This part is rated NC17 for sexual content.

I wish to thank my lovely partner, Bookie, for beta reading and tolerating me.


Tides of Fate




Part 2



Tracy tossed and turned, unable to shut her mind or her body off. The wine she had consumed and the memory of the many young attractive women at the club had made her desire for her late partner come alive. Her need for release was intense. She knew the vibrator was still in the top drawer of the nightstand, within easy reach of her bed, but she couldn't bring herself to use it. She'd never needed to. Her lover enjoyed the toy when their lovemaking needed a bit of a boost, or Tracy refused her drunken advances. She considered it Ali's replacement for her and found she held resentment toward the innocent object. She chose to obliterate her need with another sleeping pill and a little TV to bore her into blessed oblivion.

An hour passed. The movie, the name of which she couldn't have recalled to save her soul, had finally crept through the credits and Tracy was no more drowsy than she was before. Refilling her wineglass she stumbled to the medicine cabinet and took the bottle of sleeping pills back to the couch where she took two more. Changing the channel on the television, she covered herself in a warm lap rug and tried to concentrate on the old Bogie and Bacall film "To Have and Have Not". The attraction between the stars was palpable and Tracy found herself crying over her lost love and the knowledge that she would never again feel her lover's touch or the satisfaction she knew it would bring her. She couldn't stop herself. She walked into the bedroom she had shared with her lover, placed Ali's picture close by, reached into the night stand and retrieved the object that offered her much needed relief.

Tracy slid out of her night gown, then lay upon the bed, eyes closed, memories of Ali and their love making sending electric jolts through her belly, toward her sex. She slowly massaged her breasts and tweaked the dark nipples. Her breathing became rapid and shallow as her pelvis began to pump, seeking contact. She placed the head of the vibrator wand between her legs and turned it on its mildest setting. She gasped at the sudden stimulation and used her wrist to gently lift and move the vibrating head over her vulva, not spending too much time over her sensitized clitoris. "Oh God . . ." She moaned as her ardor soared. She called out her lover's name over and over, picturing her in the throes of orgasm as her own climax shook her to her very core. Tears of release flowed down her cheeks. She trembled as she let her frustration out. Turning off the noisy vibrator, she tried to catch her breath. A ball of rage rolled within her and she threw the wand across the room with all of her might, yelling as hard and as loudly as she could. "Son of a bitch! You son of a bitch!" Crawling off the bed, she put on her nightgown and stomped into the living room. "Is this what I have to look forward to? Huh? Is it?"

"It doesn't have to be, Tracy. You can move on. You have to get yourself together and move on with your life."

Tracy spun around and gazed, mouth agape, at the spectral vision before her. She stumbled back and fell upon the couch. "Oh shit! I've lost it."

The diaphanous form of Ali held out her hands in a calming motion. "My poor love. I'm here to help."

"Help? You think scaring me to death will help? Jesus, I'm talking to a figment of my imagination."

"God, you're a stubborn woman." Ali shook her head, crossing her arms over her chest.

"I just need a good night's sleep." Tracy said as she took two more sleeping pills and swallowed them down with her wine.

"What are you trying to do, kill yourself . . . ? Quit drinking all my wine. That stuff is expensive." The ghostly form began to frantically pace back and forth.

"Oh, yeah, like you care?" Tracy yelled as she grabbed the bottle and poured herself another glass.

"I care. I love you, Tracy. That's why I came back. I haven't much time. There is something you need to know."

Tracy took a deep swallow of the deep red nectar. "Yeah? And, what, pray tell, is that?"

"Don't be angry with me. I didn't choose to leave you. I had no choice. But, that's not what I came to say. You have to get away from here. You're in danger. Listen to the blonde attorney. She'll protect you."

"Well, thanks for the advice. I'm sure you have a busy social schedule out there on the astral plain, or wherever you are. Don't stay on my account."

"Tracy, please listen to me. I have always loved you. But, we were never meant to be. Look what loving me did to you, to both of us. You're still young. Be strong. Don't give up on life . . , on love. You have so much to give. Don't throw it away. Don't waste your life with pills and booze. You'll never find happiness at the bottom of a bottle. No one knows that better than me."

Tracy ran her fingers through dark hair. Her head had begun to feel strangely fuzzy and the room began to spin. "God help me. I'm talking to a ghost. My dead wife is telling me I'll learn to love again." She looked through blurry eyes at the woman she had both loved and hated, then lost. "Now you're running a Miss Lonely Hearts advice column in heaven? I must be losing my mind."

"Please remember what I said, Tracy. You need love. Don't be blind to it. Don't reject it. I have to go now. Remember what I said."

"Ali, don't go. Please . . . , don't go!" Tracy lunged forward to grasp hold of her lover's fading form, when her world went black.

* * *

Chelsea pealed off her smoky smelling clothes and threw them into the washing machine, then collected a clean, over-sized T-shirt and headed for the shower. Her body still hummed from the events of the evening. Wanting a woman she couldn't have was a new experience for her, one she didn't like in the least. She had made the decision not to return to the club and the comfort of casual sex. She knew she could relieve her physical need. It was the emotional attachment she felt growing for her beautiful client that she wasn't sure how to deal with.

"I have to priorities. Protecting my client and finding the real killer is all I can afford to concentrate on for the present. The future will take care of itself." Chelsea nodded her head with conviction as she stepped under the refreshing spray of the shower.

* * *

No one noticed the dark shadow, stealthily gliding through the foliage behind the condos. The empty beach allowed him to scale the outer wall up to the third floor balcony, toward his prey. He stood, ear against the sliding glass door, listening to any sounds of activity within. The lights were out in the bedrooms, but the dim glow of the TV through the curtain gave him pause. He waited for some time before he was certain that the woman within had fallen asleep with the television on. The sound of the TV was just what he needed to drown out the sound of his knife as he worked to jimmy the lock. As the sliding glass door released he stopped, surprised by the sudden noise of raised voices from inside. Frustrated that his plans to take his revenge first hand, to feel the life drain from the bitch, would have to wait, he quietly left the way he came, running down the beach into the night.

* * *

Chelsea closed her eyes as she slowly massaged the shampoo into her hair. The scent of melon and cucumber tickled her nostrils and brought the picture of Tracy's beautiful form back to mind. She let the water rinse the suds from her hair as soapy hands slid over firm round breasts and down between her legs. "Oh Hell. I just gotta get rid of some of this tension." Chelsea said her legs spreading, allowing her right hand access to her vulva as her left hand rhythmically squeezed her ass. "Mmmmm, Tracy, you are soooo hot." Chelsea fantasized the tall brunette making passionate love to her as she raised her left leg and set her foot upon the shower ledge, allowing complete access to her sex. Her hand slid over her pulsing clit, then two fingers entered her vagina, collecting her cream and spreading it over the sensitive clitoris again. She rested her forehead against the cold tile as her fingers massaged and quickly danced across her clit until sparks lit behind her eyes and molten warmth gushed from her vagina. She pumped and rode the wave of orgasm until it faded to small popping after-shocks deep inside. "Oh yeah. Thanks for the climax, Miss Tracy. It's a shame you can't do it for real." Chelsea sighed, stepped out of the shower and dried off.

* * *

"Yes, Mrs. Stein, I'll look into it. I'm sorry you were disturbed." The Condominium Manager hid a yawn as she tried to placate her most irritating tenant.

"Well, I should hope so. I pay good money to live here and shouldn't have to put up with drunken brawls every weekend. Those two shouldn't be allowed to live around decent people."

"I'm going right up and talk with Mrs. Chandler. I apologize again that your sleep was disturbed." Sheila hung up the phone and grumbled as she called the Chandler's number. Getting no answer, she stepped into her uniform and stormed out of her apartment, heading for number 302.

* * *

The sound of the ringing telephone startled Chelsea who had been enjoying a very hot dream. She looked at the caller ID, the name looked familiar but she couldn't place it. "Hello?"

"Is this Ms. Lambert?"

"Yes. Who's speaking?"

"I'm sorry to call at this hour. This is Sheila at the Jetty East. We met yesterday."

"Sheila. Yes, I remember. Is something wrong over there?"

"Well. I'm not sure. I had a complaint of loud voices coming from the Chandler's apartment, but when I went to check it out no one answered the door."

"Sheila. You did the right thing. I'm on my way." Chelsea hung up the phone, dressed, grabbed her gun and ran for the car.

"Charlie, I think we have trouble. Meet me at the Jetty East." Chelsea hung up her cell phone and hit the gas hard.

"No problem." Charlie said to dead air. "I guess she's in a hurry."

* * *

BAM, BAM, BAM . . . Chelsea pounded on the door. Getting no response, the manager let her in. "Stay out there." She told Sheila. "Let Charles in when he gets here."

"OK." Sheila stood outside the door with her heart in her throat.

"Tracy?" Chelsea called into the silence. She flicked on the lights, then, with gun in hand, she carefully entered. She looked around the dining room and kitchen, and slowly entered the living room. There she spotted her client crumpled upon the Persian rug in a pool of blood.

"Oh Shit! Tracy!" Chelsea dropped to Tracy's side and carefully examined her for injuries.

"Sheila, call 911. Get an ambulance." Chelsea yelled as she noticed the wound to Tracy's head. Looking up she saw blood and hair attached to the edge of the coffee table and realized that Tracy had apparently fallen and hit her head, causing a gaping wound above her temple. Chelsea retrieved a towel from the kitchen and applied ice and pressure to her client's head until help arrived.

"Chelsea?" Charlie called from the door.

"In here. Tracy hit her head and lost a lot of blood. She's still breathing but her pulse is thready."

Charles walked around the room, looking for any signs of foul play, when he eyed the bottle of sleeping pills open on the table. "Chelsea, did you see this?" Charles picked up the bottle and handed it over. "Do you know how many were in there?"

"Jesus. There were lots more than four left when we were at the cabin. You don't think she tried to off herself, do you?"

"I don't know. But, we'll have to tell the paramedics when they get here just in case." Charlie shook his head in disgust.

"Shit! That'll get into the papers and start all the publicity hounds on her tail again. That's just great." Chelsea sighed in frustration. Then, concern for her new friend overcame her anger. "Come on, Tracy, keep breathing."

* * *

Chelsea paced across the waiting room floor as she and her Grandfather awaited news of Tracy's condition. She'd given all the information she had as to the sleeping pills and the wine her client had ingested, then proceeded to call the only other people who would care what became of Tracy Chandler. Alex and Jackie were on their way.

In the ER the medical staff were busy performing a gastric lavage on the unconscious patient, making sure all the stomach contents were emptied. Films were ordered of her skull and the jagged cut in her scalp was being prepped for suturing.

It was two hours before the ER physician sat down with Tracy's friends and family. "She will be fine. However, we can't let her sleep for more than an hour at a time over the next twelve hours. She has a mild concussion and is under the influence of self- administered sedation, shall we say. It has taken eleven sutures to close the wound in her scalp. There will be considerable bruising and swelling at the site. Ice and time will heal that. We want to keep her here for observation over the next twenty-four hours. She will also be required to see our staff psychiatrist, Dr. Rita Schmidt. She will determine a treatment program. There are reasons for suicide attempts. These have to be addressed or the behavior is doomed to be repeated."

Chelsea stared in disbelief at the doctor. "She didn't try to kill herself. It was an accident."

"I can only go by the facts. Mrs. Chandler took an overdose of sleeping pills with half a bottle of wine." The Doctor stated emphatically.

Chelsea sighed and looked away.

"Can we see her now, Doctor?" Mr. Lambert asked as he wrapped his arm around his granddaughter's waist.

"Yes. But, just for a little while."

The family and friends filed by the physician, down to the cubicle where Tracy lay in pain and confusion.

* * *

"Hey sweetheart. How's the head?" John Lambert softly asked as he took a seat next to the young woman he'd always thought of as a member of his family.

Tracy tried but couldn't quite clear her vision and the pounding in her head was upsetting her abused stomach. "Not great, Uncle John. I still don't know what happened."

"What do you remember?" Chelsea asked.

"Ummm, can we talk about this tomorrow? I don't feel so good." Tracy begged off as her green pallor supported her distress.

"Sure. I'll be back tomorrow, after you've rested. Call me if you need anything. You have my cell number."

"Yeah. Tomorrow." Tracy whispered as she her eyelids closed against the physical and emotional discomfort bombarding her senses.

* * *

"Chelsea, I went over Tracy's condo with a fine toothed comb. Someone definitely jimmied the balcony door open. I think we should get that detective back over there to check it out." Charlie spoke over the cell phone.

"I'll call him. . . I wonder what might have scared him off?" Chelsea pondered out loud.

"I don't know. But, I'd say Tracy is one lucky lady. Also, I found out that Hazards Exterminators treats the condos once a month for roaches and such. They had access to #302 the morning that Tracy went to the police station to see the detective. I am working on getting the name of the employee who was assigned that location from the dispatcher."

"That is very interesting news, Charlie. Call me when you get the information. Thanks. I'll call you later."

* * *

Chelsea stood in the doorway of Tracy's hospital room. She was touched by the terribly pale and drawn appearance of her client. The natural luster of the deep brown hair had turned rusty with dried blood and Betadine. Dark circles marred the beauty of her deep blue eyes. Her expression seemed lost and haunted.

Chelsea rapped gently on the door before letting herself in, then closed the door quietly behind her.

"How are you feeling today?" Chelsea asked quietly.

Tracy tried to smile, but her face hurt and her head still pounded, but with a bit less intensity. "I'm here. I think."

"Still hurts, huh?"

"Only when I open my eyes, talk, breath . . ."

"I get the picture." Chelsea grinned. After a moment, Chelsea leaned over and took Tracy's hand in hers. "What really happened last night?"

"You're not going to believe it. I'm not sure if I believe it and I was there." The brunette tried to smile, but a tear trickled from her eye.

"What is it . . . ? Talk to me. I can't help you if you don't trust me."

Tracy sniffled. "I do trust you. I feel we're friends, now. But, what happened last night was so fantastical, so otherworldly . . . I'm not sure I believe it myself."

"Tracy, did you try to kill yourself last night? I have to know the truth." Chelsea held her breath.

"No. Of course not. I mean. I know it looks that way but "No". I couldn't sleep and I was drinking Ali's wine. I lost track of how many pills I had taken. And, then when Ali showed up and scared the shit outta me. Well, you can imagine . . . No, I guess you can't imagine."

"Whoa, wait a minute. Ali showed up? Whatta you mean Ali showed up? You mean your dead wife just dropped in?" Chelsea couldn't believe they were having this conversation.

"I know it sounds insane, but it's true. She was just suddenly there, talking to me, giving me advice."

"Giving you advice?"

"Yeah. She told me not to give up on love. She said we weren't meant to be together and how we ruined each other's lives. Oh. . . and the real kicker is she told me to stop drinking her booze. She said that I'm in danger and to listen to you and get away from there."

"Seems like she gives good sound advice." Chelsea snickered. "She was right about your being in danger. It seems someone tried to break into your condo last night, but something scared him away. Detective Hardie's over there right now, checking over everything."

"Is that true?"

"I'm afraid so. Maybe it was your ghost that scared him off."

"You know, they want me to see a psychiatrist. Maybe it's a good idea. I don't know how much more of this I can handle on my own. I feel like I'm in a little sailboat out in the middle of the ocean, being battered by the winds and the waves. I need to grab a lifeline. I can't wait until someone decides to toss me one."

"I want you to do whatever it takes for you to feel secure. I know this has been a nightmare for you. And, I am concerned for your safety. I don't want you to be anywhere near your condo. Charlie could drive you into town twice a week, or as often as is needed, to see the therapist while you stay at the cabin."

"I hate for you to have to take care of me. The doctor says I'll be in bed for a week or more because of dizziness. I can't even wash my hair because he said not to get the sutures wet." She complained with a pout.

"I think I can handle it. Besides, I enjoy having you around. You make great coffee."

"Oh, an ulterior motive."

"You bet."

* * *

Chelsea eased her tall companion onto the bed in the guestroom. They'd picked up a baby monitor for Tracy to use whenever she needed anything. Chelsea had all the files for the other cases she was involved in so she could work on them in her kitchen.

The room was spinning and the headache was blinding. Tracy was never so happy to be lying down in her life.

"You Ok?" Chelsea asked, concerned by her client's pallor.

"Peachy. Just shoot me and get it over with." Tracy whispered through clenched teeth.

"I wish there was something more I could do to make you comfortable."

"Thanks. If you could close the curtains I'll try to get some sleep. They didn't let me sleep much in the hospital."

"Ok. I'll have the monitor at my side. Just say something if you need me. Sleep well, Tracy."

* * *

The next few days passed with Tracy sleeping most of the time and Chelsea trying to get her to eat. The fourth day Tracy finally ate some oatmeal with sugar and cinnamon and a glass of milk. The fifth day, Tracy felt much better and Chelsea joined her in the afternoon to watch a movie on DVD and share some comfort food in the form of home made vegetable soup, followed by chocolate ice cream. Chewing was definitely not yet comfortable for her ailing client.

The wound on Tracy's head was healing well. Chelsea cleaned it twice a day with Betadine, followed by Neosporin and covered it with a strip of gauze. Nearly half her face was purple and mildly swollen, making smiling a trial; but the dizziness was subsiding and she could make it to the bathroom without assistance. However, now that she was recovering, her dirty hair was causing her more irritation than the stitches.

Chelsea would help her to the bathroom every morning, set out a face towel, tooth brush and tooth paste, soap and bath towel and fill the sink with hot water, so Tracy could at least wash off. But it was no longer enough. She desperately desired a long hot soak and clean hair. It was time to get over her natural modesty and beg Chelsea to help her take a real bath.

"Ummm, Chelsea?" Tracy tried to broach the subject.

The cute blonde looked up at her movie-viewing companion. "Is there something wrong?"

"No. Ummm, not really. I just wanted to ask you if you could maybe do me a huge favor. That is if you don't mind and . . ." Tracy was blushing and feeling very awkward.

Chelsea could easily see her friend's discomfort and became concerned. "What is it, Tracy? You can ask me anything. We're friends. Right?"

Tracy looked down at her hands. "Yeah. Other than Alex and Jackie, you're the only real friend I've got in Destin."

Chelsea reached out her hand and lifted the embarrassed woman's chin so she would make eye contact. "So, what is it?"

"I feel so . . ." Tracy couldn't even find words for how filthy she felt. "Would you help me take a bath. I mean a really hot soak and wash my hair. I just can't take it anymore." Tears leaked from her eyes as she looked beseechingly at her friend.

"Of course I will, silly. Is that what that long face is about? You don't have to be embarrassed to ask me for help. I'll go run your bath water and get everything you'll need and place them within your reach. I'll be right outside the door to help you get out of the tub."

"Well, actually, I was hoping you'd help me wash my hair. I'm not suppose to get the stitches wet." Tracy blurted out.

Chelsea's eyes got really big and her heart skipped a beat. "Oh! I mean . . . sure . . . I can do that."

* * *

Chelsea was very careful to avoid Tracy's suture line, while trying to thoroughly clean the long, dark hair. She tried not to admire the full breasts as they bobbed in the bath water. Concentrating on the task at hand was getting more and more difficult, so it was time to rinse away the shampoo and figure out how to get Tracy out of the tub without holding her long nude body against her own.

"Stay right there. I'll be back in a jiff." Chelsea instructed as she quickly fetched a terry-cloth bathrobe and large beach towel. "Raise your arms for me." Holding out the towel in front of her she wrapped it around Tracy's body and helped lift her from the tub. She then used one hand to keep the towel in place while helping Tracy into the bathrobe. Her mission accomplished, she breathed a sigh of relief.

"Thank you, so much, for helping me. I really don't know what I would do without you." Tracy softly said. For the first time it sunk in just how important Chelsea had become in her life, not just as an attorney, but as her friend and companion, her confidant and caretaker. She truly appreciated how easy Chelsea was to be with and how much she trusted her. It was a long time since she had a friend to share with. It felt really good. Ali's jealousy had kept her from having other friends. It was just easier that way. She'd feel so guilty at enjoying another woman's company, no matter how innocent it was, that it wasn't worth it. Now, she didn't feel guilty, just good and safe.

* * *

Monday rolled around and Charlie drove Tracy to the hospital to have her stitches removed and her first therapy session. After which he brought to the Jetty East where she picked up her Jeep so she could drive herself to her appointment, which they decided would be twice a week for the time being.

* * *

"Oh my goodness! Where'd you get that?" Chelsea bellowed as she watched Tracy drive up in a yellow Jeep with huge magnetic white daisies attached to the doors, hood and rear.

"Hey, don't laugh at my baby." Tracy said, tongue firmly planted in cheek.

"I'm sorry. It's really nice." Chelsea couldn't help the giggle that bubbled up.

"It was a gift from Ali. She said I was all work and no play. So, she bought me a vehicle that couldn't help but awaken my inner child. I must admit it is a hoot to drive on the beach and have every head turn in your direction and point. It's the laughing part and the jeers that's kinda irritating."

"Well, I think it is just adorable. It doesn't fit your personality in the least."

"Are you saying I'm not adorable?" Tracy retorted as she leaned back against the Jeep's door and crossed her arms menacingly over her chest.

The sound was like a loud firecracker on the fourth of July. The windshield of the Jeep cracked and spit shards of gooey glass onto the front seat.

"Get down!" Chelsea screamed. Tracy didn't have to be told twice.

"Damn! Someone's shooting at us. Stay here." Chelsea demanded as she rolled under the Jeep, then ran into the house, only twenty feet away. She held her breath and listened for the sound of the next report. But, it didn't come. In mere seconds Chelsea reappeared with her cell phone in one hand and her .38 caliber pistol in the other. She figured from where the bullet hit the Jeep that the shooter was in the marsh beyond her house, so she crouched down at the corner, in the shadows, and shot in that general direction. She hit the speed dial on the cell phone.

"Charlie, where are you?" She screamed into the phone.

"I'm just turning onto your lane. What's up?"

"Be careful. Someone just took a shot at Tracy. But, I think they're gone now."

"Thanks for the heads up. I'll be right there."

Continued in part 3

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