Copyright © 2000 Talaran
Disclaimers: This is my first attempt at fan fiction. It is Uber fiction and it is set in the current time in the fictional city of Larson (think similar to Boston, but a little smaller scale.)
The two main characters, and I think you know who they remind us of, meet under difficult circumstances. Eventually they succumb to the strong bond that they share. There will be sexual interactions in this story as it unfolds. If this type of material disturbs you, you may wish to read something other than this story.
Sammy's Bar and Grill was another dive among the many that peppered the south side of Larson. Nestled between a boarded up factory and a pool hall, the bar held little in the way of ambience. A ėMolson Golden' sign blinked annoyingly in one of the two front windows. Four men were loitering outside, even at this early hour, smoking cigarettes and debating the new football season. Nic parked the Xterra in front of the building and slid out to the whistles and catcalls of the loiterers. Proceeding around the vehicle she headed for the front door when two rather good-sized men blocked her path.
"Hey, what's a fine fox like you doin on this side of town?" The beer belch that followed almost knocked her over. She didn't think opening up a beer vat could possibly be as potent.
"Listen, boys. I don't want to play any games, tonight, all right." She eyed the taller of the two men, he was about two, maybe three inches taller than she was, with greasy black hair and an unkempt beard.
"Is that right, sweetheart? Well, when would you like to play some games, huh?" The man poked his buddy in the ribs with his elbow, then began to chuckle loudly. Nic rolled her eyes. She really didn't have time for this and she doubted the Lieutenant would be too happy if she wound up killing anyone else before Monday morning.
"Let's see," Nic spoke slowly so everyone could follow the conversation, "that would be the twelfth of...NEVER."
"Hey! That's not very nice!" the smaller man to her right declared. Two of the four men eased themselves behind her in an attempt to eliminate an escape route. Nic smiled at the thought. Like she would even consider retreating.
"Now, why don't we take a little walk and talk about how you should treat gentlemen like us?" Before he could grab her wrist, she reached out, grabbed his and tugged, throwing the smaller inebriated man off balance. He stumbled forward, tripping on her extended leg and crashing to the pavement. His taller companion, at first shocked by the woman's sudden movement, clamped his hand down on her left shoulder, grabbing a handful of her jacket as he did. Calmly Nic reached up with her right hand and firmly grasped his wrist, twisting it toward her. The man had no choice but to cooperate since the pain from her action was excruciating. Her keen peripheral vision, not to mention her uncanny senses, told her that the men behind were advancing. She shot a quick back kick to the man on her left, catching him in the midsection and doubling him over, then turned instantly and elbowed the man on her right, causing him to groan loudly from the contact. She still held on to the biggest man's wrist. He winced in pain. Feeling like his wrist was about to break tears began to roll down the man's cheeks and he spewed pleas of "Let go, lady, come on, Let Goooo!"
Nic complied, but not before she brought her knee up, catching the bent over man in the face knocking him unconscious. The first man that went down now stumbled back to his feet. He was astonished to see his much larger friend incoherent on the sidewalk. The other two men were still groaning in pain. The small man backed up several steps, then turned and ran. Nic gingerly stepped over her unconscious victim and entered the bar.
A few people were at the windows watching the entertainment outside, and now staring at the woman who just took down four guys in a matter of seconds. The bar immediately quieted when she entered. Several patrons were perched atop barstools, while others were huddled in the booths that lined the wall opposite the bar. As if on cue, all heads in the place turned to see who was entering their domain. The tall, dark haired woman strode over to the bar and slid herself onto an available stool at the end. The woman was strikingly beautiful and everyone there knew that she wasn't a regular. The bar tender, a short, middle-aged man with a potbelly greeted her. "What can I getcha?"
"Scotch and water on the rocks." Nic slid a dish of peanuts closer and snatched a handful of the salty treats. The bar tender placed a glass down, tossed in some ice cubes, filled a third of it with Johnny Walker Red and the rest with water from a pitcher he had behind the bar. Nic thanked him and took a long sip. It had been awhile since she'd had one of these. She'd almost forgotten how good it tasted. After refilling some drinks at the other end the bar tender returned, Nic presumed, for some idle conversation.
"Well, I have to admit, I don't get customers as gorgeous as you in here very often."
Nic thought if this is your best line you must never get laid. "Is that so?" She sipped more of her drink.
"You bet. So, what are you doin in a place like this?"
"You make it sound like this isn't such a good place to be." Her blue eyes twinkled, almost mesmerizing the man.
"I'm not blind, lady, and neither are you. I know what kind of place this is and I know what kind of people to expect in here. Fraid to say, you ain't one of them, not that I'm complaining." He leaned on the bar with his elbow wiping the top of the bar with the rag in his other hand.
"What's your name?" Nic inquired.
"Joe. Joe Malone."
Reaching into her jacket pocket she produced a picture of Sal Linetti that she had enlarged at a photo shop prior to going to the precinct. "Joe, have you ever seen this man before?"
The bar tender laughed, "Oh, now I get it, you're a cop or PI, right?" Too bad, he thought. He looked at the photo of the cherubic man.
"Yeah, something like that. So, has he been in here?"
Malone scratched the top of his sparsely covered head as he studied the picture. At first he wasn't sure, but the longer he looked at it, the more familiar the face became. "Come to think of it he was in here a couple of nights ago."
"Was he with anyone else?"
The bar tender wrinkled his brow in thought. "Yeah, there was another guy. He was smaller than this one and he seemed to be a very nervous fellow."
"What did he look like?"
"He was shorter than you, that's for sure. Maybe he was five six, or seven. He was thin, too. I remember him and the fat guy reminded me of Laurel and Hardy, except the thin guy was the one with the mustache."
"Any scars or distinguishing marks?"
The bar tender's eyes shifted as he thought hard about the pair. "I seem to recall some kind of tattoo on the back of his hand...the left one, but I can't remember exactly what it was."
Nic jotted some notes on a pad that she produced from her pocket. "Do you remember the fat guy calling the other guy by a name?"
"What was the fat guy's name?" the bar tender asked.
"Salvatore," Nic replied.
"I think he called the little guy, Leo."
Nic showed the bar tender the cocktail napkin she had found at the hotel. She turned it over, pointing to the phone number scrawled on the back. "Do you recognize this number?"
He chuckled. Lowering his voice he said, "There isn't a gambler in town who doesn't." A dark brow rose. "Listen, I don't want any trouble from those guys, you know?"
Dark lashes batted at sky blue eyes. The dark haired woman looked around to see who was paying attention to their conversation. The other bar occupants were involved in their own conversations, thankfully. The bar tender walked away to refill some drinks and collect some cash from an exiting customer. When he returned Nic said, "I understand. Just tell me if anyone can use this or is there some code involved?"
He thought about it for a second. He was a sucker for a pretty face, though, and she was one of the prettiest he had ever seen. "Tiger Lilly," the bar tender offered.
Nic smiled. She downed the remainder of her drink and slid a twenty across the bar as she stood. Winking she said, "Keep the change and thanks."
He snatched it and returned the wink. "Hey,...if I ever need a bouncer, can I give you a call?"
Nic laughed as she closed the door. She noticed no one was standing around in front of the bar anymore. She had half-expected one or more of the guys that she had disposed of to come into the bar after her. There was nothing like a good bar fight. Shrugging her shoulders she got into her car and started it. In her rear view mirror she spied a pair of lights further down the block that appeared the moment she pulled away from the curb.
The dinner conversation had definitely been lighter, raising Carly's spirits. While they ate boneless chicken breasts, with mushroom stuffing, salad, and broiled red potatoes they discussed everything from Susan's new case to Carly's adventures in Australia. After two glasses of wine, Carly felt much more relaxed. Sue and Liz were engaging hostesses and Carly found herself liking them both a lot.
"So what did you do when that whale just showed up?" Liz asked.
"Well...after I was sure I wasn't having a heart attack, I took her picture." Carly replied, casually, causing both Sue and Liz to burst out laughing.
Liz cleared the empty dishes from the table, while Sue gathered the glasses. Before Carly could protest, Sue held up her hand, "No you don't. We'll take care of this." Sue looked at her partner, "Shall we have dessert in the living room, dear?"
Liz slid her hand around Sue's waist, "Sounds good to me. Carly, would you like some coffee with dessert?"
Carly rolled her eyes, "Wow, dessert on top of that wonderful meal?" She smiled, "Sure, why not?"
"Great." Liz turned to the coffeepot and poured out three cupfuls. "Why don't you two go on in the living room and I'll bring in dessert?" Sue and Carly obliged, and a few seconds later the three of them were comfortably seated in the spacious living room. Sue relaxed into a mauve recliner, while Carly and Liz positioned themselves on the sofa. Liz sliced the turtle cheesecake and passed a plate to each of them.
Carly took a bite and moaned. "God, that tastes fantastic!" Liz and Sue were busy consuming their own slices, but both nodded in agreement. "Do you two eat like this every day?"
"Desserts are usually a weekend thing," Liz answered, "when I have more time to prepare them. During the week we usually eat things that are easily re-heatable." She glanced at Sue, who wiggled her fingers in a mock wave.
"Let me guess, someone doesn't keep regular hours?" Carly chided, getting a smile from Liz.
"It's not my fault!" Sue defended. "I'm a DA, for heaven's sake. You know the work load they put on us."
"I know, hon, we're just teasing you." Liz placed her plate on the coffee table and leaned back against the cushions she had piled into the corner.
Carly enjoyed the last morsel of cheesecake before doing the same on her end of the sofa. "So, Liz, tell me some more about the Chinese astrology."
This got a look from Sue, who stretched her arms and yawned. "When did you two get into that topic?"
"This afternoon, before you came home. Carly was fascinated, weren't you?"
Carly nodded. "Yes, quite fascinated. I still want to know where the twelve animals came from?"
Sue excused herself, after giving Liz a kiss on the top of her head as she exited the room. She had several papers to go over for the case in the morning, so she retired to her office upstairs to get some work done. Liz told Carly the tale of how Buddha, before he left this world, invited all the animals to join him at a great feast. " Of all the creatures in the land, only twelve came. For their loyalty they were rewarded by having a year named after them in order of their arrival to the feast."
"I wondered how the order was determined." Carly admitted. "Liz, can I ask you a personal question?"
"When you met Sue, did you know she was the one?"
"Yes, I think I did. It's hard to explain, but there was a strong connection that I'd never felt before." Carly felt relieved and it showed as her face relaxed upon hearing the answer. "Is that how you feel about Nic?"
Carly shook her head in bewilderment. "It's the craziest, most wonderful thing I've ever felt. At the same time all I keep thinking is that I barely know this person, yet I feel like she is who I belong with."
Liz moved closer to Carly, placing a gentle hand on her knee. "Carly, have you ever been romantically involved with another woman?" She knew this was an awkward question, but she needed to know. Carly seemed perfectly comfortable around her and Sue, so she guessed that maybe she had.
"Yes, I have. It was a college fling that lasted a little over a year." Carly felt at ease talking about this with Liz, so she continued, "I had my share of boyfriends in high school and even some in college, but when I met Sarah, it was very different. The emotional connection was much more intense."
Liz nodded, knowing precisely what Carly was talking about. "And what happened?"
"Sarah's parents found out and pulled her out of school. I never saw her again." Carly answered, sadly. "As much as I felt for Sarah, what I already feel for Nic, seems so much stronger."
"So you haven't said anything to her then?"
"We really haven't had time to talk. With Jimmy, and then the break-in, it's been crazy. Besides, I wouldn't know what to say. I mean, Jimmy talks about Nic all the time, so I feel like I know her, but we really only met yesterday."
"How long you know someone is not the issue."
"Well, emotionally I feel like I've lived a lifetime in the past two days."
"I strongly believe in destiny," Liz said, "and I believe that when you meet the person you are destined to be with you'll know it."
Carly was pondering that statement when the phone rang.
The plan had been to go from Sammy's to Lorenzo's to see what she could dig up there, but she had picked up an obvious tail, so she decided to drive around town for awhile. After fifteen minutes of toying with the other car, Nic decided to pull into the Burger King drive-thru to grab a bite to eat. A few minutes later she was nibbling on the salty French fries as she parked her car in an open spot. Noticing the time, she decided to call Susan before she started chowing down. Someone picked up on the second ring.
"Hi, Sue, Nic here."
"Nic! How are you? Where are you?"
"Right now I'm in the Burger King parking lot and I'm fine, thanks." Nic could barely see the other car. It was parked across the street in the movie theater lot.
"Nic, you always say you're fine. I'm serious. How are you really? Carly has filled us in on the past two days and it all sounded exhausting."
Nic sighed, "It has been, believe me. But I really am okay. How is Carly?"
"Oh, she's fine. Her and Liz are downstairs chatting about the astrology stuff Liz loves so much. Those two certainly became fast friends."
Nic smiled. She was glad that Carly was okay and that her and Liz had hit it off. "Good. Thanks for letting her stay with you two. I would have been worried about her staying alone at a hotel."
"Do you really think she's in any danger?" Sue propped her feet up on her desk and started twirling a pencil with her fingers.
"Not really, but I just want to make sure she's safe. I wouldn't want anything to happen to her." An image of Carly flashed through her mind, bringing an instant smile to her face.
Sue debated broaching the subject then decided to anyway. "That's not just because she's Jimmy's sister is it?"
That was the same question Carly had asked her earlier, Nic remembered. "No, it's not." She sucked some soda through the straw, her mouth suddenly very dry.
"Nic, you just met Carly and I know she's Jimmy's sister and all..." Sue wasn't sure how to continue.
"Yeah? What are you getting at, Sue?"
"Just that you have both been through a very emotional couple of days and you should be careful, that's all."
Nic could hear the concern in her friend's voice and though her first reaction was one of anger, she realized Sue was simply concerned about her. "If I'm reading you right you're presuming that I'm getting attached to her in some way?"
"Something like that, yeah."
"Sue, she's Jimmy's sister! Besides, she's gotta be straight and I'm not about to get involved with my partner's straight sister. I just care about her, that's all."
Sue listened to her friend, but she didn't quite buy it. She knew Nic believed what she was saying, that made the tone of her voice that much more indicative that she felt the opposite. "What if she isn't straight?"
Now Nic's mind was racing. Just what had they been talking about over there? She considered Sue's question, but she didn't come up with any quick answers. She felt something strong for the young woman, that she was sure of, but whether she would pursue that feeling was another question. "She's still Jimmy's sister and that would make life complicated...way too complicated."
Sue didn't go any further. They talked about Nic's plans for figuring out who tried to kill her and why. Sue filled Nic in on her upcoming case and then they decided it would be nice for the four of them to get together when things were a little calmer, maybe on Thanksgiving. Nic informed Sue that someone was following her and that as long as the possibility of that continued, she wouldn't be by the house because she didn't want to endanger any of them. Nic, who was extremely stubborn in these types of matters, dismissed Sue's attempted arguments to the contrary. Realizing she was getting nowhere with her friend, Sue called downstairs for Carly to pick up the phone.
Carly sprang off the sofa and practically ran to the phone in the hallway. "Hello?"
"Hi there." Nic said, cheerfully.
"Nic, are you all right? Where are you?"
"Those are the same two questions Sue asked me, so I'll give you the same answers. I'm fine and I'm at Burger King."
Carly sat down in the chair next to the table. "Well, at least you remembered to eat."
"I think your brother has told you a few stories, hasn't he?"
"Maybe, just a few. I seem to recall something about someone who was very focused, single-minded, driven..."
"Okay, okay, I get it. When I see Jimmy I'm gonna slap him for that." Nic admitted. "So, how are you doing?"
"I'm great, thanks. Liz and Sue have been wonderful. You have very good taste in friends."
Nic thought about that for a second, then in a low tone she said, "Yes, I do."
Suddenly Carly understood what Nic meant and blushed a little. She wanted to be so much more than a friend, but she wondered if she'd ever have the courage to tell her that. "Where are you staying tonight?"
"Oh, I'll find someplace. I'm not sure yet, but I'll see you at the hospital tomorrow."
Carly was happy to hear that. "I'm going to call a cab to get over there. Liz was going to take the day off, but I told her I would be fine. It took a little work, but I got her to agree."
Nic snatched more fries and cobbled them down. She hadn't realized how hungry she was. "That's a major accomplishment. Liz can be pretty stubborn." Nic wasn't thrilled with the cab idea, but she couldn't come up with any other suggestions.
"How's your arm?" Carly asked.
"Not bad. In a couple more days you won't even know that I got cut."
"I don't know, Nic, that cut was pretty nasty. It may take more than a couple of days before it's gone."
"Yeah, maybe. But I heal pretty fast, I always have, for some reason." Tearing open a ketchup pouch she squirted some liberally over the remaining French fries. "I called the hospital earlier and they said that Jimmy is doing really well."
Carly grinned, "Yeah, I called a little while ago. They said he'd get moved to his own room tomorrow, which is great.
"Yes it is. Well, I better get going...I still have some things to do before I can call it a night."
Carly saddened at the thought, but she reluctantly agreed, "Okay. Goodnight, Nic. See you in the morning."
"Yeah...goodnight, Carly. Maybe we can grab some breakfast at the hospital?" she asked, hesitantly.
"Sure, that sounds great. See you then." Before she ended the call Carly added, "And Nic, please be careful."
"I will." Nic heard the phone disconnect so she hit the 'END' button on her cell phone. Fishing the Whopper out of the bag, she unwrapped the sandwich and took a healthy bite. The car that had been following her was still in the lot across the street. She grabbed her night-vision binoculars from the glove compartment and zeroed in on the plate number. A smile crossed her face. As she continued eating, her thoughts returned to Sue's question, 'What if she's not straight?' Yeah, what if, she thought, as she took another bite of her burger.
Victor Marcone was mildly enjoying his second glass of Chardonnay in the comfort of his library, where he spent most of his time. The lavish house was just too large, he admitted. Unless he was entertaining guests he found that his bedroom and the library were his favorite rooms. A Mozart symphony was playing on the stereo. Irene, his housekeeper, had just scurried from the room after having delivered it and cleared the dinner dishes. He had become accustomed to taking his dinner in the library. When you dined alone what was the point of sitting in a monstrous dining room all by yourself. He preferred to read while he ate and what better place to have peace and quiet. A knock at the door took him by surprise. "Enter," he commanded.
Frank Torelli dutifully walked over and stood before his boss. He was still wearing the suit he had put on nearly twelve hours ago. His boss, on the other hand, had traded his suit coat for a paisley silk smoking jacket. Victor looked at the dour expression on Frank's face and instantly knew that Frank's report would not be good. "Go ahead, Frank."
"I've had the boys checking all over the city. They haven't turned up anything. Two guys are still staking out the Arcadia hotel, where he checked out a room last Wednesday when him and Sal got into town, but he hasn't showed there." Frank waited for his boss to respond, but he said nothing. He just nodded his head and sipped his wine. "Someone did turn up at the hotel, though."
"And who might that be?" Marcone asked.
"The lady cop Sal and Leo were suppose to take care of."
Marcone put his glass on the table. This news did not please him. "How the hell did she know where they were staying?"
"I don't know boss. Eddy said that she wasn't in there long. He sent Tony up to check out the rooms out after she was gone. Tony said there wasn't much in there, so maybe she didn't find anything." Frank hoped that that was true.
Marcone stroked the thin line of a beard that outlined his jaw with his thumb and forefinger. "Or maybe she found something." Marcone was referring to anything that could tie Sal and Leo to him. "Tell me Frank, how is it possible, with all the manpower we're putting on this, that we can not turn up one guy?"
"I don't know boss." Frank shrugged his shoulders. "We've checked every bar, strip joint and flea bag motel in this city and we haven't found him. He could have left town all ready, in which case it's gonna be real hard to find him, since Sal is the one who brought him in. We don't know much about him." Frank knew his boss wouldn't like hearing the facts anymore than he liked telling him.
Marcone stood and folded his hands behind his back, looking straight into Frank's eyes. "If Sal filled Leo in on the reason they were hired, he may be a liability we need to eliminate." The tall man walked over to the French doors that lead to the balcony. He opened them, letting the cool evening air infiltrate the room. "If the cops get him and he knows anything, he'll squeal, we can be sure of that. And he won't get far in a stolen car, either, so he's got to be in town or close." He turned to face Frank. "Tell the boys to keep looking. He's got to be somewhere! And we still need to take care of those two cops!"
"Yes, sir, Mr. Marcone," Frank affirmed. With a wave of his boss's hand Frank was dismissed. Outside the library, Frank contemplated the next few days and with a sinking dread he knew that they would not be good days if they didn't find Leo Tolstrom.
Sanders and Mahoney had been sitting in an unmarked, gray sedan watching the black Xterra that was parked in the Burger King lot across the street. Mahoney didn't like tailing Stone. He didn't like it because it was a dangerous thing to do, but his bull-headed partner insisted she knew something and this was the only way they would find out what that was. Stone was a sharp cop and Mahoney would bet his life that she had already spotted them.
Sanders looked at the sullen expression on his partner's face. "What's eating you?"
"You know what! She drove us around the city for nearly twenty minutes! She's onto us and you know it, Tom."
"Paul, get over it. I told you she knows something. She was a little too smug at the station. We've got no other leads in this and we both know how Stone is."
"Whatever, Tom. Listen, I need some coffee. Do you want some?"
Sanders waved his hand at his partner, his attention focused on Stone's car. "No thanks. And hurry up, in case she takes off."
"Yeah, yeah." Mahoney reached up and disengaged the dome light before opening his door. Slipping out of the car he crept between several parked cars until he was safely in the shadows of the buildings along the street, where he picked up his pace. A coffee shop was just around the corner.
Sanders tapped the steering wheel with his hands trying to calm his nerves. Deep down he knew that his partner was right. Stone wasn't someone to be toyed with. But, Sanders reasoned that they were trying to help. It's not like they were being malicious or anything. Checking his watch he was surprised at the time. Stone had been in the parking lot for twenty minutes. He wondered what the hell she was doing all this time. A popping sound outside made his jump. Rapidly he checked all of the mirrors, then turned his head around, surveying the vicinity. Nothing. Probably just an alley cat or something, he thought. His heart skipped a beat when he saw the Xterra's lights come on. "Shit!" he said. "Where the hell are you, Paul?"
The car door jerked open and Mahoney dropped into the seat. "I'm right here."
Tom grabbed his chest, "Jesus, are you trying to kill me?"
"Not exactly. Hey she's moving!" Paul pointed at the car, which was not entering the street.
Sanders stepped on the gas and a "thump, thump, thump" was heard coming from the back wheel on the passenger side. Sticking his head out of the window Paul spotted the problem. "We got a flat."
Sanders slammed his hands on the steering wheel. "Damn it!" He watched the Xterra fade into the darkness and he could have sworn he saw a hand wave at him from the driver's window.
Nic strode into the busy Italian restaurant, turning several heads in the process. A young woman in her twenties dressed in a bright red blouse greeted her. "Welcome to Lorenzo's. Table for one?" she inquired, her thin dark brows elevated in question.
"No, but I would like to ask you some questions?"
The woman looked confused until she saw the badge. "Oh! Well...we're kind of busy right now. Could you come back?"
Nic pursed her lips. "No, I'd like to talk now," she tapped her finger on the face of her wristwatch.
Scowling, the woman peered around Nic and counted four couples that needed to be taken care of. She threw up her hand flagging down a tall man in a waiter's uniform. He was carrying a tray of empty glasses. "Yes, Lucinda? What is it?"
"Anthony, please take my place for a few minutes. This woman would like to speak with me."
The waiter looked Nic over from top to bottom, then returned his attention to the young woman. "Certainly Lucinda."
"Come with me," the woman said, weaving her way through the cluster of tables, each filled with people eating, drinking, and conversing. Nic followed her to a small office at the rear of the restaurant. She took a seat in one of the tattered chairs that sat in front of a wooden desk, which took up most of the space in the tiny, windowless room. The woman sat down, resting her elbows on the desk. "All right, what can I do for you?"
Nic pulled out the photograph and dropped it in front of her. "Have you ever seen this man before?"
The woman picked up the photo and eyed it, pensively. "No, I've never seen him before." She looked up into probing, ice blue eyes. Gulping, she reiterated, "Really, I haven't."
Nic slipped a piece of gum into her mouth and began chewing. Rubbing the tiredness out of her eyes, she leaned forward and in a low voice said, "It's late...I'm tired and I don't have time for the usual nonsense that I would normally find amusing. So, let's cut the crap. Now you obviously know him, I can see it in your eyes, so spill it."
At first the woman didn't utter a sound. She just sat there staring at the seriously angry expression on the cop's face. Her mind raced, but she couldn't think of a way out of answering this woman's questions. Finally she replied, "He knows my uncle. He was in here last night. I remember it was early, at least an hour before our normal dinner hour customers."
Nic smiled, "That's better." She relaxed into the chair. "Does your uncle own this place?"
"Is he here?"
"He's in the kitchen checking on the supplies."
"Well, then I want you to get him in here so I can talk to him."
The young woman frowned. Her uncle would not be happy about this. The last thing he wanted was any trouble with the police. She tapped a button on an intercom unit that was attached to the wall. "Charlie, is my uncle in there?"
A scratchy reply cam back, "Yeah, he's here."
"Send him to the office, okay?" The voice on the other end complied. Seconds later a man entered the room. He had salt and pepper hair and had a dirty white apron tied about his trim waist. Nic had expected a portly man, considering the Italian food and all.
"Lucinda, what it is?" He glanced at the beautiful woman who was sitting across from his niece.
"Uncle, this is..." she struggled to remember the woman's name.
Nic rose from her chair, "Detective Stone, Larson Police Department." She shook the man's hand.
"Lorenzo Ciccone." He regarded her quizzically. "What seems to be the problem?"
"No problem," Nic said, "I just have some questions." Her eyes traveled to the photograph still lying on the desk. Lorenzo's eyes followed hers and rose when he recognized the picture.
"What sort of questions?" he asked.
"Your niece tells me you know this man?"
Lorenzo shot a stern look at his niece, who recoiled and diverted her eyes. "Yes, I know him. Is he in some kind of trouble?"
"I'm afraid he's dead."
The man's eyes glazed over, a stricken look clouding his face. "How? When?"
Nic opted to leave out the details, like the fact that she was the one who shot him. "He was shot last night when he tried to kill a cop." Lucinda gasped, bringing her hand to her mouth. Lucinda stood, giving her uncle the chair. He slumped into it, looking like someone had let the air out of him. "How do you know him?"
"We grew up together, here in Larson. I've known him a very long time."
"He didn't live here anymore, did he?"
"No. Sal moved away years ago. I think he was living in Jersey."
"Do you know why he was in town?"
"Listen, detective, Sal was not the most upstanding person in the world. I know this. He wouldn't endanger my establishment or me by informing me of why he was here. I have a clean record and so does my place."
Nic looked deeply into the man's narrow eyes. "Does he have any relatives still in the area?"
"Not that I know of. His family moved back to Brooklyn after his father died."
"Was anyone with him last night when he was here?"
"Yeah, a scrawny little guy was with him," Lorenzo answered.
"Did you happen to catch the other guy's name?" Nic asked.
Lorenzo concentrated on the question. He did remember Sal introducing the little guy. Finally it came to him, "Leo...Tolstr.., Tolstrom, I believe."
Gotcha, Nic thought, triumphantly. She wrote the name down in the pad she carried with her. "Do you know where they were headed when they left here last night?"
"No, I'm afraid I don't. As a matter of fact, I didn't even get to say goodbye." The man's expression darkened. "Someone screwed up the food order and I had to run to the market for fresh garlic. When I returned, they were gone."
Nic stood, "Thank you both for your time and I'm sorry about your friend." She closed the door behind her and with a new lead to follow she headed for her car.
After thirty minutes of tossing and turning Carly was still wide-awake. She had helped Liz clean up the living room and then excused herself for the night. Truth was, she was so over tired she couldn't seem to get to sleep. She couldn't stop wondering where Nic was and what she was up to. She was less worried about Jimmy since the hospital reported that he was doing very well. At least she knew where he was and he was under police protection. Nic, on the other hand, was who knows where and she was alone. Carly turned onto her side and stared at the slivers of moonlight that filtered through the blinds on the window. Last night, with Nic in the next bed, she had dozed off rather easily while watching television. Tonight she was curled under a fluffy comforter with Harley snuggled between her knees, snoring peacefully and she couldn't sleep at all. She found herself wishing it was morning all ready. Harley stretched her front legs out lying them across Carly's calves, trapping her in her current position. Reaching down she scratched the top of the cat's head. "I'm glad one of us can sleep."
Liz finished tidying up the kitchen, then checked all the doors before moving upstairs to coax her partner to bed. Poking her head into the office she was surprised that it was unoccupied. Continuing down the hallway Liz entered the master bedroom. Sue was lying on the bed in her usual oversize Dallas Cowboy's jersey, legs crossed at the ankles, back propped up against the ornate headboard. "Here you are," Liz stated. "You never cease to amaze me, you know that?"
Sue blinked mischievously while pointing her finger at her chest, "Who me?"
Liz kicked off her fuzzy pink slippers and slowly slid out of her Levi's. "Yes, you." She knew she had her lover's complete attention.
"Is our guest all tucked in for the night?" Sue's eyes were fixated on the redhead's well-toned and curvaceous body.
"Yes. And, if you ask me, she's got it bad for our friend."
"Liz, they don't even know one another. Maybe we're just jumping to conclusions."
Grabbing a brush from the dresser, Liz stroked her curly locks. "Did you happen to talk to Nic about it?"
Sue tossed the documents she'd been reading onto the floor, laced her hands behind her head and slunk down into the bed. Uncrossing her long legs she gave her partner a reason to hurry with her nightly grooming ritual. "Yes, and she insisted that she couldn't possible get involved with her partner's sister."
"Doth protest too much, if you ask me." Finished with her brushing Liz stood at the front of the bed, dressed only in her gray wool sweater, which unfortunately hung past certain enticing parts. She let a slow, sexy smile curl over her face as she lifted the sweater up and over her head, eliciting a low moan from her partner. Sue willingly extinguished the bedside lamp as her lover crawled onto the bed and captured her lips in an intimate kiss.
Nic stepped from the steamy shower and reached for one of the cotton towels hanging next to the sink. After fifteen minutes in the hot bliss of the shower she felt relaxed enough to get some sleep. It had been a long, hard day, but it was had also been a successful one. At least now she knew the name of Linetti's accomplice and tomorrow she'd run a check on him and see what that turned up. Wrapping the towel around her, she ran a comb through her long, dark hair. She wiped the condensation from the mirror with her hand and looked at her reflection pensively. Small bags hung under her clear, blue eyes, indicating just how tired she really was. She brushed her teeth then swished some peppermint mouthwash around before spitting it into the sink. Removing the towel, she hung it back on the rack and killed the light as she exited the bathroom.
A way too happy TV weatherman was going over the forecast for Monday, grinning from ear to ear as he pointed at the area map. Nic grabbed the remote and surfed several channels before she settled on one. "The Honeymooners, starring Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Audrey meadows, and Joyce Randolph." Nic smiled as she slipped a nightshirt on and settled herself under the covers. She had ended up in a Quality Inn that was not far from Lorenzo's restaurant. When she left the restaurant she had flirted with the idea of returning to the station to run a check on Leo Tolstrom, but she quickly realized she was way too tired to drive back across town.
She watched the old black and white program with interest. If Carly liked it, then there must be something to it. Ralph and Norton were certainly an amusing pair, but it was Alice, Ralph's wife, that Nic found she liked the most. She stood right up to Ralph without fear, even when he did threaten to 'send her to the moon'. She liked a woman who didn't back down or take any crap from anyone. Back in the fifties, that was an unusual thing to see. She found herself liking the show, despite herself and she found herself wishing that Carly were here so they could watch it together. Closing her eyes, she pictured the blonde's wistful smile and her vibrant green eyes. Her eyes grew heavy as her thoughts drifted back to her earlier conversation with Sue. She's still Jimmy's sister and that would make life complicated...way too complicated.
Continued in Part 6
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