So, what happened to you? Some guy snatched you or what?” Ray asked, walking over to the couch and sitting down.
Julie swallowed her anger. “I don’t want to talk about it with you, Ray. You can read about it in back issues of the newspaper, I’m sure.”
“Why? Why can’t you just tell me? I’m really curious.”
“And I’m really talked out. Please leave.”
Remmy was headed toward the door of the coffeehouse. She had wanted to get home before the storm stared, but it seemed she and Grace had stayed talking too long.
“Crap,” she muttered, watching as the heavens opened up.
“I’ll give you a lift home, Remmy,” Grace said, tugging her jacket into place as they stepped out onto the sidewalk.
“Okay. I appreciate it.”
They walked toward the green Ford Explorer when suddenly she slowed, fear creeping up her spine and lodging itself in her throat. She could barely swallow over the lump.
“Remmy? You okay?” Grace noticed the look on the younger woman’s face, the skin pale, eyes wide. “A vision?”
Remmy shook her head. “No. Julie.”
“Ray, I really want you to go. I’m not comfortable with you being here.”
“Why not?” Ray had gotten to his feet, moving around the room in agitation. “Why did you never return any of my phone calls? Why the hell did you end our relationship without even so much as a ‘fuck you, Ray’?”
Julie did everything she could to try and keep her breathing even, her heart pounding. This was the Ray she was afraid of, the Ray he’d turned into halfway through their relationship. “I can’t take this. Please just go,” she whispered.
Ray walked over to her, following as she backed up from him. “See? You need me, Julie. You’re afraid of your own shadow without me here.” His gaze traveled over the sleek torso, taking in Julie’s heaving breasts before sliding down to her legs. He didn’t remember her looking so good. “He placed his hands on her arms, rubbing the soft skin he found there. He looked into her face, shocked to see terrified green eyes staring back up at him. “Why are you afraid of me? Baby, I love you, remember?
Julie wanted to scream, she was screaming in her head, but no sound would escape her clenched throat. She couldn’t take her eyes off his face, almost feeling faint from the lack of breath. All she could do was shake her head, tears beginning to escape, rolling lazily down her cheeks.
Ray stepped closer, about to wrap his arms around her. “Let me comfort you.” The next thing he knew he was grabbed by the shoulder and turned around. A fist made perfect contact with his right cheek, and he went down, the carpet burning his palms as he tried to stop the fall. Stunned, he looked up to see a tall woman with dark hair and blue eyes filled with fire looking down at him, her hands still balled up in fists. “Jesus Christ!” he yelled, anger filling him. He was about to get to his feet when another woman stopped him with a hand to his shoulder. He met the stern gaze of Grace Cowan. “What the hell are you doing here, Detective?” he asked, bringing a hand to his cheek, checking for blood.
“Just stay away from her for a minute, Ray,” Grace said, glancing back over at Remmy and Julie.
Remmy turned to Julie, who was looking at her, past her, through her. She looked terrified, as though she were about to bolt. She hugged herself, her already petit frame seeming to nearly disappear within itself.
“Hey,” Remmy said softly, stepping into Julie’s line of sight. “Julie? Honey? It’s me. It’s Remmy.”
Somewhere inside Remmy’s voice penetrated the fear, the words muffled as though spoken through cotton. Julie tore her gaze from the past, Sergio’s face fading into the darkest recesses of her mind, concerned blue eyes filling her gaze. Realization broke through, and Julie lost it.
Remmy caught the sobbing body in her arms, holding her as she glared over at Ray who now stood near the door, talking to Grace.
“I didn’t know she’d freak out like that,” Ray muttered, grudgingly realizing he’d really scared Julie. “But that bitch still didn’t need to hit me.” He met Remmy’s glare.
“Ray, just leave, okay? Remmy was just trying to protect Julie. There’s nothing here for you. Go home,” Grace gently coaxed. She reached for the front door, pulling it open. With one more glance at Julie, Ray left. Grace turned back to the women, almost feeling like she was intruding as Remmy held Julie, whispering words to her that were not for Grace’s ears.
Deciding Remmy was fine where she was, Grace made her leave, quietly shutting the door behind her.
The world ceased to exist for Remmy as she held Julie, their bodies flush as one hand held her close, the other gently combing thorough thick, blonde hair. She felt Julie’s tears stop, a soft sigh brushing against her neck as arms snaked around her waist.
Julie’s eyes slipped closed, the steady beat of Remmy’s heart beneath her ear calmed her like nothing else she’d ever known. She had all but forgotten the extreme stress from moments ago, allowing herself to get lost in the warmth that surrounded her, her mind clearing of any fear, any discomfort, of anything.
Remmy could feel her heart beginning to pound, and suddenly worried that Julie would be able to hear it. Reluctantly, she pulled away, uncomfortable as her body began to burn. She smiled down at questioning green eyes.
“Are you okay?” Remmy asked, trying to desperately to hide her body’s reaction, which stunned her.
Julie nodded, pulling away and running her hands over her face. Her skin felt hot. “I’ll be right back,” she murmured, heading into the kitchen and wetting a paper towel, placing it on her face and cooling herself off. She heard Remmy enter the kitchen, noting that she rested with her shoulder against the arched doorway. “I forgot I was making dinner before Ray showed up,” she said, a small smile on her lips when Remmy’s gaze settled on the pan on the stove. “Can’t say I’m real hungry anymore.”
“You should eat, Julie. You can’t let any of this rule you.”
Julie nodded, knowing Remmy was right. “Have you eaten? Will you join me?”
Remmy shook her head, patting her stomach. “God, no. I filled up on apple pie.”
Julie laughed, but turned the stove on. Back to Remmy, she asked, “Will you stay? Maybe have a Coke with me or something?”
“OF course.” Remmy didn’t have to be asked twice.
As Julie prepared her dinner, chatting about her day, and about a couple more outfits she’d bought Remmy’s thoughts turned inward, and toward what had just happened a few moments ago. She was no stranger to the passion of a woman, but never, ever had she thought of Julie in that way. But tonight, standing there holding her, she’d wanted nothing more than to lift Julie’s face and kiss her. She felt such a passion for Julie, but until a few moments ago, hadn’t recognized it as anything near sexual. She was protective of Julie, she liked Julie, and she felt such a connection to her. Such a closeness.
Remmy was startled by the soft voice, and the even soften fingers that gently ran through her hair. She looked up, finding Julie standing next to where she sat.
“Are you okay?” the blonde asked, luxuriating in the thick softness of Remmy’s dark hair, allowing her fingers to play. Remmy’s eyes closed, her head resting against Julie’s side.
“Yeah. I’m really tired,” Remmy said, which was partially true.
“Long day?” At Remmy’s nod, Julie leaned down, placing a soft kiss on the top of the dark head. “You wanna stay here tonight? I’ve got the bed back up in the second bedroom.”
Remmy grinned. “I know. I moved it in there for you.”
Julie chuckled. “Yes, you did, and I believe I thanked you with a big steak dinner.”
Remmy smiled, allowing her eyes to close as the fingers continued to comb through her hair. It felt wonderful. “I think you’re spaghetti is boiling over,” she murmured, nearly falling asleep.
“Oh, crap!” Julie hurried over to the stove, turning the heat down an blowing on the boiling froth. Deciding the noodles were tender enough, she strained the boiling water into the sink. Within moments Julie joined Remmy at the table and began to eat her dinner. As Julie ate, her thoughts returned to earlier events. Glancing up, she shyly met Remmy’s gaze. “How did you know?”
Remmy ran her hands through her hair, shivering slightly at the memory of Julie’s fingers, which had been there moments before. “I felt it,” she said simply. “I knew you were afraid.”
Julie nodded, not able to meet Remmy’s eyes. She didn’t understand it, but tonight she had seen it first-hand. There was no other way for her to know that Julie had been in perceived trouble. Grace presence with Remmy helped to seal the deal. What on earth was behind Remmy’s gift, anyway? It didn’t matter. “I’m glad you came, Remmy. Thank you.”
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