"Cam, honey. Are you home?"
Vicki closed the door behind her and made her way into the living room. She saw no sign of her friend, so she headed for the stairs. Both Jo and Vicki had a key to Camis house, so they could feed the cat and water the plants when the photographer was out of town on a shoot. Vicki had a gut feeling that something was up with her friend, and her phone messages had gone unanswered for two days. So, Vicki figured shed drop by and surprise her- although Cami tended to hate surprises.
"Cam? Thought you might want to go car shopping!" She hollered up the stairs, before she started climbing up. While she hadnt noticed T.J.s car in the driveway, Vicki still didnt want to be interrupting anything. She smiled to herself, pleased that her petite friend seemed to be really smitten with Ms. Tall, Dark and Irish.
When she still didnt get a response, Vicki thought for a minute that maybe Cami was out somewhere with T.J. It was early evening and the shadows that crept through the house told Vicki that her friend was probably not home. She briefly thought she should just leave and call later, but something told her to check Camis bedroom.
Knocking lightly on the door, Vicki opened the door a crack and peeked into the room. Cami was laying in bed, facing away from the door. Shes asleep, probably shouldnt disturb her. But just as Vicki turned to leave the room again, she heard a soft groan. Spinning quickly back around, she headed to the bed.
"Honey? Are you okay?" She sat on the edge of the bed and touched Camis shoulder.
When the blonde finally turned to look at her friend, the first thing Vicki noticed was that her face was red and her eyes were a bit glassy. "Shit! Cami! Whats the matter?"
Cami tried to wipe her eyes. "Nothing. Nothing, Vicki. Go away .please."
"Fuck that! Nice try, chief. I call you for two days with no response, and when I come over here, I find you crying in bed, and you tell me its nothing!?" Vicki smoothed back the lock of hair that had fallen over Camis forehead and was dismayed to find that her friend was a bit feverish. "I know I look young for my age, but I wasnt born yesterday."
Cami looked up into Vickis concerned face. "Im not Im not crying Im just sick."
Vicki narrowed her eyes. She knew her friend much better than that. "Uh huh and Im dating Mel Gibson try selling me another one, kiddo."
Cami heaved a big sigh. "Vic, my head is splitting, and Im really not in the mood for this right now."
"Still the concussion? Dammit." Vicki rose and went towards the master bathroom. She filled a glass with water and began rooting around in the medicine cabinet for something that would tame Camis headache. "Did the doc give you anything for the pain?"
"Its over here on the table." Came the feeble response.
Vicki brought the glass of water and reached for the bottle of pills. "Have you taken any of these lately?"
"Why in hell not? Geez, Cami. Do Jo and I need to move a nurse in here?" Vicki was joking with her friend, but she was also obviously concerned about Camis health.
"You have to take that stuff
with food, and I havent eaten anything lately."
"You havent eaten anything?? When was the last time you ate?"
Camis last full meal had been nearly two days before when she shared that last romantic dinner with T.J., but she was damned if shed tell Vicki that piece of information. "I..Im not quite sure. My head was pounding, so I just crawled into bed. Havent felt like eating " Which was essentially the truth. But she neglected to mention that hibernating for two days was also due to her broken-heart.
With a large sigh, Vicki stalked from the room. Cami heard her rummaging in the hall closet, and her tall friend returned minutes later with a cool, wet washcloth. "Here, put this on your forehead, and Ill go make you some dinner." Cami wanted to argue, but from the look on Vickis face, she knew better.
"Ok. Thanks, Vic." She gratefully accepted the washcloth and put it on her burning head.
"And after you have food and medicine in your system, you are going to tell me what the hell is going on with you." Vicki swept from the room, in a cloud of her perfume.
Although talking about her situation was the last thing she wanted to do, Cami was pathetically grateful that she had such concerned friends.
"T.J.? Are you in here?"
Tommy poked his head around the corner of T.J.s slightly ajar office door. His boss was seated behind her desk, staring off into space. To Tommy, it didnt look like she was thinking, it actually looked like she was lost.
He cleared his throat to get her attention and she flinched. "Sorry, boss. I uh are you okay?"
His boyish face showed true concern for T.J. "Aye. Sokay, Tommy. What can I do for ya?"
"Mr.Silva is here with those two guys again. You said that I should keep an eye on things, so "
He could see now that he had her total and complete attention. Her eyes went cold and bright. "Thanks, Tommy. Ya did good. Ill be out in a minute." With that she pushed away from her desk and stood.
"Ok. Peters got the bar, so Ill be able to keep an eye on them." He hesitated before asking, "Are you sure youre all right?"
The look she gave him was unemotional. "Fine. Go on. Ill be out."
The lanky manager turned and left the room, leaving T.J. to head to the cabinet on the far wall. She donned her shoulder holster and leather jacket, and reaching into the back of her waistband, she activated the wireless microphone that she was already wearing. The recording device, which actually had a microphone in her belt buckle, would digitally tape for two hours.
Two days before, she had gone to Agent Knight and insisted that she wear a wire when meeting with the Reynosos. Although Knight had already wired the booth where the Reynosos usually sat, T.J. wasnt taking any chances that he would miss something should Miguel request a private conversation with her. She was confident that she could get some good information out of them, and with the taped conversations, hopefully help Knight bring them down sooner. The sooner the better.
"Ill kill her!"
"No. Im not kidding, Cami! God dammit!" Vickis voice raised in fury. "To leave you alone and injured like that! Christ!"
"Vic, please you dont understand." Actually, I dont really understand, but that is not the point here.
"What is there to understand? Youve been feverish, sick and alone for two days and Taylor walked out on you!"
Cami sighed, unwilling to discuss the implications of T.J.s departure any further. "Listen, Im a big girl. I can take care of myself, all right?"
Vicki snorted in response. "Yeah. Thats why I just found you here in bed, starving to death and in pain."
"Ill be fine, just leave it alone please."
Vicki hesitated. Hearing the pain in Camis voice was killing her, but she knew her friend was right - there wasnt much she could do for her, other than take care of her and listen should she want to talk.
The phone interrupted their discussion and Vicki strolled out onto Camis balcony to allow the photographer some privacy. From Camis end of the conversation, Vicki could tell it was business.
A few minutes later, Cami called her back into the room. The blonde was on her feet and dragging an overnight bag out of the closet. "What are you doing? You should be in bed, woman!" Vicki demanded.
"Packing. That was the Padres front office, theyre offering me a job."
"Wait. What? The baseball team is offering you a job?"
"Taking pictures, Vicki." Cami had dropped the bag on the bed and was slowly beginning to pack some clothes. Her head was still swimming, but she was determined to complete her task.
"I figured that, you goofball. I didnt think they were short on left-handed pitching, so they decided to call you." Vicki gently took the pair of socks out of Camis hand and eased her friend back towards the bed. "Now. Sit down and tell me whats going on."
Cami obeyed, albeit reluctantly.
"Tony announced his retirement a week ago, so the Padres are hiring me
to go on their road trips and document his last games in the cities where they
will be playing."
"Yeah? I watched the news conference when he announced, it was really sad. But I dont understand. They have team photographers for that sort of thing."
"Yeah, well " Cami shrugged. "Seems Tony wants me to put together a photo scrap book of the end of his last season. Some of the shots will be headed for the Hall of Fame. Others will be used for a souvenir program or publicity shots, and the rest are for him. He asked for me to be the photographer on this one."
"Holy shit!" Vicki was clearly stunned. "Youre kidding me! So youre going on the road trip? Thats so awesome!" Vicki knew exactly what the famous right fielder meant to Camryn - she hero-worshipped the man. And to be given the chance to capture his last playing days in person a dream come true.
"What about your head? You are still sick, my friend." Vicki sat down next to Cami and took the smaller womans hand.
Cami turned and faced Vicki. "Do you honestly think Im going to let a concussion keep me from doing this?" Vicki smirked in response.
"Besides " Cami looked away, unwilling to face the pity in her friends face at the moment. "I think a trip out of town is just what I need right now, you know?" I cant be here right now especially when all I want to do is call her.
Vicki knew exactly what she meant, and she agreed. Her friend needed some time away from things that reminded her painfully of T.J. "Yeah. But are you going to be all right - physically I mean? I just dont want a phone call from the Padres telling me that you collapsed."
Cami looked back at her and smiled. "Ill be ok, Vicki. I swear." When Vicki raised an eyebrow, Cami patted her hand. "I promise that if my head gets worse, Ill see a doctor, or come home."
"Or both?" Vicki inquired.
"Yes. Or both." Cami chuckled. The prospect of the new job had her nearly giddy, and she chose to ignore the ache in her head for the time being.
"So where are you headed first?" Vickis eyes were shining with glee.
"The team has already left, so Im going to meet them in Milwaukee. I fly out tomorrow."
"Yipes! Milwaukee?? Too bad it isnt somewhere I dunno more exotic?!" Vicki laughed.
"Well, if I play my cards right and behave myself, I get to follow him for the remainder of the season." Vickis eyes widened in shock. "Which means several road trips - including Philadelphia, Atlanta, St. Louis, even Florida I think, but Id have to check the schedule."
"Holy crap! Honey, thats so incredible!" Vicki hugged her small friend. "Do you need some help getting ready? Of course, Jo and I will take turns feeding Diva while you are gone but you need to pack - what can I do?"
Cami was silent for minute. "You
can promise me something."
"Promise me you wont go and yell at T.J."
Vicki looked stunned. "Me? Yell at someone? Puhlease "
"Vicki ." Camis voice took on a warning tone.
"Ok. Ok. I promise. No yelling." But I never said I wouldnt talk to the woman, Vicki thought mischievously.
"Good. Now there is something else you can do."
"Help me get some laundry done - I cant go on a road trip with dirty underwear!"
"So glad you and I can do business, Senora Jameson." Miguel Reynoso purred.
Taylor could feel the slime oozing off of the man from the other side of the table. "Of course, Mr. Reynoso. How could I refuse?" She meant the double meaning in her response, but managed to keep the malice out of her voice. Just barely.
Frank sat next to T.J., taking in the subtle exchange between his ex-wife and current business partner, and not liking what he saw. "So. Taylor, baby. How about some drinks?"
Maintaining eye contact with Miguel, she answered. "Sure, Francis. Just go up ta the bar and ask Peter ta make ya something - on the house."
"Si, Frank. You and Carlos go get us something to drink. Ive some things Id like to talk to Senora Jameson about."
Frank was not at all pleased, but had the good sense to keep his mouth shut and follow Carlos to the bar.
Miguel purred when they were alone, his gaze taking on a seductive look. "Perhaps
you and I can find some time for
as well as business."
Direct, isnt he? The bastard. "Aye? What did ya have in mind, then?" Her eyes smoldered across the table and she had the grace to hide her self-loathing. Two can play at this game, ya soddin asshole.
He smiled at her apparent acquiescence. "Im taking a little cruise on my yacht. Nothing big, just down to Ensenada and back. But I thought you might like to join me, get away from work for awhile."
What is your plan, ya prick? Take me out to the sea, fuck me and then dump my body? She knew she had to play this one carefully. "Hmm sounds inviting, but I tend ta get sea-sick." She tried to sound convincing. "Perhaps we can just spend a weekend in Palm Springs? I hear they have some nice resorts there."
His eyes narrowed for a moment, unsure how to proceed. "A resort?" He grinned at her, a frankly sexual smile. "What kind of weekend did you have in mind, Senora?"
"Just a chance ta relax, Mr. Reynoso." What an arrogant bastard thinks he can threaten me and beat me up one minute, and then seduce me the next. T.J. fought back the nausea. She saw Frank and Carlos returning. Saved by Frank now theres a switch. "But we can discuss details some other time. Lets get down ta business, shall we?"
The four "business partners" discussed the terms of T.J.s involvement with the Reynoso "corporation," and by the time they were finished, Taylor was sure that Agent Knight would have a lot of useful information. Hopefully its enough
"Well, gentlemen " Taylor rose from the table. "I have some work ta do, so if youll excuse me, Ill call it an evenin." Miguel stood as she left and kissed her hand in parting. It was all she could do not to pull it away as if she were poisoned, but she knew her first order of business would be to thoroughly wash her hand as soon as she could.
Shortly after she went into her office, the three men left the pub. The meeting had been short, but to the point. They were to use the pub as one of their many ways to launder money. By buying expensive "business" dinners and throwing "corporate" events, they could funnel some of their money. Still other means were to have her begin purchasing and stocking "Primo Ensenada", a rather cheap - and disgusting, T.J. thought - beer that was produced by one of the Reynosos subsidiaries. It was a simple game, and one that T.J. actually knew very well from her days with the F.E.P. In fact, she had startled Miguel by her extensive knowledge of money laundering.
She smiled in remembrance of his stunned expression. More than just a pretty face, arent I? Ya fuckwad! In retrospect, she probably should have played dumb, as she learned long ago it was best for your enemies to underestimate you. But Miguel Reynoso was such a machismo son-of-a-bitch, that she couldnt help herself.
Cant help myself Sitting behind her desk, she began to think of Cami. Her heart beat faster in her chest and her stomach tied in a knot. She knew she needed to put the blonde out of her mind, but she also feared for her safety.
Not only had she left the blonde injured, she also knew that despite the fact she was no longer seeing her, Reynoso would still not hesitate to use Cami as leverage against T.J. No amount of persuasion would convince the drug dealer that T.J. was through with her. But, she was glad for the fact that Jake had now put two men on guard. Not that they had been very successful before, but
Her conscience still bothered though, about leaving Cami the way she did. She briefly thought of calling her to make sure she was all right, but that was out of the question. Much too painful. She opted for a phone call to Jake instead, who assured her that he would get a report from the guard that was currently on duty and get back to his cousin with some information. He had started to ask T.J. why she wasnt with Cami herself, but he thought better of it.
She was still sitting behind her desk staring off into space when Peter came into the office after closing down the bar.
"Ok. Wheres the tape? What have we got?" He looked nearly gleeful.
Without a word, T.J. handed him the recorder pack and propped her feet up on her desk. It would be a long night of debriefing and going over the tape, but that really didnt bother her. In fact, she welcomed the distraction. What else did she have to do? Go home to an empty, lonely apartment and stare at the ceiling while she pretended to sleep?
Jo arrived early the next morning to take Cami to the airport. The blonde was loaded down with camera equipment, but she only had one suitcase of clothes to worry about. Vicki had tried to get her to pack more, but Cami rationalized that she would be spending most of her time at baseball games; so fancy clothes would be unnecessary. She had finally appeased Vicki by explaining that she could just buy anything that she might need.
Cami had picked up the phone twenty times to call T.J. before she left. But she couldnt do it her pride refused to allow her heart to break down. She rationalized that it was not her move to make. T.J had been the one to walk out; it was therefore up to her to make the first contact. Not a particularly sound theory, Cami admitted, but one her pride needed at the moment.
Tucked away in her duffel bag was the small box that T.J. had deliberately left behind that night. So far, Cami had not had the courage to open it up. She feared what was inside would be painful, and at the moment, more pain was not something Cami wanted to deal with. She almost left it behind at her house, but at the last minute, she put in away in the inside pocket of her bag. Maybe Ill have the strength to open it later.
Jo left her at the gate with a quick hug and kiss, as she had to dash off to rehearsals. The wait for departure hadnt been long, but Cami used the time to catch up on what Sports Illustrated and Baseball Weekly were saying about Tonys retirement.
She managed, for a while at least to not think about T.J. That is until the airplane made its ascent out over Point Loma and made the large loop over the Pacific to turn and head back towards the east. As the plane flew back over San Diego, Cami couldnt help but look towards the North and wonder where T.J. was and what she was doing.
T.J. stared resolutely at the ceiling of her bedroom. She had spent another mostly sleepless night, tossing about fitfully. Agent Knight told her that he almost had enough information to move on Reynoso a thought that should have made her enormously happy. And somewhere inside, she was ecstatic. But right now, she was so damned miserable without Camryn that even the thought of bringing down that bastard Miguel was not getting through to her.
Ya made the right decision, old girl. One ya knew would come sooner or later better now then when ya were really attached
She tried to be logical, but logic didnt do a damned thing to ease the pain of her heart.