After only a few hours sleep, morning came hard, but Taylor's curiosity woke her before the hotel's wake-up call could ring the phone. Jones was gone when Taylor got up. Her sneaking out about an hour and twenty minutes after they had gone to bed had awakened Taylor, but she let her slip out the door without a sound to inform Jones that she was awake. Taylor's curiosity this morning, however, concerned the chief and what could be so important that he would call her into his office at eight o'clock in the morning, knowing that she was at Dreams last night.
At 7:30 on Saturday morning she walked into the squad room and found Chad seated at his desk opposite hers. He had taken off his coat and tie and his sleeves were rolled up to his forearms. He looked ready, fresh and capable at six foot three and easily two hundred ten pounds. "Ready for a new day, partner?" She asked in greeting, while taking a seat behind her desk.
With a wicked smirk on his face, Chad looked up at the sound of the deep, smooth voice. "Yes, as a matter of fact… I am but… I'm not so sure about you," he was barely able to say between the fits of laughter. Laughing and pointing at Taylor, he was having difficulty staying in his chair
Taylor raised an inquisitive brow. "Would you like to share the joke Chad or is this for your amusement alone?" Still she did not get a reply, just the fits of laughter. "Damn it man! What the hell is so funny?"
Chad straightened up in his chair. He wiped his eyes clear of the tears of laughter and focused on Taylor. "You'll see and you're not going to like it!" He quickly rose from his chair, realizing that all hell was about to break loose. He turned his back on Taylor and headed to the coffee machine, knowing she would follow. "Want a cup partner?"
"Yes Chad. Thank you! I would also like an answer to the question that I have already asked you twice." She sounded less curious and more agitated.
Chad's wicked smirk returned. "Here's your coffee partner. The chief wants to see you ASAP!"
Taylor accepted the coffee. "And that is funny, Chad?"
"Yes partner. It is very funny! The chief said ASAP, so you better get your ass moving." The sound of his laughter lingered in the small break area as he left her alone to ponder his unusually secretive and amused mood this morning.
Chief Frank Fleming sat at his desk, contemplating whether or not he had the energy this morning to inform Cross of her new assignment. He had known Cross now for seven years since she was a rookie in Sacramento. For the last four years, she had worked with him in Redding as a detective and he always looked forward to giving her a new assignment. Until now. He leaned back in his chair with his arms above his head, his forearms resting on his head, to stretch. Damn, I'm getting too old for this.
Cross and her partner, Chad Townsend, were two of the best detectives that he had ever had the pleasure of working with. The two of them made his job a little easier, just by doing their own job so well. He would give them a case and no matter how difficult the assignment, they would find a way to come out on top.
While looking over the reports from the night shift, his thoughts were interrupted by a light knock on his office door. He looked up from his desk to see Cross through the glass door. He looked at his watch. Eight a.m. "Come in Cross!" he yelled through the glass.
"Morning Chief. Chad tells me that you want to see me," she stated as a greeting.
Chief Fleming watched her enter the room, but continued to shuffle reports and folders on his desk. He noticed her usual demeanor after being summoned to the his office. She seemed composed with the usual hint of arrogance. He also noted the confused look on her face. He stood up and walked to the other side of his desk. As he leaned a leg onto the corner of the desk to take a sear, he gestured toward the two standard chairs in front of his desk. "Have a seat, Cross."
She took the chair closest to his desk, "Thank you, sir."
"Why the confused look, Detective?" He questioned as he crossed his arms over his chest.
She shifted in the chair to put her right ankle up on her left knee. "Well sir, I just left Chad sitting at his desk, laughing his ass off. I asked him what was so damned funny and his only reply was that you wanted to see me ASAP. So, sir, actually I am a little curious about two things."
He raised his brow "All right, Cross! Spit it out."
She sighed heavily. "In the last four years that I have worked in this division, Chad and I both attend the meeting regarding our new assignment. So, I guess my first question is why is Chad at his desk, laughing his ass off at me instead of in here discussing a new case? My second question should be evident, sir. What is so damned funny?"
Chief Fleming got up and walked to his chair behind his desk. He sat staring at the young detective, wondering where to start. He noticed Cross anxiously waiting for answers to her questions. She is obliviously frustrated with the behavior she observed while with Chad. Chad's amusement over her new assignment is going to make it more difficult for me to convince her that she is the right one for the job. I wonder if he gave her any insight to this meeting. No. Chad would not want the wrath of this one, any more than I do. He rubbed his face with both hands and decided that he could not put it off any longer.
"Cross, I am going to answer the first question, because I haven't a clue as to what is so funny. You will have to take that up with your partner. The first question is easy. The reason that Chad is not attending this meeting is because we have a small temporary change in routine. Chad will not be working with you on this assignment. I have a special assignment that requires your immediate attention and he is still needed on the Dreams case."
It was unusual that Chad and she not work a case together, but it had happened on several occasions over the years. Undercover operations called for a variety of different arrangements. Only one of the detectives might be needed in an operation that was already under way or a certain case might only call for one undercover officer and the chief would feel that one of them was the right one for the job. "I understand, Sir. What about the Dreams case?"
"We still have Chad and Jones on it and I will have to have you at Dreams on occasion until we figure this one out, but I do not have a choice about this new assignment. You will understand once we get into it. So, tell me what you think about the Dreams case?"
Taylor shook her head, showing her frustration. "It's going slower than I would like. We're missing something that is possibly right under our noses. I'm not sure what the piece of the puzzle is that we can't seem to find."
The chief nodded. "I heard that the camera situation threw everyone for a loop."
Taylor smiled, recalling the problems that the cameras had provoked. "Yes, but we handled it as best we could and everything turned out fine. Did they find any type of listening devices?"
"I didn't see anything...yes, I did. In Chad's report, he thought it was strange, but nothing was found. Remind me to give you a copy of his report before you leave the station. I will start leaving a copy of his report and Jones' report in your box daily, until this shit is over with. Have you turned in your report from last night?"
"Yeah...It's in your box." Taylor started to rise. "Do you want me to get it?"
Chief Fleming gestured for her to sit back down. "No, Cross, as long as you've done it and it's there. Listen, with this new assignment and the fact that you are already in too deep at Dreams for me to pull you completely out, I need you to let me know when you have had too much. Chad knows that you're going on a new case and he will inform Jones. They will let you know when you have to make an appearance at Dreams, but don‘t overdo it. Understand?"
Taylor could see in his eyes that he did not like the idea of her working two cases and she wanted to put his mind at ease. "Understood. It will be fine. It's not like we all haven't worked too many cases before, Chief."
Chief Fleming rubbed the whiskers on his chin, as he did often. "Well, we have all overdone it, too. Pushing yourself too far can lead to mistakes that can get someone hurt."
The chief cleared his throat, "Good. Let's get started on the new assignment. A week ago, the Mayor requested that I send him files on three of my best detectives. One of the files that I sent belongs to you, Cross."
Taylor gave him an honest smile. "Thank you, Chief."
"Yeah! Yeah! Don't go getting the big head, Detective." He gave her a point of his finger as a threat. "Anyway, Mayor Whitlow and his Committee, headed up by a woman named Andrea Roberts have chosen you out of the three to head up what they a referring to as ‘The Safety Team'." The chief started to relax a bit, seeing the expression on Taylor's face change from confusion to total curiosity.
Taylor was instantly curious. Her first impression was that if Mayor Oscar Whitlow was selecting a team, then something serious must been going on. She was more than happy to be chosen to be involved, especially with the opportunity to impress the right people. Of course, the mayor being one of the right people. Taylor did not care what anyone thought of her personally, especially the likes of the mayor, but she had to play the game to get to where she wanted to be.
The chief sighed and brought Taylor back to the matter at hand. "There is a special charity function going to be held in the large park in Shasta…what's the name of that damned park?"
Taylor narrowed her brows but answered quickly. "Castle Crags."
"That's it Cross! You're right. Castle Crags State Park. Anyway, the charity event will be going on for two weeks and the mayor is very involved. They seem to think with the nice weather and no place large enough available to accommodate the guest list that the State Park would be appropriate. Some of California‘s most prominent and wealthiest will be attending." The chief licked his thumb and started thumbing through the stack of papers on his desk. He was cursing under his breath about cleaning the desk off sometime. "Here, I finally found it. The name and address of the woman in charge of the event. You will need to meet with her and she will fill in any blanks. Your job, Cross, is to control the team and the grounds, during this event. You've done this sort of thing before, so there shouldn't be a problem. Understand?"
Taylor shifted in her chair and leaned forward toward his desk with the same confused look she had on her face when she arrived. "Chief, they will have city uniformed officers, also the Mt. Shasta Ranger's Station is at the park and possibly several of the attendees will have private security too, right?" The chief nodded. "Chief, why do you need a detective at a charity function like this?"
The chief cleared his throat. "Because the Mayor requested it. By the way, Cross, I don't need a detective. You'll be in a Redding City uniform for the week."
Taylor jumped out of her chair, towering over his desk. I'll be what?…In what?… Chief why?… A uniform…I don't think so…"
Chad must have heard, because she heard him through the glass bursting into a fit of laughter. Taylor turned quickly to see what was so amusing and Chad was having a repeat of their earlier encounter, only this time he laughed so hard, he fell off his chair.
The chief stood up. "Calm down, Cross! I'm sorry about Chad. I felt I had to tell him because he wanted to know why he was losing his partner for the week. This is the mayor's assignment. We play by his rules and you just heard his rules! Now calm down and listen to me. Let me explain!"
Cross took a deep breath and returned to her seat. "Chief, none of this makes sense. I don't care if the President is in charge of this assignment. I have never worn a Redding City uniform. I've done my uniform thing in Sacramento and I have no desire to do it again. I did not work for three years in uniform, taking every opportunity I could to get involved on cases that would get me out of that damned uniform and into this division for you to tell me to put it back on because a bunch of rich people say so. Besides, how many lieutenants have you ever seen in a uniform? They can get together anywhere they want and show off, while they give away some of their precious money. And they can do it without me being present in uniform to watch. I don‘t want this assignment!"
The chief held up his hand in protest. "Don't give me that lieutenant shit now. How many lieutenants do you see put as many hours in on the streets as you do? When you start acting like a lieutenant, then I might consider that excuse." Taylor started to protest again, but the chief continued. "You are not listening, Detective." Taylor started to protest again, but she was cut short by the chief's very loud irritated voice. "Let's cease-fire with the bullshit Cross. You don't have a choice. This is not negotiable. Your job is to work for the mayor at this charity function in uniform instead of you normal attire. You are to meet with the woman indicated on that paperwork I gave you." The chief took a deep breath and lowered his voice before continuing. "I also expect a daily report. If you feel that no incident took place, then say so. I would like a report on the conduct and performance of the officers. Keep me in the loop with the reports Cross. I don't want any surprises, if the mayor phones me concerning any…. incident. I want to have all the information needed to know exactly what he is talking about. Got it Cross?"
"Yes Sir. I don't see that you're giving me a choice!" Showing her final disapproval of the assignment, Taylor exited the office with a slight slam of the door. The chief looked up and just shook his head and smiled. At least it was over. She had been told the assignment and he expected attitude about it, but knew she would do what was asked of her to the best of her ability.
After exiting the chief's office, Taylor headed with determined strides toward the stairs that led to the basement. Her body language was showing her anger with every step, but even through her anger, she could hear Chad snickering. He was still sitting with his feet propped up on the corner of his desk. She could not help herself. She let her hand fly out and pop him viciously in the back of the head and never broke her stride to the stairs.
Chad rubbed the back of his head vigorously. "What was that for?"
Taylor yelled over her shoulder, "I thought I would give you something to laugh about!"
"Taylor wait!" Chad raced from his chair to catch up. "Are you going to accept the assignment?"
Taylor looked around the room. Realizing that it was not only Chad who had witnessed some of her conversation with the chief, she tried to keep her temper and her tone in check. She answered him in a harsh whisper, through clenched teeth. "I wasn't given much choice, Chad."
Chad touched Taylor on the forearm, in hopes of slowing her pace. "Listen Taylor, you know I was only teasing you earlier, right?"
Taylor turned to read Chad's face. Almost immediately, a small smirk started to appear at the corner of his mouth. Taylor stood only inches from Chad, her face flushed, her fist clenched. "What part exactly were you teasing me about Chad? The fact that I am going to be spending possibly two weeks in uniform or that I will be in a beautiful place that I cannot enjoy because I will be baby-sitting people that more than likely don't want to be there? Maybe you were teasing me because I get be in the company of the mayor and his...his...entourage?"
Chad took a step back and raised his hands in a defensive gesture. "Whoa Taylor, slow down. All I was told is that you would be possibly baby-sitting and that you would have to be in uniform. I had no idea who, when or where. I assumed that it was some sort of escort duty for a politician while he was in or near the city. That‘s all, I swear."
Taylor took a deep breath and let it out slowly, trying to calm down. She couldn't really be mad with Chad because if he had been stuck with this assignment, she would definitely be giving him a hard time. Taylor spoke to him in a softer, almost humorous tone. "Fine Chad, you didn't know. I got to get downstairs to pick up some uniforms."
Chad fell in stride with her. "I'll keep you company." When Taylor gave him an icy glare, he quickly spoke up. "No Taylor, I have been dying to tell you this joke that I heard yesterday at the Market Street Station." Taylor nodded, thinking one of Chad's jokes might be just what she needed right now. "Don't worry. You'll like this one. A man was driving home late one afternoon, and he was driving above the speed limit when he notices a police car with its lights flashing in his rearview mirror. He thinks to himself, 'I can outrun this guy,' so he floors it and the race is on. The cars are racing down the highway--seventy, eighty, ninety miles an hour. Finally, as his speedometer passes one hundred, the guy figures he better give up. He pulls over to the curb. The police officer gets out of his cruiser and approaches the car. He leans down and says, Listen mister, I've had a really lousy day and I just want to go home. Give me a good excuse and I will let you go. The man thought for a moment and then spoke quietly. ‘A few weeks ago, my wife ran off with a police officer. When I saw your cruiser in my rearview mirror behind me with the lights on, I thought it was him chasing me down to give her back!' What could the officer do? He let him go."
Taylor smiled and shook her head in disbelief. "I see testosterone is still running rampant in the stations. Have you told anyone else here that one?"
Chad chuckled. "Are you kidding? I've told just about everyone I've talked to."
"Great, I will hear it a hundred more times before you guys find a new one."
Once downstairs, Chad helped Taylor collect enough uniforms for the week. Chad looked at Taylor with a childish grin. "You know, partner, I tried to find a fast way to get tapped into the video in your suite last night. I figured it would be one hell of a show or at the least very entertaining."
Taylor shouldered him hard. "Damn Chad. Do you think about anything else?"
Chad shrugged his shoulders. "I've been married too long, Taylor. I can't help myself, but I do think about other things. Like climbing, when do you think we can hit the mountain again?"
"I don't know how Michelle puts up with you. As far as our going climbing, I would have said this weekend, but with the Dreams case and this new thing that the chief has dumped in my lap, I'm not sure when we can go." Taylor turned to head back up the stairs.
Chad followed her up the stairs. "That's too bad because I got some new cams that I wanted to try out on the far wall and Michelle even considered joining us. Oh well, maybe soon, but right now we have got to sit down and talk about the Dreams case. Will Jones be able to come in today or did she head back to Sacramento?"
"Last night was hell, Chad. She headed back first thing this morning. You and I will try to figure something out and fill her in later. Right now, I need to go call this woman about the event at the park and see if I need to meet with her before Monday morning."
After successfully getting in touch with Mrs. Roberts and being informed that there would be no need to meet before Monday morning, Taylor found Chad in the break area getting a much needed cup of coffee. "Chad, I am ready to go over what we've got on the Dreams case, whenever you're ready. I have things straight for Monday.
Chad looked up from fixing his coffee and nodded. "You look like you could use a cup of coffee before we get started."
"Yes, I sure can."
"Leaded or unleaded?"
"Extremely leaded. I'm up and about on a couple hours' sleep. Without some caffeine this morning, I don't know how much input you would actually get out of me."
Chad laughed and handed her the cup of coffee.
Taylor followed Chad out of the break area to their desks. They both sat quietly leafing through reports, notes, messages and jotting down a few notes concerning the previous night at Dreams. Taylor was the first to break the silence. "Damn it."
Chad's head snapped up. "What?"
"Last night while Jones and I were at the hotel, I received a package from the chief with a note. Anyway, I had been waiting on the package for a couple days. Serious background on many of our new friends at Dreams."
Chad narrowed his eyes, his suspicion evident. "I won't ask you how you got them."
Taylor smiled. "Good, because I wouldn't tell you."
"Why are you swearing? That is good news, isn't it?
Taylor rubbed her face with both hands. "It would be, if they were here."
When Taylor didn't offer anything more, Chad got up and perched himself on the corner of her desk. "Well, where are they?"
"In Jones' car on their way to Sacramento. I guess the chief figured that I would have to meet with the lady concerning this new assignment next week and I would not have time to go over the files. In the note, he suggested that the package stay with Jones."
Chad returned to his chair. "Maybe you can get Jones on the phone and she can go over the files with us over the phone before she tries to get some sleep."
Taylor thought about this for a few moments. Jennifer's behavior from the night before was the highlight of her current thoughts. "Yeah, you're right. It's worth a try. Without those files, there really isn't anything other than what happened last night that we don't already know."
Taylor reached for the desk phone and dialed the familiar number. After seven rings, Jones answered her cell phone.
Chad sat listening to one side of the conversation, knowing by what Taylor was saying that there wasn‘t anything going to be solved today.
Cross hung up the phone and paused a few moments in thought before turning her attention to Chad. "Chad, I don't think we are going to accomplish much here today. Jones is busy and I am a little more tired than I realized. I have to go to Sacramento tomorrow, so I will look over the files then."
Chad took a sip of his coffee and then reached for the phone. He decided he would call his snitch back and tell him that he could meet him after all. "I think I'll go visit Wilson. He called earlier and said he might have something else helpful. We need all the help we can get with this Dreams case."
Taylor looked off in space and shook her head. She knew they were missing something. But what? She fisted her hands, as she put her elbows on the desk and leaned her forehead against her fist.
When Chad looked over at Taylor to see why she didn't comment on his meeting Wilson, the sight of her sitting, her forehead braced against her fisted hands, worried him. She looked very tired and seriously stressed. He hung up the phone, picked up his coffee and approached her. "What is it, Taylor? What has you so deep in thought?"
Taylor relaxed her hands on the desk before returning his gaze. "It's this case, Chad. I know that we are missing something. We have been at this long enough that we should have something more substantial to be going on."
Chad looked down at his coffee and hated the idea of agreeing with her, but it was true. "I know. Maybe Wilson will give us something more to work with."
Taylor was frustrated with the whole situation, but she was more upset with herself. "Hell, we haven't done anything with the information that he gave us over a month ago. Think about it, Chad. We are getting conflicting information from everywhere. Wilson tells us that we are looking for a woman, but Sacramento Narcotics tells us that we are looking for a man. Sacramento arrested over twenty people when they busted up the importation and transportation network in their area. Blue collar and white collar arrests, Chad. Traffickers, launderers, and others involved in aiding in the business world as well as on the streets. Half of them were willing to talk about what little they claimed they knew. Out of ten, only one of them mentioned a woman. The other nine only spoke of a man and the only thing that they told the same story about was that the person that the authorities wanted was in the city of Redding. The only thing Wilson told you that concurs with what Sacramento has is that everything circles around Dreams."
Chad pulled a chair up so he could sit beside her thinking this was going to turn into another dead-end debate. "You're not telling me anything that we haven't already gone over a hundred times."
Taylor started laughing and got to her feet. "You're right. I'm tired. If I stay here, I'll just end up repeating myself all day." She tapped him on his shoulder with her fist. "You should call it a day, too and go home and introduce yourself to your wife."
Chad rolled his eyes and smiled. "Sounds good to me. She did give me that look this morning, before I left. You know the one. The one that tells you that you're going to lose some vital organs or a few limbs if she doesn't get her way soon."
Taylor chuckled and nodded her head. "I know the one, but I'm sure you have seen it more often from disappointed women than I have."
Chad's smile disappeared and he extended his middle finger to her before marching off.
Taylor couldn't help but smile all the way to her car.
Jen hated the idea of going home at daylight. She especially hated the idea of going home at daylight on Saturday morning, because she knew Chris would not be headed to the office. She would be at home. The Dreams case called for the late nights, but trying to explain that to Chris was next to impossible. Lately, Chris just wanted her home, especially on a Friday night.
Jen was on Interstate 5 heading south and could see the sun trying to begin its new day. She did not sleep last night. She had not slept since she climbed out of bed at the sound of the alarm Friday morning at six a.m. She was traveling well above the speed limit, but wanted to try to get home before Chris awoke. She was hoping that Chris would sleep late, since it was Saturday. Maybe she could slip into bed without Chris' knowing when she arrived home. That would prevent the argument that was sure to come with her getting home at this hour of the morning.
It was almost seven when Jen pulled into the driveway. She shut the ignition off and leaned her head against the car seat. She did not realize how tired she truly was until that moment. She closed her eyes and rolled her neck to try and remove some of the tension. Between the adrenaline of the job last night, worrying about Chris's possible attitude this morning, and getting no sleep, she felt like she could sleep for days. The last twenty-four hours had caught up to her and she was now acknowledging that the long ride home had completely drained her of what little energy she had left.
She took a deep breath and headed toward the front door. Once inside, she slowly and quietly closed the door, then reset the alarm. As she turned from the alarm pad, she was startled by Chris, standing directly behind her. She threw her hands up in a defensive gesture and screamed, "Jesus Christ!" She brought her hand to her chest, palm over her heart and took several deep breaths to slow her heart. "You scared me. What are you doing up?"
Several tense seconds ticked by while Chris weighed Jen's reaction. "I have been up most of the night waiting for you." She gave Jen an accusing look before turning and exiting the room, leaving Jen confused and even more nervous than she was before the encounter.
Jen decided to change out of the evening gown that she had worn to Dreams, so she headed for the bedroom. She had put the gown back on before leaving the hotel. She had thought about grabbing a pair of Taylor's sweatpants out of her open suitcase by the bed. Even though they would have been too big, they would have been much more comfortable for the long ride home. But the thought of trying to explain yet another innocent action to Chris was too much, so she decided that it would be less of a headache to tolerate the gown another few hours than to face Chris while in someone else's clothing.
When Jen exited the bathroom, she was surprised to find Chris sitting on the bed with a look of disgust on her face. She looked away quickly and decided to try to ignore the disgusted look and let Chris lead the way, hoping to avoid another unnecessary argument. Her mind and body were on overload already. The idea of having to defend herself to the woman she loved took more energy than she had to give.
As she watched Chris stand and start walking toward her, Jen tried to steady herself for what was to come.
She met her in the middle of the room, but still neither spoke. Chris was blocking the path to the bed and to the sitting area in the room, but Jen was determined not to ignite any confrontation between them, even though confrontation was exactly what Jen expected. Jen never knew what to expect lately, when Chris was like this. She never knew if she was going to be attacked by accusations or if she was going to be brought into Chris' loving embrace that she adored.
Chris took the evening gown from Jen's hands and placed it on the back of a nearby chair. "Is that cigars and…Obsession that I smell? Taylor is wearing Obsession lately, isn't she?"
Jen closed her eyes and shook her head slowly. "Please, Chris."
"Please what? I asked you a question, Jennifer. Is that cigars and Obsession that I smell?"
"Please. I really don't want to do this now."
Jen turned to leave the room, but Chris blocked the doorway. "Jennifer, it is just a question. Why do you have a problem answering it? Could it be the same problem that caused you to jump out of your skin when you saw me at the front door?"
"It's never just a question with you lately Chris and you know it. That's my only problem. It will not matter what answer I give you, you will just have more questions. Or I should say, more subtle accusations? Which, by the way, aren't so subtle anymore."
Jen could see the anger in Chris' eyes change to pain and that made it possible for her to anticipate Chris' retreat from the room. She grabbed Chris' shoulders from behind to stop her. "No, Chris. Please." She let her hands fall from Chris' shoulders, down her arms, until they were encircling her waist. Then she laid her head on the back of Chris' shoulder and tightened her hold on her waist. Jen didn't know what was worse lately--the anger and accusations or the silent treatment and distance between them. She had learned the hard way that that could be the worst kind of loneliness. "Chris, please don't do this. I'm sorry. I'm tired and, yes, I'm sure you do smell cigars and cologne on the gown. You know about the case and you know that I was at the club last night." Jen took a breath and ran her lips across the back of Chris' neck. When she felt Chris tremble, she laid her head back on her shoulder and continued. "You knew Taylor was going to be with me, because I told you that yesterday. Baby, I'm sorry that I'm just now getting home, but…some things came up that we didn't expect."
Chris turned in the embrace to face Jen, but did not make eye contact. "Jennifer, I…I'm sorry too. I just get so…angry. I'm angry now. I don't know what to do about it anymore. I know I'm hurting you. Hell, I know that I'm hurting us, but I get jealous. I wonder where you go…what you are doing…who you are with, and I get angry. Then, when I do see you…I…I just can't control it. I can't control what I say, so it just comes out. I'm sorry Jen. I really am sorry."
Jen blew out a sigh of relief and ran her hands soothingly up and down Chris' back. "Thank you."
Chris finally met Jen's gaze with a look of confusion. "You're thanking me? For what?"
"For acknowledging what you are doing. This is the first time that you have said it and I'm just thankful, because now maybe we can deal with it."
Impulsively, Chris pulled her close and held her possessively tight, while she buried her face in the blonde's hair.
Jen sensed the subtle change in Chris' breathing and pulled back slightly to look into her eyes. What she saw, stole her breath. "Baby, please don't. As long as I have known you, Chris…I have never seen you cry. Why?"
Tears were now flowing freely down her face. "You…Jennifer…You!"
"I don't understand." Jen pulled her to her tightly and buried her face in Chris' neck. She wanted to comfort her, to stop her from crying, but this had never happened before and she just didn't know what Chris needed at this moment. "Tell me baby. It's okay Chris." Still no reply. Only sobbing. "Chris, we will get through this."
Chris could not bring herself to admit any more of her weakness. It made her angry to feel weak and she wanted to blame Jennifer for that weakness. She wanted to know at that moment that she alone possessed Jennifer and she wanted Jennifer to know it.
Jennifer could feel the war raging in Chris' body. She could see it in her eyes and all she wanted to do was to take it all away. She wanted Chris to feel loved, safe and secure in every way with what they shared. She cupped Chris' face in her hands, but Chris could not stand the tenderness. Not now.
Jennifer's eyes for answers that would calm her raging soul, Chris pulled Jennifer's hands from her face and placed them roughly at her sides. She held Jennifer's hands until Jennifer showed no more resistance. Then she slowly, almost tenderly, placed her fingers on Jennifer's throat, trailing the path that led to the opening of her nightshirt. Suddenly, she forcefully ripped it open, sending the buttons flying.
To say the least, Jennifer was shocked, but she could not help throwing her back with a sudden moan. Chris placed both hands on her breasts, palming them roughly, almost frantically. Bringing her thumb and forefinger together harshly on the right nipple, she felt Jennifer jerk in surprise, but Jennifer did not open her eyes and her head continued to fall back in pleasure.
She sighed in relief as Chris released the pressure, only to jerk back in surprise as Chris shifted to the left breast. But this time, as Jennifer held her breath, Chris pulled on the nipple slightly." Look at me Jennifer." Jennifer had to force herself to raise her head. Her eyes slowly opened to focus on Chris' face. Holding her gaze, Chris continued the pressure and brought their faces only a breath apart. "Tell me you want this."
Moaning, Jennifer could not help closing her eyes, but she could not find her voice to reply. There was an urgency in Chris that she had never seen before. An aggression that was new and unbearably sexy. The sensation of the pressure on her nipple, Chris' seductive forceful demanding voice, and the idea of not being allowed to touch her were overwhelming.
Chris pulled slightly harder on the nipple. "Tell me Jennifer. Tell me that you want this. You want me."
Not sure if she could keep standing much longer, Jennifer breathed, "Yes Chris…I want…you."
Chris released the nipple and her hands cupped Jennifer's face before planting a gentle kiss on her lips. "Open my shirt," she said into Jennifer's mouth.
Jennifer hesitated. She questioned Chris' actions, but before she could put voice to her clouded thoughts, Chris fisted her hand in her hair and forced her to accept a brutal kiss. "Do it, Jennifer."
Jennifer raised trembling fingers to the buttons on the shirt. She watched her own fingers slowly work to open the shirt. She took a few deep breaths to try to calm her pounding heart and her trembling hands. Never having seen this side of Chris, she felt a slight anxiety, but she knew the reaction of her body was arousal, not fear.
Chris waited until Jennifer had the shirt completely open before breaking eye contact and wrapping her lips around a nipple. She gripped Jennifer's shoulders and, releasing the nipple, pushed her roughly toward the bed.
At that moment, Jennifer's cell phone rang. Jennifer groaned. "No, this cannot be happening." "Chris, I'm sorry. I need to…see who it is. It could be the…the station. If it's not the station, I won't answer it. I swear." Jennifer's voice came in short breaths.
Chris just stared at Jennifer in disbelief and shook her head. When Jennifer went to answer the phone, Chris left the room.
Jennifer took several deep breaths to calm her breathing and opened her cell phone. "Yeah, Jones here."
Cross could hear that something was not right with Jennifer‘s voice. She worried that she woke her. "Jones. It's Cross. I'm sorry to have to call you but, Chad and I are at the station putting our heads together on the Dreams case and I remembered that you have the backgrounds with you. We were hoping that you could scan over them with us before you got to sleep."
"Taylor, do you people eat, sleep or maybe fuck every once in a while? Do you do anything besides work?"
Taylor could hear the frustration in Jennifer's voice but she was still shocked. "Jen, did I wake you. Are you okay? "
"No, you didn't wake me and I'm fine. Why?"
"Jen, you just said fuck. I don't think I have ever heard you use that word. I didn't believe it to be in your vocabulary."
"Jesus, I did." Jennifer closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. "I'm sorry, Taylor. I haven't had any sleep and…and…nothing. Taylor, how important is it that we do this right now? I mean, I can get the files out of the car, but if this can wait until Monday. Or even tomorrow. You are supposed to be here tomorrow. Right?"
Taylor was worried now. "Are you sure you're okay?"
Jennifer heard Chris come back into the room and could feel Chris' gaze on her and decided to keep things professional and short. "Yes, Cross, I'm fine. I just have my hands full at the moment. So, if this can wait, it would be a big help."
"Relax, Jen. It can wait. Besides, I am pretty beat myself. We will just try to look over the files tomorrow. Try and get some rest. I will see you sometime tomorrow."
After Jennifer hung up the phone, she realized Chris was gone again. She thought about going to find her, but her body refused. Physically and mentally exhausted, she spread out on the bed looking at her ripped night shirt and thinking about Chris' behavior.
A few minutes later, she heard Chris come back into the room. "Where did you go, baby?"
Jennifer had her eyes closed and was lying on her right side with her left arm hanging off the bed. Chris started massaging her shoulders. When Jennifer let out a soft moan, Chris moved to her arms. Gently she raised the arm that was hanging off the bed and slowly rolled Jennifer onto her back. Once she was on her back, Chris straddled her thighs and continued to massage her shoulders and arms. Starting at the shoulders and slowly working her way all the way down to her fingers.
Jennifer was continuously moaning now. "Baby, you just don't know how wonderful that feels."
Chris started working her way back up her arms. "Mmm, I'm glad you're enjoying it."
"You didn't answer me." Jennifer opened her eyes. "Where did you go when I got the call from the station?"
Chris reached up and massaged Jennifer's temples for several moments. "Close your eyes and relax." Once her eyes were closed again, Chris went back to paying attention to her shoulders and arms. Slowly working the tension out of each muscle.
Just when Jennifer didn't think that Chris was going to answer, after she had ask her twice. , Chris raised Jennifer's arms above her head, leaving the bedpost lying between both arms. "I went out to your car."
Chris was now massaging the back of her arms and Jennifer stretched to try to add to the pleasure of the pressure that Chris was putting on her muscles. "Mmm…Chris, this is heaven. What did you…yes right there…what did you need out of my car?"
Chris leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss on Jennifer's lips. Nibbling on her bottom lip, while massaging again from her shoulders to her fingers. "I went to your car to get these out of your glove box."
At that moment Jennifer's eyes flew open, as she felt the cold metal of her handcuffs close around her wrists. When she went to pull her arms down, she realized that the bedpost was preventing her. "Chris, what's this?" Jennifer continued to pull against the bedpost. "Chris, what are you doing?"
"I just want to make sure I have your complete attention, Jennifer. No phone calls, no files, and no cases. Nothing and no one. Just us. Relax."
Jennifer closed her eyes remembering the image of Chris ripping her nightshirt open and the feelings that Chris's demanding forceful voice had aroused just moments ago Now, restrained by her own cuffs and at the mercy of Chris, the feeling returned even more intensely.
Chris continued to gently and slowly massage Jennifer's entire body, careful to stay clear of the sensitive areas that were begging to be touched.
"Chris…please! I can't wait. Please…I need…you. Just touch me. Please"
Chris smiled. "You can wait and you will, baby. Patience, Jennifer."
Then, purposely making her wait so that she would grow steadily more aroused, Chris kissed the side of her throat, her collarbone, the sensitive spot behind her ear and the delicate hollow of her throat. When her lips began their agonizingly slow descent, Jennifer squirmed and tensed in sweet anticipation.
Jennifer was no longer sleepy. She was wide-awake. She could not wait one more second to have Chris' warm lips at her breasts. But Chris continued to tease her, kissing the softly rounded sides of her breasts and blowing fever-hot breath on her nipples, knowing that by now those rigid nipples were stinging and longing for a kiss.
"Please, Chris…I need your mouth on me."
Deviling her, Chris lifted her head and kissed her mouth. Jennifer abruptly tore her lips from the kiss and struggled for breath, while pulling against her restraints. "That's not exactly…what I meant and I…think you know it."
Chris only chuckled and continued the excruciatingly slow teasing.
"Why are you teasing me so…severely, Chris?"
"Because you like it and I want to hear you beg me."
Jennifer tried to move her body closer to Chris' touch, but she pulled away. "How do you know that? I do…like it but I can‘t…ohhhh…Chris…mmm I can't take anymore."
"Your eyes." Another whisper of a touch with her lips to Jennifer‘s breast. "And the more patience I show, the wetter you get."
"My eyes?" Jennifer's voice sounded surprised by the answer and slightly irritated. "My eyes tell you that I like it?"
Choosing to test Jennifer's patience at every opportunity, Chris smiled against Jennifer's chest and lingered before answering. Enjoying the way Jennifer pulled at the restraints impatiently and arched her back to try to get some relief from the endless teasing. "Yes, your eyes say that you want to devour me."
Jennifer smiled through another whimper. "Take these cuffs off of me and I will prove my eyes right."
Chris smiled and sat up beside her. She let her fingers slowly roam between Jen's breasts, up her neck and then across her bottom lip. She watched as Jennifer's eyes slowly opened and a soft whimper escaped from between her now trembling lips. "No. I think I'll keep you like this for a while. I like the idea of knowing exactly where you are and that you are not going anywhere until I say so."
Jennifer groaned and pulled against the cuffs. "Please, Chris, please."
Chris repositioned herself above Jennifer and kissed her until her moans were constant. She then started her slow teasing descent down Jennifer's writhing body.
An hour later, Jennifer was still begging, but now she was begging Chris to stop. No sleep, the stress of the case, the dispute with Chris, and now her body sated beyond belief, she couldn't ever remember feeling so complete or exhausted.
She was asleep, held possessively in Chris' arms moments after the cuffs were removed.
Taylor was awakened by the first of the morning sunlight shimmering through her bedroom window. Annoyed at having to wake up so early on a Sunday morning, she tried to go back to sleep, knowing full well that she was going to need all the sleep that she could get for the weeks to come.
She was thankful that the coffee pot was on auto, had turned itself on by now, and was making the morning liquid that so many early risers need to start their day. She walked naked to the living room to check her phone service for messages that had not been checked in days thanks to the current case.
The living room had an overstuffed comfortable looking couch and two overstuffed recliners that seemed to hug the fireplace. Page: 20
Near the fireplace, a large thick area rug lay on the hardwood floor. She sat down on the couch, picked up the phone, and dialed the answering service. You have three messages. First message - Thursday, 4:30 p.m. - "This is your mother, sweetie. Remember me? Give me a call when you slow down enough to realize that there is more to life than that job of yours." Second message - Thursday, 8:48 p.m. - "Taylor, it's Wendy. I haven't heard from you in a couple of weeks. I thought we might get together soon. Give me a call." Third message - Friday 9:10 a.m. - "This is Randy at Parts Unlimited. The part you ordered for the Camaro is in. You can come by and pick it up anytime. Fourth message - Saturday 10:42 a.m. - "Taylor, it's Chris. I seem to talk to this machine and Jen's voice mail on her cell phone more than I talk to either one of you. The two of you working nights is going to be the death of me. I miss my friend and my girlfriend; so I thought we could all have dinner Sunday. I want you here no later than one. See you then...and I mean that Taylor. You'd better be here on Sunday. Call if you get a chance." End of messages.
She headed toward the kitchen thinking about her messages. She was concerned that Chris was trying to play matchmaker again after hearing the insistence in her voice. After a much needed cup of coffee and two pieces of toast, she put on a pair of sweats and an old Sacramento PD sweatshirt and headed out the front door for her morning jog. She stepped out on the porch into the sunlight peeking through the tall trees that surrounded the house. She listened to the wind in the trees and the singing of the birds. Mm…It is beautiful here. She took a deep breath, enjoying the crisp morning air and started her stretches on the front lawn. After an hour of jogging, she decided she was not going to be pressed for time and headed into the house for a quick shower.
Taylor exited the bathroom naked and took out a pair of faded jeans and a crisp white button-down shirt from the closet. After dressing she headed back to the closet for a pair of black ankle boots to finish her attire for the day. One last look in the mirror, satisfied with her appearance, she brushed her teeth and decided that she was ready to make the long drive to Chris and Jen's house.
She left the house through the side door leading to the two-car garage. She slowly and deliberately ran her fingers down the side of her favorite pastime, a 1969 Camaro Coupe. It had a deep blue finish with white leather bucket seats and chrome wheels so iridescent that sunlight made them almost dangerous to behold. The large, powerful engine made her thankful that she is a cop. If she weren't a cop, speeding tickets would have her driver's license gone by now. A gift to herself after she graduated from the Police Academy, she could not help thinking every time she saw it…. I love this car!
Parked outside the garage door was a 2001 Ford Explorer that she drove more than the Camaro lately. Today, the Camaro would take the trip to Sacramento and Taylor realized that she was looking forward to the drive. She could relax and enjoy the scenery and it had been about a month since she had spent any time with Chris.
As Taylor left I-5 South to merge onto I-80 East, she flipped open her cell phone to call her mother. She hit speed dial and after four rings the answering service picked up. "Mom, it's me. I am just returning your call. Looks like I'm not the only one busy lately. Anyway, I'm headed to Chris' for the day. I will leave my cell phone on, so if you get a chance, call me. Love you Mom. Later."
Taylor pulled into Chris' driveway about two and a half hours after leaving her home. She knew she hadn't phoned Chris to let her know she was coming. She looked at her watch, twelve-thirty. Taylor decided to have a little fun with Chris. She pulled her cell phone out and speed dialed Chris. Chris answered on the second ring. "Hello."
"Chris, it's Taylor."
"Where the hell are you, Taylor Cross? I called your house about fifteen minutes ago and was about to call your cell. I told you to be here at one and it's almost twelve-thirty, you don't have long. I think you need to get on the road." Chris finally stopped to catch her breath.
Taylor started laughing and decided it was just too much to follow through with the joke.
"Taylor, are you laughing at me? What is so funny?"
"Come out front Boss and see for yourself." Taylor closed her cell phone and started walking toward the front door.
Chris rushed to open the front door. "Taylor, get in here you...pain in the ass."
Taylor walked through the doorway smiling at Chris. "I thought I'd call before just showing up."
Chris eyed Taylor. "Funny. No, you were up to something when you made that call. What changed your mind?"
Taylor laughed. "You were just too fired up to pull a joke on you. Anyone else here?"
"Yes, Jen and Mom are in the kitchen."
Taylor raised both eyebrows. "They're cooking?"
"Don't sound so surprised. If you would come around more often then you would know that those two send Tess home early a lot lately."
Taylor looked at Chris with a serious expression. "I was a little nervous that there would be...that you were trying to set me up again. Like with Wendy."
"No, it has been too long since we have seen each other. I thought a long day and a quiet dinner were in order. But now that you have brought up the conversation about Wendy..."I spoke with her at the office, Friday. She told me that she has not seen you since the party at my house. Taylor, that was over a month ago. She also said that she has been trying to get in touch with you with no luck."
When Taylor did not reply, Chris continued. "Sarah has been gone a long time, Taylor. It's time to try."
Taylor sighed, knowing where the conversation was going. She crossed the room and sat on the couch, while Chris followed and sat in a nearby chair. "I know. She left a message on my machine at home over a week ago. I've been really busy with this case. I haven't even had enough time to get the proper sleep. You should know this because Jen is working the same crazy hours."
"Taylor, I don't doubt your lack for time, but I know that Wendy has even called the station twice and left messages for you. You haven't returned any of them. Just a phone call, Taylor. You couldn't make time for one phone call to the woman?" Chris waited patiently, but still no reply.
Chris stood and crossed the room quickly to sit beside Taylor. "Fine, Taylor! If you will not let me help you, maybe you can help me with something."
Taylor turned on the couch so that she was facing Chris. "Listen, I'm sorry about the situation with Wendy. There really isn't anything to say. I'm just not ready, Chris." Taylor took a deep breath and spoke in a more excited voice. "So, what's up with you? Is it official help or personal help you need?"
Chris lowered her eyes to her hands and nervously picked at her nails. "It's definitely personal. It's about Sarah, Taylor."
Taylor tensed and took in a breath. "What about Sarah?"
Chris raised her eyes to meet Taylor‘s. "Taylor what I need to ask you is very difficult for me. I have put it off for a long time, but I trust in the fact that we are now friends and I can ask you anything." Chris paused, giving Taylor the opportunity to end the conversation, which is what Taylor usually did when the subject of Sarah was brought up by anyone. Taylor only nodded and Chris, not realizing that she had been holding her breath, finally started breathing. "What is it that you had that I didn't?" Chris hesitated for a moment. "I mean…what could you possibly have given her that I couldn't? Why you,Taylor…not me?"
Taylor raised a brow at the question. Wondering if it was a question that she truly knew the answer to and even if she did, would Chris really want to hear it? Taylor knew that Sarah was really the only person who knew the answer, but Taylor could see a pain in Chris' eyes that was always there when they would talk about Sarah. It was a pain that Taylor fully understood. Taylor also knew that because of Sarah they were as close as they were now, but also because of Sarah, they could not truly be best friends in the true sense of the word.
As if reading her mind, Chris stated almost sadly, "I'm serious, Taylor. I never understood it. I never had the guts to ask her. I guess I was scared of what the answer might be. When she left me...Taylor...I don‘t know."
Taylor sighed loudly. "Damn, Chris. I don't know." Taylor decided to speak the first thing that came to mind. "I guess…I made her laugh, Chris. I made her laugh."
Chris gave Taylor a confused look. "That can't be it. I made her laugh, Taylor. She laughed all the time."
Taylor let out a hearty laugh. Deciding that the conversation was getting too serious and the answers to these questions didn't matter anymore. Sarah was gone and they had learned to be friends. She looked Chris in the eye, still laughing. "Yes, but you only made her laugh in bed. That's not exactly what I meant."
Chris punched Taylor hard on her arm. "You're incorrigible, Cross! That was low. Even for you, that was low."
Both women laughing left the conversation for a later date.
Taylor decided to keep the current mood between them, so she stood. "Shall we see if the kitchen is on fire? It has been over a month since I have spoken with your mom."
Chris was just as uncomfortable with the subject. "She will be delighted to see you, Taylor."
They entered the kitchen in time to see Jen get sauce all over her shirt. "Ah, perfect timing as usual, Cross." Jen looked down at her shirt and then back at Chris and Taylor with a smile on her face.
Mrs. Owen shook her finger at Jen. "I told you to wear the apron."
Taylor laughed at Jen's situation. "My timing is getting better. Hello, Mrs. Owens."
Mrs. Owens wiped her hands on a near by dishtowel and then hugged Taylor. "It has been way too long. The three of you need to slow down on all these hours at work before life sneaks by you."
The three of them laughed and Jen excused herself so she could go change her shirt.
Dinner was very enjoyable. The four women got caught up on each other lives and discussed the upcoming anniversary party that Mrs. Owens would be hosting in a couple of weeks. Taylor was enjoying listening to what the women had experienced in the past weeks between work, entertainment and the occasional headache.
After dinner Chris excused herself, so that she could fax some last minute documents for a meeting early the next morning. Taylor volunteered to help Jen and Mrs. Owens in the kitchen since they allowed Tess to leave early, but Ms. Owens ran them both out of the kitchen. "Nonsense, you two go drag Chris away from that office of hers and enjoy your time together. There doesn't seem to be enough time lately with your busy lives. I can take care of this kitchen in no time."
Taylor and Jen went into the living room to wait on Chris. Jen gestured towards a chair for Taylor to sit. "So, was there any discussion about the Dreams case yesterday morning? Is that what was so important for your chief to have you in so early?"
Taylor sat in the chair that Jen had gestured to. "I assumed someone would have called you on Saturday. I guess I should have told you when I had you on the phone yesterday, but you seemed really…busy," Taylor smiled and cleared her throat at the thought of the phone conversation she had with Jones. "I have to start another case tomorrow morning...well it's not a case, it's more like a baby-sitting job. I will still be working with you and Chad at Dreams, but only when it is necessary for me to be there. Chad and I came up with an excuse to use, since my appearances will be less frequent. The chief is going to request that you keep me in the loop by leaving me a copy of your report concerning Dreams."
"Taylor, you know the reports won't be a problem, but how long do you have to do both?"
Taylor leaned back in her chair to get a little more comfortable. "This baby-sitting job is only supposed to be a couple of weeks. It will start tomorrow morning, but I don't foresee a reason that I shouldn't be at Dreams this weekend. This Dreams case though, it is not going the way I would like. We keep running into more problems and questions than we have found solutions and answers. What does Sacramento Narcotics think about the time it is taking for you to find the source?"
"They are not putting any pressure on me. They know it takes time to climb the ladder and they want the top. Sacramento is convinced that it is in the city of Redding and that Dreams is connected. What do you think?"
There was a long pause. Taylor was considering Sacramento's theory about Redding and Dreams. "I'm not convinced that the source is from Redding, but I am convinced that the source is or will be at Dreams and I have no doubts that Dreams is connected to a host of illegal activities. If the target's in Redding I have to be concerned about the whole picture, not just the drugs, but having you and Sacramento Narcotics involved will help considerably."
"Um, I would like to agree with you, but that has not been the case. We have seen the obvious--the drugs that are supplied free of charge to the customers and the prostitution, no matter how high-classed it is presented."
Jennifer snapped her fingers as another thought entered her mind. "And let's not forget about the cameras. What are they up to with the cameras and what are they doing with the info they learn from them? I just can't seem to put it all together."
Taylor decided to talk to Jen about the conversation they had concerning Chris at the suite, since Jennifer had opened the door by bringing up the camera situation. Jen had gone out of her way to avoid explaining why she did not want Chris to know about the water scene in the bathroom. "I'm sure we will figure out the source, it will just take time. Jen, I would like to pick up the conversation that we didn't get to finish Saturday morning."
Jen rose from the couch noticeably uncomfortable with where the conversation was going. "What conversation, Taylor?" Jen then walked to the entrance of the living room before turning to face Taylor. "I wonder what is keeping Chris?"
Taylor gestured to the couch for Jen to sit. "You're doing it again. You are obviously avoiding this conversation and we both know it so why don't you come back and sit down and let‘s get it over with."
Jen slowly walked back to the couch and sat down. "Taylor, this is not something we should be discussing."
"I don't know what we're discussing. All I know is Saturday morning we had a plan and you changed it; it turned out to be one big joke that we both thought was funny. When I suggested that you would rush to tell Chris that you were the reason for my being soaked, you were adamant that you would not be telling her and you would appreciate it if I didn't either. So what is this all about?"
"Taylor, can you please just let this go? I really can't discuss it."
"Answer me this, Jen? Does the fact that you do not want to tell Chris about our unfortunate situation at Dreams Friday night...Saturday morning have anything to do with me?"
Jen turned her gaze to the fire. "I don't know."
Taylor was very confused with the whole situation. She was more confused now than she was Saturday morning, but was determined to get some sort of answer. "Okay, Jen. Now I'm really confused. How can you not know if it concerns me? If something is wrong that doesn't have anything to do with me and you do not want to talk about it, I will respect that, but if I have done or said something that I am not aware of to do with Chris, then I have a right to know."
Jen rushed to correct Taylor. "No, it's nothing that you have done. It's...this is hard...Chris is insecure about our relationship."
Taylor was surprised at this information about Chris. Chris was one of the most confident women she knew. She is good-looking, great career, plenty of money and very good at anything that she pursued. "I'm sorry. I find that hard to believe, but even if what you say is true, and I have no reason to doubt you, why would you freak out about us telling her about the water incident we planned?"
"I don't know. Maybe it's just paranoia. I'm just trying not to give her any reasons to doubt this relationship or me. Do you understand?"
Taylor shook her head yes. "I do understand what you are saying, but it's me. We are all three great friends. I would never do anything to ruin that and I assumed you both knew that."
Again Jen rushed to correct Taylor. "Oh Taylor, I do know it and I'm sure deep down so does Chris, but…."
Taylor was getting agitated with where the conversation seemed to be going. "But what?"
"Taylor, Chris told me the story concerning Sarah and her side of what happened with the three of you."
Taylor sat silent for a long moment, absorbing what she had just been told. "Jen, Sarah is a subject that I do not intend to discuss, especially in a negative fashion, but I will say this. I did not know Chris when I met Sarah. Chris and I were not friends, but we are now and I would never do anything to hurt either of you."
Jen smiled a sad smile. "I know that, Taylor, but can we be sure that Chris knows?"
Taylor nodded in understanding and got lost in her thoughts concerning Chris and what she could possibly do to assure Chris that she would not cause her any pain.
Jen was anxious to change the subject. "So, where do you have to be in the morning, if not at the station?"
"I will be at the station in the morning to look over Chad's report and hopefully touch base with him, but then I will have to go to Castle Crag State Park."
Chris entered the living room as Jen questioned Taylor about her new case. "That's right. Chad is scheduled at Dreams tonight. Isn't he? What kind of baby-sitting job does Chief Fleming have you doing at the park?"
"No cop talk tonight, you two." Chris touched the tip of her finger to Jen's nose. "Got it?"
Jen rolled her eyes. "Yes."
Chris turned and gave Taylor a stern look, but didn't say anything. She wanted Taylor to follow suit and agree as well.
Taylor raised a brow. "What are you looking at me like that for? That look won't help you. You don't scare me in the least. Besides, I do believe it was you that disappeared on us to take care of job issues."
Jen slapped Taylor's arm playfully. Chris sighed. "Will you ever change?"
Taylor smirked and nodded her head yes. "But, I'll probably only get worse."
Chris shook her head in disbelief and Jen laughed.
After another couple of hours of casual conversation, Taylor decided she had better head back because of the early morning scheduled at the park.
Choosing to live outside the city, Taylor had about a thirty-five minute ride to the station. It was a calming, appealing ride when she was in the mood to acknowledge the serene surroundings. On most occasions, Taylor enjoyed the ride, but after being up for days at a time, when the job's adrenaline was gone, those rides home seemed to take forever.
Taylor spent about twenty minutes at the station. She picked up Chad's report and scanned over his account of the previous night's events at Dreams. She noticed that Jennifer had left a note on the report to see them before leaving.
Taylor found Jennifer at Chad's desk, both of them trying to stifle their giggling, while staring at her uniform. "Knock it off, you two."
Jennifer stood up and pinched Taylor's cheek. "But it's so cute on you."
"This job will give me the opportunity to get you back before this is over with, so keep that in mind, Jones. Now, why did you want to see me?"
Chad spoke up. "I wanted to remind you to call the Hotel and get your messages. I heard Ms. Singleton bragging about a dinner date with you. She was turning down an invite from one of the other women at last night's card game claiming to be otherwise engaged with you on Wednesday night."
Taylor made a sour face. "Wednesday night? This woman doesn't waste any time. Why did I agree to that stupid side bet anyway?"
Jones winked at her. "Probably for the same reason you allowed Tiffany to flip that coin."
"Funny, Jones. Real funny. Do you two have anything else going on?"
Jones sat back down. "Yes, we are going over the files that we were unable to get to over the weekend."
Chad shook his head without looking up. "Nothing yet. We will work on these today and if we run across anything to get you out of your date on Wednesday, we will be sure to give you a call." Chad then looked up with a mischievous grin on his face.
Taylor shook her finger at both of them. "You two are having way too much fun with this at my expense."
They both laughed and Jones rolled her eyes. "Taking out Eve Singleton. No, let me rephrase that. Eve Singleton taking you out. Oh, you have such a hard job."
Taylor raised her brows and seemed to think about what Jennifer was insinuating. "I guess you're right." Then she looked down at her uniform. "On the other hand, today is not one of those days. I will talk to you two later. I have to get to the park before someone breaks a nail."
Taylor could hear both her friends laughing as she exited the room.
Taylor arrived at the park early. After parking in the tree shaded parking lot, she searched the back seat of the Camaro for the officer's hat, mumbling to herself the whole time. "God, I hate this damned hat. Well, Cross, it could be worse. You could be in a patrol car. That would have gone nicely with your new hat. Why me?"
Taylor entered the park, admiring her surroundings while scanning the grounds for the officers who were supposed to be onsite. Castle Crags State Park is one of California's most scenic state parks with its soaring spires of ancient granite and two miles of the cool, quick-running upper Sacramento River. The park is named for its six thousand foot glacier-polished crags that tower above the Sacramento River. With its views of Mt. Shasta, scenery abounds in the park. Snowcapped Mt. Shasta, towering high in the blue sky, standing 14,162 feet in elevation, alone and massive in size, isolating itself from the rugged peaks that surround it can easily be seen for more than a hundred miles.
After giving the officers strict orders to radio her if anything went wrong during the day, no matter how small the incident and satisfying herself that all officers were where they were supposed to be, Taylor went in search of Mrs. Roberts to make sure that the schedule for the day had not changed. Taylor found Mrs. Roberts at the park office speaking with the Mayor‘s wife.
Taylor decided not to interrupt their conversation, so she walked over to a fresh-made pot of coffee and poured herself a styrofoam cup full. She removed her hat and took a seat at one of the tables with her back to the conversation. She attempted to get caught up on local current events by watching the morning news that was showing on the small television in the corner of the room.
Taylor heard the conversation between Mrs. Roberts and the Mayor's wife come to an end. She turned in her chair to see Mrs. Roberts heading in her direction. The woman was expensively dressed and had short blonde hair, perfectly styled, with hints of gray at her temples. She would guess that the woman was older than she actually looked. Taylor stood up as the woman reached the table. "You must be Detective Cross."
The woman extended her hand. "Nice to meet you in person, Detective. I am Andrea Roberts."
Taylor shook the woman's hand and was surprised to receive a cool firm hand shake. "It's nice to meet you, Mrs. Roberts. I just wanted to introduce myself in person and make sure that the schedule for today has not changed since our phone conversation on Saturday."
Mrs. Robert's gestured toward the chair that Taylor had been sitting in moments earlier. "Please, Detective, sit back down." She took the seat on the opposite side of the table. "No, the schedule has not changed since we last spoke. Thank goodness. None of the guest speakers has cancelled and the entertainment has not changed. I have the schedule for the entire week in the car. As you know from our phone conversation on Saturday, next week will be solely for the auction. I left my briefcase in the car, so I will meet up with you later to make sure you receive a copy, as promised."
"I appreciate that Mrs. Roberts. If anything on the itinerary changes, please try to let me know in as much advance as possible. That will make my job easier and it will help to keep everyone safe."
"That should not be a problem. In my opinion, tomorrow will be the worst of the week. We have the horse show tomorrow. I believe everyone will enjoy it; I know I will because my daughter will be riding in the show. But the security part of the job will be made more difficult because of the horses. Everyone that is allowed into the park will show an invitation and their purchased ticket at one of the two entrances. There is no cash involved. It should be impossible for anyone to enter without the two items required and, if they do, then you are here. Well, Detective, do you have any questions?"
"One. Is there a problem if I have several officers on horseback tomorrow? I think that would make me feel that we are on an equal playing field with anyone on horses. This park is large and much of it is wooded."
Mrs. Roberts stood up and looked at her watch. "That sounds like a good idea to me. If you'll excuse me, I have to leave now if I intend to start on time."
"Yes, ma‘am, of course."
As Taylor stood, Mrs. Roberts extended her hand once again. Taylor shook her hand and smiled. "Thank you again for being here, Detective. Why don't we meet back here at eleven, so I can give you the scheduled events for the week."
"That will be perfect. I had better make sure that everyone is in place. Good day Ms. Roberts."
Taylor exited the Park Office and realized that the wind had picked up, blowing leaves across the park. She hesitated thinking this charity function might not have been such a good idea this time of year. The sky was clear, the sun high and the temperature unseasonably warm, but with the wind, there was a chill to the air.
Taylor spent that morning at the main entrance with two other uniformed officers, watching people come and go without incident. She had received one radio call from an officer patrolling the actual event of the day, a concert. The radio call was only intended to inform her of a small disturbance. Apparently, a woman had slapped her husband in front of everyone because he was openly staring at a much younger, more appealing woman. The officer informed her that was all the incident consisted of, but he felt the need to tell her that everyone got a laugh out of it, with the exception of the wife.
The only thing Taylor was thinking the whole time the officer was telling her about the disturbance was how bored she was and that her report to the chief was going to look more like the Sunday comics than a report of incident.
At precisely eleven a.m., Taylor walked into the Park Office to meet Mrs. Roberts. Mrs. Roberts seemed to be entertaining the mayor and his entourage. She approached Taylor as soon as she noticed that she had entered the office. "Detective, how is your day going?"
"As planned. No major problems. How about you?"
The woman looked over her shoulder at the crowd of people behind her. "It's going beautifully. Thank you for asking."
Taylor looked at the others present in the office. "Well, I don't want to keep you from your mingling or…friends."
"Yes, you're right. I must get back. Let me get you that schedule." As Mrs. Roberts turned to get the schedule, a man approached them with a practiced smile for everyone he passed. The Roberts woman returned with the schedule and the man walked up behind her. She smiled at him, then addressed Taylor. "Detective, this is my husband, Senator John Roberts."
Taylor extended her hand to the man and he took it without hesitation. "Nice to meet you, Senator."
"Likewise, Detective. We appreciate your being here." He turned at the sound of his name from across the room. "Excuse me. It was nice meeting you."
Taylor nodded her head and turned to Mrs. Roberts. "If there's nothing else I can do for you, then I'll get back to it."
"No, thank you. I should get to it, as well."
Taylor left the office with the schedule for the week's events in hand. As she closed the door to the office her Nextel radio alerted her. She looked at the display screen to see Jones on it. "Cross, go ahead."
Jones informed her that , after hours of going though the backgrounds, they may have a lead. She requested that Taylor meet her for lunch at a country diner at the half way point between the park and the station so she could fill her in on everything. Taylor happily agreed.
At the diner Taylor found Jones in a booth near the back. "Finally, please tell me you two found a real lead."
"I hope so." Jones paused as the waitress approached.
After they both gave the waitress their order, Jones continued. "Do you remember that we agreed that if we had a reason to be suspicious of someone that we would try and lift their prints from their glass?"
"Well, since Chad has been working as a waiter he has lifted four glasses. One of the glasses belonged to a man who has a sheet. Three charges in the last two years. Assault, possession and trafficking."
Taylor smiled and her eyes lit up with excitement. "Have I seen our man at Dreams?"
"I'm sure you have. He is using the name Carlton Williams at Dreams, but his name is Demetri Bulter. He was there Friday night. The table that had the two black men sitting at it."
Taylor raised both eyebrows before sitting a little straighter in her seat. "Are you talking about the two tall, huge, muscle-bound black men?"
Jones giggled. "Yes."
"How could I forget? They were the only two black men in the club and they both looked like a wall."
Jones nodded her agreement. "Anyway, the larger of the two is our guy and I have an address on him. I figured that you and I can pay him a visit tonight if you're up to it. Chad is scheduled to work at Dreams again, so he will not be joining us."
Jones smiled and nodded her head. "Being worked on, as we speak."
"Do you want to pick me up at the park or do you want me to meet you at the station?"
Jones pulled a piece of paper out of her back pocket. "The address that we need to find is about forty-five minutes away from the station. Even further from the park, so let's meet at the station."
The waitress appeared with their lunch. Taylor waited until she walked away to speak. "I will leave the park at four."
Jen took a drink of her iced tea. "I will wait at the station. Do you want me to set up some back-up?"
Taylor choked on her drink. "Yes. I want you to set up some back-up. Hell, that guy is huge. A bullet will more than likely just piss him off."
Jones started laughing. When she could catch her breath, she spoke with tears in her eyes. "He is a big boy. I knew that we would need back-up. I was only asking if you were going to cover it or if you wanted me to take care of it, since you would have your hands full at the park."
"Oh. Sorry. I thought…you know what I thought. If you don‘t mind, you can take care of setting it up."
They finished their lunch and went their separate ways.
Once Taylor arrived back at the park, she spent the rest of the day walking the perimeter of the park's event and at the main entrance wishing the day away.
After picking Jones up at the station, they headed out to find Demetri Bulter, aka, Carlton Williams. His address was an apartment complex in a lower-middle class neighborhood. After visiting the superintendent and retrieving a key, they both stood outside the apartment door, on the fifth floor. Taylor looked at the numbers on the door and took a deep breath before glancing at Jones. Jones nodded her head and removed her gun from the holster on her side. Taylor knocked on the door. "Police! Open up." After several moments with no reply, she knocked again. "Bulter! Open the door. We need to ask you a few questions." Still nothing.
Jones raised the key for Taylor to take. "I will go first."
Taylor turned sideways to give Jones enough room to enter quickly. She then raised her gun up while she used her left hand to open the door. As soon as the door opened, Bulter grabbed Jones' wrist, made her drop her gun, and swung her against a wall. Taylor got one shot off before the door was slammed hard on her arm causing her gun to slide across the floor. Once the door swung open again, Bulter fisted his hands in Taylor's uniform shirt and threw her across the room. After landing on the coffee table hard enough to break it, Taylor slammed into the large sofa and came to an abrupt halt.
Groaning, Taylor got to her feet just as Jones was taking a backhand to her lower jaw. Before Taylor could get to Bulter, he threw Jones across the room like she was a rag doll and he headed for the front door. Taylor cut off his path. She looked up and he just smiled and swung. Taylor avoided the strike and hit him three times, twice in the head and once in the gut. It didn't faze him. He swung again and Taylor narrowly evaded his powerful right hand. She quickly dropped to her knee and hit him with her fist in his manhood. He groaned and she could see the veins in his neck grow, but he did not go down. He reached down and picked Taylor up in a bear hug. After only seconds in his grasp, she could not breathe.
Taylor could see Jones slowly getting to her feet. Jones was looking around the room; then Taylor saw her walk toward the dining room table and pick up a chair. Taylor wished at the moment that it was one of their guns, but both guns were near the front door behind Bulter. She also wondered where the hell their back-up was.
Taylor turned her head away as splinters from the wooden chair flew by her head. Bulter staggered and loosened his hold, but when Taylor started twisting to get her arms free he shook his head violently and then threw her across the room, before turning his full anger on Jones.
Shaking off some of the dizziness and able to focus again, Taylor rolled onto her side and glanced in Jones' direction. Jones lay flat of her back with her eyes closed, groaning in pain with the man standing over her. He had her gun in his hand and was pointing it directly at Jones' chest. Taylor got to her feet quickly, forgetting the earlier dizziness and pain. She did the only thing she could do without a weapon against a man his size. She crouched low and charged him with everything she had in her. When she reached him, she wrapped her arms around his lower body and continued the momentum until she heard him screaming and the sound of breaking glass. She could feel the floor leave from under her feet and started grabbing blindly at anything that would stop her from falling. As one of her hands painfully gripped the window ledge, the screaming stopped. Breathing heavily from the adrenaline and fear of what just happened, she swung her other arm up to grip the ledge.
Jones rushed to the window and leaned out to see Taylor dangling off the ledge. "Jesus! Are you all right, Taylor?"
Taylor looked up to see Jones alert and almost frantic. "Yeah, I think so."
Taylor heard Jones‘ sigh of relief and knew that she felt the same at the moment.
Jones' wanted to ease some of her own tension now that she knew that Taylor was alive and well. "Taylor, you are just loads of fun lately. Flipping coins, blowing water valves, and now trying to kill yourself by tackling a muscle-bound man on your way out the window."
"Shut up Jones and get me back inside." Taylor looked down at the large man now lying motionless on the sidewalk below. She then repositioned her hands to get a better grip on the window sill. "I'm not near as much fun dead, so help me."
When Taylor was standing firmly back inside the apartment, Jennifer laid her head on Taylor's shoulder and hugged her tightly for a long moment before speaking. All joking and all professionalism was gone from Jennifer's voice. It was not Jones, the cop speaking. It was Jennifer, her friend speaking. "Thank you, Taylor. You more than likely just saved my life." She gave her one final strong squeeze. "And, I'm so glad that you're not hurt."
Taylor returned the squeeze. "It's all right, Jen. I'm just glad that we are both still alive."
They released each other and looked at the now destroyed apartment. Broken furniture everywhere, holes in the walls and the now the missing window.
Taylor stretched her back and groaned with the sudden pop that the stretch elicited. "Where the hell is our back-up?"
Before Jones could respond, a male voice came from the doorway. "I'm right here, Bennette is unconscious, downstairs in the lobby. An ambulance and more back-up are on the way. The Super to the building showed up, so I left him with Bennette . I came to make sure that you two were still alive. Sorry, Lieutenant."
Taylor took in the man's appearance. His large frame was slightly bent over, he was out of breath and his face was red and starting to swell. "What the hell happened. Where were you two?"
The uniformed officer walked through the apartment to the broken out window. He pointed to the guy lying on the sidewalk. "There was two more of him downstairs. One got away and the other one is dead. I had to shoot him." The officer shook his head and sat down below the window.
Taylor and Jones looked at each other while thinking the same thing. Taylor spoke her thoughts first. "Damn, I feel like I was in a car wreck and it looks like we are not going to have anything to show for it."
Jones looked around the apartment again. "We can check the apartment, maybe find something. We can check his wallet, maybe find some names and numbers. We can talk to the superintendent."
Three hours later, they found themselves sitting in front of a small house about ten minutes away from the apartment they had just left. It took three hours to clean everything up at the apartment building. After dealing with the injured officer, they had turned their attention to the two dead men. They did find several names and numbers in the man's wallet, but they found something even more interesting. A woman's driver's license. After finding enough drugs in one of the two small bedrooms to keep a small country high for a week, they decided to follow up on the driver's license themselves, immediately.
Once they were standing on the porch, at the front door, Taylor turned to Jennifer. "Are you sure that you're all right?"
Jones smiled. "Yeah. I'm sore and my jaw hurts like hell, but the EMT said that nothing was broken. Let‘s do this."
Taylor nodded and knocked on the door. A middle aged black woman opened the door. Considering Taylor still had on the uniform from the day at the park, introductions weren't really necessary, but Jones showed the woman her badge and asked to come in.
The woman stepped back and gestured them inside. "What can I do for the two of you?"
Taylor cleared her throat. "Do you know a man by the name of Demetri Bulter?"
The woman looked away and was fell silent.
Taylor's voice took on a stern tone as she repeated the question. "Do you know a man by the name of Demetri Bulter?"
The woman sat on a nearby sofa before answering in a low childlike voice. "Yes, I do."
"What is your relationship with him?"
The woman looked at Taylor then and her voice was stronger, almost hostile. "I do not have a relationship with that monster."
Taylor moved to stand in front of the woman. "Fine. How do you know him."
Tears brimmed the woman's eyes and she again looked away before answering. "I…I met him by accident. I deliver pizza part-time to help my mother with her medical bills. I delivered a pizza to him about four months ago. He asked me out and I turned him down."
Taylor squatted down in front of the woman, so they were eye to eye. She handed the woman her driver's license. "I believe that this belongs to you. Arnell Palmore?"
The woman wiped the tears off her cheeks and nodded her head as she took the license from the detective. "Thank you. Where did you get my driver's license?"
"Out of Bulter's wallet. Can you tell me why he had them?"
The woman took a deep breath and gripped her license in both hands. "It is a long story. Where is Demetri?"
Taylor looked at Jones to see if she was thinking the same thing. Jones nodded her head. "He's dead."
The woman looked to the ceiling, with her hands together in a praying like position. Taylor couldn't tell if the woman was saying a prayer for Bulter or giving thanks. Either way she needed some answers and she had a feeling that the woman had to know something. "Ms. Palmore, can you tell us about Demetri Bulter?"
"When I delivered pizza to his apartment a second time. He was drunk and he got very aggressive when I turned him down again. He started manhandling me and calling me names." The woman started crying and eventually the crying became uncontrollable sobs.
Jones immediately went to the couch and took the woman in her arms. Taylor stood and walked a few steps away. After a few moments the woman apologized and stated that she could continue. "He raped me that night and told me if I told anyone that he would kill me. He has had my driver's license every since. I tried to just forget it ever happened, but he showed up at my job a week and a half later very angry. He said that I was avoiding him. I was avoiding him. If a call came to deliver a pizza to his address, I would refuse to go."
The woman fell silent again. The agony in her eyes easy to see, Jones gently put her hand on the woman's arm. "Ms. Palmore, I think we get the idea. How long did this go on? Why didn‘t you call the police?"
"I was too scared to tell anyone. After it happened several times, I told him that I did not care if he killed me. I told him I would not allow it to happen anymore. I spent two days in the hospital and he visited me both days. When the hospital released me, he was there to take me home. When we got here, he walked me inside and went straight to my mother's bedroom. I tried to stop him but…." Tears running down her face, hands shaking and her body trembling, the woman took a deep breath. "He put a gun to my mother's head while she lay there sleeping and he smiled. I begged him to stop. Finally, he lowered the gun and grabbed my arm. He dragged me out of her bedroom and into mine. He told me that if I ever told him no again that he would kill her before he made me wish I was dead."
Taylor spoke in as gentle a voice as she was capable of at the moment. The thought of the man being dead at the moment disappointed her because right now she wanted to kill him. She let the scene from earlier go through her mind. Even though it was an accident, hearing him screaming at the moment was satisfying. "Ms. Palmore, we are very sorry that you had to endure the horror that that man put you through. He will not be hurting you anymore."
Jones squeezed the woman's hand. "We need to ask you a few more questions. We need your help. Can you do that? "
The woman held on to Jones' hand tightly and tried to stop crying. "Yes."
Taylor asked the first question. "We found a lot of drugs in his apartment. Did you know about the drugs?"
"Yes, he would try to get me to take them all the time. He made me a few times."
Jones, still holding the woman's hand, smiled at her. "Ms Palemore, what about other people. At the apartment, did you see other people around?"
The woman smiled back. "Lady, you are holding my hand. I think it would be okay if you call me Arnell."
Jones laughed. "All right, Arnell. Thank you. My name is Jennifer."
"Other people? He had people around all the time. He was selling drugs. People would come out of the woodwork."
Taylor leaned against the arm of the couch. "What kind of people?"
The woman let out a small laugh. "All kinds of people. Big, small, men, women, black, white, young and old."
Jones got an idea. "Arnell, if we brought you some pictures to look at, would you let us know if you have seen them with him, anywhere?"
The woman was silent for a long while. "I will look at the pictures for you, but not here. I want to meet you somewhere else. I noticed that you two are not in a police car, but I just don't need any more trouble for my mom and me."
Jones gave the woman a sincere smile. "We understand and we appreciate your helping us."
The woman stood up. "I will write down my phone number for you and you can call me when you want me to look at the pictures. I have to be at work early in the morning and I have to deliver pizzas tomorrow night, so I would really like to get some sleep now."
Taylor stepped up behind the woman while she was writing down her home and work number. "Arnell, did you ever hear anyone's name?"
The woman turned around and handed Taylor the piece of paper with the numbers on it. "No, no names. Wait. There was this one white guy. Older. Demetri always called him "Boss" and acted real nervous around him.
Taylor and Jones looked at each other. They said ‘thanks' in unison.
The woman walked them to the door. When they were almost to the car the woman asked a question of her own. "How did he die?"
Taylor looked over her shoulder and locked eyes with the woman before answering. "Screaming."
The woman wrapped her arms around herself and smiled before nodding her head.
Jennifer stared at the long, practically deserted highway as she drove in the direction of home. Allowing the day's events to sneak up on her, she thought about the fact that if it weren't for Taylor's quick, unselfish actions today, she wouldn't be going home to Chris. She opened and closed her mouth, then tentatively touched her jaw. Other than a bruised jaw and some sore ribs, thanks to Taylor, she was in one piece.
The events of the night would give Chris one more excuse to try and convince her to quit the force. She gripped the steering wheel tightly with both hands. She couldn't keep this up. She couldn't keep worrying about what to tell Chris and what she shouldn't let slip.
Her lover kept her confused lately. Chris' not so subtle accusations had hurt her. Her insecurities had saddened her. Her possessiveness had surprised her and her recent aggressiveness had alarmed and excited her. She tried to convince herself a couple of weeks ago that Chris' attitude stemmed from all the extra long hours with all the extra driving to Redding. Or maybe it was because Chris spent all her days in court or at her office while she was spending her nights at Dreams. But she knew this wasn't true. They had been through this several times since their relationship had started. On her last big case, before she was promoted to the Narcotics Division, she had worked nights for months. There were many times that she didn't make it home until after the sun came up. The problem didn't start until she started working with Redding on this Dreams case.
She reached up with one hand tried to rub her tired eyes as she changed lanes to get off the exit that would take her home. Pulling into her driveway, she allowed herself to admit what she would not allow herself to see before now. "The problem isn't my job, Redding or this case. Chris' problem is with Taylor. Oh, Chris. Why?" She let her head drop to the steering wheel. "All the time I'm spending with Taylor…that's the real problem. What am I going to do?"
She had a serious case of déjà vu as she quietly unlocked the front door and reset the alarm. She expected to find Chris standing behind her when she turned from the alarm panel, but was pleasantly surprised when she found her lover in the bedroom, asleep. She stood at her lover's side of the bed and just watched her sleep for a long while. She had to wonder if her lover's being asleep when she arrived had prevented another confrontation or if it had only delayed what was yet to come.
After a long shower to try and loosen some of her sore muscles, she slowly and gently climbed into bed. As soon as her head hit the pillow she was startled by Chris' hard, cold voice. "So? You finally decided to come home?"
"Baby, it has been a very rough night. I'll tell you all about it in the morning. Okay?"
Chris looked at the digital clock on the nightstand and let out a disgusted sigh. "It is morning, Jennifer. But, I assume that you need your rest so you and Taylor can go play with the bad guys again tonight."
Jennifer took a deep breath and let it out slow. She did not want to go through this again. "Chris, it is my job. I told you that I would explain what happened. Now please, can we get some sleep?"
Chris was not satisfied with that answer but decided that she wasn't going to get an answer that would satisfy her. "Fine." She put more space between them on the large bed and turned her back to her lover.
When Taylor arrived at the station Tuesday morning, Chad and Jennifer were nowhere to be found. She checked for Chad's report and was surprised that it was not in the box. She left a message in the box, letting them know that she would call later in the morning. After finishing her own report and leaving it for the chief, she headed for the park.
Meanwhile, at the park, a young, petite woman on horseback was dealing the officers on site serious problems. Underestimating the small woman's determination and spirit, a young officer named Peterson attempted to lead her and her horse away from the entrance, since the woman did not have her invitation or purchased ticket to enter the park.
Again the woman refused to allow herself or her horse to be moved, so the officer attempted to force the horse to turn but the woman used her control over the horse to turn the horse sharply toward the officer, causing him to stumble backwards and fall to the ground. The man was holding his face in both hands with his eyes watering and his nose starting to bleed when Taylor arrived.
Taylor could hear the commotion as she got closer to the entrance. She was trying to put her hair up in her hat as she rushed to the entrance. Taylor was speaking to the two officers but looking at the beautiful woman on the horse. "What's going on here?"
"Why is it that you people do not listen. I already told that idiot that I belong here," said the small woman as she pointed to the officer with the bloody nose. "I left the park to go to a trail on the other side of the parking lot to allow the horse to stretch his legs and warm up, without the chaos of the park."
Taylor looked at the obviously embarrassed officer and laughed to herself, wondering how the woman managed to bloody the man‘s nose. "Well ma'am, it no longer matters now whether you belong in the park or not. You assaulted a police officer. Now, please get off the horse."
The woman pushed the blonde hair out of her face and shook her head as if she could not believe what she was hearing. Then she spoke in a very slow patronizing voice. "I don't know what else I have to say or do to get it through to you that I am not getting off this horse. I am going into the park, where I am to participate in a show today, Officer."
Taylor would have been amused by the woman's fortitude if she weren't so angered by the mocking tone the woman had just directed at her. Allowing her temper and impatience to get the better of her, Taylor took the horse's bridle firmly in her left hand, knowing it carried the bit and the reins and then she took the woman by the wrist with her right hand and forcefully removed her from the horse.
The woman struggled to get away as Taylor placed her feet on the ground. Taylor was surprised by how light the woman was, considering the size of the horse she was comfortably maneuvering. Taylor was also struck by the intense emerald green eyes as the woman turned to address her. "I can not believe this. Why are you people doing this to me? Get your hands off me."
Taylor did not want to cuff the small woman especially in front of all the on-lookers, but she had decided that it might be best for the woman's safety as well as everyone involved. "I did not want to have to do this, but you really have not given me much choice. I haven‘t seen anyone this eager to go to jail in a long time. Just calm down." As Taylor reached for the woman's right hand, the woman attempted to slap Taylor with her left. Taylor easily caught the woman's wrist in the air and spun her around to cuff her.
Taylor opened her mouth to inform the woman of her rights, when she heard the familiar voice of Andrea Roberts. "Unhand my daughter, this instant. How dare you?"
Taylor looked over her shoulder, as she unconsciously released the hold she had on the woman in front of her. The small woman immediately ran to stand beside Ms. Roberts and Taylor just stood there looking at both of them with a dumbfounded look on her face.
Taylor knew that she had the right to arrest the young woman, no matter whose daughter she was, but before she could comment, both women gave her a defiant stare and stalked off. Taylor noticed the young woman was rubbing her wrist and wondered if the chief would get a call about this.
Taylor looked over at the officer who received the bloody nose and he shrugged his shoulders. He then used his chin to motion toward the back of the retreating woman. "She's a feisty one."
Taylor nodded. "I agree with you on that, Peterson, but I still think she should pay for what she did."
The young officer stumbled over his words several times before admitting what he was really thinking. "Maybe its best it worked out this way."
Taylor turned to look at him. What she saw made her laugh out loud. He looked like a pouting little boy. He was so humiliated that he had allowed the small woman to best him. Knowing that he would not want anyone at the station to know what happened, she decided it could be another entry for her Sunday comics. "Did you think about calling in a Code Eight, officer?"
The man let go of his pout, seeing that she wanted to joke it off. He smiled. "Maybe, a Code One."
They both laughed at their joke, knowing a Code Eight was usually only used when an officer was down or all hell had broken loose and a Code One was used to call a cover car quickly, meaning it was less urgent than a Code Eight.
Taylor looked off toward the park office. "Looks like we both got outdone by that one today."
The young officer cleared his throat to get her attention. Once he had her full attention, he again stuttered, trying to find the right words. "Thank you for this, Detective. I had heard that you were strictly by the book, so I appreciate your not making a big deal out of this."
"Don't go thinking I'm lenient, officer. Not for any reason. You underestimated a situation and in a different situation, it could have gotten you or the other officer hurt or even killed."
The officer hung his head. "Yes, I know."
Lunch hour came without Taylor having the misfortune of running into either of the Roberts women. She found a quiet area deep in the park before radioing Jones. "How's it going, Jones? Anything new?"
Jones ignored Taylor‘s question and her short tone. "Yes, Taylor. I'm fine. Tired and still sore, but I'm fine. How are you?"
Taylor realized she was being short and rude. "Sorry, Jones. This assignment sucks and I guess I'm letting it get to me. I'm used to all or nothing. This walking on eggshells and doing nothing all day is going to be the death of me." Taylor tried to adjust the annoying hat so that it didn't feel so tight. "And this damned hat is so tight with all this hair shoved up in it that it's giving me a headache."
Jones laughed. "I can understand that. I don't know how I would handle that type of assignment now, either. What I don't understand is why they have you wasting your time there."
Taylor kicked the pile of leaves at her feet. "I don't pretend to understand it either. Believe me. I have tried. Oh well, orders are orders. How about you?"
"I have a few pictures to show Arnell Palmore. I'm going to meet her in a couple of hours at her job."
Taylor started pacing in the fallen leaves. "I almost forgot about Chad's report. It was so late when we got in last night, I didn't call him and I checked the box this morning. No report."
"Yeah, that's because he got in even later than we did. He came into the station after you left. I filled him in on what happened with Bulter and he told me that someone new that he has never seen there before showed up. He lifted a glass with prints, but we haven't heard anything on the prints yet. He said other than the new face, nothing else got his attention."
Taylor heard the crunching of leaves and feminine voices in the distance. She heard a couple of women giggling and then she heard a familiar voice. When her mind put a face to the voice she sighed as she realized that her luck in not running into either of the Roberts women was about to come to an end. She keyed the radio. "I'll have to get back to you, Jones. I have to go."
"Get back to me around five and I will fill you in on what Arnell Palmore tells me."
"You got it. Later, Jones."
Taylor turned her back to the approaching women, hoping that they would just continue on their path and not even acknowledge her standing there. No such luck.
Taylor had never heard the annoying voice that came first. "Victoria! Would you look at that ass. I haven't see one that nice in ages."
Another woman spoke up in a shocked voice. "Nicole!"
Then Taylor heard another familiar voice but couldn't put a face to it. "Damn Nicole! You need to get laid before you embarrass us all to death." The woman cleared her throat before speaking to the officer. "I'm sorry, Officer." She looked back at the outspoken woman before continuing. "Some people have no restraint."
Taylor was almost positive that she had been mistaken for a man from behind. With her height and her hair put up in her hat, it had happened before. Even though she hadn't heard the Roberts woman utter a word since the comment was made, Taylor still couldn't help the mischievous grin that appeared on her face. She removed the grin from her face as she turned around and took off her hat. Her hair fell to her shoulders and she slowly ran her hand though the top of her hair.
Piercing blue eyes locked on emerald green. "Sorry to disappoint you, ladies."
The outspoken woman who had made the remark regarding Taylor's ass spoke first. "Oh my god. It's a woman." She covered her mouth with her hand and turned away."
Taylor noticed that two of the women had smirks on their faces, but one did not look happy at all.
"Oh no! It can't be!" Victoria's voice showed her surprise. "It's you."
Taylor smirked without conscious thought at the woman's obvious discomfort. "What? I knew you wanted my ass on a silver platter earlier, but I had no idea that you wanted it literally." Taylor knew that Victoria Roberts had not made the comment, but the words just came out without her permission.
Vicki charged her, swinging with an open hand. All she knew was that she wanted that smirk off the smug woman's face. She found herself in the exact same position she was in with this woman only a few hours earlier. The cop's hands wrapped tightly around both her wrists, holding her at a safe distance. Being restrained gave Vicki the opportunity to calm down a bit. She closed her eyes and chastised herself for attempting to physically attack this woman. Again. She tried to remember the last time she physically attacked anyone. She never had, until now. She had not only attacked this person once, but twice in the same day. What is it about her that is so provoking?
She opened her eyes and found herself staring into endless blue. The face no longer had a smirk on it. The face was blank. She studied the woman's eyes and tried to read what she saw in them, but couldn't. She suddenly became aware of their audience and tried to wrenched her hands free from the cop. "Let go of me," she demanded.
With both of Victoria's wrists manacled in her hands, the hint of amusement returned to Taylor's expression. "They do have medication for those violent outbursts of yours, Ms. Roberts." Taylor immediately regretted taunting her. She did not want to play this game. Especially with a woman like Victoria Roberts. She lost the sarcastic tone and released the woman's wrists. "It is Ms. Roberts? Isn't it?"
Vicki noticed the change in the cop's tone and it shocked her into silence for a moment. Was that regret I heard? She must be worried about her job. But…I did attack her. Her friend clearing her throat from behind her right shoulder noticeably brought her out of her thought. She shook her head and massaged her sore wrist for the second time in the last few hours. "You're making a bad habit of that, Officer."
Taylor was studying the woman's beautiful green eyes, trying to figure out how she could provoke the woman to such a rage every time she saw her. Taylor took a step away from the woman, just as a familiar looking woman came up and touched Vicki's elbow in a comforting gesture. "I didn't mean to hurt you. I couldn't very well let you hit me." She glanced at the other women present before she continued in a lower voice. "Quit trying to slap me and I won't have to do it again."
Return to the Academy