by: pat winterburn
Disclaimers: Mine all mine; but it's Christmas and I want to share them with you. Amanda wishes to thank each and every one of you, for the past year of sharing your time with her and her friends. No Sex, a bit of violence against a child, and get that tissue box ready in certain places.
"For those of you who believe, and for those of you who wish too, this is my gift to you." To my beta reader Mary...a very Merry Christmas and a big thankyou for your help with my writing. *************************************************************************
It's that time of year when people extend their hearts and kindness a little more than usual. As tight a department as Captain Amanda Ellis ran no one was more giving and thoughtful than Amanda and her second in command, Lt. Mitchell Blake. Sandy and Deb have joined their lovers to discuss preparations for a Christmas party.
"Best two out of three." Amanda flipped the quarter into the air as Sandy, Mitchell and Deb looked on. "Heads, our place."
Again Amanda flipped the coin. "Tails, Mitchell and Deb's."
"Ok ladies final toss, this is it." Amanda flipped the coin higher into the air and caught it with practiced ease. She held her hand over the coin and smirked as Sandy yelled. "Get over yourself and show me the damn quarter!"
Amanda not one to fool around with that tone of voice from her lover quickly raised her hand and said, "heads, our place."
Mitchell walked over to Amanda and shook her hand. "Congratulations Captain, the Christmas open house is at your place this year."
"Dammit Mitchell, whose stupid idea was this anyway?"
"Yours!" Three voices sang out in unison.
"Oh come on Amanda, it will be fun." Deb said to her. "Besides you'll be too busy barbecuing and the three of us will be entertaining."
Sandy walked over to the dining room table and started rearranging papers. "Ok, let's get busy and start making these lists out for food, drinks, and gifts for the kids. We've already decided on the day and time schedule, now we just have to think up some games and activities for the kids and their parents."
"Any one want a beer?" Amanda called out as she headed for the kitchen. Three voices replied back yes, as well as put some coffee on. The last thing Sandy wanted was the four of them drunk and falling asleep. Falling asleep she thought. We are getting older.
For years the police department had sponsored a toy drive for the less fortunate kids in their district. When Amanda had taken over as Captain she had wanted to thank the officers personally for their donated time and effort to raise toys or money for the cause.
This year she decided it would be nice to host a beach party for the officers and their families. With the decision made as to whose home the open house would be the four women spent the rest of the afternoon making plans for the party and reminiscing about Christmas' gone by.
"Oh my God." Mitchell almost fell out of her chair in laughter. "Do you remember Kevin's first Christmas?
Sandy laughed as well and Amanda scowled. "Gosh that was a long time ago."
"You weren't laughing at the time as I remember." Amanda pointed out. "One dog, one little boy, and one Christmas tree on the floor, broken ornaments and torn packages. What a mess." Amanda shook her head in memory.
"This will be our first Christmas without Whiskey." Amanda quickly wiped a tear from her eye. "I really miss her."
For a moment the women remained silent each having their own private thoughts in regards to the memories of that once bundle of gold furred energy. Whiskey had passed away one morning quietly in her sleep. Amanda had come down stairs to find her not breathing. She quietly sat on the floor beside her beloved friend and pet, gently petting the now still body and wished her a safe journey to where ever it is that dog's go when they pass over. Sandy sensing something wrong got up out of bed and stood at the top of the stairs and watched as her lover spent a few moments saying her good byes. Amanda looked up with tear stained red eyes, and Sandy continued down the stairs and took Amanda into her arms. She held her and rocked her until all of her tears had dried. She then took a few moments herself to say goodbye to their once noble defender of the household.
Sandy had put on a pot of coffee and then called Mitchell and Deb to come over. They too had a turn at their own goodbyes, until Mitchell encouraged Amanda to get up and go over to the vets with Whiskey's body for cremation.
Each of the four women turned with their drinks in hand and raised them in salute to the urn that sits upon the cabinet. The plaque read: "Whiskey: once lost and found in love." *************************************************************************
The day had arrived for the Christmas party for her department and the beach front was alive with people having fun. Volleyball nets had been erected; sand castle building contests and every imaginable game and sport was being played by officers and kids alike. Amanda was busy barbecuing burgers and hot dogs with Sandy making sure there was plenty of pop and potato salad available. Garbage cans had been set up and recycle boxes for the pop cans. Portable washrooms as well; of course it had cost Amanda an invite to the cities mayor and his family. One needed a permit and the Mayor had no intention of being left out. Amanda was still grumbling under her breath about the big deal the press was making over the picnic, but it was election year and Amanda had no other choice, she needed the permits. Mitchell and Deb were in charge of the games and to make sure everyone was having fun. It wasn't a hard job and both women agreed they got the better of the deal.
But off to one side of the excitement sat a young girl. She watched as the other children and their families were having fun and wished she could join them. Once again she had run away from her step mother and had headed down to the beach. At ten years old, life hadn't exactly been kind to her. Her step mother only cared for the new baby that had been born a few months ago. Carly missed just having her father all to herself. They had been through so much already together when Carly's mother had died. But when her father re-married, she had felt alone and unloved. When things got bad and the yelling at her would start, Carly soon learned to run away before she got hit. These private beaches were always quiet, except for today.
Amanda needed a break from cooking and Mitchell took over. She went into the house for a few moments of peace, used the real bathroom and headed back outside with a cold coke. "Guess it's time to make nice with the tribe members." She joked with Mitchell and headed out.
Amanda joined in some of the games and then judged the sand castle contest. As she announced the winners, she happened to look over and saw the younger girl sitting off to the side. Wonder whose kid she is? Amanda thought and finally made her way over there.
"Hi." She called out. "How come you're not playing with the other kids?"
Carly didn't know whether to run or just sit there. She had been so involved in watching the other kids she hadn't seen or heard Amanda approach her.
"I, I don't belong here." Carly stated.
Amanda tilted her head to one side and looked confused. "Everyone belongs here. Come on, I need a partner to help me build a sand fort and I know you've had nothing to eat. You want a hot dog or a hamburger?"
Carly didn't know what to do, but this woman had the nicest eyes that looked at her with kindness, and she slowly reached out and accepted the hand that was helping her up. Together they walked over to the long table where the food was set up and Amanda helped her with her plate.
"Amanda, who's your new friend?" Sandy asked.
"I don't know actually. What's your name sweetie?" Amanda helped Carly with her hot dog and potato chips and together they sat down on the big blanket with Sandy.
"My name is Carly." The girl said shyly and dove into her plate of food.
Amanda and Sandy looked at each other strangely. This child was hungry and at second glance could have used some clean clothes and a hair wash.
"Which one is your mother or father Carly?" Sandy was a little angry that some one wouldn't take the time to make sure their daughter wasn't clean or fed right.
"I don't belong here." Again Carly answered.
Amanda was taken back by Carly's answer. "You mentioned that already honey, what do you mean by that?"
Carly didn't answer until she finished her hot dog. "May I have a pop and another hot dog?"
Amanda didn't hesitate and got up and got her a coke and another hot dog. Carly sat quietly and finally finished her food. Amanda and Sandy never said another word to Carly, but let her finish. Knowing each other for as long as they had, there was no need to talk between the two of them. They both knew they had a situation on their hands and it wasn't a nice one.
Finally Carly spoke up. "I'm sorry, I was really hungry."
"That's ok honey, there's plenty of food." Sandy gave her a very reassuring smile and offered her a chocolate chip cookie.
"So Carly where do you live?" Amanda asked.
The little girl pointed down the beach to the white beach house with the green trim.
"You're Jack Raymond's daughter?" Sandy asked.
Carly just nodded her head and ate her cookie as Amanda and Sandy looked at each other and saw angry sparks fly. **********************************************************************
Father Christmas turned his head to Chronos the Keeper of Time and sighed. "We've seen the future with this child and it is not a happy one." Chronos nodded and turned his hour glass to show Christmas the future again. " Amanda doesn't know it yet Christmas, but if she doesn't help out this child by Christmas Day, in the future she will loose her life to an angry young woman, Carly Raymond.
The scene before Father Christmas saddened his heart as Captain Amanda Ellis lay dead on the living room floor. Carly Raymond, standing over her with a shaking hand as she had pulled the trigger stopping Amanda from arresting her for breaking and entering Amanda and Sandy's house. Without the proper love and guidance, Carly had grown up to be an addict, out on the streets, always looking for that next fix getting money anyway she could. In the next scene Carly turns to fire at Sandy, but a shot rang out first. Dr. Sandra Wilson for the first time in her life has taken a life rather then saving one, and will never be the same again. Her loss of Amanda and what she has just done is too much to deal with and Sandy sits with Amanda's head in her lap, as her sanity breaks. Dr. Kevin Wilson - Ellis is unable to bring his mother back to him and has her committed. He turns to his Aunt Mitchell and Deb for comfort as they battle this nightmare themselves.
"Enough Chronos. Some how these events must change." Father Christmas sits with his hands folded and looks down at Amanda. "She has been blessed with "sight" and Christmas wonders how he can use this to guide Amanda along the right path. As he sits and ponders how he will alter the future without upsetting the Fates, his attention is drawn to the spirit of a golden dog. He smiles and knows what he must do. ***********************************************************************
As the Christmas beach party drew to an end, Amanda and Sandy had been playing with and spending time with Carly. Everyone has had a great time, even the Mayor and his family, and everyone is thanking and saying good bye to their Captain, Lieutenant, Sandy and Deb. As the last guest leaves the four women and Carly start to clean up outside.
Deb gives Sandy a nudge. "Looks like someone is finally looking for their daughter."
Sandy looks up to see Sarah Raymond walking down the beach with her husband Jack and new baby. Sandy is angry and starts walking toward the couple until Amanda grabs her feisty lover by the arm. "Hold on red, I know you're boiling, but let's just wait and see what they say."
"Come on Carly, why don't you help me take the pop into the kitchen." Mitchell gave Carly two cans of pop while she and Deb picked up the cooler and headed into the kitchen. They kept Carly busy while Amanda and Sandy chatted with the other couple.
Sandy tried her best not to blow her temper at Jack. He was a fine lawyer and had helped Amanda and Sandy with a number of legal issues with their wills. "Hello Jack, Sarah." Both Amanda and Sandy extended their hands and exchanged hand shakes with the other couple. "It's been a while. How's the baby?"
"He's fine thank you and it's good to see both of you again." For a lawyer, Jack was at a loss as to what to say next, but Sarah jumped in.
"I see Carly crashed your private party this afternoon." If this hadn't been San Diego Amanda would have sworn the temperature had dropped into the freezing point. What a cold bitch. She thought.
"Carly is always more then welcome over here Sarah, I was just surprised you didn't come over as well to see that she was alright." Amanda's tone let out a warning that she knew Carly wasn't being cared for.
"I was keeping an eye out for her." Sarah's tone let out her own warning.
"Well," Jack finally jumped into the conversation, "we'll take Carly home now and get her out of your hair."
"She has been a pleasure to have around all afternoon, Jack thank you." Sandy flashed her green eyes and Jack swore he felt the pin pricks of mini daggers rip through his chest. At that moment Mitchell and Deb came out of the house with a smiling Carly in hand.
As the Raymond family walked back down to their home, four women stood with a concerned look on their faces. "Amanda, I'm getting a bad feeling about this." Sandy wrapped her arms around Amanda and hugged her tight.
Father Christmas looked down at the puppy. She was very small, the runt of the litter. "You are the one, my special friend," and Father Christmas took the spirit of the gold dog and placed it into the small animal. He smiled as the eyes twinkled back at him. He had done all he could, the rest was up to Whiskey. *************************************************************************
Amanda had tried several times to convince Sarah Raymond to allow Carly to come out with her and Sandy, to go shopping, or to see the latest movie. But each time Sarah had an excuse. Sandy had even gone as far as making arrangements with Jack, but when the time came, again there would be an excuse from Sarah. With only days before Christmas, Amanda and Sandy had almost given up. There were final preparations for Christmas. Kevin would be coming home and this year Mitchell and Deb weren't flying back home to Mitchell's parents ranch in Texas. So everyone would be at Amanda and Sandy's to light the Christmas Angel on Christmas Eve.
Sandy couldn't believe what she had done. It was December 24th at 3pm and she was in the shopping mall. The crowds were insane, everyone rushing and pushing and somehow Sandy found herself in the pet store. She didn't even know what possessed her to come in here, but there she was checking out all the fish, the birds and even the dwarf rabbits. She heard a familiar noise and looked over to see the small puppy in a cage off to the side. The puppy was crying and jumping up and down trying to get her attention. "Oh what a sweetie you are."
The clerk came over to chat with Sandy. "She seems to like you; she hasn't been friendly with any one who has come in. We haven't been able to sell her."
"Nonsense." Sandy said. "Just look at her, those eyes........ and it was in fact something about the puppies eyes that Sandy recognized. "No it couldn't be."
"Couldn't be what ma'am?" The clerk asked.
Sandy didn't even think twice, what ever this pull was she wasn't going to ignore it, she just simply handed her credit card over to the clerk. "And don't forget puppy food."
As Sandy got into her BMW she shook her head and looked at the furry bundle that was now lying across her lap. "What have I done?"
Amanda came bursting through the front door with Mitchell right behind her. "I'm sorry honey, the damned traffic was backed up and".............. Amanda stopped short and Mitchell crashed into her. "Hey!" Mitchell stood frozen and then watched as Sandy and Deb sat playing with a puppy. "Oh wow."
Sandy stood up with the puppy in her arms. She walked over to Amanda and smiled as the tears ran down her lovers face. She handed the little squirming bundle over to Amanda and said "Merry Christmas."
Father Christmas looked down upon the little puppy. "Good girl little one, you are almost done.
"Kevin!" Everyone jumped up and greeted one very tired doctor at the front door.
"Hi everyone. I'm so tired; got anything to eat mom?" Sandy laughed at her son. She was ready with cold cuts and salads, dinner rolls and desserts. They were having a cold dinner, for tomorrow they would all be sitting down to turkey.
Amanda stood for a moment and waited while he got hugged by everyone else. Theirs was still a special bond that had been formed that night so many years ago when with Deb's help Amanda had rescued Kevin from certain death and never left his side. Kevin grabbed up his mother and gave her a big hug and kiss. He was about to say how much he had missed her when he heard the soft yapping of a puppy at his feet. "What's this?" Kevin bent down and picked up the excited puppy and sure enough she peed all over him. "Ah, my shirt!" Everyone laughed as Amanda took back the puppy and took her outside.
"You still have some t-shirts upstairs honey. Here give me your shirt and I'll wash it." Sandy took her son's shirt and headed for the laundry room, while Kevin jogged up stairs. The puppy started to bark at him. "Yes Whiskey, I know no running." Everyone stopped and stood still. Kevin couldn't believe what he had said, but it just seemed so natural. "I'm sorry Mom." He could see the look in Amanda's face and felt bad. "It just come out, she started barking at me when I ran up the stairs, just like Whiskey used to."
Amanda smiled. "It's alright Kevin, Whiskey would be happy to know you still remember the rules about running."
Kevin left to change his shirt and returned back downstairs. Every one sat down to the table to share Christmas Eve dinner and memories. Amanda opened a bottle of wine and the five of them chatted well into the evening. Finally it was time to light the Angel's candle in remembrance of those who perished in the bombing of the San Diego hospital all those years ago. They stood in silence as Sandy lit the candle and watched as it burned brightly and prayed for those friends they had lost that day.
Amanda opened the bedroom door the next morning, and didn't have the heart to wake Kevin. He had worked a double shift at the hospital in order to get today off and she let him sleep. "Merry Christmas my son." She blew him a kiss as she closed the door.
Amanda grabbed Whiskey's old leash and snapped it on the puppy's new collar. As of yet no one could think of a name for the puppy. "Come on you, let's go for a walk."
The puppy took off towards the door as if she knew what Amanda had said. "What is it with you dogs? You know the word walk the minute you're born."
For some reason Amanda walked over towards the Raymond's beach house. "I don't know why I'm doing this, but what the hell."
She walked along trying to control the puppy, but the puppy had other ideas. She ran as fast as she could, pulling on the leash and choking on her collar. "Slow down crazy pup." Amanda called but decided to go with it and jogged along with the puppy. As they approached the Raymond's house, Amanda could hear yelling and crying. The sound of slapping and hitting was clearly evident and Amanda stood inside the back door as she yelled at Sarah Raymond. "Sarah Raymond, you are under arrest for the assault and battery of Carly........Amanda pulled out her cell phone as she finished her sentence and dialled 911. She sent in the police report and then called Sandy to get over here with her black bag. Sarah Raymond stood in shock as a little golden furred puppy growled and snarled at her. She looked over to Amanda. "You bitch, you have no right."
"Bitch! You're beating your child and I'm a bitch." Carly come here honey."
Carly crawled over as Amanda stared down Sarah Raymond. "Just try it Sarah, I'd love nothing better than to say you were resisting arrest." She picked up the beaten child and held her as she cried.
Within minutes Sandy came in with Kevin in tow. Each of them had their black bags and Amanda handed over Carly to them. Quickly mother and son checked the child over for cuts and bruises. Kevin talked softly to the frightened little girl and Sandy was so impressed with his caring and kindness.
The police came to take Sarah Raymond away as Jack came downstairs. He did not look well and Sandy called for an ambulance. "Looks like poisoning Amanda, his skin colouring isn't right."
The crying of a baby distracted Amanda and she went up stairs and brought the child down. She handed the baby over to the responding officer, as her partner led Sarah Raymond away in handcuffs.
The ambulance arrived for Jack Raymond and took both he and Carly to the hospital. Amanda called Mitchell and explained what had happened.
"Don't worry we'll get the dinner ready, you just take care of Carly." Mitchell was about to hang up when she remembered. "Merry Christmas Amanda and tell Sandy too."
Father Christmas looked down at the small puppy. She had done a good job. If it hadn't been for her Carly's life would have changed forever. Her father would have died from Sarah's poisoning and Carly would have lived in hell for the rest of her life.
Father Christmas looked around and hoped no one was looking. He grinned as he walked away leaving Whiskey's spirit in the little puppy's heart.
When Amanda, Kevin and Sandy left the hospital, they brought Carly and the baby back home with them. Jack would have to remain in the hospital for a few days and Amanda and Sandy offered to look after the kids. "What is it with us and kids Amanda? We're too old for this."
Amanda laughed as she walked into the front door. The house smelled like turkey cooking and Mitchell and Deb were attempting to rescue the presents from one persistent puppy.
"Merry Christmas everyone!" Amanda yelled as she handed the baby over to Mitchell.
"What's this?" A stunned Mitchell stood with a panicked look on her face.
"It's not your present Mitchell don't panic." Amanda laughed and poked at her friend. Then she grabbed up Deb and gave her a hug and a kiss.
As everyone sat down to dinner, the house was once again alive with the voices of children and a happy puppy.
Late that night Amanda and Sandy sat down in the kitchen, each on their own bar stool. Kevin had gone to bed after helping with the two other children. Mitchell and Deb had left to go home; they had their own Christmas to celebrate.
The puppy lay in between Amanda's feet. "What should we call her?"
"Brandy." Sandy replied.
Amanda recalled a conversation over fifteen years ago. "Is that a name or a drink request?"
Sandy smiled in memory as well at the same conversation. "A name."
Amanda leaned over and kissed Sandy. "Sounds good to me, thank you for her. *********************************************************************
Father Christmas and Chronos sat together enjoying the last moments of Christmas. "It's been a long day." Father Christmas sighed.
Chronos checked his hour glass. "No this day has the same amount of hours and minutes as any day."
Father Christmas rolled his eyes and laughed at his friend. "Time, you have no sense of humour."
The two spirits looked down at the women as they played with the puppy. "You did a good thing today Father Christmas. The dog's next life would have been a cruel one at the hands of man."
Father Christmas stood as his time to leave grew near. "It is the one time of year where only I have the power to change the course of destiny and this small animal's soul was needed to save that little girl's life."
Amanda felt the familiar shiver and looked up to see an old bearded man smiling at her and Sandy. She held up the puppy. Sandy could see the look in Amanda's eyes and knew they had company. "Say Merry Christmas to Santa, Brandy." As she waved the puppy's paw, Brandy barked and smiled as only a dog could.
Merry Christmas everyone!!
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