Disclaimer One: These characters are mine and are all a product of my imagination. If you don't like them so what don't read about them. No hard feelings. (g)

Disclaimer Two: Yep, there some subtext, some romance, and some twists. You know just your usual Minerva story. Should be used to it by now.

Dedications: To Catt I'd do it all over again anytime. To Sloane I know everything will be well. To the fans (in running the risk of sounding like those old Bartles and James commercials) thank you for your support. (smirks)

One of my favorite artists Lenny Kravitz and his song "Again" inspire this one. I also saw the preview of a movie called The Family Man. Haven't seen the movie but the preview gave me some ideas.

(Part I)


Copyright © January 2001

Chapter I

With the sleeves of the gray silk shirt rolled up over her elbows, Reese hit a series of keys on the keyboard and whispered, "Ho." She clicked and highlighted with the mouse murmuring, "Ho." With a saucy grin, the tall brunette hit the enter button then laughed as she said out loud, "Fucking ho. Merry Christmas to me." With a series of keystrokes the investment banker had successfully siphoned a few thousand dollars from each client's account into her own Swiss bank account.

She leaned back in the black leather chair making it creak with worry and ran elegant hands through her hair before they found purchase at the back of her head. The grin turned into a smirk. You taught me well, Dad. Good thing I'm a little smarter or I would be where you are right now. Reese stretched out long legs and placed them on top of her desk. The cuff of her tailored black slacks rode up.

She had made corporate fat cats, wall streeters, and any Joe Blow who came to her millions, and in the process garnered a nice little egg for herself both legally and illegally. The brunette shrugged broad shoulders. They won't mind the person that made them a little richer made herself a litter richer too. I think I deserve it for putting up with their whining.

In the investment firm of Dodd & Dodd, Reese Darden had become more than her father's shadow. She'd become a one named wonder in the investment world like a Cher, Janet or Madonna. Fresh out of Harvard Business School, she worked hard to cover up her father, Peter Darden's murky shadow. The hard work was successful and she became a light of her own. Her father had taught her really well. Too bad he didn't use some of those tricks for himself. Too bad he left me.

She allowed her mind to wander down memory lane. It was someplace she didn't go frequently, but he had called this morning, begging her to come see him.

Reese didn't grow up among the ranks of the old money. Her father had earned every penny from wheeling and dealing for the rich. They loved him like he was a money god to be worshipped, when he himself worshipped it like it was the God. Forgetting his wife but smattering attention on the one person he could mold, his daughter. Her mother, Sara left them both before she had even turned ten without a word or a whimper, just gone.

Her father had told her not to cry, and she didn't. She raged instead, until deciding one day while curled up in her bed that Sara didn't love her anyway. People who loved you didn't leave. Reese learned to harden that side of her heart˜the side that belonged to her mother. In that special place, she built mental bricks sealing the spaces in between with pain and whatever was left belonged to her father.

Having always revered him, she had listened and learned everything she could. While other pre-teens and teenagers were out playing and partying, Reese read about T-bills, interest rates and a myriad of other subjects. She read until she began to understand what every word, phrase and number meant.

Always possessing beauty, it began to blossom, and even without tutoring, she learned to use it. Charming her father's contacts, who would become her contacts, and flirting shamelessly with their sons even the horrendous looking ones. When she was seventeen there was nothing except for Peter Darden, money, her books, and more money until Reese discovered women with a vengeance. They made the challenge that her life had become complete. She'd known that men didn't fit somehow, only using them as pawns in a game she was hungry to win.

So now there was her father, money, women, and her books. Upon entering Harvard, she tore a dark swath through the business school as well as the female population. Women, flocked to her, making them a far lesser challenge. Resse wined them, dined them and bedded them as long as they both received pleasure. Before they got too close, before they had a chance to break her, leave her, Reese disappeared like a thin puff of smoke. She refused to feel that pain again.

All the while, she stayed in contact with her father through phone calls that they could both fit into their schedules. As he made more money, elevating his godhood, Peter Darden slowly let arrogance and greed take over and borrowed a little too much. He was found out, and the by the time Reese graduated, Peter Darden was almost penniless and serving time in prison for embezzlement and fraud.

Dodd & Dodd hired her fresh out of school. She didn't know if it was pity or misplaced loyalty, and she didn't care. One foot was in the door. Reese had gone to see her father for the first and last time after she was hired. What she saw was a shadow of the man she once knew. One minute he was angry, bitter and the next vulnerable and begging. It was pathetic, and it was a weakness she wanted no part of. That weakness had caused him to leave her both mentally and physically. The pain she thought she'd never feel again was explosive, leaving nothing untouched. Her heart belonged to a money god of her own making now. She was admired, awed, and even hated by some of her peers. There were few who were brave enough to try and befriend her. Only one really made it in.

The leggy brunette swiveled around in her chair and crossed her legs, taking in the view of the Chicago skyline. Pale blue scanned the better part of the city from their offices high atop the Nokitomi building, seeing the melting snow still covering most of the buildings. The bad part, where it looked like a nuclear bomb exploded, was safely tucked away from normal view, giving the impression that it didn't exist, not to people that high up anyway.

I've got all I want right here in front of me: good connections and acquaintances, lots of money, and prestige. All things I can count on. She frowned at the hollowness that throbbed inside, hoping that seeing the increase on her next bank statement would sooth it.

The phone rang bringing her from inside herself back to the her office. Reese picked it up and spoke gruffly, "Yeah, Darden."

"Reese. Ken here. You're not going to like what I have to tell you."

Her voice changed to an impatient purr, "Well then you'd better get on with it. It'll be better for you."

She heard him swallow audibly and smiled. "You know that account we were working on together? The, um, Willams' account?"

"Yeah, I'm waiting," she added, knowing it was one that she had just pulled up.

"Well, the quotes are a little off. Seems like a couple of thou is missing. My assistant found the discrepancy."

Not even breaking a sweat, Reese said smoothly, "Oh, I was just in there. Must have got some numbers screwed up. Had a lot of things going on at once. I'll give it a look in a minute." The transition to casual was even smoother. "Dinner tonight?" She asked her friend and colleague of several years.

He snorted. "You're kidding right? It's Christmas Eve!"


"And listen I have to come down that way anyhow to talk to Bryant. Damn fool man is always on the phone. I'll just stop by your office first, and I'll tell you about my plans." He answered excitedly.

The brunette sighed, "Okay, just come right in." Should give me a few minutes to make sure my tracks are covered completely.

Without a knock, the tall black man, with skin the color of the lightest caramel walked into the brunette's office. His slight mustache twitched as he smiled at the woman behind the desk.

Ken flopped down in a chair and linked his hands behind his curly head. "Reesie, would you laugh at me if I told that I was in love?"

The brunette leaned forward and narrowed her eyes. "Guh! You know I hate that name!"

His grin widened showing off deep dimples in his unlined face. "Uh-huh, I know that's why I use it. Are you avoiding my question?"

Reese pushed dark bangs off her forehead. "Does this have anything to do with your not having dinner with me?"


"Then no. I know you better than that. You would tell a woman you loved her just to get a piece of ass."

He snorted. "So would you."

She shook her head and smirked. "Nuh-uh, not my style my friend. I play it right to the bone."

Ken straightened, moved forward in the chair and whispered, "I mean it. Told her last night."

An ebony eyebrow quirked. "Is this the Gloria you've been seeing?"

He nodded and smiled at the mention of her name. "Yeah, she did something to me Reese, and whatever it was, I'm loving every minute of it. She makes me laugh, makes me think. Hell, she makes me feel everything. Scared the shit outta me at first. Didn't know what the hell was going on, and then it hit me. . ." He smacked his hand against the desk. "Bam! Just like that, I knew."

Reese chuckled. Men. Some of them can be played so easily. She must really be a nice piece of ass for her to have your nose in the air like that." How could you get caught? None of it lasts. Nothing does. I should know.

Ken shook his head and frowned. "You know, sometimes you can be so cynical that it's disgusting. Haven't you heard a word I said? We haven't even made love yet."

Unphased, she propped her chin up on a hand and flicked her hair back with the other one. "Well, there you go then. She's got you so riled up. . ."

His face reddened. "You maybe a friend, but I won't let you cheapen this with your warped assed logic. I finally met somebody that I want more than a romp with. . .hell I wanna wake up with her; go to sleep with her; I'd do anything for her. And the good thing is, she'd do the same! I see it when she looks at me." He jumped up and ran his fingers angrily through his hair. Turning to her, he reached out his hands in surrender. "Haven't you ever felt that sometime in your life, or is there nothing but a glass of ice water where your heart oughta be!"

Reese flinched and went abruptly quiet. Biting back a retort and old emotion, her jaw ticked in reaction. She looked at her friend with steely blue eyes that gave nothing away. "That what they're saying about me nowadays?" Her voice was low, gravely. It's better that way for everybody.

Shocked by her lack of reaction, some of the anger drained from him. Ken sat back down softly on the edge of the chair. With gentle brown eyes, he studied the woman in front of him. I know there's more to you. There's gotta be. "Yeah, I'm sorry to spit that out like that. It's just that you turn up your nose at everybody. Hell, even I don't know you that well. I don't even know how I got up to friend status." "You made me laugh." No one's done that in a long time. Not since. . . "That's how," she commented quietly. Reese's eyes softened a few degrees. "Sorry about. . .I didn't mean to degrade what you have with her. Congratulations." She shrugged. "I guess it's a good thing if you can get it."

He smiled wanly, knowing that was as much as an apology as he was getting. "You should try it. Make you a changed woman. Maybe lighten you up a little."

Long elegant fingers caressed the computer monitor on her desk. "Unh uh, I don't have time for that. It's fleeting." She tapped the top of the monitor. "This is the challenge that keeps my blood pumping. It's always gonna be here." The brunette waved her hand in a nonchalant gesture. "Everything else is like week old pie."

Brown eyes widened incredulously. "You mean to tell me that you've never felt a thing?"

Reese shrugged. It was a lie, but she was going to tell it anyway. "No, most the women I meet know the score. Those that don't-"

"Don't stay long," he interrupted. "Man, Reesie, that's no way to live. I didn't know what I was missing till now." I feel for you my friend. I really do. Ken glanced at his watch. "I'd really like to stay and debate this with you, but I got the feeling I wouldn't win anyway. I need to go see Bryant." He jumped up, adjusted his silk tie and wiped a hand over white silk shirt before heading toward the door. Ken grabbed then knob then turned around, pointing fingers at the brunette in the shape of a gun. "Give me a rain check on dinner? Maybe after New Year's, the three of us could go out for drinks, and we'll see what happens after that."

She nodded and waved him away.

Long minutes after he left, Reese sat staring at the far wall, pulling on her bottom lip, and thinking of the past for the second time that day. Have I ever felt anything? Yeah, and when I did, I ran like hell to keep from getting hurt.

The brunette pushed herself up out of the chair and walked up to the window. Her hands found a home deep inside her pockets. Standing with her legs shoulder width apart, she rolled the suddenly tight muscles and watched the descending sun color the sky in hues of reds and oranges. She liked this time of day. I wonder if she still does. Reese frowned and prepared herself to take an unsolicited trip down memory lane.

Randi Davenport. For some reason even now, the name made her smile. They met at of all places a Winn Dixie. Reese equipped with a red basket on her arm, walked down the soup isle to garner a couple of cans of cream of mushroom in preparation for a romantic dinner with a redhead she'd met two weeks earlier.

Before she was half way down the isle, the brunette spotted a petite blonde with short hair standing on her tiptoes and reaching for something. The curses caught her ears before she caught glimpse of the blonde's face.

"Son of a bitch! Why the hell keep it up here all the way at top?!" She let out a tiny growl. "And near the frippin' back too! What the hell is wrong with these people. All I wanted was some tampons and veggie all! Damn, damn, damn! She stomped her foot in frustration.

As she got closer, Reese took in angelic features, leaving her totally amused by the woman's language. A smirk lifted the corner of her mouth as she watched the blonde's well-muscled legs, left bare by shorts, flex in effort. By the time, azure eyes reached the tight derriere, she knew that she had to come to the rescue. The brunette cleared her throat and murmured, "Miss, can I. . ."

Startled, the petite blonde squealed, jumped and turned in surprise. "What?! Why the hell did you scare me like that?!"

Resse's lips twitched as deep green eyes glared at her. Dark brows rose into her bangs. Without a word she reached up and back for the can of veggie all and handed it to the other woman.

The woman looked at the can, blinked, then glanced back at her. She placed a hand on a hip as their gazes held. Fair brows bunched in contemplation, and finally, she opened her mouth to speak. "You know, I don't even know you, and already I know that you're a smart ass."

Before she had time to even think, Reese threw back and filled the isle with rich laughter. After a long minute she sobered, and glanced back at the woman to see a teasing smirk that crinkled the side of her nose, plastered on her face.

Reese smacked her lips and smiled brightly. "Well, I don't know you either, but I can tell you that most of the beautiful women I meet don't have the mouth of a sailor. It's almost refreshing to see one with her guard down."

The shorter woman chuckled and shook her head. "Oh, come on now. If that was a pick up line, you're way outta practice. You must be able to do better than that, or are the surroundings hampering you?" She asked with mirth and a dash of sarcasm.

The brunette smiled despite the dig. "Well, was that your attempt to impress me with your wit? If it was, I think we're both lacking at the moment." She stepped in closer, letting the blonde feel the heat of her presence.

The petite woman smirked amusedly at the diminishing distance between them, letting Reese know without words that she knew the game the brunette was attempting to play.

Reese played on.

"Why don't you go pay for your tampons and veggie all, and then we can go someplace with more. . .ambience where I can show you mine. . ." Pale blue eyes scanned her from head to toe. "And you can show me yours."

The blonde let out a bark of laughter. "It gets better than this?"

"Everything does," Reese responded with a grin.

She groaned and stuck out a small hand. "The name's Randi, in case you wanted to know."

Reese engulfed the hand with her own and reveled in the sparks that shot up her arm. "I'm Reese, and I definitely want to know."

Randi continued to chuckle as the ventured out of the isle. "You might want to stop now before you run out of material, and I'm warning you. There's no bullshit allowed in my apartment."

The brunette stopped and turned to the woman beside her. "That's where we're going?"

"Yeah, I live just down the block. I walked here. You can take me home and let me put this stuff up. Then, we can go somewhere with. . .ambiance," she smirked. "Now, about that bullshit."

Reese started walking again. "I don't do BS. You'll find that out as you get to know me."

"Mmm, I believe a student of mine said almost the same thing after I returned his paper. It was full of double talk."

The taller woman avoided the comment. "You're a teacher?"

"Sort of. I'm a proff at the IU division in Gary. I teach Sociology."

"Ah, then we have a lot in common then. I'm an investment banker at Dodd & Dodd."

Randi looked at her companion strangely then burst out laughing as they passed through the check out line and out the store.

While Reese waited in the living room of the small, charming apartment, riddled with pastels, she searched the pocket of her shirt for the small cell phone. With a flick of the wrist, she called and cancelled her date in favor of another.

That night and the next couple of months were filled with laughter. The brunette neglected to inform the blonde of her no strings rule she usually tried to enforce, and after a while, she noticed that she didn't want to. Somehow, the blonde had gotten through.

Reese found in a short time that the professor could turn her on her ear with a few words, leaving her flustered. The blonde made her think, and within a few weeks, the brunette had developed an opinion on everything from Monica Lewinsky scandal to the identity of the real Shakespeare, who she argued was Bacon.

In the bedroom, Reese found that Randi could leave her just as flustered and shaken. Every touch and kiss rocked her to the core, and sometimes literally left her begging for more. It wasn't long before that and her eagerness to be with the blonde began to worry her.

The gentle look in soft green eyes left her treading water, while part of persisted that drowning wasn't so bad, but it wasn't until three words were whispered in her ear in the early morning hours that the waters began to really choke her.

The brunette tried being cold, but the blonde's kiss continued to melt her. She tried ignoring her, but her own compulsion to see the teacher led her back. Desperate to protect herself, it wasn't until the blonde was getting ready to leave for a weekend to attend a lecture that Reese used the coward's way out.

The blonde teacher was as animated as usual and chatted away at the stoic brunette who grunted in response. Once at the airport, Resse silently took Randi's bags from the trunk and followed her inside. Having never been shy about public displays of affection the teacher stood on her tip toes for a kiss and a hug.

Reese brushed her lips softly then crushed her in strong arms before whispering in her ear, "I met somebody else. I-I don't think we should see each other anymore." It was a lie one of many she had told but none had been so profound. For the first time it hurt to tell it, but this pain was minute to the one she would experience later, when the blonde left.

Randi jerked away and peered at the executive. The brunette was unable to hold her gaze, seeing the light that had attracted her in the first place dim considerably. The pain she saw there ripped her insides.

The blonde's lips quivered, and she bit the bottom one. Her eyes glazed and filled with unshed tears, but not a one fell. She shook her head and sucked them in. "You're not worth crying over. I don't do that over liars. This was the second one you told me because you just shoveled the biggest load of shit I've ever seen."

Reese reached out a hand but thought better of it. "Look, I. . ."

The teacher laughed derisively. "Don't even bother. All this shit will catch up to sooner or later. What are you gonna do then, huh? You can't run forever?"

Instead of saying another word, Reese walked away with the blonde continuing to scream behind her.

"You can't!"

The brunette walked out of the airport with a hole where her heart used to be. It left her wondering if what she had just done was even worth it after all. Pain was pain.

Reese came back to reality with a dark thud. Where there had been a glimmer of daylight left was only a twinkle of stars now. She swore savagely at the way the little blonde was still able to get under her skin. "Yeah, Ken. I know all about it. I know eventually it ends." I'll never allow a woman to make me feel that again.

Somber now, Reese grabbed her, coat, gloves, blazer and briefcase and decided to head home to an empty apartment and left over Chinese. Once on the elevator, she put a lock on her thoughts refusing to think about Randi, her father, her mother, or Ken.

Chapter II

Heels clicked with purpose on the floor of the parking garage, and the brunette fished out her car keys. She pressed a button, and the alarm on her BMW 380i chirped to life. Her brow wrinkled in concentration as she continued to try to block any thought that would cause an emotional reaction. Reese was so intent on her task that she didn't notice the passenger in her car until she pulled open the driver's side door.

Startled but trying to play it cool, Reese bent down and flicked long hair over her shoulders in an attempt to get a look at the intruder. Calm it down, Reese. If she wanted you dead, you'd probably be greeting the devil right now. Just be cool.

She leaned down further to peer into eyes that were so blue they were almost violet. Red hair curled wildly over the strange woman's shoulders, disappearing down her back. Painted lips pursed then spread into a soft smile. She was dressed completely in black, making her pale skin seem almost translucent. Maybe this isn't so bad after all. Merry Christmas to me big time. I think I got me an extra present.

Reese smiled sexily at the redhead. "Well, if I'd known you were waiting down here for me, I would have left work at 5 o'clock on the dot."

The other woman turned slowly to the brunette. "Doesn't matter. You needed time to think." Her voice was musical and held an accent she couldn't place Reese's eyes narrowed. Ookay, how the hell did she know what I was doing?

Deep blue eyes sparkled and the full mouth quirked as if she possessed some secret knowledge of the brunette's thoughts. "Get in and all your questions will be answered. Even the ones you don't know how to ask."

Growing irritated despite the woman's beauty, Reese added, "Look, lady. I don't know who the hell you are, but I don't appreciate you breaking into my car." Her glare turned icy.

The redhead shrugged, unaffected. "Does anything look broken? No? Does it look like I would harm you?" She held the pale blue gaze with silent intensity.

Reese swallowed, shaken and startled by the depth in the blue eyes. The eyes were ancient and so was the intelligence and wisdom that shined in them. There was also a sadness that drew the brunette. She wanted to know more. She suddenly wanted to know everything those eyes had seen. Deep blue gentled, and the brunette surmised that there was no intention to harm. "No."

"Go around and get it, Reese. I'll take you home."

The redhead started the car with a soft roar. They exited the well lit parking structure before Reese spoke again. "Who are you?"

She stopped at the traffic light and turned to the brunette. "Clotho. It's an old name to fit a young face, but my father's strange that way." The redhead smirked as she gunned the engine. They took off with fury when the light turned green.

Resse fastened her seatbelt. "So tell me what I want to know." She glanced at Clotho's profile, seeing a small grin.

"I can't. You want to know too much. There are somethings you must never know. It would be too much responsibility."

The brunette shrugged. "I think I can. I like---"

"The challenge?"

Reese chuckled, "Yes, how did you know?"

The smile on the redhead's face vanished. "I know more than you could possibly imagine. As for you, my friend, your need to conquer a challenge will put you in serious trouble."

The brunette laughed outright. "It would be an even greater one to get out of trouble then. Now, wouldn't it? But, I have to say, there's nothing like holding all that money in the palm of your hand, shifting it back and forth, dangling a man's livelihood in your hands. The high and the power is like nothing I've ever felt." It's the only thing I can count on.

They continued to move along the highway, ignoring the speed limits. "As I said, it will be your downfall."

Growing agitated by the woman's vague talk, Reese barked, "Why don't you cut the bullshit and tell me why you're here? What do you want from me?" Pale blue narrowed predatorily as she looked Clotho up and down. "If you want a piece of me, there's only one piece you can have. I don't do breakfast."

"Not anymore," the redhead added as she turned off to an exit.

What the hell is going on here?! This woman is starting to spook the hell outta me. A chill eased up her spine. She knows entirely too much.

"There's nothing to be afraid of yet. Like I said before, I know more than you could imagine, and I know you."

Reese's chill intensified. Pale eyes scanned the cab frantically, looking for a possible way out. She looked out the windshield to see unfamiliar surroundings. Panic set in as her usual cool began to slowly dissolve. "Where the hell are we?! This isn't where I live!"

Unperturbed, Clotho replied softly, "I'm taking you home."

They pulled into neighborhood in the Chicago suburbs and came to an abrupt stop in front of a house that glowed yellow in the moonlight. It was surrounded by symmetrical bushes and well cut grass, sprinkled with melting snow. From what Reese could see, there even seemed to be a little flower garden, covered in snow, right in front of the yellow house. Her eyes widened. "Hold it, lady! This isn't my fucking house! I've never even been in this neighborhood!"

Clotho turned to the brunette, silencing and chilling her with a look that penetrated deep within. "You will listen to me, Reese Darden. In eight days, you will be arrested for embezzlement. There will be no talking or finagling yourself out of it. You'll be sentenced to three years, and it will be your downfall. You won't have anything or anybody." She paused for affect and canted her head to the side observing the look of disbelief on the brunette's face. "Do you deny what you've done?"

Oh God. Anxiety strapped a tight band across her chest, causing each breath to be painful. This can't be happening. I'm smarter than that. No one can beat me. THIS CAN NOT BE HAPPENING! She peered into violet eyes, seeing the answers she didn't want to see. Oh God, yes it is! The dark head lowered in shame and fear. "No, I-I don't know what you want me to say."

"Nothing. I'm here to give you a choice between what could have been and what is. You have until the first strike of New Year's day to make your choice between money and that." She pointed at the house. "You have a chance to change a lot of things Reese, learn from them, and use them." Clotho held out her hand palm up, generating a set of keys out of thin air. "This isn't magic, and you are not hallucinating. Believe it because there is no time for doubt." She grabbed the brunette's hand and placed the keys in it. "Take these and go."

Reese blinked and huddled her belongings, wrapped in one hand, close to her chest for comfort. Her breathing was rapid as was the beat of her heart. She couldn't decide what scared her more this situation, the unknown, or losing everything. Her fingers closed over the keys. Her choice was evident. At the moment, she didn't have one. She turned to look at the house, seeing a low light on inside then glanced back at the redhead.

"Go." Her voice was firm but gentle at the same time, while her features were unreadable.

Reese let out a shaky breath and did what she was told. She stood on the curb, continuing to stare at the strange house. The brunette turned at the sound of a voice clearing behind her. She bent and looked inside her car. "Let me give you one last piece of advice, Reese. See all this with your heart not your head. Someone favors you among my father's clan. I would hate to see you make the same choice your father did."

The brunette's mouth fell open, but before she could say a thing, the window closed and the car took off at phenomenal speed. A surge of bright light blinded her, making her pull a hand over her eyes. With a soft pop, the car disappeared as if it was never there. The fact that her car had just vanished only caused Reese slight worry. She turned to the house and walked slowly up the walkway. What was in that house caused the bulk of her distress.

Is this really happening? Did she make my father play this sick game? If he did, look where his choice left him. She closed her eyes tightly and with blunt fingernails, she pinched the skin on her wrist. Reese grunted at the slight pain, but when she opened her eyes, everything was still the same. Maybe if I take the money and run now, things will turn out okay. The idea took root in her mind. She wrestled with the briefcase in an attempt to open it. Finally, the lock popped and she searched the black leather organizer for her bank card and Swiss account numbers. Oh shit, shit, shit!

There were no account numbers.

No, no no! She looked down at a bank card, but it wasn't to her regular bank. She changed everything! I'm stuck in the Twilight Zone version of "It's a Wonderful Life! I sure as hell don't want to end up dead or in jail! Reese took a breath then another in attempt to calm herself. Maybe I could go along with this for a day or two. It would give me time to find a way out free and clear. Yeah, its not like anyone else is involved in this. Hope stirred slightly as the brunette made it up to the door.

Reese juggled the keys, using the porch light to find a plain one. It slid into the lock easily and turned without a sound. Once inside, without looking around she let her briefcase drop to the floor with a muffled thump. Yanking the wool coat, gloves, and blazer off, the brunette jumped and turned in surprise at the sound of a soft cough.

Pale blue searched the dimness of the living room, until she came upon a small lamp, covered with a light cloth. It wasn't that˜that caught her attention. Her heart thudded hard then stopped as blue eyes widened at the sight before her.

Randi sat in the light colored chair that matched the rest of the furniture. A big red bow covered her torso, meeting in a neat tie at the front of her breasts. It was the only part of her body that was covered. The pale light made her naked skin glow alabaster and accented blonde hair on her head as well as the darker curls between her legs. The brunette's breathing was the next to go when short, muscular legs parted slightly, revealing a gift hidden behind blonde down. Reese swallowed, feeling suddenly dizzy.

Some how, long seconds later, azure eyes found their way to the blonde's face, seeing the tiny smirk that crinkled her nose. Her mouth had dropped open, if the cool air running over her teeth was any indicator. For the moment, Reese Darden was struck dumb. Her only action was a rapid blink.

A throaty chuckle hit the brunette's ears. "You usually only look like that after we make love. Should I be flattered?"

Reese blinked again.

Well, I've struck the ultimate smart ass speechless. Not bad for a nights work that hasn't even started yet. Randi's smirk widened to a sexy grin. "Merry Christmas, baby. Would you like to unwrap me now or wait till in the morning?" She asked teasingly.

Sweet Mary Mother of God, if this is some kind of cosmic joke please tell me the punchline now. . . The dizziness became acute.


The brunette blinked again, and in quick succession, pale blue rolled up toward the back of her head right before she tumbled to the floor in an ungraceful leap.

Frowning, Randi leaped from the chair and kneeled down beside her lover. She touched warm skin and felt sweet breath on her face. A slow smile formed. "Well, that doesn't usually happen till after either."

Conclusion coming real soon. LOL like tomorrow. Let me know whatcha think so far at Minerva

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