For disclaimers see part 1

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by Lois Kay

" So, you didn't recognize him ? " Carol Wong asked, for the second time, observing Sam with intelligent brown eyes. When Sam shook her head, she tapped her notepad with her pen, obviously deep in thought. " Would you recognize him when you saw him ?"

" Don't think so, " Sam replied, shrugging her shoulders. " It was dark and it all happened real fast. I didn't get a chance to take a good look."

" Did you see him, Miss McDonnell ?"

" Jody, please. No, I didn't, I was standing behind Sam. She had told me to stand back."

A pair of very interested eyes traveled from Jody to Sam and back again. Carol Wong didn't speak, she seemed to be a little absent minded, but her brain was working overtime.

" Why did you tell her that, Miss Stevens ?"

" You can call me Sam and I told Jody to stand back because I felt something was wrong, " Sam truthfully answered, her blue eyes unwavering under Carol Wong's scrutinizing look. " When I was trying to open the door, I noticed it was unlocked. Jody always locks up."

" You sound very convinced."

" I am, " Sam coolly replied. She was tired, knew Jody was exhausted and only wanted one thing: to go to sleep. Carol Wong was friendly and Sam did like the zealous Asian Australian police woman, but was getting fed up with all the questions.

" Can we go now, please ? It's getting light already and we are bushed. I will be happy to drop by later today to clarify things for you, but we desperately need some sleep."

Carol Wong put away her notepad and nodded, while casting a look at Jody, who was fighting hard to keep her eyes open. Now and then a concerned look from Sam was sent her way.

" Where will you be staying ?"

" We have some friends, a few miles down the coast. They are willing to put us up. I'll give you my phone number, just in case you have some questions. Please, feel free to call."

Carol Wong scribbled down the number and smiled.

" Thank you for your time and I will get back to you…Sam."

Jody missed the exchanged look between her blond friend and the police woman. The first one looked innocent, almost indifferent, while the latter one had a suspicious glare in her eyes, like she wasn't satisfied with all the answers she had received.

Sam gave Carol Wong a brief nod and put her arm around Jody's shoulders, guiding her towards the elevator.

" Come on, Jody, I'm gonna take you to Sarah and Megan's. You can sleep in the car if you want, I think I will be able to find the place on my own."

" It's not that hard, " Jody mumbled sleepily. " I can stay awake a little longer."

Sam smiled and pulled her friend a little closer, kissing her on top of her head.

" I know you can, honey. But it's all right."

The elevator doors closed and with a puzzled look on her face Jody looked up at Sam, who was pensively staring at the wall. Apparently deep in thought.

" You didn't tell her about the disks. Why ?"

Sam quickly turned to Jody, the surprise evident on her face. Her blue eyes widened when she saw a pair of suddenly not so sleepy eyes look back at her, clear and wide awake. It caught her off guard and for a moment she didn't answer.

" Um….well….um….Gods, you wake up quick! How do you do that?"

" I am tired, Sam, very tired. But I'm not stupid, " Jody answered, feeling a little insulted. " Carol Wong was about to give you the third degree there. I don't really know why, but I guess it might have something to do with certain information you're witholding from her. I thought she might let us go if I was almost falling asleep on her. So, stop dodging my question. Why didn't you tell her about the disks?"

Sam knew Jody could see straight through her and being evasive wasn't an option.

" I want to figure them out myself first," she answered, avoiding Jody's eyes. " Call me stubborn, stupid, opinionated, obstinate or anything else, but I have a gut feeling telling me to do it this way."

" There must be more to it, Sam," Jody replied. " I know you, don't insult my intelligence."

" I'm not, Jody, " Sam softly answered, waiting for the elevator door to open. " I think this thing might be bigger than I thought. I need some information first, that's all. As soon as I've got it, I'll tell Carol Wong about it."

They stepped out the elevator and walked towards the frontdoor, which Sam opened. She made room to let Jody pass, scanning the enviroment with a keen eye.

" Is this all a way to protect the good name of Stevens Inc.?" Jody suddenly asked and she couldn't hide the bitterness in her voice. From the corner of her eye she saw Sam stiffen and an expression of pain crossed the blond woman's face. Jody wished she hadn't said the words and she bit her lip, looking away, not willing to meet her friend's eyes.

Of all the remarks you could make, you picked this one. Great, Jody, good job. Now she's really pissed off. Congratulations, Miss McDonnell, you've just scored a few points here!!

" Sam, I…"

" If you'll give me the keys, Jody, I'll drive, " Sam offered, painfully polite. Her lips were pursed, while she waited, her hand stretched out, suddenly very distant. " I'm very tired and not in the mood to go into a meaningless discussion."

" Sam, I…" Jody tried again, but Sam interrupted her.

" I'm not in the mood, Jody."

I only want to apologize to you. I don't know where that came from, Sam, but I'm sorry. I really am.

Biting her lip to try and keep the tears away, Jody handed Sam the keys and meekly got into the car. She glanced at the woman on her right, but Sam concentrated on the road and ongoing traffic, ignoring her completely. She had shifted into a very businesslike mood and it was a Sam Jody wasn't familiar with.

In the meantime Sam was trying to calm down the storm that was raging through her system. On the outside she looked calm, but inside she could feel an anger, she hadn't felt in years. All she could do at the moment, was trying to collect herself, because the last thing she wanted to do was rant at Jody.

Her friend's words had been the proverbial last straw of that evening. She knew Jody was sorry and her friend didn't mean it, but the words had stung nonetheless. And since Sam was still trying to calm down from the ferocious demolishing of Jody's apartment, it had just been too much. She rarely lost her temper, but when she did it was with an intensity that had gained her a legendary status within her family. Her brother Tom used to say : ' If Sam reaches her boiling point, that's bad enough. But don't let her explode, or you'll have some serious mopping up to do."

It was only after Sam drove the car up the driveway leading to Sarah's and Megan's house, that Jody dared to speak again. She had been watching Sam from the corner of her eye and had noticed that most of the tension that had been so unmistakenbly present, had gone away. Leaving her visibly drained and tired, with dark circles underneath her eyes.

" I didn't mean what I said earlier, Sam, I'm sorry." Jody's voice was nothing but a whisper but Sam could clearly hear the unshed tears she was trying to hold back. " I…I don't know where that came from, but…but it was a stupid thing to say. I'm sorry."

Jody hung her head and when she didn't hear her friend respond to her apology she feared the anger she thought had slowly dissappeared, still had to be bottled up inside. She missed the the look Sam gave her, the softening of the eyes and the small, tired smile.

Sam parked the car and opened the door, quickly stepping to open the door at the other side. Jody looked up when a hand was stretched out to her, inviting her to take hold of it. Willingly she complied, letting Sam guide her towards the house, where the lights in the kitchen were already switched on. Halfway the little flower garden Sam stopped and put her hand on the smaller womans shoulder.

" We will talk about it later, if that's all right with you, " she softly spoke. " I'm not angry with you, Jody, I'm just really tired. I just want you to now I have my reasons, but we can talk about that later."

Jody looked up at her friend and slowly nodded, while a grateful smile lightened up her features. She squeezed Sam's hand and rested her head against a very comfortable feeling, very familiar shoulder, letting out a deep sigh. Immediately Sam's arm was wrapped around her.

" I'm sorry, Sam, I really didn't…"

" It's okay, honey, " Sam interrupted. " I know you are. Come on, let's go inside, before we topple over."

The moment they stepped on the varandah, the kitchen door was opened and a worried looking Megan stepped outside, closely followed by Sarah. They were almost dragged into the house and firmly planted on one of the kitchen chairs. While Sarah put a hot, steaming cup of tea in front of them. Sam shot her a grateful look.

" Are you girls all right?" Megan asked, the anxiety written all over her face. " I don't think I really understood your message. Did someone break in into your apartment, Jody? They trashed it?"

" Yes, that's what happened, " Jody sighed, rubbing her eyes. " It's torn to pieces and I…."

She bit her lip and swallowed hard, trying to blink away the tears that were stinging her eyes, making it impossible for her to see clearly.

"….everything I own has just been ruined, " she finished, her voice slightly hoarse. " All my stuff, my clothes, my books, everything. It's like my place is hit by a tornado or something "

A lonely tear escaped her eye and slid down her cheek. With an impatient gesture she tried to wipe it away, but Sam had already caught her hand, holding it in a firm grip.

"It's all right to cry, Jody, " she softly spoke. " You've been through a lot lately. Don't bottle it all up inside. Just let it go. It might make you feel better."

" I don't want to cry, Sam, because I don't think I will be able to stop when I do."

Jody looked up at her friend, who was still holding her hand and although determined she was not to give in to tears, the tender, loving expression in those crystal clear eyes broke all resistance. Finally she let go and with a gut wrenching sob the tears started to fall.

Sam put down her cup, cast a look at Megan and Sarah, who were almost in tears as well and simply pulled Jody from her chair, right into her lap. Secretely hoping the kitchen chair would survive this kind of assault. It did. Jody burried her face in Sam's neck and cried away all the pain and tension she had been gone through, since the phonecall from her sister, the evening before. Sam didn't say a word. Her arms were wrapped around her friend's body, holding her tight, trying to be as comforting as she could be.

From the corner of her eye, Sam noticed that Sarah and Megan were getting ready to silently leave, but Sam looked at them and slowly shook her head. She didn't want her new friends to leave their own kitchen, because of them.

" It's okay, " she mouthed.

Her left hand traveled up and her fingers started gently massaging the back of Jody's neck. That seemed to have a calming effect and the sobs became less and less intense, until finally Jody let out a long, heartfelt sigh. Feeling completely exhausted.

" You two should get some sleep, " Sarah's voice broke the silence. " We can talk later about what happened. And what we are going to do about it. You look like hell, Sam."

A quick smile crossed Sam's face and a little spark of humor found it's way to her eyes.

" Gee, thanks, Sarah, " she replied dryly. " Funny, I've only been up since….one o'clock, yesterday afternoon. Guess I need a lot of sleep, huh?"

" Sam has a cut that has to be seen to, " a strangled voice suddenly sounded from Sam's shoulder. Jody lifted her face and looked at Megan with pleading eyes. " Could you have a look at it, Meg? She didn't let me do it before."

" Because it's just a scratch, " Sam protested. " It's okay, really."

" I'll have a look at it anyway, " Megan said, already on her way to one of the kitchen cabinets, where they kept their first aid kit.

Sam sighed and looked down at Jody, who was anything but getting ready to leave her lap. She was very comfortable and very snuggly and looked like a content little girl.

" You might have to go back to your own chair now, " Sam deadpanned. " Megan can't have a look at my shoulder with you all draped around me."

" Mmm, that's a good point, " Jody answered, not moving an inch.

Sam smiled and wiped away a strand of hair that obscured her view of a pair of green eyes. She was happy to see that the dull, hollow look that had been there before, was gone. Jody still looked very tired, her eyes were puffy from crying, but the little spark had returned.

" You can sit on my lap later, " Sam teased. " I can sing you a few nursery rhymes, if you want me to."

Jody's face went back to it's original place, but Sam could feel her chuckle.

" That would be a sight to see, " her friend answered. " I'd love it."

Megan had returned to the kitchen table and was rummaging through her first aid kit, pulling out different items and placing them on the table. Sam looked at it and her eyes widened.

" Megan, I didn't get run over by a truck!"

" Well, with you a person never knows, " Megan answered. " That story of you climbing up those balconies somehow gave me the impression you are a bit of a daredevil. Can't take any chances now, can I? McDonnell, scoot! Go sit on your own chair. You're hogging my patient."

Jody chuckled, but obediently left Sam's lap to return to her own chair, while Megan hovered over Sam, casting her a stern look.

" Shirt has to come off, you know, " she said, pointing at the bloodstain. " Can't reach it any other way. You are not shy, are you?"

Sam only snorted in reply and pulled her shirt over her head, revealing a long, red gash, that ran from the top of her shoulder to her collar bone. It wasn't deep enough to need stitches, but still looked very nasty, with swollen, red welts around it.

" Looks bad, Sam, " Megan said, narrowing her eyes. "Cleaning that out is going to hurt, I guess."

Jody just gasped and sent Sam an annoyed look.

" Sam, you are so terrible! You should have someone have a look at that. That could get infected."

" Someone's looking at it now, " Sam answered. " It's okay, honey, it looks worse than it is. Believe me."

" Okay, Warrior Princess, brace yourself, " Megan warned, while taking a swab with some alcohol to desinfect the cut.

Jody's eyes were fixed on Sam's face, constantly searching for any signs of pain, but only the occasional darkening or narrowing of her eyes gave away her discomfort.

" All done, " Megan finally spoke, after covering up the cut with a sterile gauze. " You need to change that a few times a day, Sam. You don't want it to stick to the wound and have it bleeding all over again when you remove it."

" Yes, nurse, " Sam joked, putting her shirt back on. " I'll be right. Thanks."

" Okay, you two, off to bed, " Sarah said. " You need to get some sleep, because we want to hear the full story later. Okay? Come on, I'll show you your room."

Obediently Sam and Jody got to their feet to follow Sarah into the hall. While passing Megan Jody stopped to give her friend a hug.

" Thanks for helping us out, Meg. You two are the best."

" That's okay, sweetie. We're friends. Right? Now, hurry up and go to bed. You look like you could fall over any time."

Jody smiled and followed Sarah and Sam into the hall, where they stopped in front of a door. Sarah opened it and stepped inside, letting her friends enter.

" Somehow I guessed you two wouldn't mind sharing a room, " she said with a twinkle in her eyes, pointing at the very comfortable looking double bed. She ignored Jody's blush and opened the door of the wardrobe. " Here's towels, washing cloths, shirts, soap anything you need. The guest bathroom is through there, so, if you feel up to it you could take a shower. If you need anything, just let us know. All right? Please, make yourselves at home."

" Thanks, Sarah, " Jody said, hugging her friend. " You and Megan are such good friends. Thank you."

Sarah patted her back and smiled at Sam.

" Have some sleep, you two. We'll see you later."

She left the room and closed the door behind her. Leaving Sam and Jody alone. They stood there, in the middle of the room and suddenly Jody felt a bit awkward, but when Sam smiled at her the feeling disappeared, leaving her tired, but at peace with herself.

" I don't know about you, but I just want to brush my teeth and go to sleep, " she sighed, pushing back her hair.

" I'll second that, " Sam smiled. " I am so tired I feel numb. You go ahead, brush your teeth, I'll see if I can find a shirt that will fit me. Can't sleep in this filthy, sorry excuse for a piece of clothing."

Jody went into the bathroom and when she came back a few minutes later, Sam was already dressed in a clean shirt, that barely reached her hips. She smiled sheepishly when she saw Jody's amused eyes and just shrugged her shoulders.

" This is the best I can do. I put your shirt on the bed, guess that will be a better fit."

Jody nodded and yawned.

" Just don't put your arms in the air, " she joked. " Or your shirt will go all the way up."

" Very funny, " Sam replied, entering the bathroom. " Pigmy."

" I heard that, " Jody answered in mock anger. " Beanpole."

The only answer was half a choke, half a snort and Jody just grinned while climbing into bed. She stretched her exhausted body and when Sam came in she saw her friend already half asleep.

Sam got in bed on the other side and felt her whole body almost sighing in relief when it realized it was finally laying down. In a soft, comfortable bed. She stretched out her hand to brush away some reddish blond strands of hair and noticed a pair of very sleepy eyes watching her.

" Can I snuggle up?" Jody asked hopefully.

Sam didn't answer, but extended her good arm and immediately Jody crept closer, until her head was resting on Sam's shoulder, her arm wrapped around her waist.

" Oh, this feels so good, " she sighed in pure contentment, closing her eyes. " I'm gonna conk out, Sam, sorry…'bout…that."

Amused, Sam noticed that Jody was already asleep. She smiled and gently kissed the forhead that was so close to her lips.

" Sleep tight, love, sweet dreams, " she whispered, before closing her eyes.

Within minutes the only sound heard in the room, was the peaceful breathing of two people sleeping.

"I can't believe this, I really can't. Do I have to do everything myself ? WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?"

Joseph Michaels paced the room, casting a furious look at the two men that were standing near the door, ready to escape if needed. Fred was nervously plucking at his shirt, twirling it around between his fingers, while little Steven appeared calm, except for the rapid blinking of his eyes.

" The disks just weren't there, Joe. I swear, I would have find them if they were."

"I'm not only talking about those disks, " Joe hissed between clenched teeth. " How did you let them SURPRISE you like that, you IDIOT? God, you two are such amateurs. I should have done this myself. Just LOOK AT YOU."

Little Steven gingerly touched his bruised nose and flinched at the contact. Sam had hit him pretty hard and although he was very angry about that, he still admired the Dutch woman for her strength and fast reflexes.

" I…I….I..didn't see them coming, mr Michaels, " Fred stammered. " All of a sudden they were just there, they must have walked or something…"

" Or something, " Joe cynically repeated. " You two are so stupid, I……never mind. I'll give you one more chance. ONE. Screw this up and you're in REAL TROUBLE. GOT IT?"

Two heads nodded simultaneously and they both let out a releaved breath.

" Find out where those two went to. It's obvious that Blondie carries the disks with her. I want them and I want them fast. I don't care how you get them, got it? As long as you do. Just….don't leave any mess behind. Clean up after yourselves. I don't want the police sniffing around.

" Yes, Joe, " Little Steven meekly answered, glad for getting a second chance. " We will do it right this time."

" You'd better, " Joe growled. " Get on with it. Move."

His two errand boys quickly disappeared, carefully closing the door behind them. Leaving their boss staring outside the window, a worried crease between his eyebrows.

The sun was high in the sky, burning the earth it cast it's light on. The heat had driven all bush life into hiding. Only the snakes and other reptiles were basking in the heat, warming their blood before going on their hunt for food. Occasionaly the sound of magpies crying out shattered the silence, followed by the distinct laughing call of a Kookaburra, celebrating the catch of a meal. Tranquility ruled, while a light breeze from the ocean stirred the always green leaves of the many trees. Nature was patiently waiting for the late hours of the afternoon, that would bring the most welcome cooling down, keeping the delicate balance between scorching and survival.

The room was almost dark. The big fan on the ceiling lazily turned around and around, providing the occupants of the room with a pleasant temperature, that allowed them to catch up on their much needed sleep. A curly blond head rested near a reddish blond one, their hair entangled due to their closeness. It was a perfectly peaceful picture, that was disturbed when a pair of sleepy blue eyes were opened to face the world around them.

Sam noticed she was not alone and carefully turned her head to look at the person she was sharing the bed with and who was curled up alongside her tall body. A head rested against her shoulder and one arm was possesively draped around her bare waist. She immediately realized the shirt she was wearing must have crept up, leaving her abdomen naked.

A small smile lit up her face when she admitted to herself that the position she was in, wasn't all that bad. Jody was still fast asleep, her breathing deep and regular and the last thing Sam wanted, was to wake her up. But nature called and laying on her back, with the weight of her friend's arm on her bladder wasn't all that comfortable. Carefully she tried to free herself from the gentle grip, but immediately Jody stirred, mumbling something incoherent, tightening her grip. Sam winced and bit her lip in an attempt not to laugh.

This is not the way I imagined us waking up, sweetheart. In my fantasy I didn't have a full bladder.

Again Sam tried to lift Jody's arm, scooting to the edge of the bed and this time she was succesful. With a sigh of relief she got out of the bed and headed for the bathroom. When she came back a few minutes later, a pair of green eyes watched her walk in the room and followed her when she gingerly stepped back into bed.

" I am awake, you know, " Jody said dryly, surprising Sam. " You don't have to tip toe around."

Sam smiled and hit her pillow a few times, before laying down again.

" I'm sorry if I woke you, but I really had to go."

" Some things never change, do they? " Jody playfully snorted. " I remember you waking me up almost every morning because 'you had to go'".

" Well, I can't be held responsible for my bladder, " Sam grinned. " It has a mind of it's own. And when it's full, it's full. Or, if you prefer: when you gotta go, you gotta go."

Jody laughed and stretched her body, yawning wide, revealing a set of perfectly white teeth. She curled up again after that and cast Sam an affectionate look.

" Morning, " she said, her eyes twinkling.

" Morning, " Sam answered, not able to tear her eyes away from those beautiful green orbs. " Did you have a good sleep?"

" Perfect, " Jody sighed. " Never slept better."

And you my friend have a lot to do with that. I just loved the way I fell asleep, my head on your shoulder, your arm around me. It was divine. I could get used to that.

Sam smiled and just stared at the face that was so close, she could feel Jody's breath on her skin. Neither of them moved for a long time. They just laid there, looking at each other from close range, revelling in each other's closeness. Until they both moved as one, getting even closer, their lips only a breath apart. Tantalizing slow they drew closer, until finally their lips met for a kiss that took both their breaths away. It was a slow and very tender connection, that started almost hesitant, and gradually increased in passion. Jody's hands traveled to Sam's shoulders, pulling her closer, so she could wrap her arms around her neck. Jody moaned when she could feel Sam's arm around her waist, pulling her on top of her. They took their time exploring one another, exchanging kisses that were filled with tenderness and passion, lighting a fire that they couldn't deny much longer. When Sam felt the tip of Jody's tongue brushing against her lips, a small whimper escaped and immediately Jody increased the pressure, feeling Sam's grip on her body tighten. When the knee of a long leg was raised, Jody gasped and involuntarily, because her body had developed a mind of it's own, she started grinding her hips, wanting to realease the constantly building pressure in the lower part of her body.

" O, God, Sam, " she breathed, feeling the other woman's hands guiding her hips. " Sam, I…"

But she was interrupted by a pair of lips that hungrily seeked for her own and a strong, smooth tongue that entered her mouth, caressing her with such a wonderful tenderness it took her breath away.

When Sam increased the pressure, using her strong thigh, Jody suddenly went very still, motionless. Sam leaned back in the pillow and watched as Jody's eyes stared at her with a glassy look, that quickly turned into pure ecstasy when her whole body started shivering, rocked to it's core, when she came crashing down from the height Sam had taken her to.

Jody collapsed and disappeared in a pair of strong arms that held her close, idly stroking her back, while her thundering heart beat slowly settled down. They stayed like that for a very long time, until Jody slowly raised her head and looked into a pair of clear blue eyes, radiating so much love and tenderness it brought tears to her eyes.

" The things you do to me, Sam," she sighed. "All I need is one touch from you and…"

" And you're off, " Sam smiled, with a twinkle in her eyes. "I like that part of you, honey. I like being the one who can do that to you. You are so beautiful when you climax, I missed that the last time, it was too dark."

Jody chuckled and buried her face against the soft skin of Sam's neck. Sighing in pure contentment, feeling very well loved and totally relaxed.

"I feel so comfortable with you, that hasn't changed a bit over the years, " she mumbled, placing tiny kisses on every part of skin she was able to reach.

"I'm glad, " Sam answered, twirling a strand of hair between her fingers, enjoying the sensations that were making her body feel so much alive. She buried her face in the fragrant hair that was tickling her face and closed her eyes, soaking up the attention she was receiving.

" Sam, do you think that……"

A high pitched scream and the sound of breaking glass shattered the silence. They were frozen in place, but that only lasted a moment and with a speed born from an adrenaline rush they both jumped out of bed to run towards the source of the noise.

Sam was the first one who entered the kitchen. Astonished she watched Megan stand on top of the kitchen table, her face pale, beads of sweat on her forehead.

" What the heck…" Jody asked, stepping inside, past Sam.

With trembling fingers the dark haired woman pointed towards the floor, near the kitchen cabinet. Jody followed her gaze and jumped back in reaction when she saw the outline of a huge snake.

"Where's Bindi?" she asked, refering to the cattle dog, that was an exeptional good snake catcher.

" Sarah took him into town, " Megan answered with a shaky voice. " Jody, please get rid of that thing, you know I hate them."

Jody took a deep breath and stepped forward, but was held back by Sam's firm grip on her arm.

" What are you doing? " the blond woman asked, trying to divide her attention between her firiend and the snake, who was curiosly examining one of the cabinets, using it's little tongue to guide the way.

" I'll get rid of him, " Jody explained in a very matter of fact kind of way.

" How?"

Jody looked up and was surprised to see a pair of anxious blue eyes.

" Tell him to leave? " she joked.

Sam didn't appreciate that remark and a small crease appeared in her fore head.

" Don't worry, Sam, I'll just…catch him and throw him out."

" How? With your hands? What if he bites?"

" He won't bite, " Jody snorted, full of self confidence. " He's just a carpet snake, they're harmless."

" Are you sure?"

" Yes, Jody, " Megan whispered. " How do you know it's not one of those cross breds? He might be partly brown snake, for all you know."

" Come off it, " Jody laughed. " You two are terrible. But, all right, I won't pick him up. Honey, give me that broom, will you?"

Sam cast a suspicious look at the requested item and raised an eyebrow.

" What are you going to do with that? Brush him to death?"

Slightly annoyed Jody took the stick out of her hands and shook her head.

" I am going to make him leave, all right? I am not going to kill him. He's beautiful and he's harmless. You'll see."

" I don't want him around the house, Jody, " Megan cried out. " He has to go."

With a sigh Jody turned around and disappeared into the bedroom, to return with an empty pillow case. With a few steps she was standing near the snake, carefully observing it's coloring.

"It's a carpet snake, " she stated, carefully poking the reptile with the end of the broom. The snake stirred and raised it's head, looking for his adversary, but didn't attempt to strike.

" Come here, Steve Irwin, " Jody called Sam. " Hold that pillow case, so we can put him in and get him out."

Sam stepped closer, constantly looking at the snake, not at all comfortable with the situation. She hated to admit it, but snakes gave her the chills.

" Can I hold the stick? " she asked, a bit sheepishly.

Jody looked up and tried to hide the smirk that was creeping up her face.

" Okay, honey, just gently push him towards me, I will put him in the case, all right?"

Sam just nodded and took the broom out of Jody's hands, obediently pushing the snake towards the pillow case. The snake was clearly annoyed, but let himself be pushed away and within minutes he was scooped up in the cotton cloth, never knowing what hit him.

" See, I told you, no worries, " Jody chuckled. " He was as scared as you were."

" Well, I'm glad you've got him, " Megan sighed, climbing off the table. " They give me the creeps."

" They usually travel together, " Jody deadpanned, scanning the floor with her eyes.

Megan missed the mischievous twinkle and quickly hopped back on the table, nervously clutching her hands.

" I don't know much about snakes, but you are lying, " Sam chuckled, tickling Jody's ribs.

Jody laughed and motioned Megan to climb down.

" It's okay, Meg. I was just teasing. You can relax now, I will put him back into the bush."

" Please, " Megan sighed, wiping her forehead. " I can't believe this. The dog is always here and just when Sarah decides to take him with her, a snake pops up."

" Maybe that was the reason, " Sam dryly replied, watching Jody walk outside, crossing the garden to put the snake away.

Megan followed her gaze an unsuccesfully tried to hide a smile.

" I didn't wake you up, did I? I mean, the both of you are not exactly fully dressed yet."

For the very first time Sam realized both she and Jody were just wearing a shirt and panties. She looked down her tall body and started chuckling when she saw her naked legs and bare feet.

" We'd better get dressed, I guess, " she replied. " Can't walk around like this."

She cast a look at her red haired friend and smiled. Jody was dressed in a dark green shirt and skin colored panties. Her slim, but muscular legs were uncovered and Sam had to admit it was a beautiful sight to see her walk through the grass, clad in almost nothing.

" I hope I didn't interrupt anything? " Megan chuckled, seeing the look on Sam's face.

" Actually, you did, " Sam replied honest. " But I guess it was a worthy cause. I'm not that fond of snakes myself."

"So, are you serious? "

Sam turned to Megan, a puzzled look on her face. The other woman didn't avoid the scrutinizing stare, but just returned it with an honest expression in her dark brown eyes.

" What do you mean?"

" Are you serious about Jody? " Megan asked, very straightforward. " I don't think she could hack it if she lost you again, Sam."

" Neither could I, " Sam softly answered. " There are still a lot of things to work out, but I don't want to lose her, Megan. Not again."

Megan nodded and was touched by the pained expression on Sam's face. She put a hand on the other woman's arm and gave her a reassuring squeeze.

" I'm sure you two will work it out, " she smiled, watching Jody enter the varandah. " It's about time someone makes her happy. I know I couldn't. She's always been yours Sam, always."

" Damnit, Steve, we've been sitting here for hours now and nothing has happened. I feel like a complete idiot."

" You look like one too, " Little Steven replied, not taking his eyes off the entrance of the apartment building.

" This doesn't get us anywhere, we have to find those sheila's! If we don't the boss will have us for breakfast."

" I don't think he will have us for breakfast, Freddy boy. But the sharks will."

Fred glanced at his companion and felt all color leave his face. All of a sudden he felt sick to his stomach and he had to swallow a few times to get rid of the bile that was rising in his throat. Little Steven's face showed no emotion at all and Fred wondered if he had been serious.

" You're….kidding. Right?" he stammered. " Surely the boss wouldn't…"

" He would, " was the crisp answer. " That's why I don't want to screw this up, you understand? I don't want to end up as shark food. So we just stay right here and wait. They will come back eventually and when they do, they're ours."

" So, what will we do then? I mean, we can't just….I don't know."

" Fred, has anyone ever told you that you talk too much?"

" No, but…"

" Shut up, Fred. I can't …." Little Steven suddenly narrowed his eyes and a small smile appeared.

" I'll be damned….look who's there."

Fred followed his gaze and saw a young woman step out of a car in front of the apartment building. She was followed by a tall man.

" Wow, she's hot looking, " Fred chuckled. " Look at those legs will you, they go on forever. You know her?"

" That's McDonnells sister. I've seen them together once. She's not the kind of woman you forget."

" Who's the bloke?"

" I don't know, could be a brother, he does look like that red head. Our patience is rewarded, Freddy boy."

" What are we going to do now? You reckon they know where blondie is?"

" Yup. We stay here and when they come out we will just follow them. I bet they will lead us just to the right place."

" Sometimes I really don't understand you, Luce, " Gerald sighed. " Is it your curiosity? Why do you want to have a look at Jody's place when you know it's wrecked?"

" Because…..okay, I'm curious, all right! I still can't believe it, I have to see it with my own two eyes. I don't understand why a person would do something like that."

Lucy pushed open the door and entered the floor her sister's apartment was located on. The hallway was quiet and there was no evidence of the things that had been taken place the night before. She took out the key that Jody once gave her and opened the door.

" Oh my God, " she exclaimed, grabbing her brother by his arm. " Look at that."

Gerald peered inside and felt his stomach drop. The devestation was complete and he felt the tears stinging when he realized his sister had just lost everything that she owned.

" Better not go inside, " he whispered. " The police might not be finished here."

" Who could do such a thing?" Lucy asked with a strained voice. " It's not like Jody has enemies. God, Ger, she's the kindest person I know. It's not fair."

" No, it isn't, " Gerald answered, closing the door and guiding his sister back to the elevator. " Maybe Jody can tell us more about this. We just go to Megan and Sarah's, okay? "

Sam was sitting on the varandah, her feet propped up a chair in front of her, her laptop resting on her knees. She was silently scanning all the data that scrolled by, while her brain processed every bit of information she could grasp. Her eyes were fixed on the screen and she was so absorbed that she didn't seem to notice someone was observing her.

Jody was studying her friend's face with keen interest, noticing every little twitch, frown and narrowing of the eyes. She loved watching Sam and it wasn't something she could often induldge in, because her friend usually focused completely on her. Jody smiled when Sam rubbed her nose, a gesture she had come to known as one of utter concentration. She bit her lip and Jody could hear her suck in some air. A smile lit up her face and suddenly a pair of blue eyes captured her whole.

" You like what you see? " Sam purred, amused by the surprised look in Jody's eyes.

" Oh, yes, " Jody laughed. " I like it a lot. Goodness, Sam, I thought you were concentrating."

" I was, " Sam agreed, with a twinkle in her eyes. " But I could feel your eyes all over me and that sort of makes it harder to focus."

" Did you find anything? "

" I think I did. If you'll give me five more minutes I think I can show you."

" Fair enough, " Jody smiled. " I'll get you something to drink. What would you like?"

" Mmm…what? Oh, I liked that lemon squash thing."

" Okay, I'll get you some." Jody agreed, getting to her feet. " Lucy and Ger might be here soon. She said they would come."

Sam just nodded and lookes at her screen again, not responding to her friend's words. But suddenly a thought hit her and immediately she jumped to her feet, nearly dropping her laptop.

" Jody!"

Jody who was just entering the kitchen turned around when she heard the anxiety in Sam's voice. She frowned when she saw a pair of frightened blue eyes.

" Sam, what's…"

" Lucy and Ger are coming? Now?"

" Yes, " Jody answered, totally confused because of her friend's reaction. " Sam, what is it?"

" You think Lucy would have had a look at your apartment?"

" She's curious enough, " Jody smirked. " So, that's possible, I……."

She fell silent when her brain registered her words, leaving frightening possibilities. Her face went pale and suddenly very nervous she clenched her hands into fists.

" Sam, you don't think that….?" She asked, moistening her lips, afraid to finish her sentence.

" I don't know. But I don't want to take any risk, " Sam answered with a grim look. " Where's my cell phone? It might not be too late."

Continued in part 5

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