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.


Part 6

An old cardboard box provided Leo Tolstrom with little protection from the early morning rain that peppered the alleyway. He tucked as much of himself into the large box as he could, knowing that he'd have to find a more suitable shelter if the rain continued. He opened the bottle of scotch that he had purchased the night before and slugged down a mouthful. Instantly it warmed his belly, almost to the point of burning. He hadn't eaten since Saturday night at the restaurant with Sal and now his stomach grumbled in protest. Pulling the collar of his suit coat up around his ears he peeked out into the dim light of dawn. Several other residents were asleep or passed out in similar make shift homes amid the garbage cans that were scattered throughout the alleyway.

A rather large rat scurried out from under a huge garbage bin on the other side of the alley. Stopping next to Leo's box it looked him in the eye, twitching its nose in curiosity. Leo jerked his head into his box and wildly waved his bottle of scotch at the creature in an effort to scare it away. It merely stood there, eyeing him, then without a second glance, it continued on its journey up the alleyway.

Leo let out a dejected sigh. He had not anticipated winding up like this. When Sal had approached him about a job, he had eagerly accepted it. As far as Leo had been concerned, it should have been an easy job. All they needed to do was knock off one of Marcone's former employees and grab the incriminating evidence that he had on Marcone. But, before they could do the job, Marcone's nephew had to go and get himself nearly killed and that simple job he had hired on for suddenly became a big pain in the ass. So here he sat in a stinking, filthy alleyway, starving, broke and as desperate as he remembered being in a long time. He needed a plan if he was going to survive this unfortunate turn of events and as he sat listening to the rain he began to formulate one.


Carly gazed at the sea blue sky and the few puffy, white clouds that floated in the vastness above her. She was lying on her back in a meadow, her hands resting on her mid section and her head on something soft and warm. An old wooden swing was hanging from the branch of a large apple tree just off to her left. The sweet scent of wild flowers permeated the air. Carly inhaled deeply, enjoying the aroma. Heaven couldn't possibly be better than this she mused, her sense of peace so profound. Feeling her pillow stir she rotated her head back and was captured by a pair of piercing blue eyes, held in a strong, angular face. The eyes were bluer than the sky that surrounded them. Silky black hair fell casually about Nic's shoulders, which were exposed by the tank top she wore. Carly felt her heart skip a beat at the site of this gorgeous, enticing woman. Dropping her head, Nic teased her with a kiss that Carly melted right into. It was as if their passion had fused their lips together. Carly slipped her hands around her companion's neck pulling her closer. The intensity grew until all Carly knew was this kiss. Then it started to fade and was replaced by a loud purring in her ear and a wet nose. Carly struggled to get it back, but the purring continued until it awakened her completely. Regretfully she cracked open her left eye and was greeted by a warm nuzzle. "Do you have any idea what you just ruined?" The black cat leaned against her rubbing its face into hers. Carly propped her head on her hand and yawned, stroking the cat's back, causing it to arch in response. Noting the early hour she scowled at the feline. "Maybe some food will shut you up," she said as she picked the cat up and stalked out of the bedroom.

The hallway was quite dark, forcing Carly to navigate it slowly in order to avoid bumping into anything. Thankfully, the kitchen was much brighter since it faced east and was catching the first rays of dawn. Carly put the cat down and watched it scamper over to the food dish. She hoped Liz wouldn't mind her preparing a pot of coffee. She knew she'd only lie in bed and stare at the ceiling, so she might as well stay up. After searching out the morning paper and finding it lying, nicely rubber-banded, on the front steps, she returned to the kitchen and settled herself on one of the kitchen chairs. She thought about what Sue had told her last night about Nic's parents. That, more than likely, explained the reclusive nature Jimmy had told her about. It also explained how she could live in such a lavish residence on a detective's salary. Carly felt a profound sadness when she thought about what Nic must have gone through. To lose one parent was hard, but to lose both, and in such a tragic and violent way, must have been devastating. She wiped a tiny tear from her cheek and spread the paper out on the table and began reading.


Lieutenant Raimes strolled into the all ready busy precinct at his usual seven thirty hour. The desk sergeant, a trim, middle-aged man with varying degrees of gray in his rather full head of hair, handed the lieutenant his messages on his way through to the bullpen. Raimes wasn't surprised to find Stone all ready at her desk, intently studying something on her computer monitor. "Stone! My office, now!"

Nic heard the bellow from behind her and cringed. She had just pulled up Leo Tolstrom's rap sheet and was eager to read it, but now that would have to wait. She cleared the computer screen with the click of a button. Gulping down the last of her coffee she headed to Raimes' office, discarding the Styrofoam cup on the way. Raimes was waiting for her with the door open. "We need to talk, Stone."

Nic dropped into one of the chairs. Leaning back, she propped her left foot onto her right knee and asked, "About what, Lou?"

Raimes shook his head as he sat down on the corner of his desk and looked her in the eyes. "Let's see…how about what I read in the Sunday paper?"

She gave him a lopsided grin, "Yeah, how about that Mets game?"

"Stone, cut the crap. You know damn well what I'm talking about! What the hell happened Saturday night?"

Nic massaged her forehead with her fingertips and let out a sigh. "What do you want me to tell you, Lou? Someone tried to kill me, that’s what happened! Probably the same bastard that tried to kill Jimmy!"

Raimes softened his tone, "Well, you didn't let it happen, that’s what’s important I haven't seen the official report yet, but the paper send one of the perps got away?"

"Yeah. Scrawny little shit got out while I was scuffling with his buddy."

"What about the one we managed to keep?"

"He's from Jersey, I guess. Somebody up here obviously hired him and his friend. The question is who and why?"

Raimes studied his detective. He knew it was going to be hard to keep her out of the Jamison investigation, but now that someone tried to kill her, too, it was going to be impossible. The phone rang and Raimes lifted the receiver. "Raimes." Picking up a pencil he wrote some notes on a piece of scrap paper. "Okay, I'll relay the message. Thanks." He handed the paper to Nic. "You need to report to the department psychologist today at one o'clock."

Nic's rolled her eyes, "For what?"

Raimes walked around the desk and sat in his chair. "It could have something to do with the two men you've killed in the last forty-eight hours." He held up his hand to halt her protest. "I know they were clean shoots, but from a psychological standpoint you've been under a great deal of stress, so it can't hurt to go talk to her, okay?"

Nic stared at the name and number. 'Dr. Denise Carter - 17 Cranston Avenue - 882-6923' "Fine, I'll go see her, but it's a waste of time," she hesitated for a second, then added, "lieutenant I have some time built up and I'd like to take a few days, if that's all right?"

Raimes eyed her suspiciously. He didn't want her going after these people, whoever they were, alone, but he doubted he could stop her either. "All right. When?"

"I'd like to take the rest of the week."

Raimes contemplated that for a second, then acquiesced. "Normally I would say no, but since your partner is going to be out for awhile I’ll grant your request. Tell the desk sergeant when you leave."

"Thanks, Lou." Nic got up and opened the door.

"Stone?" Nic paused in the doorway and half turned to look at him. "Don't get in over your head." Nic grinned at her boss as she closed the door behind her.

Weaving her way through several pairs of back-to-back desks she returned to her own and sat down. After tapping several keys on her computer the information on Leo Tolstrom that she had been scrutinizing earlier, appeared. Hitting the print button, then quickly closing down the screen she walked over to the printer to retrieve her copy. She wanted to get the information and be gone before Sanders and Mahoney showed up. She figured they were pissed about the flat tire she gave them last night and she was in no mood to go into it this morning. Folding the paper up and tucking into her back pocket she returned to her desk and pulled open a drawer extracting the Larson phone book. After leafing through several yellow pages she finally found what she was looking for. She dialed the number and waited.

"Quality Home Security," a woman stated, cheerfully.

"Hi, I need to have a security system installed in my home as soon as possible."

"Well ma'am you may want to stop down so that we can show you the different systems. It's kind of hard to determine what you need over the phone."

Nic flinched at the ma'am comment. Suddenly it made her feel old. "Listen, I want a full security system. Doors, windows, exterior motion lights, keyless entry, the works. Cost is not a factor," her voice deepened. "Do you have anything like that?" she asked, impatiently.

The woman cleared her throat and answered in her most pleasant voice, "Yes, of course we do."

"Good, when can you get that done?"

Nic heard the pages of a book being turned in rapid succession. "Let me see…I have a cancellation for tomorrow morning. Would that be good for you?"

"That would be perfect." Nic provided the woman with all the vital information and informed her that she would meet the installers at the house at nine o'clock. She turned to the section on carpeting and sought out the number for 'Carpets R Us'. A familiar voice answered the phone. "Hello Joey, Nic Stone."

"Nic! How the hell are you?"

"I'm doing okay, Joey. And you?"

"Same old, same old, you know how it goes. So, what can I do for you?"

"Do you remember that carpet I bought for my bedroom a couple of years ago?"

A pause on the other end, "Yeah, it was navy, tight weave, real thick."

"Yeah, that's the one. Well I need the same one, if you still carry it."

The man on the other end scratched his head in consternation. "Geez, what happened to the other one. That should have lasted ten or fifteen years."'

"Well, I had an uninvited guest who happened to bleed all over it," Nic replied.

"Oh! I see. Well, then you'll be needing that right away, I guess?"

"As soon as possible, yes. And, Joey, you'll need to move the furniture and everything when you install it."

The man took down some notes as she spoke. "Of course, no problem. If I have it in the warehouse I can do the job on Wednesday morning, or maybe late Tuesday if I get a cancellation."

"That sounds great Joey. Thanks a million. Put it on my charge, same as the last time."

They exchanged good-byes and disconnected. Nic closed the phone book and placed it back inside her drawer. She cleared off the top of her desk, then made her exit, notifying the desk sergeant on her way out that she would be taking some time off.


"Good morning."

Carly turned to see a perky Liz and a bleary eyed Susan padding into the kitchen, wearing matching red velour bath robes with their initials embroidered in white. "Good morning."

Sue immediately took a seat at the table, while Liz poured them both a cup of coffee. "Do you need a refill, Carly?"

"Yes, please." Carly folded up the paper and handed it to Susan, who was rubbing her eyes and yawning.

"So how long have you been up?" Liz asked.

"Oh, just a little while. I hope you don't mind me making some coffee?"

"Are you kidding? The aroma is what got us down here." Liz and Carly laughed. Susan cracked a tiny smile. "You'll have to forgive Sue. She's not a morning person, are you honey?"

Sue narrowed her eyes, wrinkling her nose at her lover. Liz placed the coffee cups on the table and gave her a kiss on top of her head. They all enjoyed a quick breakfast of cereal, toast, and coffee. Sue read the paper, while Carly and Liz chatted about the upcoming holidays. Liz was curious about Carly's parents, but she wasn't sure she should pry. She bit her lip while she struggled with the thought. "Carly, can I ask you something personal?" This got a look from Sue over the top of the newspaper she held in her hands.

"Sure," Carly answered.

"Where do your parents live?"

Carly's face darkened. "I'm afraid my mom passed away a few years ago and my dad…well he left us when Jimmy and I were young, so I don't know what's become of him."

Liz reached over and squeezed Carly's hand. "I'm sorry to hear that."

"Don't be, it's all right. Jimmy and I still have family. My mother's two sisters live in Florida. They both helped raise us and we're very close to them. As a matter of fact I need to call them today. They were on a cruise in the Bahamas and should be back this afternoon. I'm so glad that Jimmy is going to be all right. I don't know how I would have broken the news to them if he wasn't."

"Well, he is, thank goodness." Liz sipped some of her coffee. From the corner of her eye she caught Sue giving her a reproachful stare. Smirking at her partner she started clearing the kitchen table. "Listen, Carly, I'm going to go in to work late so I can drop you off at the hospital."

"Liz! I told you that taking a cab wasn't a problem." Carly wagged her finger at the woman, "Nic told me you were stubborn."

Liz rolled her eyes. "Oh, she's one to talk! I think if we had a stubborn contest, I'd come in third," she stated, smiling at her partner, who stuck her tongue out in response. "Do you do that in court?" Liz asked.

Sue smiled, "Only when the jury can't see me."


Nic drove the Nissan Xterra from the northwestern end of the city, where the 21st precinct was located, to downtown Larson. European influences still abounded in the architecture of the buildings, especially those in the downtown area, where narrow streets, reminiscent of cities like Boston, were a characteristic. The sizable waterfront area in the southern end of the city contained two marinas and numerous warehouses that were owned by several companies in the area. Nic spent the next two hours searching portions of the downtown area with no luck. She decided she might have better luck checking with some of her snitches later in the day. Finding them now would be futile, since they all seemed to shun the daylight. She often wondered if they weren't vampires, their aversions to daylight were so strong. Checking her watch she decided she'd had enough for now and drove to the hospital.

Arriving in ICU, she entered Jimmy's room. He was awake and looking remarkably better than he had the last time she saw him. His leg was in a cast and his shoulder in a sling, but he beamed at her when she entered.

"Well, you're certainly looking much better this morning." Nic remarked, a broad grin crossing her face.

"I feel a lot better, thanks." His eyes drifted behind his partner and a look of disappointment fell across his face. "Where's Carly?"

Nic almost blurted out the answer then realized Jimmy didn't know that Carly wasn't staying with her. "She'll be here any minute."

Jimmy gave his partner a knowing glance. "Spill it. She's not staying at my place is she?"

"No, of course not." Nic answered.

"Then what's going on?"

Nic sat down in the chair that was next to the bed. She played with her ring as she contemplated what she should tell him. "She's staying with some friends of mine. You remember Sue and Liz, don't you?"

Jimmy thought for a second. "Yeah…but I thought Carly was staying with you," he said with a concerned tone.

Nic looked down at her ring, which she continued to fiddle with. "Jimmy, there’s something I didn't tell you yesterday." She looked into his soft brown eyes. "Someone tried to kill me at the house Saturday night."

His eyes bulged, then his face reddened with anger. "Who?"

"Two guys. Sal Linetti and Leo Tolstrom. They’re from Jersey."

He knitted his brows trying to place the names, with no success. "Who the fuck are they? You caught them, right?" Jimmy winced as he moved his injured shoulder.

"I never saw them before, or at least I don't remember them. Sal was a big guy, shorter than me, but really heavy. He and I had a little disagreement. He wanted me dead and I wanted to continue living. Unfortunately that resulted in his untimely demise. The other guy got away."

Jimmy smirked at his partner, who simply shrugged her shoulders. "Got any idea why?" he asked.

"My guess is they're the same pair that tried to take you out, too. But, I don't have a clue who could have hired them or why."

"So that's why Carly's not staying with you?"

"Of course. I couldn't put her in any more danger. I'm just thankful she didn't get hurt the other night, though that piece of shit that got away did slam her into the wall as he made his escape."

Jimmy ran his free hand through his sandy hair. "Well, thanks for taking care of her." He pointed to the water pitcher. "Would you mind?"

"Oh, yes, terribly," she replied, sarcastically. She poured some water into a plastic glass and handed it to him. He drank it all down in one gulp.

Nic refilled the glass and set it on the table next to the bed. "You know you're sister is pretty amazing."

Jimmy furrowed his brows, "How so?"

"Well, she handled the whole thing with you and Saturday's break in extremely well. Other people would have fallen apart."

Jimmy smiled as he thought of his sister. "Yeah, you're right." He gazed into his dark haired partner's eyes and confided, "She means the world to me, Nic. Thanks for keeping her safe. I owe you one."

"Don't be crazy, Jimmy. I'd never let anything happen to her so you don't owe me a thing."

Just as those words left Nic's mouth Carly strolled into the room. "Hi guys." She leaned over and planted a kiss on her brother's cheek. "And what were you two talking about?" she asked, arching a slender blonde brow at the two of them.

"Oh, nothing, really," Nic answered, innocently.

Carly gave her an incredulous smirk, then turned her attention back to her brother. "So, you're looking pretty chipper today." She fussed over him, first straightening his blanket, then tucking it along the sides of his legs.

"I am feeling better, though completely helpless."

"You'll be up and about in no time," Carly affirmed.

A short, perky nurse entered the room and waved at the two women. "Would you both please step out of the room for a second? I have to administer a shot to this handsome fellow."

Carly and Nic both suppressed a desire to tease Jimmy and followed the nurse's orders. She pulled the curtain around the bed the instant they stepped from the room. Nic looked at the young police officer that was sitting in the chair outside the room. She recognized him as the one whose head she nearly tore off the other day. She thought she should cut him some slack today. He dropped his magazine the second he realized she was looking at him. "Why don’t you take a break. I'll be here for a while."

"Thanks, Detective Stone. I'll just run to the bathroom and I'll be right back."

"Go grab yourself some coffee, too?"

"Are you sure? I really don't need to."

"No, it's fine, go ahead." The young officer headed to the elevators with a quick stride. Nic turned to see Carly smiling at her.


"Do you only scare the young ones or are the old ones intimidated by you, too?"

"What's that suppose to mean?" she asked, cocking her head and leaning against the wall. She noticed how nice Carly looked. Her hair was tied back in a French braid, with short bangs dusting her forehead and she was dressed in a pair of khaki Dockers with a crimson sweater vest over a white, button down shirt.

"I'm just teasing you, Nic," she retorted, touching Nic's arm for emphasis before taking a seat in the vacated chair. "So, what have you been doing this morning?"

"Oh, this and that. I stopped by the station for a while and I ordered a home alarm system that is going to be installed tomorrow morning."

"Wow, you got someone to install it that soon?" Carly thought about what she'd just said and almost giggled out loud. Her tall, dark haired friend probably got whatever she wanted.

"Yes, I did. Oh, and I get to go see the department psychologist this afternoon, too." Nic said in a mock tone.

Carly gave her a quizzical look. "Why is that?"

"My lieutenant thinks it has something to do with the recent shootings I've been involved in," she replied, sheepishly. The nurse exited the room and informed them they could return.

"Is that the normal procedure?"

"More or less. They just want to make sure my head is screwed on straight," Nic remarked.

"Well…" Carly blinked coyly at her, "if it's any consolation I think your head is just perfect."

Nic felt a warm sensation rising up her neck as she followed Carly back into Jimmy's room.


For the next half-hour Carly told Jimmy about her trip to Australia, while he eagerly listened. Nic enjoyed the story, as well. She told them about shooting the pod of whales and the two days that they spent on the open ocean just searching for them. A run-in with some tiger sharks sounded frightening, but Carly seemed to be unaffected by it, though Nic's eyes bulged during that part of the story. Carly could weave a story and she was very animated when she spoke. Lots of hand gestures, eye movements, inflections and such.

The perky nurse returned and informed them all that Jimmy was scheduled for some X-rays on his shoulder and that they would have to leave. Nic was starting to acquire a dislike for this woman. Carly propped her hands on her hips and looked at Nic, sensing her irritation. "I seem to recall someone inviting me to breakfast last night."

Nic turned her attention to her partner's sister. "Well, then, shall we?" Nic stood and in a mock gesture offered Carly her arm. Jimmy watched this with some amusement and for a moment thought he saw something more. Maybe it was the gleam in his sister's eyes or the fact that she absolutely beamed when she took Nic's arm. Then he noticed the way his partner watched Carly's every move. As the orderly wheeled him out of the room he watched them walking down the hallway and he contemplated the possibility all the way to radiology.


The cafeteria was mildly crowded for a mid-morning Monday. A handful of interns were circled about a table, discussing the latest in medical advances. Another table of nurses chatted about an upcoming hospital social. A few odd pairs of visitors were scattered over the rest of the room. Nic and Carly picked up two empty trays and proceeded down the line, picking up juice and coffee as they went. Nic decided on bacon and scrambled eggs, while Carly opted for the French toast. Carly insisted on paying, halting Nic's protests with a severe look. They chose a table in the corner, away from the other, louder groups in the room. Carly dug into her meal, smothering the French toast with butter and maple syrup.

Nic was nibbled on her bacon and watched her blonde companion with keen interest. "Hungry this morning?"

Carly looked up through pale lashes. "Maybe, just a little." She liked the outfit Nic had worn today. She looked great in her navy chinos, white silk shirt and black leather vest.

"So how did you like Sue and Liz's place?"

"It's beautiful. I love their sunroom. Liz and I chatted in their yesterday afternoon and it was so cozy." Carly dabbed a forkful of toast in the syrup, then devoured it in one bite.

"Yeah, Sue mentioned you two got into the Chinese astrology stuff."

Carly's eyes sparkled. "That stuff is amazing. You know I was born in the year of the rabbit?"

"Really?" Nic asked.

"Yes. And you were born in the year of the dog, according to Liz." Carly smiled.

Nic twitched her lips, "I seem to recall her telling me that before."

Carly finished her breakfast and placed her plate on the side of the table. "Sometime I’ll have to explain the significance of that." This got her an intrigued look from her companion. Grabbing her coffee mug she wrapped her hands around it, warming them while she sipped the hot brew. "I really like them both. You're very lucky to have such good friends, Nic."

The dark haired woman reflected on that, then affirmed, "Yes, I guess I am." Finishing off her eggs she slid the plate into the middle of the table and wiped her mouth with her napkin. "So… long will you be able to stay here in Larson?"

Carly looked into Nic's eyes and could have sworn she sensed another question lurking there. "Well, originally I had planned on staying till Black Friday, but that was before Jimmy's injuries. Now I'm not too sure." She looked out the expansive floor to ceiling windows that were behind Nic. A gray sky made it seem much later than it really was. "I'm thinking about taking a leave of absence while Jimmy recovers."

Nic’s pale blue eyes brightened a bit at the answer. "That's probably a good idea. Maybe you'll be able to return to my place in a couple of days, then?"

Carly gave her a demure smile, "Sure, if that's what you want."

"Well, I mean, you don't have to if it's not what you want." Nic felt her heart soar then fall in the same second. Why couldn't she just tell Carly that she liked spending time with her? After all that wouldn't complicate her life. She could always use more friends and that's all Carly was, just a friend, right Nic?

Carly reached over and placed her hand over Nic's larger one. "I'd love to stay at your place, Nic. I just don't want to be a burden."

Nic wondered how this vibrant, beautiful woman could ever think she could be a burden. "You could never be a burden to me," she said it with the utmost sincerity and Carly felt it, her sea green eyes almost glistening. Deciding to lighten the mood Nic said, "You know I don't think your brother told me where you're living right now."

Carly removed her hand and reclaimed her coffee mug, sipping down the last of the beverage. "DC. I've been there for a little over a year."

"That must be an interesting place to live."

"I imagine. I really haven't had a lot of time to spend there. I've been traveling quite a bit and when I'm not, I usually work pretty long hours, since I'm still learning the ropes."

Nic nodded her head in understanding. "It's always tough when you're learning. I barely remember any life at all for the first four years I was on the job."

Carly laughed at the remark. She looked into Nic's eyes and remembered what Sue had told her yesterday. She pondered whether she should broach the subject.

"Carly? Is something wrong?" Nic asked, concerned.

Carly smiled and patted Nic's hand. "No, I'm fine…it's just…"

"What? Tell me?"

"I don't want to upset you, but Susan told me about your parents and I just wanted to tell you how very sorry I am."

A dark shadow clouded the dark haired woman's normally brilliant eyes. A pain that would never heal still lingered there, just beneath the surface. "Thank you." Nic peered into the green eyes across from her, feeling Carly's compassion simply through their ocular connection. "It was the worst time of my life and I still feel the pain of that loss as if it were yesterday."

Carly reached over and grabbed Nic's hands, soothing Nic's obvious tension with a gentle circular motion of her thumb across Nic's knuckles. "I can't imagine how awful that must have been for you and your sister."

"I hope you never know that kind of pain," Nic stated.

Carly rubbed the back of her hand on Nic's cheek, causing the dark haired woman to close her eyes and lean into the hand. "You know I don't think you ever told me your sister's name."

Nic's eyes opened slowly. "It's Jessie."

"That's a nice name. How old is she?"

Nic's eyes rolled up in thought. "She turned twenty four in April."

A curvy blonde nurse strolled by with a cafeteria tray in her hands. She eyed Nic from head to toe, but Nic didn't give her a second glance. A sudden possessiveness came over Carly as she witnessed the nurse's blatant ogling. The woman took a seat at a table not far from them, but turned away upon noticing the scorching green eyes of the dark haired woman's blonde companion. With a sense of victory, Carly said, "Well, I'd love to meet her someday."

"Maybe you'll get to," Nic replied as she stood and grabbed their dishes. "Why don't we see if Jimmy is back?" Carly helped her clear the table, then the two headed up to Jimmy's room.


Lieutenant Raimes paced in his office while Sanders and Mahoney recalled the previous evening’s activities. Occasionally he scowled and grunted as he listened to the two detectives.

"So then Paul has to get a cup of coffee. I had my eye on her car the whole time, but I swear she's the one who let the air out of my tires!" Sanders said.

"If I knew you couldn't handle being alone for a lousy five minutes, I'd have stayed in the damn car!" Mahoney shot back.

"That's enough, you two. I've heard all I want to hear about this." Raimes waved his hand in the air as he slumped back into his chair. "What the hell did you two think you were doing tailing her in the first place?" He managed to suppress his laughter.

Sanders cleared his throat, "Well, I think she knows something."

Raimes raised an eyebrow at his detective. Sanders, for the most part, was a good cop, but he had a chip on his shoulder that prevented him from being a great cop. "Sanders, Stone knows a whole lot, so what's your point?"

"No, Lou, I mean she knows something about what went down Saturday night. Something she's not telling us."

"And you think tailing her is going to help you find that out?"

"What else are we suppose to do?" Sanders asked.

"I hate to agree with Tom on this one, Lou, but it's not like Stone was going to tell us anything. You know how she can be," Mahoney added.

Raimes rubbed his forehead to try to soothe the throbbing headache he'd had all morning. "Yeah, I know how she is, but you two are going to have to find another avenue to pursue. Stone has requested some time off, so who knows where she'll be."

"Great!" Sanders grunted.

"You two better start digging into Linetti's past, pronto. He must have some connection to this city, so get out there and find it!"


Dr. Carter's office was located on Cranston Avenue along with a plethora of other offices, mostly occupied by physicians, chiropractors, and psychiatrists. Nic parked the Xterra in the lot at the rear of the building and walked around to the front entrance. Thankfully the morning rain had not carried into the afternoon, though a cold, damp chill remained. Once in the building, she located Dr. Carter's office from the directory and proceeded there. A middle-aged woman in a blue sweater sat at a desk behind a glass window. She slid it open upon seeing Nic enter the room.

"May I help you?" she asked in a pleasant voice.

"Detective Stone. I have a one o'clock appointment with Dr. Carter."

The woman glanced at her appointment book and nodded, "Yes, it'll just be a minute or so. Please have a seat." She slid the glass door closed and resumed her paperwork.

Nic surveyed the empty waiting room, finally settling in a chair next to a stack of popular magazines. She removed her leather jacket and started sifting through the pile. She selected last week's issue of Newsweek and began leafing through the pages. Waiting for anything was one of her least favorite things to do. She started reading an article about the president's latest political blunder when the inner office door opened and a woman wearing a gray pinstripe skirt with a matching gray blouse stepped out.

"Detective Stone?"

Nic dropped the magazine back on the table and sauntered over with her jacket thrown over her shoulder, hooked by one finger.

The woman extended her hand. "I'm Dr. Carter. It's nice to meet you."

Nic accepted her hand and shook it firmly. "Same here."

The pair entered the office and Nic took a seat in one of the plush chairs that sat in front of the doctor's expansive desk. The woman studied her as she walked around the desk to her chair and sat down. Nic studied her, as well. She was actually younger than Nic had expected, or at least she looked young. She was African American and quite beautiful. Her dark hair was short and layered, accenting her cheekbones and full lips. Nic thought she cold have easily been a model, if she hadn't pursued a career in the medical profession.

"So, how are you doing detective?"

Ice blue eyes gave her an even stare. "I'm doing fine, thank you."

The doctor slipped on a pair of eyeglasses and picked up a pen. "Well, that's good to hear. I understand you've been involved in a couple of rather tense situations in the past few days."

A feral grin slid across Nic's face. "That's an interesting way to put it."

The doctor returned the smile. "Well, then, tell me how you would 'put' it."

"Hmm…let's see…in the past seventy two hours I've shot and killed two men and wounded one. My partner's lying in the hospital, lucky to be alive, and someone tried to kill me Saturday night and I haven't got a clue why?"

"You certainly don't mince words, do you detective?"

"I find that in my line of work the direct approach is best."

"I can see that must work well for you, the direct approach, I mean." She scribbled some notes on a pad of paper. "Well, the purpose of this meeting is for you to be able to express your feelings, frustrations, anger, or whatever. I'm here to help you deal with the stresses that are part of your job."

"Dr. Carter, I am going to be honest with you. Talking about my feelings is as hard for me as shooting someone probably would be for you."

"First, please feel free to call me Denise. I like to keep things personal. Second, I can understand what you are saying. You are certainly not the first cop that I have spoken with that does not enjoy being here."

"I've just never been very comfortable talking about my feelings," Nic admitted, finding herself liking the woman, in spite of herself. "And you can call me Nicole, or Nic, if you like."


The private room that Jimmy was now settled into was located on the third floor in the west wing of St. Peter's hospital. When Jimmy had returned from radiology Nic and Carly had been waiting for him in ICU. The three of them spent an hour chatting about a variety of topics, including the current basketball season, since both Jimmy and Nic were huge New York Knicks fans. When the orderlies came to move Jimmy, Nic excused herself in order to make her appointment with the psychologist. Carly and Jimmy had spent the last thirty minutes flipping through the television channels trying to find something worth watching.

"So how do you like my partner?" Jimmy asked, taking Carly by surprise.

"She's great. Just like you described." She held the remote and continued surfing.

Jimmy regarded his sister with a skeptical eye. "Yeah, she's something, isn't she?"

"She sure is." Carly agreed. "I don't know what I would have done the last few days without her." Turning to face her brother she continued, "Jimmy, she was really there for me. I don't think I would have handled this whole thing very well, if she hadn't been here."

Her brother grabbed her hand and squeezed it. "I'm glad she was there for you. She's a good partner and a good friend."

"She seems to be very focused." Carly held onto her brother's hand. "Has she ever been involved with anyone?"

Her brother reflected on the question. Nic had never mentioned anyone. "Not as long as I've known her. Why?"

"I was just curious." She shifted her eyes away from her brother's gaze. Releasing his hand she moved to the top of the bed and began fluffing his pillow.

"Carly, are you falling for Nic?" She nearly choked when she heard the words and she wasn't sure how she should respond, so she continued fluffing the pillow. "Carly?"

"If I said yes, would you hate me?" she asked, hesitantly.

Jimmy tugged her arm, pulling her back into his view. Serious brown eyes looked up at her. "Why would I hate you? Carly you're my sister and I love you."

"But Nic is your partner and I don't want to do anything that would jeopardize that."

"Sit down," he demanded. "If you're falling in love with my partner, who happens to be one of the best people I've ever known, that's not going to jeopardize anything."

Dropping her chin to her chest she said, "It could make things uncomfortable for both of you… and what if she doesn't feel the same way about me?"

Jimmy lifted his sister's sunken chin with his finger forcing her to look at him. "I have a feeling my partner just may feel the same way." He smiled as he watched his sister's eyes light up.


Nic hated to admit it, but she actually felt a little better after talking with Denise. She liked the woman, which amazed her. After her parents were killed she had seen several psychologists and such, and she had hated them all. Nic never imagined she could have a conversation with one again, without wanting to rip the person's head off and spit down their throat, but life was funny, she mused. Before returning to the hospital she went in search of one of her more reliable snitches, who usually could be found in Fenton Park.

The five hundred acres of Fenton Park ran along the eastern edge of the downtown area, providing a splendid view for those fortunate enough to have offices overlooking the park. Bike trails wound themselves through grassy hills and subtle valleys. Two ponds were on opposite ends of the park and home to a variety of small fish, snapping turtles, and several waterfowl. During the summer free concerts were held in the center of the park, including a Jazz festival, which ran for three days in July and was one of Nic's favorites.

After parking her car, Nic strolled into the park through the North entrance pulling her collar up against the cool afternoon wind that had come up out of nowhere. The gloomy gray skies had kept most of the park's walkers at bay, so she was primarily alone.

As she approached the pond she spotted a figure sitting on one of the benches. She smiled at the predictable nature of one Freddy Finnochi, or Freddy the Finger to most who knew him. For as long as she had known him, which must have been at least five years, Freddy would come to the park to feed the ducks and geese that called it home. Freddy was a small man, weighing probably no more than one hundred and twenty pounds, Nic figured. He had a pocked-marked complexion and his face was noticeably drawn from years of drug addiction. He was clean now, thanks to Jimmy and Nic. When he had helped them crack a tough case almost two years ago they made sure he got into the best drug rehabilitation program in the state, instead of doing time. Freddy swore he'd be forever grateful and from time to time he had proven to be a valuable source of information to them.

Nic approached the bench in her normal soundless manner. The man continued tossing pieces of bread into the water, attracting the attention of four ducks that eagerly gobbled up the offering. Once Nic was directly behind him she dropped her hand on his shoulder, causing him to jump a foot off the bench, grabbing his heart as he did.

"What the…" he turned to see the dark haired woman grinning at him.

"Hiya, Freddy. How's it goin?"

"Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Stone, are you trying to kill me or somethin?"

Nic patted his shoulder, then walked around to the front and sat down next to him. "Course not. Why would I do that?"

Feeling his heart resume it's normal beat, he answered her, "Cause you probably get your kicks that way!"

"Calm down Freddy. You're fine." Picking up some of the bread, she tossed several chunks into the water. Two ducks immediately swam over to the largest piece fighting over it while a third came in and snatched it away from both of them.

"So what can I do for you? I know this isn't a social call."

The dark haired woman placed her palm across her chest. "That hurts, Freddy."

"Can the jokes, Stone. We both know I only see you when you think I can be of some help."

Brushing her hands together Nic sat back against the bench. "That's probably true of most cops and their snitches."

"Ouch! Now look who's hurting who?"

"Well, come on now, Freddy. If it walks like a duck…."

"Okay, okay. Nuff said."

Nic extracted Leo's picture from her jacket pocket and showed it to the man. "I'm looking for this guy. Have you seen him around?"

Freddy studied the picture with narrowed eyes, then he scrubbed his grizzled face with his palm. "He looks familiar, but I can't place where I've seen him. Could be that he just looks like a lot of guys that I run into."

Nic opened her notepad and reviewed the pages. "He's got a tattoo on his left hand and he's a gambler."

Freddy furrowed his brow. "Wait a minute…yeah…I did see him… over at the Cage."

Nic knew the place. It was a dive on Trumble that was taken down at least twice a month for racketeering. "When?"

"Early this morning, I seem to recall."

She showed Freddy the number she had taken off the cocktail napkin. "Recognize this?"

He looked at it and nodded. "Sure. That's the number to reach the bookies that work the joint downstairs. You need a code name to get through, though. They only take bets, they won't know where your guy is."

Fishing a fifty out of her pocket she handed it to him. "Thanks a lot Freddy. I appreciate the info."

"Don't be such a stranger Stone. I miss seeing your pretty face." He gave her a toothy grin.

As she walked back to the path she said, "Take care of yourself Freddy."


Frank Torelli sat in the limousine and waited patiently for his boss. He had just received a call from one of the men who was stationed at the hospital and he knew his boss would be happy. A light drizzle was falling, adding further chill to the cold November day. The cemetery was mostly deserted at this hour, especially on Monday, when Victor made his weekly pilgrimage to his sister's grave. The trees were almost completely devoid of their foliage, which caused the normally green grounds to appear in a multitude of red, gold, orange, and brown. Frank laced his hands together on his lap and peered out into the fading afternoon light. The sound of footsteps made him turn in time to see Victor Marcone approaching the car. The driver jumped out immediately and opened the door for his boss.

"Mr. Marcone, I have good news," Frank declared.

"What is it? God knows I could use some good news."

"Pete just called. They moved the cop to a private room this afternoon."

A slow grin slid across Marcone's angular face. "That is good news, Frank. What about Tolstrom? Has anyone located him, yet?"

Frank unconsciously tightened his jaw muscle. He was highly disappointed in his men. They should have found that scum sucker by now. "No, sir."

Marcone scowled, then leaned forward and tapped the glass that divided the driver's seat from the passengers. "Let's go Eddie." The car instantly began moving through the narrow cemetery lanes. "Get Tony, Pete, and Vince to the house tonight Frank. We need to go over our plans for Mr. Jamison and this time I want no screw ups."


Continued in Part 7

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