For disclaimers see part 1
After Trishia had tucked her in, Lucy had almost immediately gone to sleep. The only thing she could remember was her partner kissing her on the forehead while, at the same time, her warm hand rested on her belly.
She had been very tired. The stressful events in combination with her pregnancy had left Lucy completely drained and the moment she had crawled into bed she only had one wish: that Trishia could join her. But her partner had a job to do and although Lucy was worried about what could happen during the night, her body almost screamed for some rest. Even if it would only be for a few hours...
But Lucy’s sleep was restless. The concern about Trishia, Fiona and Robin constantly broke through the peaceful, unconscious state of sleep and every so often Lucy awoke with a start.
Eying the alarmclock, she let out a frustrated sigh, wondering if Sam, who, according to the plan, was in her office, had any news. She had promised Trishia to try and sleep as much as she could, but not knowing what was going on was robbing her of any rest.
Lucy’s mind traveled to her partner and she could feel her heart skip a beat when, all of a sudden, she remembered that dreadful moment, a few years ago, when Trishia had been shot. The memory was vivid and very disconcerting.
“That does it,” she mumbled, pushing herself up. “I need to know.”
Just as she swung her legs out of the bed, a soft tapping on the window almost made her jump in surprise. Pressing her hand against her chest where she could feel her heart beat wildly, Lucy took a deep breath, trying to regain her composure.
Her eyes darted between the window and the door and she wondered how long it would take her to dash out of the bedroom and run to the office. The calm presence of Sam would make her feel better, she knew. Of course the tall Dutch woman was not Trishia, but she would still make a good protector.
“Luce,” a voice hissed outside the window and again somebody tapped against the window.
With a frown, Lucy stood up. The voice had been a familiar one and with a few quick strides she covered the distance to the window. Pushing aside the curtain, Lucy’s eyes went wide when she noticed her sister and Sam, both holding a sleeping child in their arms.
“You need to get out of there, Luce,” Jody whispered.
“Through the window?” Lucy whispered back, although she had no idea why they had to be so secretive. “What’s going on?”
“Intruder,” Sam answered calmly. “Get some shoes and climb out the window. I’ll help you.”
Sam’s voice had been calm, but the urgent undertone had not escaped Lucy and without wasting any more time, she stepped back into the room to put on her sandals and made it back to the window within a few seconds.
It wasn’t high, but Lucy was still grateful for Sam’s hand around her arm, steadying her as she climbed out of the window.
“I haven’t done this since I was a teenager,” she mumbled. “Where are we going?”
“Stable,” Jody answered, squeezing her sister’s hand.
“Where’s Trish?” Lucy asked, obediently following Jody and Sam in the darkness.
“She’s in the house.”
Lucy suddenly stopped dead in her tracks and she would have turned around and walked back if Sam had not grabbed her arm.
“There’s nothing you can do, Lucy,” Jody said in a soft voice.
“Trish and Peter were on their way down to the apartment, when we found out there was an intruder in the house, so Trish came back up,” Sam answered, knowing the long version of the story could be told later. “The police are on their way up and I don’t want anyone in the house.”
“Is...is it that Barry Miles?”
“No, he’s down at the apartment,” Jody answered. “I...”
Jody’s words were interrupted by the sound of a gunshot and all three women gasped in horror, knowing full well what that sound could imply.
“Oh, God,” Lucy moaned, suddenly feeling sick to her stomach. “What’s going on?”
Trishia took a few deep breaths to try and calm her racing heart. Her eyes were still glued to the empty bed and with a conscious effort she tore them away to scan the room. The darkness made it hard to look for clues about her lover’s disappearance and, muttering under her breath, Trishia quickly stepped towards the bed. Sliding her hand underneath the sheets her heart skipped a beat when she could feel the lingering warmth of Lucy’s body.
Lucy could not be far away, the policewoman realized and, with a grim expression on her face, she turned around to enter the hallway, so she could continue her search for the intruder. All of a sudden, she halted in her movements.
Wait a minute. If the sheets are still warm, Lucy must have left only minutes ago. Why didn’t I hear or see anything in the hallway?
Quickly turning around again Trishia scanned the room once more. This time her eyes noticed the gentle swaying of the curtains, moved by the nightly breeze.
“I’ll be damned,” she mumbled, almost running to the window. When she pushed away the fabric she was able to look outside. What she saw almost made her knees give out from pure relief.
Hidden by the shadows of the trees, the policewoman noticed the familiar figures of Sam, Jody and Lucy make their way to the stable. Pressing her forehead against the cool glass of the window, Trishia let out a shuddering breath. It took her a few moments to regain her composure and, when she finally did, she slowly turned around, fighting the urge to jump out of the window and run after her lover.
“Good thinking, girls,” she mumbled to herself. “The only thing I need to worry about now is our intruding friend.”
Trishia pressed her ear against the door and listened intently. At first, the only thing she was able to hear was the beating of her own heart but, after a little while, her ears picked up another sound. With a frown, she pressed even closer to the smooth, cool wood and unconsciously Trishia held her breath. There it was again, the soft, almost whispering sound of a doorknob being turned.
Judging from its direction, Trishia concluded somebody was trying to sneak into the adjacent room, which was the children’s bedroom. With a smug smile, she tried to imagine the expression on the intruder’s face when he would find the room empty.
Using the back of her hand to wipe away the blood on the side of her face, Trishia squared her shoulders and, after taking a deep breath, her fingers grabbed the doorknob.
After what had seemed hours, but only had been less than five minutes, the first police car came to a full stop in front of the verandah.
“Miss McDonnell?” a vaguely familiar voice called out, making Fiona look up.
“Mac ! We’ re here. Peter got shot and he’s losing a lot of blood.”
Robin winced at the small quiver in Fiona’s voice, knowing Peter Jones’ situation was not a good one.
“Hang on, sweetie, help is on the way,” Jennifer Diaz’ tense voice suddenly sounded behind her and when Fiona glanced aside, she noticed the policewoman kneeling next to Peter Jones. “Hey, Pete, hang in there, mate. We’ll get you to a hospital in no time. Help is on the way.”
Peter Jones cracked open one eye and tried to smile.
“I’m hanging,” he whispered. “Make sure to...shackle...”
“Ssshh, don’t speak,” Jennifer Diaz urged. “Mac’s on it. He’s got the bloke handcuffed and ready to haul his ass away.”
“G...good,” Peter whispered, closing his eyes.
“Stay with us, mate,” Jennifer said, the worry and fear clearly audible in her voice. “You can’t go to sleep, not now. You gotta stay with us.”
“I’m so...tired,” Peter whispered in a voice that became weaker by the minute.”So...cold.”
“Tough luck,” Fiona spoke with gritted teeth. Tears were rolling down her cheeks and she angrily wiped them away. “If...if...if you give up, I’ll...I’ll tell Sharon about that blonde, who was chasing you. Remember that secretary? She had the hots for you.”
Peter Jones managed a weak smile and, with tired eyes, he looked up at Fiona, noticing the tears. His eyes widened.
“You’ re... crying,” he whispered.
“Allergies,” Fiona sniffed, which made Peter chuckle. He winced in pain and shot the photographer an accusing look.
“I’m...allergic...to bullets...as...well,” he breathed with a grin.
“I think we all are,” Robin remarked, sinking on her knees next to Fiona. Mac and another police officer had handcuffed Barry Miles and, without speaking one word, they had hauled the big man to his feet and had unceremoniously dumped him in the back of one of the police cars, slamming the door shut.
“It’ s good...to...see...the two of...you together,” Peter said with difficulty. “You make...a cute...couple. Love...becomes you...Fi.”
“Thank you,” Fiona answered with a quivering bottom lip. She could feel Robin’s arm settle around her waist and immediately she leaned in closer, needing the contact as much as she needed the air she was breathing.
“Don’t give up, Pete, please, don’t give up,” she begged. “Don’t let that moron win.”
“I’m...try...ing,” was the whispered answer.
“Jenn !” Mac suddenly shouted from the police car. “They’ re sending a chopper and need all the light they can get.”
“They’ll have it,” she shouted back, jumping to her feet, glad she could at least do something. She knew the life was slowly trickling out of Peter Jones’ body and time had become their biggest enemy. She knew Trishia’s partner would never make it down the hill in an ambulance.
“Turn the cars around,” she shouted, jumping off the verandah. “We need to make a big circle.”
Jody carefully sat down on a bale of hay, still holding a sleeping child in her arms. Sam had taken a seat next to her and, impatiently, they were waiting for the rest of the family to show up.
“Maybe I should go down and see what’s up,” Sam suggested.
“No, wait, honey, give them some time,” Jody objected in a soft voice. “Maybe the boys were hard to wake up.”
“And we know Mom can sleep through almost anything,” Lucy sighed.
“I just want everybody out of there,” Sam mumbled.
“I know, honey,” Jody replied, putting a hand on Sam’s knee. “Just a few more minutes, I...here they come,” she sighed in relief.
“Thank goodness,” Sam exhaled slowly. “I...here’s the police as well,” she continued in a tense voice. “I can see the lights.”
Jody could only nod. Her insides felt like they were twisted in knots and she constantly had to fight the urge to sink to her knees and throw up. She knew Fiona and Robin were down at the apartment and, after hearing the gunshots and seeing the flashing lights of the police cars, her worry and fear had increased tenfold.
“I’m scared, Pea,” Lucy’s quivering voice sounded next to her and Jody nodded.
“So am I,” she whispered, while her eyes took in the dark forms who were quickly coming their way. She clearly recognized the tall, slender form of Yarra and the smaller outline of Alice. The two women were walking hand-in-hand and, in spite of everything, Jody smiled. Alice had come such a long way and Yarra had been so patient, even though the dark-skinned girl had fallen for the blonde the first time she had laid eyes on her. She had waited, giving Alice the time she needed to recover and fight all the demons from her past: lending a shoulder to cry on every time the blonde needed one, never requesting anything in return.
You know, Jody, even though she might never return my feelings, I’d still feel blessed to have her as my friend, Yarra’s words echoed through Jody’s mind and again she smiled. Alice had returned Yarra’s feelings and Jody and Sam could not have been happier.
The small group entered the stable and took seats on the bales of hay that were lined up against the wall. Their faces were withdrawn and tense. They were quiet. Everyone was in different stages of worry and fear.
“I hope it will be over soon,” Michael mumbled, his voice hoarse. “You think the police will come up to the house, Sam? It seems to me that they’re taking their time.”
“I’m sure they will, Mike, as soon as they’ve secured that bloke,” Joshua spoke up, forcing himself to believe his sister was alright. Michael and he both had heard the gunshots and if Michael had not stopped him, Joshua would have pelted down the hill, looking for Robin.
“My sister’s down there too, mate,” Michael had urged. “But we can’t run down the hill like a couple of idiots and be in the way. I know it’s hard, but we’ve got to wait.”
Jody’s tired eyes scanned the stable, taking in all the tired faces, but, all of a sudden, she sat upright, her eyes wide with shock.
“Sam ! Where’s Mom?”
“Yarra?” Sam asked, rising to her feet.
“Oh, God,” the dark-skinned girl responded in horror. “The window was open and I thought she was with you.”
“Mom always sleeps with the window open,” Michael whispered.
“Oh, no, we’ll have to go back and get her,” Alice whispered, already on her feet.
“No, I’ll go,” Sam decided, handing her sleeping daughter to Lucy, who immediately cradled the little girl against her chest. “Nobody leaves this barn. Please,” Sam added with a plea.
“Be careful, Sam,” Jody urged in a strangled voice.
“I will be,” Sam promised, bending down to give her partner a quick but heartfelt kiss. “I’ll be right back,” she whispered against Jody’s lips, before turning around and leaving the stable.
Joan McDonnell had not been able to sleep, at all. She was worried sick, afraid for her daughter’s safety and well-being. Even though she had faith in Trishia and could think of no one else who would be more suitable for the job of keeping her children out of harm’s way, she still could not relax.
Her mind had drifted back to the time when all her children were still living at home. At times they had been a rowdy bunch, but, all in all, they had always been good children. It was such a shame her ex-husband never really could see it that way. He wanted his children to grow up into people he wanted them to be, not into the individuals they strived to become. He never saw the beauty of their characters, just their flaws.
Staring at the ceiling, Joan McDonnell’s eyes took in the display of shadows and she smiled. Jody would be able to come up with a story, based on the shadowy figures on the ceiling. It was a playful past-time she and Fiona had indulged in many times, when they were children. Fiona had loved all the stories her big sister had managed to come up with and she had the uncanny ability to remember them all. Jody could never get away with telling the same story twice, because young Fiona would not have any of that.
Joan McDonnell sighed and turned on her side, staring at the window. She had grown up so fast. Even as a child, Fiona had been so much older than her peers. Not in years, but in wisdom and experience. Many times Joan McDonnell had worried about her youngest child, hoping her smart, quick- witted daughter would one day find somebody she could be herself with. Completely. Without feeling the need to hide her charming and warm personality behind a huge, brick wall.
“I guess the time has come,” Joan McDonnell whispered to herself and again she smiled. She had never expected Fiona to fall so fast, so deeply and so completely. But it pleased her, especially when she noticed her youngest daughter had not tried to outrun her feelings for Robin. Instead, it seemed like she had embraced and welcomed them.
“I’m so proud of you, my little Red,” Joan McDonnell whispered.
With a sigh she pushed herself up in the bed and swung her legs over the side.
“How can I sleep at a time like this?” she muttered. “Maybe some hot tea may help me relax.”
Just when she stood up the sound of a gunshot shattered the silence and immediately Joan McDonnell let herself sink down on the bed, her hand pressed against her chest, her heart pounding wildly.
“Oh, my God,” she whispered. Please, protect the girls. Don’t let them be...hurt,” she ended breathlessly.
Joan McDonnell strained her ears, trying to catch a sound, any sound, that could give her a clue as to what was going on. But there was nothing but silence. Remembering Trishia’s strict orders to them all, to stay away from the office, made Joan McDonnell hesitate. She wished she could go to the office and ask Sam, or Trishia if she was still there, what had happened. But Joan McDonnell did not want to be in the way. Trishia had been very clear on the subject. Only Sam, Jody, Trishia and Peter were allowed in. They needed to be able to focus completely on the task at hand.
Nibbling her bottom lip Joan McDonnell tried to come up with the best plan of action.
“This is ridiculous,” she decided after a few moments. “For heaven’s sake, it’s my daughter down there. I need to know.”
Grabbing her robe Joan McDonnell quickly donned it and headed for the door.
“A mother shouldn’t need an excuse,” she muttered.
Cautiously closing the bedroom door behind her, Trishia stepped in the hallway and, holding her breath, listened to the sounds surrounding her. In the distance she could hear the call of a night bird and she thought she also heard the slamming of a door down at the apartment. She knew that could mean a few things, one of them being Peter having been able to subdue Barry Miles. Trishia did not allow herself to think anything else. Not yet. She had no time to worry. She needed to catch the intruder and lock him up, so her family could get their lives back again and she and Lucy could enjoy their pregnancy and prepare for the birth of their child.
Trishia cocked her head and listened intently. She thought she had heard a sound from one of the rooms across the hall, but she wasn’t sure. All her attention was focused on the bedroom next to the twins’ room.
Breathing in deeply, Trishia detected a trace of something that resembled a man’s cologne and mentally she shook her head. What an idiot.
Returning her focus on the twins’ room, Trishia half turned, ready to surge forward as soon as the door was opened. This time she would have the element of surprise.
The police woman did not have to wait long. Her whole body stiffened when, unexpectedly, the door across the hall was opened and before she could even turn around, she felt the barrel of a gun press against her neck.
“Drop the gun,” a male voice hissed.
Trishia’s mind came to a screeching halt when the gun was pressed into the vulnerable skin of her neck and she swallowed hard. She had no choice. With a soft thud the gun hit the carpeted floor and, immediately, Trishia felt herself being pushed from behind.
“Turn around, bitch,” the voice instructed and, slowly, Trishia obeyed, while her mind was frantically working on a solution for her predicament.
“We finally meet in person,” the voice continued. “Senior-Sergeant Waters, am I correct?”
“And you are?” Trishia replied coldly.
“Your worst nightmare,” the man whispered, chuckling at his own joke.
“Gerry Wilkins,” Trishia continued, as calm as she could. “Fancy meeting you here. Did you run out of dogs to do your dirty work for you?”
“Oh, no,” Gerry Wilkins smiled, waving one hand as if chasing away a fly. “There are plenty of dogs around. You’ve no idea what people will do for money,” he chuckled again. “But I wanted it done right, this time. So, I had to come here myself,” he ended cheerfully.
“While Barry Miles serves as a distraction?” Trishia casually remarked, hoping she could keep the man talking. Maybe, if she could buy herself some time, she would be able to turn the tables on him. All she needed was one moment of inattentiveness. Two seconds would be enough to reach behind her back and pull out her back-up gun that was stuck in the waistband of her jeans.
“Wow, you found out his name,” Gerry Wilkins chuckled. “I knew you were smart. It’s such a pity I’ll have to put a bullet through the center of your intelligence.”
“Why Sam, Gerry? What has she done to you?”
“Why not?” Gerry Wilkins spat, suddenly sounding furious. “She ruined my life.”
“How?” Trishia asked, inching away from the wall. She knew the livingroom was close by and maybe, if she was lucky, she could dive out of the way, before Gerry Wilkins could pull the trigger. All she had to do was to keep him talking.
“How? I want to understand, Gerry. I’ve invested a lot of time on this case.”
“Oh, that’s right,” he smiled, scratching his chin. “You’ve been trying to nail me ever since my plan to ruin The Reef fell apart. I should have known better than to trust William Jenkins and Joe Michaels. What a pair of idiots.”
“So they did work for you?”
“Joe did,” Gerry Wilkins shrugged. “Bill was just one of those fools who gambled and lost. Literally,” he giggled.
“Why did you want The Reef?”
“Why?” Gerry Wilkins echoed. “Why? You’ re definitely not a business-woman, are you? There’s a lot of money in that place. I tried to buy it, years ago, but the old fool Stevens didn’t want to go for it. I offered him millions. Millions,” Gerry Wilkins repeated while his voice rose. “When William Jenkins came into the picture I had it withing my reach,” he hissed. “I almost had it and then...poof! Samantha Stevens appeared. The bitch. She ruined my plans.”
Trishia tried to sound casual, while inching back towards the living room. She could not turn around and look, but instinctively she knew she was almost out of the hallway.
“But that was years ago,” she replied softly, keeping her eyes on the man in front of her.
“Revenge is better served cold,” Gerry Wilkins whispered. “Besides, I wanted to buy that mountain resort. It would have been an investment that could have brought me millions of dollars. She stole it away from me.”
“She bought it,” Trishia calmly corrected the man who seemed less balanced and lucid by the moment.
“She ruined me,” he repeated, his voice full of menace. “And you know the irony of it all? She doesn’t even care about money. All she cares about is her precious little lover and her brats.” Gerry Wilkins took a step closer to Trishia and she tried not to wince when he poked his gun in her chest.
“I’m gonna take away what she values most, that will be my revenge,” he giggled. “First, I’ll do away with the brats and then...I’ll let her watch when I send that cute redhead to Tartarus. That will surely break her,” he ended with a growl.
“But now, I’ll have to deal with you,” Gerry Wilkins continued. “I really didn’t want to kill you, but you leave me no choice.”
He raised his gun and, despite the darkness, Trishia could see the man smile sweetly.
“Any last requests?”
“None you would honor,” Trishia mumbled, slowly reaching behind her back, hoping the madman in front of her would not be able to notice the subtle move.
“In that case, say a prayer,” he cheerfully announced. “Goodbye, Senior-Sergeant Waters, it sure was a pleasure to...”
All of a sudden a few things happened at the same time. Trishia threw her body to the side, while simultaneously the light in the hallway was switched on, temporarily blinding both the police woman and Gerry Wilkins. In a reflex, he pulled the trigger, but the bullet missed its victim, because Trishia, who had been able to see the shadowy figure in the hallway behind Gerry Wilkins, had responded a fraction of a second faster.
Before Trishia could pull her gun and get back to her feet, another gunshot reverberated from the walls. Gerry Wilkins let out a howl of pain and sank to his knees, clutching his thigh where a bullet had gone straight through.
“Nobody hurts my family,” Joan McDonnell’s voice sounded and, with renewed respect, Trishia looked at her mother-in-law while she scrambled to her feet.
She quickly picked up the gun Gerry Wilkins had dropped and stepped back towards Joan McDonnell, never taking her eyes off the squirming Gerry Wilkins.
“Are you alright?” she asked softly, using her free hand to rub the older woman’s back. It was obvious Joan McDonnell was upset. Her face was pale and she was visibly trembling.
“I think so,” she whispered. “I didn’t kill him, did I?”
“No, it’s just a flesh wound,” Trishia reassured her. “He’ll live. Nice shot, by the way.”
“Thanks,” Joan McDonnell whispered. “I heard you two talking and I heard his threats. When I opened the door, I stepped on a gun, so I picked it up.”
“I didn’t know you could use a gun.”
“I didn’t, either,” Joan McDonnell sighed. “My dad taught me when I was a teenager. He took me to the shooting range. I guess I remembered his lessons.”
“You sure did,” Trishia smiled. “Remind me to stay on your good side.”
Joanne McDonnell mustered up a small smile and leaned back against the wall, needing the support.
“How can somebody hate that much?” she whispered.
“He’s insane,” Trishia answered, equally soft. “And jealous of Sam’s success.”
The subject of her thoughts suddenly came flying out of one the bedrooms and stared at the scene in front of her with a bewildered look.
“Trish. Mom, are you alright? Trish, you’re bleeding,” Sam panted.
“It’s nothing,” Trishia shrugged. “And yes, we’ re fine. Sam, meet Gerry Wilkins.”
“I know him,” Sam responded, shooting the man on the floor an ice-cold stare. “I should have known you were behind this, Gerry. Especially after the visit of your stupid, little brother.”
“Ira’s an idiot,” Gerry Wilkins answered with a hiss. “But you’re the bitch, Sam. You took away all I had.”
“You’ re insane,” Sam sighed, shaking her head. “I never took anything that belonged to you. Just because you wanted the mountain resort didn’t make it yours. My bid was higher, so I got it. It’s that simple, Gerry.”
“I needed that resort,” Gerry Wilkins spat, temporarily forgetting about the pain in his leg. “I needed The Reef. You Stevens’ have it all. Why can’t you let me have mine? The resort was my only chance to get out of debt.”
“Your debt,” Trishia replied calmly. “It’s time you take responsibility for your own actions, Mr.Wilkins, and stopped blaming everybody else.”
“At least Miles will have offed your precious little sister-in-law,” Gerry Wilkins used his trump card. “Don’t think for a moment they could have escaped him again. Didn’t you hear that helicopter? I’m sure they are bringing the body-bag. Barry thinks you killed William Jenkins. I told him,” Gerry Wilkins giggled. “All he wanted to do was hurt you and I bet he did.”
“Bet again,” an angry voice sounded from the doorway.
The police officers hardly had time to turn their vehicles in a big circle, illuminating a clearing near the house that was big enough for a helicopter to land, when the med-flight arrived. Carefully, but without hesitancy, the pilot landed his machine and immediately three people jumped out of the helicopter.
They ran towards the verandah and before Fiona and Robin knew what was happening, they were gently pushed aside, the flight nurse and a doctor started to work on Peter. Within a couple of minutes the policeman was hooked up to two IV’s, a portable ECG and oxygen.
“Will...will he be alright?” Fiona asked, the fear evident in her voice.
“I don’t know, love,” the elderly nurse responded. “We need to get him to the OR as soon as possible.”
Fiona nodded and felt Robin’s arms pull her into a hug as Peter Jones was strapped to the board they would use to carry him to the helicopter.
“Don’t give up, Pete,” she shouted when the medical team left the verandah. “Fight!”
Peter weakly raised his hand and Fiona let out a sob, pressing her face in the crook of Robin’s neck.
“This is a nightmare,” she whispered.
Robin could not answer. Her throat was constricted with unshed tears and she swallowed hard to get rid of the lump that prevented her from speaking.
“I need to get back up to the house,” Fiona decided, slowly pulling away from Robin’s embrace. “I don’t think...”
Her head jerked up and with wide eyes she looked at an equally shocked Robin.
“That was a gunshot,” she whispered, feeling as if her world had come to a stop.
“I need to go back up there,” she repeated, flinching when a second shot pierced the air. “I need to go.”
Fiona slipped away from Robin, who had tried to increase her grip, but the photographer was taller and stronger.
“Fiona! You can’t. Wait till the police...Oh, crap.”
Fiona didn’t wait for Robin to finish. She had already jumped off the verandah and was running back up the hill, followed by a determined Kurt who was, thankfully, not seriously injured after his landing in the rosebush.
Without giving herself time to think things over, Robin leaped over the railing of the verandah and sprinted after the photographer who had already disappeared into the night.
All heads turned to the source of the voice and three pair of eyes went wide at the sight of an angry, half-clad Fiona. The tall woman was only wearing a pair of shorts and a dark-green bra which, Trishia could not help noticing, matched the color of her eyes perfectly.
“Fiona! Are you alright?” Joan McDonnell exclaimed, stepping closer to her daughter. “Are you hurt? There’s blood...”
“It’s not mine,” Fiona answered in a tired voice.
“Robin?” Sam gasped.
“I’m fine, Sam,” Robin panted when she came skidding into the hall, almost bumping into Fiona, who had to wrap her arms around the other woman to keep them both from toppling over.
A frustrated bark sounded from outside and Sam shot Fiona a questioning look.
“Kurt’s fine,” she hastily replied. “Just a few scratches.”
“Whose blood is it, Fi?” Trishia asked, aware of the nervous ball in the pit of her stomach. Fiona had, uncharacteristically avoided her eyes and the police woman was rapidly becoming worried.
“It’s...” Fiona swallowed hard, casting down her eyes and blindly grabbing Robin’s hand for support. “It’s Peter’s,” she whispered. “Barry Miles shot him. The med-flight just picked him up.” Fiona took a deep breath and raised her eyes, meeting a pair of shocked green-blue ones.
“It doesn’t look good, Trish,” she whispered, feeling tears roll down her cheeks.
Breathing suddenly became a lot harder and, with trembling fingers, Trishia pushed a strand of hair away from her forehead, while images of a laughing Peter and his family filled her mind.
“Somebody needs to be with Sharon,” she whispered in a hoarse voice. “I will go there. If...,” she swallowed hard. “Peter would want me to be there.”
Sam made a conscious effort to push her anxiety and fear about Peter’s condition to the background. It was clear that Trishia was shocked to the core. The tall policewoman was exhausted and looked like she could pass out at any given time.
“Mom,” Sam addressed Joan McDonnell. “Could you please take Trishia into the kitchen and give her something to drink, before she keels over? No, Trish,” Sam continued, seeing her friend was about to object. “You’re in no condition to do anything right now. You need to sit down, rest for a little while and then we’ll find a way to get you to Sharon. “
“But...Gerry Wilkins...” Trish argued in a tired voice.
“We’ll keep an eye on him, don’t worry,” Robin promised with a grim expression on her face. “He won’t go anywhere.”
“We’ll make sure of that,” Fiona added, her dark-green eyes flashing when she looked at the bleeding man on the ground. “If he moves, I’ll step on his leg.”
“Fiona!” Joan McDonnell warned her youngest daughter, giving her a stern look, while Sam and Robin had to turn away to hide their smiles.
“Come on, Trishia,” Joan McDonnell continued, grabbing the tall woman’s arm. “Let’s get you fixed up with some fresh coffee,” she suggested, knowing her daughter-in-law still had a long night ahead of her. “And I need to look at that cut on your head.”
“I need to see Lucy,” Trishia responded, but she let herself be led to the kitchen.
As soon as she sat down at the huge table, the policewoman grabbed her cell phone and speed-dialed a number. Within a couple of seconds, she had a response.
“Inspector, we’ve got both of them, Barry Miles and Gerry Wilkins. Pete got shot though, he’s on his way to the hospital,” Trishia swallowed hard and rubbed her tired eyes. “It doesn’t look good...What?...Alright, yes, of course. I’m sorry, I’m a little tired right now. Oh, by the way, I need an ambulance for Wilkins....got shot in the leg...,” Trishia listened to the woman on the other side of the line and involuntarily her eyes traveled to Joan McDonnell who was busying herself making a huge pot of coffee.
“No, it wasn’t I, Inspector,” Trishia answered with a small smile. “It’s a long story...I’ll give you a full report later....Alright....No, I’ll be there as soon as I can. I need to be there, Pete would expect nothing less from me. Sure...thank you...”
Trishia shut off the phone and looked at the door when there was a polite knock.
The door opened and Mac Drummond and Jennifer Diaz stepped inside the kitchen, both police officers looking extremely uncomfortable.
“It’s good to see you, Mac, Jennifer,” Trishia greeted them. “Any news on Pete?”
“Not yet, Senior-Sergeant,” Mac answered in his deep voice.
“He was still conscious when they flew off,” Jennifer related, the worry clearly audible in her voice. “I take that as a good sign. I know it’s gonna be a tough one for Pete, but I’ve...I’ve,” she swallowed hard and took a deep breath. “I need something to hold on to.”
Trishia nodded in understanding and pointed towards the hall, where Mac and Jennifer could see Sam leaning against the wall, while she was softly talking to somebody they could not see.
“There’s some trash that needs to be picked up and hauled away,” Trishia said, not able to hide the anger and disgust in her voice. “His name is Gerry Wilkins and he will be a protege of the state for a very long time.”
Jennifer Diaz’ eyes widened and she looked at Trishia with unbelieving eyes.
“Gerry Wilkins, the banker?” she asked.
“The one and only,” Trishia nodded. “But he’s more than just a banker. You can add burglary, assault with deadly intent and conspiracy for murder to his resume. He’s a sweetheart,” she ended in a sarcastic voice.
“We’ll take the trash out for you, Senior-Sergeant,” Mac responded dryly, which earned him a grateful look from Trishia.
The tall policewoman pushed her chair back and sent Joan McDonnell an apologetic look.
“I will have the coffee and I will have my head examined, ” she promised with a smile. “But I really need to see Lucy. I’ll bring them down from the stable. It’s safe now.”
“We’ll make sure he’ll be gone by the time you get back,” Jennifer Diaz promised, slapping handcuffs around Gerry Wilkins’ wrists with obvious delight.
“I’ll come with you, Trish,” Sam said, pushing herself away from the wall. With the arrival of the two police officers, she didn’t need to keep an eye on the intruder any longer. “I want my family back in the house,” she added with a smile, putting a hand on Trishia’s shoulder to give it a friendly squeeze.
The two women walked towards the backdoor but, before they stepped outside, Sam looked over her shoulder.
“Fi, you’re welcome to put on one of my shirts,” she suggested with a wink, grinning when Fiona raised an eyebrow and flashed her a tired smile.
“I don’t know, Sam,” the photographer answered. “Walking around in my bra gives me a sense of freedom. I’m starting to like it.”
Sam just shook her head and followed Trishia outside, chuckling when she could hear Joan McDonnell urging her daughter to ‘clean up and get some clothes on’.
“Alright, alright,” Fiona sighed, feeling dead tired. “I’ll wash up and get one of Sam’s shirts to put on.”
“Do you mind some company?” Robin asked softly, not willing to let Fiona out of her sight yet. The night’s events had been traumatic and she knew Fiona was trying to put up her familiar aloof front, but Robin was determined to break through the layer of feigned indifference as soon as she could.
Their eyes met and for a split second Robin expected Fiona to decline her offer politely, but then the almost cool expression in the dark-green eyes was replaced by one of anguish and pain and Fiona slowly nodded.
“I’d love some company,” she answered in a hoarse voice.
“Thank you,” Robin answered softly and Fiona sent her a small smile.
“We’ll be right back, Mom,” Fiona promised, grabbing Robin’s hand and pulling her in the direction of Sam and Jody’s bedroom.
“Take your time, girls,” Joan McDonnell answered, grateful she could keep busy with preparing coffee and snacks for her family. It prevented her from thinking too much about what had happened. It had been years and years since she had held a weapon, let alone fired one. Inwardly, she shivered when she realized that, if she had aimed wrong, she could have killed Gerry Wilkins. Or even Trishia.
With a soft moan, Joan McDonnell pressed her hand against her stomach, willing herself not to throw up.
It didn’t happen, Joan. It didn’t happen. Trishia is alright and Gerry Wilkins only has a flesh wound. Forget about ‘what if’...it didn’t happen...God, please, let this nightmare be over now, please!
“I guess I should wash up first,” Fiona spoke softly, eying the streaks of blood across her arms and torso.
“Yes, I guess that’s a good idea,” Robin answered, equally soft. “Is this the bathroom?” she asked, pointing at a door and Fiona nodded.
“Good, I’ll run some warm water for you,” she said opening the door and switching on the light. She walked towards the sink and adjusted the temperature of the water, so it would be nice and warm. Her eyes stared at the clear liquid, while her mind traveled back to the frightening moment Peter Jones had been shot and Robin had thought she would have no other choice than touse her weapon against Barry Miles. Fiona’s desperate but well-aimed kick had saved her from having to do that.
With a sigh, Robin stretched the tired muscles in her back and shoulders and, in the reflection of the mirror that was hanging over the sink, she saw the motionless figure of Fiona, leaning against the doorsill with a pained expression on her face.
“Come here, honey,” Robin spoke gently, extending her hand in invitation.
Fiona looked up and grabbed the offered hand, intertwining her fingers with Robin’s. She let herself bepulled toward the sink and without a word, Robin grabbed a washcloth and soap. Gently she washed away the bloodstains from Fiona’s skin, while the photographer stood in silence.
“I”m having a dejavu,” Fiona spoke after a long silence, referring to the first day they had met and Robin had to clean the cuts in Fiona’s face. “This time it’s not my blood, although it’s on my hands,” she ended in a whisper.
Robin’s hands stilled and the biologist looked up into a pair of dark-green eyes that were filled with pain, anguish and guilt.
“It’s not your fault,” she spoke gently, but forcefully.
“Oh, but it is,” Fiona replied in a hoarse voice. “If I hadn’t stepped closer, he wouldn’t have been able to pull that second gun. It is my fault.”
Robin dropped the washcloth in the sink and pulled Fiona towards a chair in the corner.
“Sit down,” she urged, pressing Fiona into the seat.
The photographer sank down without a protest and stared at the ground, not able to meet Robin’s eyes.
“Alright, now you listen to me and listen carefully,” Robin continued in a clear, no-nonsense voice, while she knelt in front of Fiona so she could look her into the eyes. “Look at me, Fiona.”
“I can’t,” Fiona whispered.
“But I want you to,” Robin answered warmly.”Please?”
Slowly the dark-green eyes Robin loved so much traveled up and finally met the biologist’s gaze.
“He would have pulled that gun anyway, no matter what,” Robin stated. “It was his last resort and he must have been pretty desperate, because he knew he had been beaten. Because you stepped closer we saw him pull it,” Robin grabbed Fiona’s hand in between her own and tenderly kissed the knuckles. “If you hadn’t done that, things could have been so much worse. So, at least now we had a chance to step aside. Besides, it was Peter’s reaction to pull Kurt awayand step in front of him. I’m sure he will tell you it was a risk he took.”
“If he survives,” Fiona answered with a trembling bottom lip. Her eyes filled with tears and, in spite of the photographer’s grief, Robin was grateful Fiona did not push her away, but let her be part of her pain.
“Come here,” the biologist sighed, pulling Fiona into the circle of her arms. She gently stroked the dark hair that cascaded over her shoulder, while her other arm was wrapped around Fiona’s back, holding her close.
The photographer cried soundlessly, staining Robin’s shirt with her tears and the biologist let her. She just sat on her knees, ignoring the cramping pain in her back. Instead, all her focus went to the woman in her arms, whom she had met such a short time ago and yet, to Robin, it felt like she had known her forever.
Finally, after a longtime, Fiona raised her head from Robin’s shoulder and looked at the other woman with red, puffy eyes.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
Cupping Fiona’s face between her hands, Robin tenderly kissed her forehead, her cheeks, the tip of her nose and finally her lips.
“I’ll always be there for you,” she promised.
“I know,” Fiona smiled and Robin was pleased the haunted expression had disappeared from the dark-green depths. “I love you.”
Robin swallowed hard and felt the tears sting the back of her eyes.
“I love you, too,” she whispered.
“If Sam is not here in five minutes, I’m going back down,” Yarra decided, jumping up from her seat next to Alice. “I can’t stand this any longer. The waiting is driving me nuts.”
“Wait till you and Alice are ready to start a family. That will be nine months of waiting,” Lucy joked, trying to lighten the mood.
Alice chuckled and reached out to grab her lover’s hand.
“Sit down, Yar, please, your pacing is making me seasick.”
Reluctantly, the dark-skinned woman sank back down in her seat, immediately feeling Alice’s arm slip around her waist, giving her a loving squeeze.
“I’m sure Sam will be back up as soon as she can,” Michael spoke from his spot on the floor. He was sitting in front of Jody, using her legs as a backrest. “I’m not worried about that.” He swallowed hard and let out a shuddering breath. “I’m more worried about Fiona and Robin.”
“Me too,” Joshua mumbled next to him. “I don’t like all those flashing lights and the fact that there’s a helicopter down there...” Robin’s brother didn’t finish his sentence, but everybody was mulling over the same question:’Who had been hurt?’
“I hope Mom sleeps through all this,” Lucy spoke softly, not able to hide the worry in her voice. “I don’t believe that...”
She paused in mid-sentence and Jody, who was sitting next to her, could hear her breathing hitch.
“It’s Trish and Sam,” Lucy almost sobbed in relief. “They’ re coming this way.”
Jody stood up, almost making her brother lose his balance, but Michael just grinned and quickly scrambled to his feet.
“It is them,” he smiled, recognizing the two tall figures who were rapidly approaching the stable. Even in the darkness, Sam’s slight limp was prominent.
As soon as the two women entered the stable, they were bombarded with questions but both Trishia and Sam needed one thing first; the close presence of their partners.
“Everybody is alright,” Sam spoke when she wrapped her arms around Jody and Timothy. “Fiona, Robin and Joan are all back in the house. They’re all safe.”
Trishia let out a deep sigh when she took Lucy in her arms, burying her face in the crook of her neck.
“I’ve been so worried about you,” she whispered. “But it’s all over now. We’ve got them, both of them.”
“Thank goodness,” Lucy sighed, turning her face so she could press her lips against Trishia’s cheek. Immediately, she could feel her lover flinch and with a determined gesture, Lucy pushed Trishia back so she could look at her face.
“You’re hurt,” she stated.
“Just a scratch,” Trishia shrugged.”You should see the other guy,” she added jokingly.
“Did...did you have to...?
“No, not me,” Trishia sighed. “I’ll tell the whole story later, alright? But it was your mother who saved the day.”
“Mom?” Lucy and Jody echoed simultaneously.
“Really?” Michael asked.
“Really,” Trishia smiled, wrapping her arm around Lucy’s shoulder in a one-armed hug. “But right now she’s making some coffee, so if we’d all go back to the house, we can swap stories.”
Immediately, Joshua and Michael bolted out of the stable. With a smile, Trishia took Taryn over from Lucy and handed the sleeping girl to Sam, exchanging a look of understanding with the tall blonde.
“We need to talk for a moment,” Trishia spoke softly, pulling Lucy closer.
“What happened?” her partner immediately asked, looking up at her lover with a worried glance.
“Peter got hurt,” Trishia explained in a voice that was hoarse with emotion. “Barry Miles shot him.”
“What?” Lucy whispered, feeling all blood drain from her face. “Is he doing...? Is he...?”
“I don’t know how he’s doing,” Trishia answered truthfully. “I haven’t seen him. Fiona said it doesn’t look good.”
“She was there?”
Trishia nodded and brushed her lips against Lucy’s cheek.
“She and Robin were both there. So was Kurt, I sent him down. I guess they can tell us the rest of the story. I’ve no idea what happened.”
“You’ re going to the hospital.” It wasn’t a question, but a statement.
“I have to,” Trishia answered.
“I know, Peter expects you to be there for Sharon, like he was there for me.”
“Exactly,” Trishia whispered.
“I’ll come with you,” Lucy decided.
“I’ll come with you. I’m fine, the baby’s doing fine. I need to be there with you, Trish, unless...” Lucy took a deep breath and looked up at the woman she loved more than anything else in the world. “Unless you don’t...”
“I need you,” Trishia quickly responded. “I’ll always need you. Now more than ever.”
“Then I’ll come with you,” Lucy decided, cupping Trishia’s cheek and stroking the skin with her thumb. The policewoman leaned into the touch and kissed Lucy’s palm.
“Thank you,” was the whispered answer.
It was hours later. After drinking a freshly brewed cup of coffee and getting answers to a lot of questions, Trishia and Lucy had left for the hospital, anxious to hear about Peter’s condition and feeling the burning need to be with the policeman’s loved ones.
Fiona and Robin had followed suit, waving away all the objections the rest of the family had raised about their near-exhausted state. Fiona had told her family she needed to be in the hospital. Staying at home, near the phone, was a bigger torture than being able to pace in the hospital’s waiting room.
And so they had left, leaving the rest of their friends and family in the company of a handful of police officers who were busy writing down all the statements.
“Time crawls,” Fiona muttered, casting an angry glare at the clock on the wall. “It feels like we’ve been here for days.”
“Do you want to go for a walk?” Robin suggested in a soft voice.
Fiona looked across the room, where Sharon Jones was quietly waiting for news, her face pale and the fear and pain etched in the lines around her eyes.
Trishia and Lucy were sitting close to her, lending much needed support.
“No, let’s wait a little longer,” Fiona decided with a sigh. “It’s been almost four hours. I’m sure it won’t be much longer.”
Inside, her stomach was tied in knots and the huge amount of coffee she had been drinking had not helped her condition. Fiona was feeling sick and deep down inside she was afraid that, no matter what the news would be, it would make her give back the contents of her stomach.
“I’m glad you’ re here,” she confessed, glancing aside at Robin, who was leaning against the wall, staring at a faded picture on the opposite wall. It was a photo of an iceberg, the once bright white in stark contrast with the blue of the ocean and gray sky and she was trying to come up with the symbolism of hanging a picture like that in a room that was usually filled with anxious, nervous people, awaiting news about their loved ones.
I’m sure Fiona could come up with a better picture, she mused.
“I want to be with you,” she answered, turning her head and looking at the woman next to her, who sent her a small smile and grabbed her hand, needing the comforting, warm contact.
“I’m glad you decided not to join the police,” Fiona softly continued. “Being a conservation biologist is a lot safer. I’d be worried sick all the time if you were a police officer. I don’t know how Lucy does it.”
As if she could feel Fiona was talking about her, Lucy raised her head and sent her sister a questioning look.
“Are you alright?” she mouthed and Fiona nodded, raising an eyebrow in a silent question.
“I’m fine,” Lucy’s smile answered and Fiona smiled back.
“I can’t wait to meet their baby,” she sighed, leaning her head against Robin’s shoulder. “I just know that kid is going to be a handful, but he or she is going to be so special.”
“Boy or girl?” Robin asked with a smile.
“Girl,” Fiona answered without hesitation.
“Well, it’s a fifty percent chance. I guess we’ll have to wait and see,” Robin replied, amused by Fiona’s self-confidence. “It’s not...”
Robin paused when the door to the waiting room was opened and a tired-looking surgeon, still clad in scrubs, appeared. Her heart skipped a beat and she could feel Fiona’s fingers grabbing her hand in a vice- like grip.
“Mrs. Jones?” the surgeon asked, a little unsure whom to address.
“Yes?” Sharon Jones answered in a quivering voice. Peter’s wife stood, supported by Trishia’s strong arm around her shoulders and looked at the surgeon with fear-filled eyes.
Doctor Walker mustered up a tired smile and gave Sharon a friendly pat on the shoulder.
“Your husband is in the ICU. He lost a lot of blood, but we’ve been able to repair the damage. He’s very fit and healthy and I’m positive he’ll make a full recovery.”
“Oh, God,” Sharon Jones almost cried, pressing her hand against her mouth, her knees buckled and only Trishia’s strong grip prevented her from falling. The policewoman quickly sat the emotional woman back in her seat, while the surgeon kneeled in front of her, rubbing her cold hands.
“I’m sorry,” Sharon Jones stammered. “I...”
“Don’t worry about it,” Doctor Walker smiled. “Believe it or not, but I know what it’s like to sit and wait. I’ve been there and done that. Would you like to see Peter?”
“Oh, yes,” Sharon Jones sighed, wiping away the tears with the back of her hand.
“I’ll take you to him,” the surgeon promised, getting back to his feet.
“Thank you, doctor,” Trishia spoke.
“You’ re very welcome,” Doctor Walker smiled, before taking Sharon Jones’ arm and leading her from the waiting room to the ICU.
“If I wasn’t so darn tired, I’d suggest we’d go out and party,” Fiona sighed, having drawn some energy from the good news. “I’m so relieved I don’t know what to do!”
“Hug your girlfriend,” Lucy suggested, getting to her feet and demonstrating to her youngest sister exactly what she meant.
“Oh, yes,” Fiona replied, jumping up and pulling a smiling Robin into her arms. She buried her face in the curly hair and let out a contented sigh, feeling Robin’s arms settle around her back, pulling her even closer.
“I’m feeling the urgent need to kiss you,” she whispered in a shapely ear.
Robin chuckled and pulled her face away from Fiona’s shoulder, so she could look up at the taller woman.
“By all means, don’t let me stop you,” she smiled.
Fiona didn’t need any more encouragement. She ducked her head and claimed Robin’s lips in a sweet but solid kiss that left the other woman breathless. Robin softly moaned and briefly wondered if it would be a bad thing to make a spectacle of herself in the middle of a hospital.
“I said a hug, not an earthshattering kiss,” Lucy’s teasing voice penetrated Fiona’s warm, sensual haze. “Besides, who taught you to kiss like that? Robin looks like she will pass out if you keep that up.”
Reluctantly, Fiona pulled her lips away from Robin’s and kissed her playfully on the nose, before turning her attention to her sister.
“It’s a talent,” she answered calmly, hearing Robin chuckle.
She wrapped her arm around the biologist’s shoulders and pulled her close.
“And it takes two gifted kissers to create something earthshattering,” Fiona stated with a smug smile.
“I know,” Lucy laughed.
“Two peas from the same pod,” Trishia sighed, rolling her eyes.
“Just make sure junior won’t be pea number three or this planet is lost,” Fiona joked, pointing at Lucy’s belly.
She let go of Robin and stepped towards her sister to give her and Trishia a heartfelt hug.
“I can’t begin to tell you how relieved I am Peter will be alright. I just...” Fiona shook her head and smiled. “Let’s all agree not to do this again. I’ve had enough of surgery waiting rooms.”
“Amen to that,” Trishia answered, playfully ruffling Fiona’s hair. “I’ll give Sam a call. You’d better go home and tuck yourself and Robin in, the two of you look exhausted.”
“We are,” Robin admitted. “Sleeping sounds really good to me.”
She sent Fiona a questioning look and the photographer nodded.
“We’ re going. If you happen to talk to Peter while you’re here, tell him to hurry up and get well.” Fiona turned around, grabbed Robin’s hand and pulled her towards the door. Before she walked out, she looked over her shoulder. “Tell him I don’t take my shirt off for just anyone,” she added with a grin, closing the door behind her.
Lucy looked up at Trishia with a puzzled expression on her face. The policewoman chuckled and grabbed her cell phone, dialing Sam and Jody’s number.
“I’ll explain in a minute,” she promised.
The sun was already high in the sky, a couple of its rays playfully peeking through a crack in the blinds. Little specs of dust danced in the light, creating a beam that seemed to be alive.
Robin stirred in her sleep and snuggled closer to the body she was wrapped around, her legs entangled with a pair of longer ones.
A soft, amused chuckled penetrated her sleep-filled mind and slowly she cracked open her eyes, squinting against the light.
“Good morning, sleepy head,” a warm voice greeted and Robin mumbled something unintelligible, rubbing her cheek against a cotton- clad shoulder.
“M’ing,” was her mumbled response.
Soft kisses rained on her cheeks and forehead and Robin smiled, letting out a happy smile.
“That’s a nice way to wake up. I could get used to that,” she sighed, opening her eyes once more, but this time her gaze was caught by a pair of gentle dark-green ones.
“Do you want to?” Fiona asked. “Getting used to it, I mean?”
“Very much so,” she truthfully answered.
“Maybe we should work on that,” Fiona suggested with a smile.
“I think we should,” Robin replied with a smile of her own.
“Do you know you look adorable in the morning?”
Robin laughed and pressed her face against Fiona’s chest, feeling the other woman’s arms settle around her.
“You must be in love,” she stated with a chuckle.
“I am,” Fiona answered happily. “And you still are adorable.”
Robin raised her head from her soft and comfortable position and her eyes locked with Fiona’s, while her fingers traced the dark-haired woman’s face.
“You’re beautiful,” she whispered after a brief silence in which both women stared at each other intently.
Fiona swallowed hard when she noticed the darkening of the hazel eyes in front of her and the way Robin moistened her lips.
“Would you think I have a one track mind if I’d say I really want to kiss you senseless?” she whispered.
“That would be hypocritical,” Robin whispered back. “Because that’s exactly what I want to do.”
They moved closer at the same time, bridging the tiny distance between them and their lips met in a kiss that was warm, soft and sweet, but slowly increased in intensity. Fiona softly moaned when the tip of Robin’s tongue gently teased her bottom lip, causing her heart to pound wildly in her chest.
“Can you hear my heartbeat?” she whispered, when Robin’s lips slid to her neck, where they kissed and nibbled the sensitive skin.
“No, but I can feel it,” Robin smiled against Fiona’s skin, pressing her lips against the pulse point in her neck. “You do the same to me,” she whispered. “Here, feel.”
Robin grabbed Fiona’s hand and pressed it against her chest, smiling when she saw the photographer’s eyes widen.
“Fiona, if we continue this, I’m afraid I won’t be able to stop anymore,” Robin whispered.
“I don’t want you to stop,” Fiona answered in a husky voice.
Robin swallowed hard, looking down in eyes that were rapidly becoming darker.
“Are you sure?” Robin asked, feeling herself drown in Fiona’s dark-green gaze.
“Yes, oh, yes, I’m sure,” the dark-haired woman whispered, reaching out and pulling Robin closer. She kissed her forehead, cheeks and chin, before claiming her lips in a passionate kiss. Robin could feel her heart swell with emotion, soaring inside her chest and she wasn’t aware of the single tear that escaped her eye and slowly rolled down her cheek, until Fiona’s thumb scooped it up and tenderly wiped the moist track away.
Dark-green eyes that looked up at her bearing Fiona’s soul made Robin swallow hard and she managed a watery smile.
“It’s a happy tear,” she explained in a soft, husky voice. “You make me feel so...deeply and so incredibly much, I...it feels so good, it almost hurts.”
“I know,” Fiona answered in a whisper. “I feel it too.”
“I know,” Robin nodded with a smile, pressing her forehead against Fiona’s.
A pair of gentle, but insistent hands slid underneath her shirt, caressing the bare skin of her back and with raised eyebrows Robin looked at Fiona, who sent her an innocent look. There was a sparkle in her eyes though and after a few moments both women chuckled.
“What are you doing?” Robin asked, playfully nipping at Fiona’s nose.
“I’ve no idea,” Fiona confessed. “But it feels good. I...I want to feel your skin. It’s so soft, it makes me want to...,” she swallowed hard and sent Robin a shy smile. “I want to touch you,” she ended in a whisper.
“Then thouch me,” was the husky reply and Fiona took a deep breath, willing her racing heart to slow down. She wanted her first time with Robin to be memorable for something more than passing out on her.
Robin stared in fascination at the rapidly changing expressions on Fiona’s face. Within seconds they went from desire and amusement to shyness and insecurity. The photographer had never looked more open and vulnerable and it filled Robin with gratitude to know Fiona trusted her that much.
“I’m not really sure what to do,” Fiona breathed with a shy smile.
Robin brought her face down and captured Fiona’s lips in a slow, passionate kiss that elicited a soft whimper from the dark-haired woman. When she finally pulled away, Fiona’s eyes were dark with need and Robin smiled.
“Do you trust me?” she asked gently.
“Completely,” was the immediate answer.
Robin pushed herself up to a sitting position and, while her eyes never left Fiona’s she slowly, deliberately pulled her t-shirt over her head, immediately feeling the cool air caress her already heated skin. Her ears registered Fiona’s sharp intake of breath and she smiled, pleased with the photographer’s reaction.
“I guess, since you always seem to take your shirt off, it’s my turn now,” she gently joked, crawling over Fiona’s legs so she could straddle the other woman.
“Well, at least I was wearing a bra,” Fiona breathed, while her hands slid up Robin’s side, caressing her skin with gentle touches.
Robin laughed and leaned in closer to kiss Fiona’s forehead.
“Remember that Saturday morning, when I tumbled down the hill and you took your shirt off to make a sling for my arm?” Fiona nodded, with wide eyes and flushed cheeks and Robin chuckled. She brought her mouth to Fiona’s ears and lowered her voice. “Remember when you put the sling on my arm? Even though I was in pain at the time, I couldn’t help wondering what it would feel like to touch you.” Robin kissed Fiona’s ear and felt the other woman tremble. “I wanted to touch you then and I so want to touch you now.”
Fiona had closed her eyes, feeling the blood surge through her veins and she took a few slow breaths to try and regain control over her overheated body.
“Are you alright?” Robin’s husky voice sounded close to her ear and Fiona nodded, feeling the goose bumps erupt all over her body. “Look at me, please?”
Slowly, Fiona opened her eyes and she held her breath when she saw the unveiled desire in Robin’s gaze.
“I love you, Fiona McDonnell,” Robin whispered, gently brushing her fingertips across Fiona’s cheek.
“I love you, too, Robin Adams,” she answered softly. “And somehow I think I’m overdressed.”
Robin chuckled and let her gaze slowly travel down Fiona’s body and up again, suppressing a smile when she noticed the photographer’s faint blush.
“I guess you are,” she finally answered.
Fiona smiled and, with her hands on Robin’s hips, she came to a sitting position, never letting go of the other woman, who shot her a respectful glance.
“Do you want to help me with my shirt?” Fiona suggested with a wink and immediately she felt Robin’s hand peel the fabric away from her skin. It only took her a few seconds to relieve Fiona from her t-shirt and this time it was Robin who softly gasped.
“You’ re beautiful,” she whispered, reaching out a hand and gently tracing the swell of a breast.
Fiona swallowed hard, once more feeling a surge of hot blood race through her body, heating her skin, filling her with the desire to be as close to Robin as possible.
Without saying a word, her hands slid to Robin’s back and slowly she let herself sink back, pulling the other woman on top of her.
“Now, where were we?” she whispered before their lips met and all thought fled her conscious mind. All that mattered was the woman in her arms, who was so warm and soft and loving. And whose lips and gentle caresses touched her very soul, creating a world of their own in which nothing else existed but their love.
Trishia wrinkled her nose, feeling a soft touch tickle her cheek and slowly she cracked open her eyes. With a smile she reached out a hand and cupped Lucy’s cheek. Her partner was lying on her side, her head supported by her hand, staring at the policewoman with loving gaze.
“Now, that’s a sight for sore eyes,” Trishia greeted, her voice hoarse from sleep.
“Have you been watching Fiona’s Xena DVD’s again?” Lucy smiled.
Trishia laughed and pulled her partner into the circle of her arms, sighing happily when Lucy snuggled closer.
“Somehow I knew I’d heard that line before,” she confessed with a chuckle. “But it’s true, every morning I wake up with you makes me feel like the luckiest woman in the universe.”
“Good,” Lucy answered, kissing a sensitive spot on Trishia’s neck. “I hope you’ll still be feeling that way when I’m as big as a whale, waddling around like a duck.”
“I will,” Trishia promised in a serious voice and Lucy smiled.
“I know,” she answered. “I’m actually looking forward to that time.” Lucy’s hand slid down her belly. “I so want to meet this baby.”
“So do I,” Trishia sighed, putting her larger hand on Lucy’s, gently caressing her skin. “I know another seven months seem like a long time, but there’s a lot of things we need to do. I...” she cast a look at her partner and hesitated.
Ever since the first two miscarriages, Lucy had been reluctant to talk about preparations for their child. Somehow she felt she could not discuss names, furniture and the color of paint for the nursery as long as she wasn’t one hundred percent certain everything was alright.
Lucy saw the insecurity in Trishia’s eyes and she sent her partner a sad smile, knowing Trishia was, once again, looking out for her.
“We need to pick a few names and fight over the furniture of the nursery,” she said softly, immediately seeing the policewoman’s eyes lit up. “No pink,” she quickly added with a grimace.
Trishia laughed and pulled Lucy closer, kissing the top of her head before she sighed happily.
“No pink,” she promised.
“Thank you,” Lucy answered, patting Trishia’s stomach, a touch that subtly turned into a tickle.
“Hey,” Trishia protested, grabbing the offended hand. “Better be careful there, Lady.”
“Oooh, now you’ re scaring me,” Lucy answered with a laugh. Her eyes were twinkling and mentally she cheered for her partner’s relaxed state. Trishia had finally been able to sleep a full eight hours, not burdened or worried by the safety of her family, or Peter Jones’ recovery.
They had stayed with Sharon until the early hours of the day and had left only after Trishia had been able to visit her partner. It had only been a few minutes, but Peter had been awake. The two police partners had just stared at each other for a few moments, until Trishia had bent down to kiss his cheek. A gesture that was followed by a whispered, but heartfelt:’Thank you’.
Trishia turned on her side and glanced at the dark-haired woman next to her. Lucy was beautiful as ever and Trishia just knew she would be as radiant during her pregnancy as Jody had been.
“Yesss?” Lucy drawled, noticing the look.
“I just...I can’t believe this is all over and it has a happy ending. Last night, I...I was so scared for Peter. When I heard he had been shot, I...” Trishia let out a shuddering breath. “I’m so grateful he’s going to bealright.”
“We all are,” Lucy smiled, carefully tracing one of Trishia’s eyebrows with the tip of her finger. There was a lump where she had been hit by Gerry Wilkins and the surrounding skin was bruised. “Peter and Sharon have become a part of the family.”
“The ever-growing family,” Trishia chuckled. “We’ve acquired two more members.”
“Robin and Joshua,” Lucy nodded. She yawned behind her hand and laughed.
“I can’t wait to give Fiona a hard time.”
“That’s mean,” Trishia said, but she was laughing, always enjoying the bantering between the sisters.
“No, it’s not,” Lucy answered. “Have you forgotten how merciless she was when we were first dating?”
“I know, I was weary of her camera. I really didn’t want to be caught in a compromising situation,” Trishia grinned. “Maybe now she’s fallen for Robin she’ll realize her past transgressions and temper down.”
“One can only hope,” Lucy chuckled, pulling herself up so she could kiss her taller partner. “One thing is sure; she’s very much in love and, don’t tell her I said this, but it becomes her and I’m very happy for her. For both of them.”
Lucy snuggled closer to the warm body that was pressed against her side and let her hand travel across bare skin, until she reached her goal and cupped Trishia’s breast. Her lips slid up Trishia’s neck until they reached her mouth.
“I love you,” she whispered, not giving her partner a chance to respond. She claimed the policewoman’s lips in a long, deep kiss, sliding her body on top of Trishia, determined to spend the rest of the day in bed. Sleeping was just one of the available options.
Jody leaned her head back against the back of the chair and let out a contented smile. The sun was setting and a nice breeze from the ocean stirred the air just enough to make sitting on the verandah very comfortable. Her green eyes settled on Kurt, who was chewing on a big, juicy bone Fiona and Robin had treated him to and, involuntarily, she smiled.
Fiona and Robin were so in love and so cute together. Jody was incredibly happy her sister had found somebody to fall completely in love with. The photographer had simply been glowing with happiness when she and Robin had left for Brisbane to visit Alice and Yarra, before traveling further north to spend a week- long vacation in one of the many beach resorts.
Jody softly snorted. She didn’t think her sister and Robin would spend much time on the beach. But at least they were together, enjoying each other’s company.
A hand on her shoulder made Jody look up and she smiled when Sam bent down to give her a slow kiss, before taking a seat next to her.
“Twins asleep?” she asked.
“Like little angels,” Sam answered, stretching her long legs in front of her, crossing them at the ankles. “What were you thinking about? You were smiling.”
“Fiona and Robin,” Jody answered, reaching out a hand to grab Sam’s larger one. “It was sweet of you to send them to that resort.”
“They deserved it,” Sam answered. “I can keep an eye on the contractors for a few days. Besides, we were so behind on Booyong Mountain, a few more days won’t matter.”
“That’s true,” Jody nodded, lifting Sam’s hand to her lips and kissing the back of it.
“Did you hear from Trish?”
Sam nodded and let out a deep sigh.
“Gerry Wilkins has been evaluated by a psychiatrist and his report is not exactly positive. He really is insane.”
“I keep wondering why he picked on you, though?” Jody mused. “It’s not like The Reef was his to start with. I know now he used William to try and get his hands on The Reef, but if he’d done his homework, he’d have known it was part of Stevens, Inc.”
“Apparently, the man has quite a few obsessions,” Sam answered. “I was just one of them. He thought that if he told Barry Miles that I was the one who had killed his best friend, that would be enough to make him a pawn in his crazy game.”
“It was,” Jody softly remarked.
“By kidnapping the girls, Gerry Wilkins thought he could make me pay a hefty ransom, hurting me financially and his plan was, eventually, to leave the girls in the cave to die, so he would also hurt me, personally.”
“He’s sick,” Jody shivered. “I’m glad he’s locked away. You think you buying Booyong Mountain made him snap?”
Sam glanced aside to her pensive looking partner and she shrugged, scooting closer so she could wrap her arm around Jody and pull her against her.
“I’m sure it contributed,” Sam nodded. “Trishia was so right about him. She knew there had been some connection between him and Joe Michaels and Steven Hayes.”
“She just couldn’t prove it,” Jody mused.
“That’s why I had to buy Booyong Mountain. We knew it was a chance to smoke him out, we just didn’t expect him to go completely berserk. If he would have hurt the girls, I...”
“Sam, stop,” Jody urged, half-turning so she could look her partner in the eyes. “Nobody could foresee this. We discussed the consequences before the deal closed, but nobody considered he’d get that personal. We all thought he would try some dirty business tricks.”
“I’m just happy Fiona and Robin didn’t seem to care when we told them about it,” Sam sighed.
“What do you expect?” Jody softly laughed. “They met on that mountain and they are madly in love.”
“Not as madly in love as I am with you,” Sam smiled, pulling Jody out of her seat, straight into her lap.
Her partner chuckled and wrapped her arms Sam’s neck, leaning closer to kiss Sam’s lips that were too close to ignore. For a long time, they were completely absorbed by each other and, when Jody finally pulled away, she lovingly raked her fingers through Sam’s unruly hair.
“Do you think this adventure has truly ended?” she mused.
“I sure hope so,” Sam answered with grimace. “I’ve seen enough raving lunatics to last me a lifetime. I want some peace and quiet.”
“Are you kidding?” Jody laughed. “Peace and quiet with our twins? And don’t forget Lucy’s pregnancy. That will be an adventure on its own. Not to mention the miracle of my baby sister being in love. If you want peace and quiet, you’ re in the wrong place, sweetheart.”
Sam laughed and her clear blue eyes twinkled in amusement.
“Alright, alright, you win. We’ll be facing a lot of adventures. I have one request though.”
“Which is?” Jody asked, kissing the tip of Sam’s nose.
A pair of emerald green eyes met a pair of amused blue ones and Jody smiled.
“Always,” she promised.
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