THE BRASS RING
By Mavis Applewater
For disclaimers see part one.
Thanks to my beta reader Joanne.
As always for Heather.
CC yawned exhaustedly as she signed the last report on her desk. It had been a long day. Happily it consisted of nothing but paperwork. The good people of her fair community had managed not to kill one another for the past few days. It was nice to have calm looming over the city.
CC decided that life was going pretty well. Emma was feeling good. Stevie had landed a couple of new clients and was very busy. CC was proud of her little sister. Shed started her own web design company early on. She was doing well and could work out of the house. The little stinker had turned out all right. She ran her own business and still managed to be a full time mom.
Now if CC could just stop lusting after the pretty blonde doctor who lived next door, life would be perfect. It had been a couple of weeks since CC had been injured and the two almost kissed. During the days that followed, CC tried to convince herself that it hadnt happen. That Jamie wasnt going to kiss her. That it was just wishful thinking.
But CC knew the truth. What else could have been happening? Jamie was laying on top of her, their faces so close that she could feel the blondes breathe on her skin. CC smiled at the memory of how it felt to have Jamies body pressed against her own. Oh, dont be going down that road, Caitlin, she cautioned herself.
Thankfully Jamie never brought it up. They didnt talk about it or the one drunken night theyd spent together. It seemed to be working. They had fallen into an easy sort of friendship. It was all very neighborly. They would say hello as they passed, or she would invite Jamie over for coffee in the morning.
Since they both worked the late shift they could spend time together. Not a lot of time, just simple friendly gestures. CC would be lying if she said things were completely comfortable between them. Jamie was still her ex-girlfriend and there would probably always be a slight awkwardness between them.
CC wrapped up her work and said goodnight to Max. On the drive home she thought it was odd that Jamie was, for all intents and purposes, the great love of her life yet the two had only been intimate twice. And the second time was more than a little hazy for both of them. Every once in awhile, CC would be chatting with Jamie and something would spark a memory from that night.
At that point, CC would suddenly grow uncomfortable. It wasnt easy sitting next to someone while you were thinking about the hot sex the two of you had once shared. CC would usually come up with an excuse to end their conversation. Tiredness usually worked. They worked odd hours and neither seemed able to get enough sleep. There were times when Jamie would do the same. CC secretly wondered if the blonde was experiencing the same sense of déjà vu.
As CC pulled into the parking lot, she looked around for Jamies car. She was disappointed when she didnt see it. It was fast becoming her routine to look for the little Honda. If she found it, she would look over at Jamies condo to see if any lights were on. Usually there were. CC would then knock and invite Jamie over.
Shed been nervous the first time she knocked on Jamies door, but the friendly response instantly relaxed her. A few times it had been Jamie who extended the invitation if she arrived back later than the policewoman.
CC hoped that would happen this evening. She enjoyed the time she spent with Jamie and Emma at the end of the day. Yet she still cautioned herself not to hope for anything more.
CC stepped into the home she shared with her sister and instantly flinched. The sight she saw in the kitchen gave her the creeps. "Ugh," she squeaked.
"Tsk," Stevie chided her as she continued using the breast pump. "Some big tough cop you are. You stand over dead bodies all day long, and then you freak watching someone express breast milk. You are such a big sissy."
"Am not," CC scoffed as she started to walk away, feeling a little queasy from the sight.
"Right," Stevie said as she rolled her eyes. "Remind me not to allow you to help my daughter with her homework."
"Whatever," CC blew her off as she retreated into her bedroom.
After she showered CC found Stevie working on her computer. "Dont wake her," Stevie cautioned her.
"But . . . ," CC started protest.
"Brad is picking her up in a few hours," Stevie explained patiently. "Shell be very cranky if you wake her."
"Right, I forgot." CC sighed in disappointment. "So thats why you were doing that thing."
"That thing?" Stevie chuckled. "Yes, Caitlin. Thats why I was expressing breast milk."
"Does he have to take her overnight?" CC pouted.
"Hes her father," Stevie explained in exasperation. "He would like to spend time with her."
"I know," CC grumbled.
Stevie looked up from her work and studied her sister for a moment. "No James tonight?" she inquired, slightly surprised.
"No," CC clipped.
"Sorry," Stevie apologized quickly. "I just thought that you two were . . . never mind."
"You thought what?" CC questioned her as she looked over Stevies shoulder. For the life of her, she couldnt understand what she was looking at on the computer screen.
"Nothing," Stevie hedged.
"Uh huh." CC sighed in disbelief. "Stevie, Im not getting back together with Jamie. So just drop it."
"I mean it," CC asserted.
"Okay," Stevie agreed.
"Im serious," CC stated with conviction. "Were just friends. Not even close friends, just neighbors."
"Oh, is that why you two were making out the other night?" Stevie questioned her absently as she continued to work.
"We werent making out," CC corrected her as she watch Stevie shut down her computer. Stevie stood and cast a look of disbelief at her before exiting her office.
Frustrated, CC followed Stevie into the living room. "We werent," she growled.
"Fine. You werent making out," Stevie conceded. "You were just wrapped up together like two snakes in heat. My mistake."
CC massaged her throbbing temple. "Stevie, let me try to explain things to you," she began slowly.
"I hope you do better then the time you tried to explain the facts of life to me." Stevie giggled.
"I didnt know you knew already." CC grimaced as she recalled the long ago conversation. "I certainly didnt know you were gay." CC looked quickly out the front window, trying to see if Jamie had returned. She frowned, realizing that she hadnt.
"Look, Stevie." CC returned her thoughts to her sister who was eyeing her suspiciously. "Jamie is a part of my past. Its nice that we no longer hate one another. But too much has happened between us and its been a long time. Weve both changed."
"Then why did you sleep together again?" Stevie pried.
"We were drunk and emotionally vulnerable," CC said, trying to defend her actions. "I dont know if you can understand that."
"Caitlin." Stevie chuckled. "Im an adult. In fact, I have a child of my own. Thats how I became a mother. Honestly, Sis, I think the two of you are using it as an excuse. I think you slept together because you wanted to. I also think that you still have some very deep feelings for the good doctor."
"Dont be ridiculous," CC gasped.
"Am I?" Stevie asked her seriously. "If you dont care then why do you keep looking out that window to see if shes home yet?"
CC wanted to crawl under a rock. She couldnt argue with her sister. She didnt understand what was happening. Stevie said goodnight and went upstairs to her bedroom. CC stood alone, trying to convince herself that Stevie was wrong.
CC finally gave up and retreated to her own bedroom. Tossing and turning, she managed to get a couple of hours of sleep. When she woke up again, the smell of coffee was coming from the outer room. Dragging herself out of bed, she found Stevie changing Emmas diaper in the living room.
"Hey, my stinky little peanut," CC cooed at the child. Stevie laughed at her silliness. CC cast a pleading look at Stevie.
"Go on." Stevie laughed as she handed her daughter over to CC.
Stevie cleaned up the mess and washed her hands as CC held her niece, teasing her. Emma gurgled up at her aunt. "Do you want some coffee?" Stevie inquired.
"Its not that decaf crap you drink, is it?" CC inquired hesitantly.
"No." Stevie smirked. "I made the coffee for Brad. Hes running a little late. He had to work some after hours party last night."
"Well, if hes too tired . . . ," CC began as Stevie handed her a fresh cup of coffee.
"Hes still coming to take Emma," Stevie chided her. "Give it up."
CC shrugged innocently. She allowed her eyes to wander to the window once again, smiling slightly when she saw Jamies car in the lot. Feeling much better, she decided to enjoy the few moments she had with Emma. She carried the infant and her coffee out on the deck.
It was a delicate balancing act. She had to keep the coffee safely away from Emma. Stevie opened the sliding door for her and left the two of them alone. CC placed her coffee down on the table and lifted her giggling niece over her head. She began making a series of silly noises much to the delight of her niece and, by the chuckling she heard, someone else was amused as well.
She lowered Emma safely in her arms and cradled the child before looking over at the adjoining balcony. Jamie was leaning against the wall, still wearing a jacket. Her hand covered her mouth. She appeared to be fighting off a fit of laughter.
"You tell anyone and you die," CC cautioned the doctor as she allowed her well-trained eye take in Jamies appearance. Green eyes flashed in amusement. "I have a gun," CC reminded her playfully.
"Your secret is safe with me," Jamie responded warmly.
They stared at each other for a moment. CC felt her heart breaking. Being a detective sucked at times. It only took her one quick scan to know that Jamie had just returned home. And by the smudge of lipstick on the blondes collar, CC could safely assume that she wasnt working late. CC continued to smile despite the sudden rush of sadness. All the while she reminded herself that it was none of her business.
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