Conclusion: Part 11 of 11

By Lorelei, Bard of the Lakes


DISCLAIMERS: All the characters in GUN SHY (except the gods) were dreamed up out of my bizarre little noggin and are mine, mine, mine, with the exception of any characteristics Dez and Jaylynn possess that belong to my partner, who is also mine, mine, mine. So the bottom line is: please don't steal my characters without permission. I wrote this for fun and fame, not profit, so please be kind when you critique me.

VIOLENCE WARNING/DISCLAIMER: This novel does contain scenes of violence and/or their aftermath. The protagonists are cops, and they live in a sometimes dangerous, sometimes gritty, always frustrating world. This story contains scenes where there are assaults, shootings, car accidents, arrests, domestic disturbances, and the aftermath of one rape. If you get queasy watching "Law and Order" or "Xena: Warrior Princess," you might not want to read this. However, I would put the level of explicit violence at about PG-13. Oh yeah—there’s also a little swearing here and there.

LOVE/SEX WARNING/DISCLAIMER: This story depicts a love/sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state/country where you live, you should move to Minnesota where we have human rights protections and a new governor, Jesse Ventura, to beat up anyone who's mean to us.

HURT/COMFORT WARNING: I've never totally understood what this means, but yes, indeed, each of the main characters (and some of the minor characters) do get hurt in more ways than one, and there is comfort afforded to each here and there—hmmm, just read the novel to see what I mean, okay?

SUBTEXT: There is no subtext whatsoever—it's all maintext. While there are no overly graphic scenes (apologies to those of you who were hoping for that and are now sadly disappointed), there are love scenes, and the theme of two women falling in love runs throughout the story. If this bothers you, click BACK PAGE and go immediately to the Jerry Falwell v. Tinky-Winky claymation slugfest scheduled for tonight.

SPECIAL THANKS: Couldn’t have done this without my trio of true blue beta readers: one scientist, a doctor, and a police officer. To Buff, Joy, and Erin—you are the BEST! Thanks to Tragedy88 and Dreambard for advice and inspiration. And many blessings to MaryD, Web Goddess Extraordinaire, for encouraging me and keeping me on track. Lastly, to MaryAnn, Linda D, and Susan who listened ad nauseum about this and read parts in the early stages and never stopped cheering me on.

DEDICATION: This one’s for Diane, because she had to live with an obsessed madwoman while it was being written. Not only that, she had to read and make sense of it—three times, in fact—and not at all in any reasonable semblance of order. She deserves a medal.J

GREAT NEWS!!!!! You’ve probably already all heard, but Justice House Press is going to publish this puppy as a paperback. My head is still spinning with delight. J

FINAL COMMENTS UPON CONCLUSION: This is part 11 of 11, and that’s all there is, folks—for now anyway. I have begun a sequel, but GUN SHY took me around a year from beginning to end, so I guarantee I’ll be laying low and scribbling for quite some time. I am getting a bit swifter at it, though, so maybe I can finish the sequel in early 2000. Thanks for coming along for the ride, and watch for the GUN SHY paperback to come out in the near future. Comments are welcome, and I have greatly enjoyed what people have e-mailed so far. You can e-mail me at:





Part 11


Jaylynn slammed Dez’s truck door shut and stomped over to her car, realizing with every step that she was mad at herself for being such a coward. It took her a few seconds to find the pocket of her jacket where the keys were. She unlocked the Camry door, gave a little wave and got in, setting the mashed cupcake on the passenger seat. The car was musty and warm and smelled faintly of mint. She didn’t know why—she hadn’t had anything minty in there that she could remember. She backed up out of the space and headed toward home. Smacking the wheel with the palm of her hand, she frowned. Why did the day have to end already? And why hadn’t she been able to summon up the courage to talk to Dez, to tell her how she felt? The thought that she might not get another chance like today filled her with despair.

Halfway down Lexington, she looked in the rear view mirror and saw the lights of a big vehicle tailing her. Squinting from the bright lights shining in through the back window, she questioned whether it was Dez’s truck, but decided the big cop wouldn’t follow that close. She came to Como Boulevard and maneuvered down the empty street around to the alley in back of the house. The truck stayed right behind and pulled in next to her.

Before Jaylynn could get out of her car, a tall dark form was opening her door. "Hey," came the gruff voice.

"Long time, no see," said the shorter woman as she emerged from her car and stood with her right arm resting on top of the doorframe.

Something made of soft fabric was thrust against her chest, and she reached up to take it with her left hand. Dez said, "You forgot this again."

Jaylynn ran her hand over it for a moment before it registered: her U of M sweatshirt. "Possession is nine-tenths of the law," she said in a cool tone. "You’ve had it so long, you should keep it." She didn’t know what was wrong with her, why she was being so brusque. She handed it back to Dez and smacked shut the Camry door.

"Jay." The voice was so soft she barely heard it. "Please?"

Startled, the rookie turned and looked up at the outline of her partner. Though moonlight reflected off the dark hair, she couldn’t see her face in the shadows. She did, however, feel the hand that came to rest on her shoulder, and a fierce truth flooded through her. She needed to know . . . and she wanted to know now, today, right this moment: was this a one day thing? A one time occurrence? What had today been all about? With a sigh she said, "We need to have that talk, Dez."

"I know."

In a peevish tone the blonde said, "Do we have to have it here in the alley, or can we go inside where it’s comfortable?" Acutely aware of the warm hand pressing lightly on her shoulder, she fumbled with her keys. When she looked up at the taller woman, her eyes had adjusted some to the darkness, and now she could see pale smouldering eyes burning into her own. She met the gaze and didn’t flinch. Everything around her narrowed, telescoping into the face before her until all she could see were indigo eyes and all she felt was the slow beat of her heart, the rhythm picking up as those eyes drilled into her.

Dez bent her head ever so slowly, eyes never wavering, giving Jaylynn every opportunity to withdraw. Instead the shorter woman met the gaze, unflinching, and tipped her head back until she connected with lips she found surprisingly soft. She dropped her car keys and brought her hands up to Dez’s middle, feeling the ridges of ribs under the worn cloth of the green sweatshirt. She slipped her arms around the taller woman as the hand on her shoulder shifted to encircle her in a tight embrace.

The kiss was intense and overpowering, hitting her like a tidal wave, and leaving her gasping for air. Jaylynn could hardly tear herself away, but after a moment, she did. She leaned her forehead against Dez’s shoulder, gulping, and said in a muffled voice, "Wait! Wait a minute." She let her arms drop and backed up two steps, still out of breath, and bumped against the Camry. She choked out, "Don’t do this if you don’t mean it." She took a deep breath and then bent to pick up her keys. When she rose, she saw the tall woman twisting the sweatshirt in her hands.

"I mean it," growled Dez.

Jaylynn stood uncertainly, then whirled and headed toward the house. She reached the back gate and turned. "Well?" she said. "Are you coming?"

The dark haired woman hesitated for only a moment, then moved across the cement in slow strides until she caught up. "Will I be disturbing your roommates?"

"No. Tim’s car isn’t here, so he’s gone. Sara must be gone too because the house is dark. Come on."

They made their way into the house through the kitchen back door, the hinges creaking as the smaller woman shut it. "Are you hungry?" said Jaylynn in a quiet voice as she slipped her jacket off and tossed her keys on the table.

"Not really." Dez slouched by the back door, her hands in her Levi pockets.

The rookie opened the refrigerator door, which cast a stream of light in the darkened kitchen. She grabbed a plastic pint container of orange juice and shut the door. Turning, she looked at Dez standing in the shadows. "Let’s go up to my room."

They passed through the dining area and into the living room, which was illuminated by one dim lamp. They started up the steps and Dez ran her hand over the smooth wood of the banister. It was the first time the dark haired woman had ventured upstairs since the night of the attack, and as they climbed up the staircase, she looked at the walls. She saw a Zorro movie poster on the landing, the black-clad hero standing with his sword drawn and the beautiful Catherine Zeta Jones next to him. Dez said, "Hey, that’s new. I loved that movie. She was great."

Jaylynn peered back at her quizzically. "Why do you think that’s new?"

"Oh. Well," she said, taken aback. "I suppose it could actually be months old, but it wasn’t there when I was up here last August. I remember all the other ones you have though."

Jaylynn gave her a funny look. "Actually, we just got it a few weeks ago."

"Where did you get all those posters?"

"Sara gets them at the video store where she works. She can get practically anything."

At the top of the stairs, the blonde went into the only room Dez remembered. The tall woman hesitated in the dark doorway, still twisting the sweatshirt in her hands, until Jaylynn turned on a table lamp between the couch and bed. It shed a pale golden glow that barely illuminated the room. Dez’s pale eyes swept around, noticing that everything was completely different from the last time she had been upstairs. She said, "Wasn’t this Sara’s room?"

"Yeah, but we switched. She couldn’t face it after what happened." Jaylynn reached over and turned on a pole lamp next to the bed. The bright light made Dez squint. Jaylynn frowned and switched off the glaring light, then set the orange juice container on the table next to the dimly glowing lamp. She sank down, angled into the corner of the couch, feet curled underneath her, and patted the cushion beside her. Dez sauntered in, tossing the gray sweatshirt at the other end of the couch. She sat gingerly in the middle of the sofa, unsure and confused. In fact she realized she felt a little panicky.

Jaylynn picked up the juice and offered it to her, but Dez shook her head and said, "No thanks."

The blonde twisted the cap off and took a sip, then set it back down. "What’s the matter?"

The big woman shrugged.

"Come here." When the brunette didn’t move, an exasperated Jaylynn said, "I won’t bite, and I won’t make you do anything you don’t want to. Please. Come here, Dez."

With her head down, Dez scooted over. Jaylynn reached for her companion’s hand and was surprised to find that it was cool. "Hey! What happened to my furnace?"

The dark haired woman looked down, embarrassed, and said, "My hands go cold when I get nervous."

"Dez! Why are you nervous?"

Another shrug.

In a kind voice the blonde said, "I’m the same person I was when we sat on the rocks earlier. The same one from the beach. The same one who sat next to you—or slept on you—in the truck for what, 500 miles? Why are you all of a sudden afraid of me?"

"I don’t know."

Jaylynn squeezed the large hand and rubbed it a little to warm it up. She pulled the fingers open, and ran the palm of her hand over Dez’s palm feeling the calluses there. "You have great hands, you know." Right after she said it, she realized how it sounded, and blushed crimson red. This got a smile out of Dez.

Jaylynn said, "Shame on you. You know that’s not what I meant—I meant that your hands are nice. I mean, they’re strong. They’re beautiful."

"They’re too big."

"You’d look sorta silly with my little hands on your body. These are just right for you. I like them. I like how I feel when they touch me."

Now it was Dez’s turn to blush.

"Uh oh, your hands are going cold again. No more compliments for you." Jaylynn reached over and took another drink of the orange juice. "Sure you don’t want some?"

"I’m sure." Dez was also sure that if she ate or drank one single drop of anything, she’d be sick. What was she thinking when she had followed the younger woman? She hated how things usually went when she acted impulsively. And yet—she was glad to be with Jaylynn. Maybe she wasn’t ready to open up, but still, she didn’t want to leave. She fumbled for words, something, anything to talk about, but nothing occurred to her. Several tense seconds passed and then what came out of her mouth next surprised her as much as Jaylynn.

"What I said that day in the 7-11 when I got shot? It was true." Dez took a sharp breath and, aghast, bit her tongue.

Now it was Jaylynn’s turn to hold her breath as she studied her partner’s face, which was blushing the brightest color of scarlet that the blonde had ever seen. In her kindest voice, she said, "I thought so." She paused. "I’m surprised you remember. You were kind of out of it."

"I remember."

"I wasn’t totally sure you were talking to me."

"I was." Dez put her head down. "I am."

Jaylynn reached up and pulled the long dark tresses back and let her palm rest against the blushing woman’s neck. With the other hand she gently turned Dez’s chin until the dark haired woman faced her and looked her in the eyes. "The feeling is so totally mutual."

Dez raised timid eyes to meet smiling hazel green. She said, "I’m sorry I’m so slow."

Jay shrugged. "You’ve made me wait a long time, but I think it’s been worth it."

Uncertainty hit Dez again, and she shivered. "How do you know that? How can you be so sure? We haven’t even—you know—slept together."

"Yes, we have! What about at Luella’s? What about last night in the truck?" She didn’t mention their first night together, the one that had turned so traumatic.

"Don’t be silly. That was different. It’s not the same as being, you know—intimate."

Jaylynn stifled the urge to laugh, which was difficult since she was filled with so many contradictory and uncontrollable emotions that she almost felt the need to get up and run screaming jubilantly throughout the room. Instead, she said, "I think I’ll feel the same way—even more intensely after that intimacy."

"But how do you know?" Bitterly Dez said, "It’s not like I have a good track record. Everybody who’s ever slept with me has ended up not liking me in the long run."

"What—a cast of thousands?"

Dez looked down. "Well, no. Three."

"They were idiots." She let her hand drop from the dark haired woman’s face and rest on her thigh. "Desiree Reilly, I’ve been riding with you off and on for what—eight, nine months? I’ve seen you at your absolute worst, and I still like you. Shouldn’t that give you a clue?"

Dez considered that. "There’s an awful lot of unknowns here, Jay."

The rookie rolled her eyes. "You worry too damn much."

"Guess it comes with the job. Sometimes it’s like a heavy weight I can’t toss off."

"Sorry, but I’m afraid I’m one heavy weight you aren’t gonna be able to toss off so easily. Please—why don’t you shut up and kiss me like you did in the alley?"

"Wait a minute. I haven’t done this for a very long time. What if—"

"Oh please!" Jaylynn said, laughing. "It’s like riding a bike. You won’t have just forgotten!"

"What if someone comes down the hall?" Dez nodded toward the open door.

Jaylynn sprang up from the couch and closed the bedroom door. "There. Is that better?" She stood in the dim lamplight with her hands on her hips and a smirk on her face. "Should I put the desk chair in front of it just to be safe? Maybe we could drag the couch over in front of it?"

Dez groaned and shook her head.

"Will you stop worrying then?"

Dez nodded and reached her hand out. "Okay. Come over here."

Jaylynn was across the room in a shot. She stood before her partner and then eased down onto the couch by kneeling on either side of the dark haired woman’s legs, lowering herself onto muscular thighs.

"You’re lucky you’re still young and limber," said Dez as she wrapped her arms around the smaller woman’s waist. "That’d kill my old knees."

"Yeah, you’re so ancient." Jaylynn cupped the dark head in her hands and met blue eyes. She arched an eyebrow. "Is this okay? There really isn’t any hurry, you know. We should take things slow ’til it feels right to you. "

One dark eyebrow arched, and in a mocking tone, Dez said, "Go for it."

"All right, but just stop me any time you want, okay?"

Soft lips came together shyly at first, then more insistently. After a moment, Jaylynn broke the kiss and pressed closer to Dez, taking the opportunity to slip her arms around the tall woman’s shoulders. She felt the bumpy texture of the couch against her forearms and the now very warm hands pressing against her back. Tucking her head against Dez’s collarbone, she nuzzled at her neck, smelling the soft scent she knew so well. "You smell incredibly good."

"How is that possible?" Dez said in a low voice. "I haven’t even had a shower since yesterday."

"I don’t know why, but you just smell edible to me." She pressed her nose into the dark hair and inhaled. "You smell great."

"So do you," the tall woman countered gruffly as she pressed her lips against the side of Jaylynn’s neck. "And you taste good too."

A quiet whimper emerged from the blonde, and suddenly she was breathing fast. "Oh, Dez. You don’t even know how sweet you are."

With a soft groan, Dez wrapped her arms tightly around the smaller woman and stood up.


In three steps they were at the edge of the bed, and Dez dropped them gracefully down onto it. They landed on their sides, still holding each other tightly.

Jaylynn said, "Pretty good for a decrepit old woman. It’s not like I’m light as a feather."

"That was fun," said Dez, laughing.

"You could have warned me."

"What? And ruin the surprise? No way." She nuzzled Jaylynn’s neck. In a soft voice she whispered, "You don’t know how long I’ve wanted to do this."

"Why didn’t you say something?"

"Get real. After what happened that first time?" She slid one leg between Jaylynn’s and moved as close as she could. "Jay, I thought I had—well, totally and completely blown it. I don’t know how you stuck it out all this time."

"But couldn’t you see how I felt? Couldn’t you feel it?"

Dez drew her head back and gave her a quizzical look. "What do you mean?"

"Well, apparently everyone but the blind has been able to tell how I feel about you."

"Meaning who?"

"Try Luella, Crystal, Vanita, Julie. Oh, and of course there’s Sara, but she’s had inside information. And Tim and Kevin, and Shayna—oh, and my mother definitely caught on too."

"How do you know this?"

"Half of ’em told me! How else?"

In an indignant tone she said, "Good God! Is everyone we know privy to our relationship?"

"Dez! It’s not my fault. If all of them could read it in my face, then why didn’t you?"

"I’m glad no one read my face."

Jaylynn burst into giggles.


"Try Crystal and Luella, for sure. Julie too. And I’m sure Luella keeps Vanita up-to-date. And then there’s Shayna. And Cowboy."

"Well, I’ll be damned." She pulled the giggling woman closer. "So how come you couldn’t tell about me?"

"Just because you felt one way about me or maybe were attracted didn’t mean you wanted a relationship. Lucky I’m more patient than I look," said Jaylynn. "I—I just wasn’t sure—you hide things well, you know.

"It’s been harder lately."

"What do you mean by that?"

Dez ran her hand along Jaylynn’s hip. She didn’t quite know how to explain, but she took a shot at it. "I let you in too much. I started to rely on you too much."

Jaylynn reached up to stroke the pale cheek. "I don’t understand. How can you care about anyone too much? There’s no too much about it. It’s pretty simple. You either care or you don’t."

"Yeah, that’s a good theory," Dez muttered.

"Now that’s not a theory—it’s a fact. Trust me."

Instead of replying, Dez leaned in for a kiss.

"Wait," the rookie said, startling the dark haired woman lying next to her.

Alarmed, Dez froze. "What?"

Jaylynn half sat up, her elbow under her head, and in a very serious voice said, "I thought you didn’t date cops." She blanched when Dez rolled from her side onto her back. The blonde held her breath, then closed her eyes and swore silently to herself.

As Dez stared up at the ceiling, she said, "It doesn’t matter. At this point in our relationship, it appears that we’re skipping right over the dating part."

Jaylynn laughed in relief. "You goofball," she said, "you may not have realized it, but every day with you has been a date."

"I don’t think so," Dez said sheepishly. "I’m usually much nicer to my dates."

"Now who said you had no sense of humor?" Jaylynn leaned over the prone woman and laid a hand on her stomach, stroking softly through the material of the sweatshirt, and grinning when she felt Dez’s breath catch. She let her hand drift higher until she was stroking the tight skin at her partner’s collarbone, then stroking downward over the tight muscle of her chest. Dez shifted and moved closer until Jaylynn could feel the warmth of her breath, then a gentle touch on her face as the taller woman lifted her dark head up off the bed and studied her intently. Jaylynn felt soft cotton under her hands as she slid them up against Dez’s body, then ducked her head gracefully and sought out the red lips below. Gentle at first, then again, a solid contact, lingering and powerful, lasting long enough for her soul to stir with a recognition she did not understand.

When they came up for air, Dez said, in a husky voice, "I guess I’ll have a new rule. I’ll only date one cop, but that’s it. After that, I draw the line. You’re the only one that got in the door in time, and now it’s closing."

Breathlessly Jaylynn said, "For someone who had no idea what to say a little while ago, you sure are talking a lot."

Dez reached out and put her hands over the back pockets of Jaylynn’s jeans and pulled the smaller woman up on top of her, in the process getting her hands up under the smaller woman’s shirt. The dark haired woman captured soft lips again. Her hands wandered up the skin of the blonde’s back, thumbs stroking a line along Jaylynn’s midsection. She felt the smaller woman shiver and arch upward.

Jaylynn said, "I want to feel your skin against me." She pulled at Dez’s sweatshirt until it came off over the bigger woman’s head.

"Yours too." Dez pulled off the polo shirt, and found yet another—a t-shirt. "Good God! How you coulda been cold all day with all these layers on is beyond me."

Jaylynn shut her up with a kiss.

Unclothed from the waist up, they reveled in the touch of warm skin rapidly heating to the touch. Jaylynn slid to her side to give her hands free rein to touch her partner. She laid her head on Dez’s chest and let her right hand run from shoulder to breast to abdomen.

Jaylynn whispered, "You have no idea how much I wanted to touch you, especially the night of the bodybuilding show. I wanted to feel these muscles so bad."

Dez answered by rolling the rookie over on her back and easing herself gently over the smaller woman’s frame. She traced a trail of kisses down Jaylynn’s neck, stroking her abdomen, caressing breasts until Jaylynn thought she would explode with the pleasure of it. She clutched at the broad shoulders and then felt a rush of cool air as her jeans were unbuttoned and slipped off. "Off with yours too," she whispered as she fumbled at the zipper on Dez’s jeans. She couldn’t help the sigh of contentment that escaped when the denim against her legs disappeared and suddenly she felt the heat of limbs tangled with hers.

Strong hands stroked across her stomach, over her hips, across her whole upper body and then along the inside of her bare thighs. Elation swept through her as she savored a gentleness that, for some odd reason, she hadn’t expected. She completely lost track of where she was, focusing solely on the tension at her center as the heat grew and expanded in response to Dez’s tender but insistent touch. She felt lips against her neck and clasped the tall woman tightly, until she moved closer and closer to an explosion of lights and feeling. The intensity was so powerful that the sensations pounding through her body caused every muscle in her legs and hips to tighten and tremble in repeated waves. Through rasping breaths she held on to the woman in her arms until the tidal wave washing over her began to abate.

"Geez Dez," she wheezed. "You certainly seem to have remembered plenty of bike riding techniques." She gulped in air and gradually relaxed as Dez leaned over her and continued to stroke her body with deft hands.

In a low voice, the bigger woman said, "You don’t have any idea how beautiful you are, do you?"

"Oh come on, you crazy woman."

"And," she said, "you’re cute when you’re embarrassed."

"I can only think of one way to shut you up." Jaylynn pulled the dark head toward her and covered the smiling mouth with her lips. After moments of exploration, they came up for air, and the blonde said, "It’s my turn now."

"I thought you just had your turn," Dez commently dryly.

"No, it’s my turn to make you squirm."

"Somehow that doesn’t sound very romantic."

"I’ll work on it. Roll over, Miss Big Mouth Cop."

Laughing, Dez obeyed, moving upward so she lay nearer the headboard. She pulled a pillow under her neck as the blonde straddled her, kneeling on either side of the lean hips.

Jaylynn said, "Okay now, let’s see a nice lying double biceps pose."

"I don’t think that’s in the routine."

"Put it in," she said with fake menace.

So Dez brought up her arms and flexed both bicepss, looking first to the left, then to the right in the soft lamp light.

"Not bad," said Jaylynn as she reached down to palm each of the bulging muscles. Quietly she said, "I still can’t believe how soft and cuddly you are when, from a distance, you looked like so many angles and cuts." She leaned forward slowly and buried her face in the inviting neck below, nipping lightly with her teeth. When warm hands gripped her hips, she slid forward and shifted her legs until she lay atop the taller woman. She found herself clutched tightly as she ran her hands and mouth over as much of Dez as she could reach. It didn’t take long to find all the spots that pleased the dark-haired woman most, and she stroked and kissed at the soft skin in place after place until she heard a tortured whisper in her ear, "Please. You’re killin’ me."

Jaylynn chuckled. She couldn’t help but grin as her hands caressed her lover’s legs. She found herself enfolded in strong arms against a wide chest. Hearing the pounding of the big woman’s heartbeat in her ear, she concentrated on the pleasure she hoped to bring. Before she knew it, Dez was clutching at her powerfully and gasping in her ear. She gripped the rookie as she trembled convulsively, and then, when the shuddering subsided, she opened her eyes.

Jaylynn gazed nervously into bright blue eyes. "Back in the saddle again?"

"Okay, okay. You were right," the blue eyed woman said gruffly. "But that was definitely more fun than any bicycle I ever fell off."

"I’ll take that as a compliment."

They lay tangled together for a few moments as their heartbeats gradually resumed normal levels. The brunette hugged Jaylynn tightly and closed her eyes, relishing the comfort of the moment. Then she sighed, and guarded eyes flicked open to search out Jaylynn’s face. In a low but nervous voice, Dez said, "Should I go home now?"

Jaylynn blinked in disbelief. "You’re joking, right?"

"Well, I—I mean, do you want me to go—"

"What! Are you nuts? Of course I don’t want you to go!" She reached up to the top of the bed and pulled the covers down.

Breathlessly Dez said, "Wait a minute . . . you can’t seriously be cold."

"I will be soon. Here, slide over." She wrestled the covers out from under the two of them and slid her legs under.

Alarmed, Dez said, "You gotta be kidding. I’ll roast."

"Yeah, yeah. Here, just pull the sheet up. I’ll pull all the blankets over on me." Jaylynn sat up to arrange the bed. She stretched to click off the bedside lamp, the skin on her back and torso taut and smooth, and then when the room went dark, she snuggled up next to her still very warm companion. "I don’t want you to leave. Please don’t go—ever—okay?" When her companion did not answer, she said, "Will you hold me?"

Dez reached out and folded her into a scorching embrace and they lay quietly delighting in the closeness. After a while, the smaller woman glanced at the bedside clock. "Wow! Can you believe it’s already one o’clock?"

"It seems more like five a.m." Dez said sleepily as she settled in closer to her companion.

"Not really."

"Maybe not to you, the one who got to sleep all over the north roads of Minnesota." Dez yawned. "But I haven’t slept more than two hours at a time for days."


"Don’t know. I never sleep well. But you won’t believe how tired I am now." Her voice faded and her eyes closed. Jaylynn watched as the drowsy woman took a deep breath, exhaled, and then slept. She smiled, warm and content, and then eased over onto her side facing away from Dez. Her partner tightened her grip and tucked her legs up behind the rookie’s until they lay spooned together, a strong right arm gripping the blonde’s middle.

The feeling of gladness that coursed through the younger woman kept her awake for several minutes. She took a deep breath, thinking to herself that she had waited her whole life for this—not just making love, though that had been absolutely wonderful—but for this joining with the dark woman of her dreams. Always in the dreams there was a distance, a remoteness to the Woman Warrior. But with Dez lately, she had felt a burgeoning closeness that exhilarated her. This tall, complicated person who now held her so protectively in her arms had opened up, unfolding like a flower, in ways she had hoped for all her life.

With a contented sigh she closed her eyes and pressed her right forearm against the arm around her middle. She must have fallen asleep shortly after, but she opened her eyes some time later. The LED on the clock read 2:20. Wondering what had wakened her, she lay listening for a moment until she heard a familiar tread on the stairs. There was a tap on her door, and in the moonlight streaming through the window, a head poked in.

"Spssss. You awake?"

"Shhh." Jaylynn sat up, arranging the sheet, and put her finger to her lips. She made a motion to Sara indicating that she’d be right out, and the other woman disappeared from the doorway.

Jaylynn extricated herself from her lover’s grip and padded across the floor. She grabbed an emerald green robe from the back of the door and slipped it on before taking a quick glance back. In the soft moonlight she saw dark hair fanned out on the pillow and it made her smile. She was still smiling when she descended the stairs and entered the kitchen to find Sara rooting through the refrigerator.

The brown-eyed woman looked askance at her over the frig door, a sly grin on her face. "Hey, sorry to barge in on you. Please tell me I didn’t imagine one tall policewoman in your bed?"

Jaylynn blushed, but she kept on grinning. "Nope. That was definitely not your imagination. We’ve had quite the day, to say the least."

Sara smiled. "Hmmm. Guess I knew that was coming." She collected an armload of items out of the frig and kicked the door shut with her foot. "You want a sandwich?"

"Sure. I’m starved."

They stood assembling sandwiches while Jaylynn told her roommate about the events of the day. By the time she had finished the narrative, the two were sitting at the table downing milk and turkey and tomato sandwiches.

Sara said, "Where do you go from here then?"

Jaylynn looked thoughtfully across the kitchen table. "I guess that’s up to her."

Sara gave her a puzzled look. "What does that mean? Isn’t it up to the both of you?"

Frowning, Jaylynn said, "I know exactly what I want, and I can only hope she wants the same, but it’s up to her. I learned my lesson already not to rush things. I’m just letting it happen however it goes." She popped the last crust of bread into her mouth and drank the final dregs of milk. "I can’t believe how tired I am. But I’m glad I ate something. I was hungry." She rose and picked up her plate and glass.

"Good night my friend," Sara said warmly. "You know I’m hoping and praying this all works out."

"I know you are. You’re the best."

They smiled at one another, and then Jaylynn set her dishes in the sink and headed back upstairs. She crept into her room and slipped out of her robe, hanging it back up on the door hook, and slid into bed next to her toasty partner. She turned on her side, her back to the warmth, and felt an arm go around her and pull her close. She laced her fingers with Dez’s and they shifted until every surface of their bodies that could touch was in contact. Relaxing, the blonde closed her eyes, and then heard a sleepy whisper: "Guess I should have taken you up on your offer to drag the couch over in front of the door, huh?"

Jaylynn snickered.

"You were gone a long time."

The smaller woman patted her own stomach with their intertwined hands. "Had to get a snack."

"Mmm . . . figures. Good night love."

"Sleep well," the rookie replied, warmth and happiness flooding through her. She had waited so long, but finally, she was home.






Dez awoke gradually and found herself in much the same position she’d been in when she’d fallen asleep, though she was no longer holding hands with the sleeping rookie. Jaylynn lay on her side facing away from her, the blonde head tucked under the bigger woman’s chin. Dez marveled at how every angle, every curve of their bodies fit together perfectly. She glanced over at the bedside clock and was surprised to see that it was nearly ten a.m. For once she’d actually gotten a whole night’s sleep. She only remembered waking once, attempting to escape a dream of fire and screaming. The woman in her arms had soothed her, even in sleep, reaching back and stroking her thigh until the big woman shook awake and realized she was safe.

Her left shoulder felt stiff, but she didn’t want to move for fear of awakening her partner. Gently bringing her free right hand up to the hip lying pressed against her, she touched the silky skin from waist to thigh, her hand sliding back up to rest on the soft hip. A sense of disbelief washed over her. I’m in love with this woman. I can hardly comprehend this, but last night she said she loved me too. I can hardly believe it. She swallowed and drew in a long, slow breath, which she let out gradually.

She looked around the room. It seemed much larger in the daylight than it had in the dim lamplight of the night before. Two walls each had two casement windows, which were covered with peach colored blinds, and plenty of light slanted in through the slats. Next to the closet door sat a huge bookshelf overflowing with books. Three Monet posters hung on one of the walls, and a framed Georgia O’Keeffe print hung above the bed. A cinnamon brown circular rug covered the center of the floor, bordered by the bed on one wall, and the bedside table and couch next to it.

At the other end of the room, next to the door, was a large modular computer desk where a monitor, tower, and printer rested. Above it, hanging from the wall was a four by five foot corkboard. Half of it contained cards and notes and various lists. The other half was covered with newspaper clippings. Dez squinted, then rose up on her left elbow. She realized that the clippings were all articles about her. The one of her in Jaylynn’s arms at the 7-11 looked new, but some of the others were old and yellowed, including the first write-up she’d ever gotten in 1993 when she had pulled two kids from a burning house. Though it was too far away to see clearly, she knew there was a fuzzy photo of herself on that one.

As she stared across the room at the articles, the blonde in her arms shifted and brought her hand up to grab Dez’s. The rookie groaned and rolled onto her back, then opened her eyes to look up at her partner. Her white-blonde hair was tousled, but the unlined face looked rested and at peace. In the luminous sunlight, the hazel eyes appeared greener than usual, and upon seeing them, a faint hint of recognition, of dj vu, flowed through the dark haired woman.

She frowned. A tentative hand reached up and stroked her cheek, and a cheerful voice said, "Hey, whats wrong?"

Again Dez was struck by the familiarity of that face, of those hazel green eyes. Shed known Jaylynn for over a year, yet she didnt feel she had ever truly looked at the woman. Now, holding the smaller form in her arms, her face inches away, she was acutely aware of how attractive she was. And not only that, but of something else, too, something intimate and almost recognizable that she had known forever and ever. At the same time that she felt a buoyant elation, she also experienced a contradictory sense of grief and loss. The paradox confused her. She cleared her throat and in a low voice said, "Nothing’s wrong. As usual, I’m just my same old grouchy self in the morning."

"I don’t usually get to see you early in the day." Jaylynn snaked warm arms around the muscled torso and shifted, rolling the bigger woman over, disarranging the covers, until the brunette lay on her back with one hazel eyed blonde peering down into her face. "But I could get used to this."

"You could, could you?" Dez pulled the covers back up over the two of them and let her hands stroke the smooth shoulders, back, and hips in firm, languid motions. "It sure looks to me like you’ve been used to seeing me first thing every morning."

A puzzled look creased Jaylynn’s brow. "What do you mean?"

Dez looked across the room and nodded toward the corkboard. "What’s that supposed to be?"

Jaylynn shot a look over her shoulder. Once she figured out what Dez was referring to, she let out an embarrassed laugh. "Ah, my wall of fame. I forgot all about that." She lowered her head until her lips brushed the collarbone below her. "All I can say in my own defense is that it pales in comparison to the real thing, but it was the best I could do for a long time."

"I see," Dez said, arching one eyebrow and giving her partner just the faintest wisp of a smile. "How long have you been keeping this news and photo archive?"

Jaylynn nestled into Dez’s arms and put her head on the wide chest. "I think it’s been over a year now. Since last September, I guess."


"Dez, I know it sounds impossible—maybe weird—but I fell in love with you the first time I laid eyes on you. One look . . . and that was it for me." She paused, struggling for words, and beginning to blush. "I couldn’t help it. You didn’t return phone calls. You were distant at the precinct. But I had to get close to you. I don’t know why. I can’t explain . . ." She broke off obviously flustered.

"Guess I should be flattered."

"Or you could call me crazy," she said, her body tensed and uncertain.

Dez lay there with the smaller woman looming over her, a concerned look on the face staring down at her. She tried to think when it was that she could say she had fallen in love with Jaylynn, but everything blended together. It was as if she had been a dead thing—cold and numb and in the dark— and then suddenly, inexplicably, a golden ray of sunlight had come through a portal to illuminate everything for her. But when exactly that happened she could not say. One moment she was isolated and outcast; the next she had a constant companion who cared for her, who saved her from herself.

Dez said, "You’re about the farthest thing from crazy I’ve ever met," she said, her voice low and husky. She tightened her grip around the slender waist, and felt Jaylynn relax against her, the blonde head tucked into her neck. "What happens now?"


Dez smiled, nodding her head. "Hmm. Shoulda known that would be your first thought."

"Aren’t you hungry?"

"Yeah, I guess I am." She lay there stroking smooth skin with her fingertips. "I should probably go home."


Dez sighed and looked across the room. "Don’t wanna wear my welcome out."

A sharp bark of laughter burst from Jaylynn. "You wouldn’t wear your welcome out if we were handcuffed together!"

With one eyebrow arched, Dez said, "That could be arranged."

Dez felt the body against her tremble with laughter, then in a serious voice, Jaylynn said, "Do you want to do something together today, maybe?"

There was no maybe about it. Dez knew she would be content to lie in bed all day holding Jaylynn. The need to be close to her was so strong it was a gnawing ache.

When she didn’t answer right away, the woman in her arms let out a gust of air, as though she’d bee+ !!E@ф. >P$@9_PG.-^q҉5y9X狉5h`0TG}AOW}.>x6YBI

Dez marveled at how unselfconscious Jaylynn was, sitting before her with no clothes on, her hair uncombed and goosebumps on her arms. The younger woman handed her a narrow package, which Dez realized was a toothbrush. "Here," she said. "Just take my robe and go shower—straight ahead, second door on the left down the hall. Meanwhile, I’ll round up some clothes you could wear."

Dez started to pull the covers back, but inexplicably, she found herself blushing. She reached for the robe, but Jaylynn gave her an amused look. As though she could read her mind, the rookie said, "You’re not going shy on me now, are you, Dez?" When the big woman gave her a wry grimace, she giggled and said, "Shouldn’t I be the shy one? I’ve seen almost every inch of you at the bodybuilding show." She grabbed the covers and slid in on her side, pressing up to the toasty alabaster skin. "I love how warm you always are."

Dez set the toothbrush aside and enfolded the snuggling woman in her arms, feeling a lump rise in her throat. Awash in feeling, she ran her hand through the short blonde hair, her pulse quickening. She swallowed. "It’ll be interesting," she said, "to squeeze into whatever you want me to wear."

"You act like you’re an elephant!" Smiling eyes twinkled at her. "You probably haven’t noticed, but your hips are smaller than mine. And maybe your shoulders are broader, Miss Body Building Queen, but I have plenty of XL sweatshirts. So go get in the shower and I’ll dig you up something."

They disentangled, and as Dez stepped out of the warm covers, Jaylynn slapped her on the butt. "Nice tush," said the blonde as she held the toothbrush package out. Blushing, Dez snapped it up and then slipped into the robe, which was tight across the shoulders, to say the least. She pulled the tie around her and knotted it in front.

"What if one of your roommates—"

Jaylynn waved at her. "Don’t worry about it. Just go down the hall. No one will come in. I’m sure neither of them are even up yet. Towels are in the linen closet in there, and the white blow dryer is mine if you want to use it. There’s probably five different kinds of shampoo in the shower—just take your pick."

Dez moved to the door and cracked it open, peeking down the hall. She glanced back to see the smirk on Jaylynn’s face, then swung the door wide and stepped resolutely out into the hall.

She unwrapped the toothbrush, brushed her teeth and hung the purple brush in the rack with half a dozen others. When she got done showering, Dez wrung the water out of her hair, which was thick and tangled, but she didn’t have a brush. She dried off, slipped the emerald robe back on, and padded back to Jaylynn’s room carrying the damp towel with her. She found her partner lounging under the covers again. "Hey lazybones!" she said.

Jaylynn stuck her tongue out. "I’m just trying to keep warm. You weren’t here, so what else was I supposed to do?" She reached for a pile of clothes next to her on the bed, and slid them toward the edge. "Why don’t you grab that blue brush on the dresser and come here. I’ll brush your hair."

Dez did as she was told and came to sit before the smaller woman.

"You have such beautiful hair," Jaylynn said quietly as she combed out the black tangles.

Dez closed her eyes and reveled in the sensation of the brush and warm hands against her damp head and neck.

In a dreamy voice, Jaylynn said, "I used to dream about this when I was a kid."

"Brushing women’s hair?"

The rookie stopped abruptly. "Yeah, something like that." She set the brush down on the bed and pulled the long dark hair to the side, revealing an ivory smooth neck. Bending her mouth to the skin near the dark hairline she ran a line of kisses down the graceful neck to the top of the green robe. Dez’s breath caught, and she felt shivers course through her body. She twisted to face Jaylynn, found velvety lips and lost herself in a kiss.

The kiss ended leaving them both breathless. Jaylynn smiled widely revealing flashing white teeth. "You taste good. No fair. You’ve brushed your teeth." She picked up the hairbrush and quickly arranged the damp tresses into a French braid. "How’s that?"

Dez ran her hands over the top of her head. "Good."

"All right. Now let me go get cleaned up." Jaylynn slid out from under the dark woman and was pulling the green robe away before her feet even hit the floor. "My turn. Lemme have the robe."

"I can see that sharing clothes with you is gonna be an experience," Dez said as she let the shorter woman tug the robe down off her shoulders. As Jaylynn put the robe on, the brunette swung her legs off the side of the bed and sat on the edge, reaching into the pile of clothes to grab a navy blue sweatshirt. She pulled it on over her head. When her head popped through the neckband, she found Jaylynn watching her, the emerald robe around her shoulders but still open. Jaylynn stepped closer, and Dez slipped her hands inside the robe and pulled the rookie to her. She pressed her lips against the silky skin at Jaylynn’s breast and tightened her hold.

Next thing she knew, the blonde had pushed her back onto the bed and was kissing her in earnest. Dez crushed the blonde to her, carried away, her heart thundering. As they broke apart for air, Dez both felt and heard the giant rumble that emanated from the waist pressed against her. They laughed and relaxed. "Go on," said Dez. "Your stomach is asserting itself again. Go hop in the shower and then we can get some food in ya."

Jaylynn rose, blushing, and rearranged the robe. "Okay, I’ll hurry."

While she was gone, Dez finished dressing in pink cotton underwear, dark blue sweatbottoms, and a pair of Fila athletic socks. She paused for a moment and marveled at the response Jaylynn brought about in her. She hadn’t expected to feel this way, this passionate hunger that robbed her of all sense and swept away every thought from her mind except for the need to touch and be touched. She had never felt this connection, this kind of rapport before. It was as if she and Jaylynn were totally in harmony, like a finely tuned guitar. One strum, one touch resulted in a rich and vibrant sound and feeling. Both gave her shivers and sent a thrill of happiness through her.

She laced up her own Nike hightops and realized Jaylynn had been right. Everything fit fine, though the sweatpants were a little short. She pressed her hands against her damp hair and arranged a few tendrils off her face. Moving over to the window near the foot of the bed, she pulled the blinds open and looked out. The sun was heading high in the sky. It shone brightly over the back of the house and glared off the chrome on her red truck. In the far corner of the backyard a shed listed slightly to the left, its white paint cracked and peeling. The last of the wilting tiger lilies struggled valiantly to remain upright, but the early autumn weather had taken its toll. The grass was still a verdant green and looked like it could use one final mowing before winter.

Dez crossed her arms over her chest and watched two squirrels streak across the grass to scramble up the black walnut in the middle of the yard. It occurred to her that things were happening awfully fast all of a sudden. Two days ago she and Jaylynn had been circling one another warily, as if uncertain about the other. Yesterday the barriers had begun to crumble, and last night, well, so much for barriers. Today had already started out on a good note, and she wondered how long it could last. She didn’t want to delude herself. What she wanted from Jaylynn and what she might actually get could be miles apart. And yet . . . something in her told her to trust. That recurring and familiar sense of dj vu washed over her. She could not have explained her faith in the rookie to anyone, not even to Jaylynn, but at a purely instinctual level, something in her cried out to depend upon what she felt and upon what the younger woman professed to feel.

She moved away from the window and sat down on the bed. The water clunked off down the hall, and then she heard the whir of the hair dryer. In short order a whirling bundle of energy returned to the room and buzzed around, pulling out clothes and chattering away. Dez watched her dress in a white Police Academy sweatshirt, jeans, and Nikes running shoes.

Jaylynn brushed her hair back, then said, "Ready for something to eat?"

Dez nodded and rose from the bed. Jaylynn reached for her hand and pulled her down the stairs to the quiet kitchen. The blonde was appalled at the boring choice, but the big cop insisted on having oatmeal, though Dez did grudgingly accept two pieces of lightly buttered toast. Jaylynn sectioned a grapefruit and they ate that too, then they sat at the table looking expectantly at one another. The kitchen clock ticked away, displaying the time: 11:15.

"What next?" said Jaylynn.

Dez brought her large hands up from under the table and stretched them out to take the smaller woman’s hands in her own. She squeezed, her thumbs pressing into palms, and said seriously, "These clothes are nice and everything, but—" she cleared her throat and looked out the window.

Jaylynn frowned at her, puzzled. "But what?"

Dez returned her gaze to the concerned eyes before her, a funny look on her face. "But to be honest, I’d like to go back upstairs and take them off." A pleasant shade of crimson started at her neck and rose as she saw understanding wash over Jaylynn’s features. The younger woman broke out in a grin and stood, leaving their dishes on the table. Still holding one of the dark haired woman’s hands, she pulled her to her feet and up the stairs to her room.




The two women spent the afternoon making love and talking, with Jaylynn running downstairs twice to bring up food to munch on in bed. Soon it was late afternoon. The sun had ceased to slant in through the blinds, and Dez lay on her back against a pillow, the blonde woman cradled contentedly against her chest with their legs entwined. She reached a hand up to brush the blonde hair out of the younger woman’s face. The hazel green eyes opened slowly. Dez watched as the smaller woman’s eyes went from hazy to intent. "What?" Dez said.

In a soft, almost inaudible voice, Jaylynn said, "I’m not sure you understand how I feel about you."

Dez waited, watching the green-eyed woman struggle to put something into words.

"This is not lust—well . . .." Jaylynn’s face colored sweetly. "I’m not denying the lust, but how I feel is more than just an incredible attraction. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. Do you understand?"

Dez nodded slowly.

"Dez, I don’t want to scare you off . . . "

The brunette reached out and cupped Jaylynn’s face in a big hand, her thumb stroking a tight circle on the soft skin. She waited.

"I want you . . . forever. You probably think that sounds crazy, huh?" Serious eyes and a worried face looked up at the dark haired woman.

Shyly Dez said, "It’s not just physical for me either. I feel the same way. I—I—well, I can’t explain it," she finished awkwardly.

In answer, the smaller woman snuggled more tightly against her, burrowing her face into the ivory-colored neck. After a few minutes, Jaylynn whispered, "The worst time of my life was when you wouldn’t speak to me. You don’t know how much that hurt. Please . . . please don’t let that ever happen again."

In a husky voice, Dez said, "I won’t. I promise."

They lay there for several minutes, not moving, not talking, before Dez looked over at the bedside clock. "It’s nearly five. I should probably go home."

Jaylynn raised her head and gave Dez an alarmed look. "I hope you’re not serious."

"We’re closing in on 24 hours in bed. We gotta work tomorrow. Don’t you want to get up and get ready?’

"What’s to get ready?"

"You know—laundry, shopping, cooking, whatever."

Jaylynn rolled off the broad chest onto her back and gave a big sigh. Looking up at the ceiling she said, "I don’t want to do any of that. I just want to lie here with you for the rest of our lives."

Dez laughed making a strangled noise. "Short life. You’d run outta food pretty soon. Then all hell’d break loose."

The blonde woman moved onto her side and propped herself up on her elbow to survey her partner. With a very cranky look on her face, she said, "I don’t want you to leave."

Dez rolled on her side to face her companion so that they were nose to nose. With her left hand she feathered her fingers along the blonde woman’s side until she shivered. "Then come with me," Dez said. She leaned in and kissed Jaylynn for added emphasis. She was rewarded with an immediate flashing smile.

Jaylynn said, "Are you saying I could come over to your place and stay the night?"


Jaylynn was out of bed in a shot. She pulled on her clothes, which had been tossed haphazardly on the couch. Dez laced her fingers together and put her hands up behind her head as she watched the smaller woman move around the room collecting clean clothes and stuffing them into a small duffel bag. She sorted through the stack of CDs under the bedside table and grabbed two to put in the bag. In short order, Jaylynn tossed the bag over on the couch and came to sit on the edge of the bed.

Amused, Dez said, "I don’t think I’ve ever seen you get ready for anything that fast."

"You’ve had a good affect on me. Come on. Get your clothes on, Miss Slowpoke."




Later, undressed again, they held one another in Dez’s bed. Jaylynn reclined comfortably, her knees drawn up slightly, and her blonde head cushioned on a pillow against the bed’s maple headboard. Dez lay on her stomach with her head resting on the rookie’s abdomen, her hands tucked under the blonde’s lower back. She was very nearly asleep when her partner’s voice rumbled in her ear.

"They’re not going to make us change shifts or stop riding together, are they?"

Dez opened her eyes, but didn’t move her head. "I thought about that too," she said in a low voice. "I don’t know."

"Is there some policy about this?"

"Not really, but there’s always the sexual harassment policy."

"What?" Jaylynn said, surprise in her voice.

"Technically speaking, as your FTO, I supervise you. You could consider this harassment if you wanted to file a suit saying I took advantage of you." She lifted her head and found the startled hazel green eyes above her. With a smirk she went on, "If you’re sleeping with me for a passing recommendation, you already had it."

"Very funny."

"There’s the flip side, too. If any of the other rookies wash out, they could say you got preferential treatment."

Jaylynn thought for a moment. "I don’t think any of them are going to wash out." She looked at Dez. "Hey, they’re all gonna make it, right?" Her eyes narrowed, and she poked the brunette in the side. "Dez!"

Dez lifted her upper body on her elbows and scooted herself up until she lay next to Jaylynn. She snuggled closer until her dark head nestled into the crook of the blonde’s neck. The smaller woman put an arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer. With a sigh of pleasure, Dez wrapped her arm across the rookie’s middle, feeling the taut muscles of her stomach and the silky warmth of Jaylynn’s skin.

The brunette said, "Neilsen is the only one I am concerned about."


"Besides the fact that he’s an asshole?"

Jaylynn gave her a look. "You’re still remembering that one little altercation, right?"

"Of course. But besides that, he’s already pulled his gun far too many times. Drives like an idiot. Talks big. Pisses citizens off. I’d like to smack him."

"You have smacked him."

"No, I mean really smack him. He’s a jerk. Shouldn’t be a cop. I’m sorry, but Alvarez and I talked about this. He’s not sure what he’s gonna do, but I’m recommending to the Lieutenant that Neilsen not pass probation. Maybe he’ll get enough support from other FTOs, but it isn’t coming from me."

"Hmm…." Jaylynn looked down at the dark head in her arms and brought her hand up to absentmindedly stroke the pale white cheek. "Can I ask you something else?"

"Um hmm."

Jaylynn took a deep breath and pulled Dez as tight to her as she could. Her fingers feathered across the warm arm against her abdomen, and she said, "Do you remember when we first met?"

"You mean last summer or later at the precinct?"

"At the house that night."

"Yeah, why?"

"What do you remember?"

Dez closed her eyes and thought about the scene that night in the darkened house: the screams, the low laughter of the big man with the knife. She remembered her own fear as a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach—and an overwhelming desire to get in that house for reasons she couldn’t understand. She’d tossed aside protocol and gone in alone without backup, something she didn’t usually do. Once she got up the stairs, everything was a jumble of physical action, of shouting, of pure exhilaration as she beat down the two assailants. She’d felt so alive, adrenaline coursing through her veins like electricity.

And then, she had looked up and felt one moment of jolting connection. Her eyes had met those of the blonde woman, and she’d felt that strange recognition which she didn’t understand at the time. She knew now she had made a big mistake in disregarding that link. "Why do you ask?"

"Just curious."

The big woman rolled from her side to her back, then inched over so that her whole right side was touching Jaylynn. She found the smaller woman’s hand and laced their fingers together. "I remember you."

Jaylynn paused. "What does that mean?"

"I can’t explain it. I tried to ignore it. I’ve fought it . . ." She looked over at Jaylynn and saw the puzzled look on the rookie’s face.

"Why is that?" said Jaylynn.

"Why is what—why can’t I explain?"

Jaylynn turned on her side toward her. "No, you fool. Why have you been fighting it? I gave in at the hospital the night of the attack—within minutes."

"Guess you don’t have the endurance I do," Dez said in a low, grudging voice.

"Yeah, right." Jaylynn scooted up on her hands and knees and moved over the big woman, straddling one lean leg. Looking down into unflinching blue eyes, she lowered herself until her warm torso touched an even warmer stomach and chest, melting into the bigger woman as strong arms wrapped around her middle and stroked her back. With her face tucked into the crook of the brunette’s neck she whispered, "You’re a very good lover, Dez."

In a low voice, the big cop responded, "You’re not so bad yourself."

The rookie laughed outright. "Woman of few words . . . you crack me up." She shifted a bit to the side, and let herself relax upon her partner, nuzzling her face into her neck. Jaylynn wanted to say how much she loved her, how for the first time ever, she felt complete, but she held back. She didn’t know if Dez was ready for that. She lifted her head and gazed into serious blue eyes, feeling her breath catch. A smile worked its way across her face, even though she tried to suppress it, and Dez gave her a questioning look.

Stroking Jaylynn’s back, Dez said, "What? What are you thinking?"

Jaylynn grinned. "I’m just very happy, that’s all. You make me happy."

Dez’s arms tightened around her, and she felt entirely safe and protected. "I’m glad." An impish grin spread across her face, and Jaylynn admired the even, white teeth.

"You should smile more often, Dez. You’re really beautiful." Then Jaylynn laughed to see the dark haired woman blush.

"I bet you say that to all the girls," Dez growled.

"Nope. Only to you." She moved up onto her elbows and leaned in for a kiss, which quickly kindled rising excitement for both of them. Their bodies melded together into a tangle of warmth and desire, and for a little while, all thought of anything other than the wild hunger for one another vanished.




Dez lay on her right side, left arm around the body in front of her, and her legs tucked in behind the rookie’s. She let out a contented sigh.

Jaylynn craned her neck around, trying to see her partner. "What was the big sigh for?"

"I don’t know. Maybe you’re wearing me out . . . you’re a lot younger you know."

"What?" Grinning, the blonde turned over to face the dark haired woman, reaching over to brush the long dark hair off Dez’s face. "You’ve barely got four years on me."

"I can tell math is not your strong suit, Jay. I’m almost 30."

Jaylynn laughed, a deep throaty sound that vibrated against Dez’s chest. "I plan to get back at you big time, too."

"What’s that supposed to mean?"

"When you turn 30, it’ll be payback time. And I’m not that bad at math. I know exactly how many days it is until your birthday. And you, Oh Ancient One, are only four years and nine months older than me. That’s nothing. When you turn 75, I’ll be almost 71, so big deal."

Dez lifted her gaze to meet the hazel green eyes glittering before her, and said, "I hope I know you when I’m 75."

"Why wouldn’t you?" said Jaylynn, exasperation in her voice. She let her hand slide along Dez’s thigh, feeling the strong curve there.

The tall woman shrugged and looked away. "I don’t know."

Jaylynn snuggled closer and hooked her arm under Dez’s neck, wrapping her arms around her partner. "Fifty years from now, I hope we are curled up together like this on this very bed."

In a dry voice, Dez said, "I’m pretty sure we’ll need a new mattress by then."

Jaylynn reached down to tickle her. "Very funny, you smart aleck." She poked at the muscle in Dez’s stomach, causing the bigger woman to double over and squirm away.

"Hey!" Dez said in a mock-threatening tone. "You better not start anything you can’t finish."

"I told you," said Jaylynn, "I never start anything I can’t finish." She shrieked with laughter and made another grab for stomach, but just then a series of thumps sounded on the floor.

Dez froze. "Uh oh, it’s Luella." She stared for a split second at Jaylynn, then leapt out of bed. "She’ll be on her way up here!" In four long strides she was across the room to the bathroom grabbing her red robe off the back of the door. "Lucky she’s slow on the stairs!" She slipped on the robe and tied it in front, then said, "I’ll go see what she wants."

She went out to the kitchen and opened the door. The silver haired woman’s head was just appearing as she tenaciously climbed the stairs. Dez realized it had been several days since she’d talked to her landlady, and she was suddenly glad to see the plump woman. Smiling, she stood in the doorway, pulling the red robe closer around her.

"Thought maybe you up and skipped town, Dez," said Luella as she rounded the newel post. She trained warm brown eyes on her tenant and shuffled toward her.

"Nah, just busy."

"I don’t smell a single cooking odor from your place, so I thought maybe you two would like to come down for vegetable beef soup and sandwiches."

Dez’s mouth opened, but nothing came out.

Luella grinned at her, white teeth sparkling. "Well—her car’s out front. Shoulda hid it if you didn’t want me to know."

Just then, Jaylynn, barefoot and dressed in sweatbottoms and a t-shirt, squeezed into the doorframe next to Dez. "Hi Luella," she said, the warmth evident in her voice. "I would love to come down for dinner. Wouldn’t you, Dez?" She looked up at her red-faced companion, then grabbed hold of a red-clad forearm.

Dez stammered, "Sure . . . yeah, okay." She looked down at her robe. "Let me go, ah—finish changing." She turned abruptly and fled, leaving Jaylynn and Luella looking at one another, amusement etched in their faces.

Luella said, "Looks like patience paid off, as usual."

Jaylynn nodded. "Yup."

They shared a conspiratorial grin, and Luella said, "Now just stay after her. She’s a tricky one, that one is, but she’s really a mushball at heart."

Jaylynn giggled. "So I’ve gathered."

From the other room a testy voice called out, "You two can stop talking about me as if I can’t hear ‘cause I can."

"Good thing," said Luella in a loud voice. "So you’ll know we’re on the way downstairs to talk some more about you where you can’t hear." She grabbed hold of Jaylynn’s hand and pulled her toward the stairs.

"Oh no you don’t," said Dez as she burst into the kitchen dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt.

"My, my," Luella marvelled, "she’s dressed already. That girl does do everything fast, doesn’t she?"

Jaylynn gave her a sly look as she rounded the newel post and said, "Well, not exactly everything." She tossed an evil grin back at Dez who was coloring up quite nicely once more.

In her best menacing voice, Dez said, "You two better not gang up on me again."

She was answered by two smirks. "Oh no," she grumbled. "I’m toast."

"You can say that again," said Luella. She and Jaylynn looked at one another and burst out laughing, and the three of them made their way downstairs to the warmth and happiness of a shared meal.




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