Copyright © 2000 Talaran
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.
As Nic approached Room 505 she noted with some concern that there was no officer stationed in the hallway. Pushing the door open she interrupted an orderly who was busy stripping the bed. "Where's the guy who was in here?" she asked from the doorway.
Without turning the orderly answered, "Died less than an hour ago."
Nic cursed as she let the door close behind her.
What had started out as a glorious day had turned, in the blink of an eye, into a nightmare. The only good thing that happened in the past two hours was that Jimmy had been saved, in part by Nic's quick actions. He was stable, but had not resumed consciousness. Nic had phoned the lieutenant from the hospital with the bad news. They had decided that they would keep it quiet that Jimmy was still alive. Obviously Marcone had someone parading around as a "doctor". Stevens had provided a sketch artist with a description of the "doctor", which they circulated throughout the hospital. Extra guards had been assigned to the hospital and a floor by floor search was conducted. Two nurses and a man visiting his ailing father had seen the pair get on the elevator, but no one saw them get off. After heading up the search, Nic left both her cell phone and pager numbers with the nurse's station before she returned to the precinct.
Now the lieutenant, Sanders, Mahoney, and she sat in one of the interrogation rooms and tried to sort out their options.
"I just don't get it. How did he find out we had the stuff?" Mahoney asked.
"Who knows. Maybe he had someone watching Nunez, in case the guy decided to book." Sanders offered.
"Either way, it doesn't matter," Stone added. "We need to figure out how we're going to handle this."
"Stone is right. Maybe we need to get HN involved," the lieutenant suggested.
"No! That'll get her killed for sure." Nic didn't even want Hostage Negotiations to get a whiff of this. "I'm gonna have to go in alone, just like they demanded." Mahoney's eyes shot from his partner's smug expression to Nic's serious one to the lieutenant's incredulous one.
"That's a death warrant and you know it," Lieutenant Raimes stated firmly. He removed his tie and loosened the collar of his white shirt.
"I'm serious, Lou. I'm not jeopardizing Carly's life."
"Well going in alone could get you both killed!"
"Lou, I know someone who might be able to give us the edge we need. He's with the Bureau in Washington. Can I give him a call?"
"Hmph!" Sanders grunted. "It figures you'd have a friend in the Bureau!"
Nic wasn't going to take anymore of Sanders' shit! She flew over the table and was on top of him in an instant. Sandersí eyes were like saucers, big and round. He felt himself helplessly falling backward. Raimes and Mahoney didn't even react for a second, stunned by the cat-like pounce of the tall, dark haired detective.
"Listen, you son of a bitch, I've had all I gonna take from you!" She was inches from his face, which was turning a brilliant shade of red. Curling her right hand into a fist she cocked her arm and was ready to deliver the blow when a hand clamped onto her wrist.
"All right, break it up!" Raimes ordered. Mahoney stood next to the lieutenant, seemingly unsure if he even wanted to help his pain in the ass partner.
Nic looked up at the lieutenant, then back at the panicked detective she had pinned to the floor with her knee. "The next time youíre not going to get off so easy," she said as she stood up.
Raimes wiped his brow with a handkerchief he extracted from his rear pocket. "Sanders, you better learn to keep your trap shut, or the next time Iím not going to stop her." Nic, Mahoney, and the lieutenant retook their seats, none of them offering any assistance to the still prone man.
"When can you contact your friend?" Raimes asked.
"Iíll call him right now. Be back in a second." Nic stepped from the room while Sanders dusted himself off and righted his chair.
At her desk Nic dialed the number and waited. Picking up a pencil she tapped it mindlessly while she listened to the ringing on the other end. God, it had been almost two years since sheíd seen Bill Patterson. He had returned to Larson for a brief visit after he received his requested transfer from the Boston office to the one in DC. They had gotten together for a round of golf followed by dinner. He had looked great, which hadnít surprised her at all. Bill had wanted to be in the FBI since he was twelve years old and it certainly agreed with him. He was the first friend she had made when her family moved to Fairfield Hills and that friendship had sustained her through some difficult times. The two of them were practically inseparable during summer vacations. Nic remembered her mother saying ëYou two will be quite a handsome couple some day,' anticipating that they would one day marry. Bill and Nic knew that would never be the case. They were best friends, for sure, but there had never been any physical attraction to one another.
"FBI, Patterson." A familiar boisterous voice said.
"Hi Bill, itís Nicole Stone."
"Nic? Wow! How the hell are you?"
Nic didnít answer at first. She hated bothering Bill with this problem, but she didnít have any other options. "To tell you the truth Bill, Iíve been better."
"Whatís the matter? Is it Jessie?"
"No, Jessie is fine. But I need your help and I need it fast."
Nic explained the entire, ugly situation to Bill, who responded with a series of ëI seeí, ëNot a problemí, Glad to helpí, ëItíll be okayí. She actually felt a little relieved talking to him. If she had anyone backing her up in this kind situation she would want it to be Jimmy or Bill, and Jimmy wasnít available. They hung up with the understanding that Nic would pick Bill up at the airport in two hours. Till then he outlined a rough plan of attack that she would go over with the others when she returned to the interrogation room.
Carly opened her eyes, but her vision was blurry and she felt a bit dazed. She was lying on her back on something soft. She tried to focus on the ceiling above her. It was high and white. After blinking several times she managed to clear her vision. Where was she? It didnít look familiar to her at all. She closed her eyes and tried desperately to remember what had transpired earlier.
She was at the hospital. Jimmy had gotten his lunch and she was waiting...for...Nic. Yes. She was going to have lunch with Nic. Then this doctor came into the room and said he needed to speak with her. It wasnít Doctor Austin, but he said that Doctor Austinís office was where they were going. She had followed him to the elevator. They needed to show her some of Jimmyís x-rays, but that was all she could remember. She drew a blank after getting on the elevator.
Opening her eyes again she looked down and was pleased to find she was still dressed in the blue jeans and lavender sweater she had put on that morning. Turning her head she looked around the room. This definitely wasnít Nicís house. The room was huge! It was at least twice the size of Nic's bedroom and it was elaborately furnished. A massive oak dresser sat along the wall to her right. Two more matching pieces, a chest of drawers and a lingerie chest were situated on the opposite wall. A beautifully carved armoire was at the foot of the bed, which was covered with a paisley spread colored in rich maroons and deep greens. The beige walls had to be at least twelve feet high. She raised herself up on her elbows to get a better look around, but a surge of dizziness forced her to put her head back down. What the hell was wrong with her? And where the hell was she? And where was Nic?
Nic sat in one of the plastic, connected chairs at Gate 6 and stared at her silver thumb ring utterly lost in thought. Departing and arriving passengers bustled through the airport, but Nic paid little attention to them. Carly was all she could think about. She prayed that Carly was okay. If Marcone did anything to her she knew that she'd mentally lose it and what happened after that would be anybody's guess. The stresses of the past three days had been enough, but this...this was going to put her over the top. She had called Liz before she came to the airport and informed her of the awful circumstances. Liz was understandably shocked. But Liz was her usual positive self and she told Nic that she had complete confidence in the fact that Nic would save Carly. For the first time in her life Nic felt like she had a weakness and that worried her.
Occasionally she glanced up at the people who were passing by. If she were a people watcher, she figured this had to be the best place in the world to see a wide range of them. Everyone from the very old to college age kids paraded by in a constant wave of traffic. Out of the crowd a recognizable face was headed straight for her with a beaming grin and she rose to greet it. Bill Patterson dropped his carry-on bag and bear hugged her right in the middle of the aisle. Nic struggled to breathe as she returned the big man's affection.
"Nicki, it is so good to see you!"
"You, too, Bill."
Releasing her, he stepped back to get a better look at his friend. "By God, Nic! I wouldn't have thought it was possible for you to get more beautiful, but I can see I was wrong!"
Even in her sullen mood, Bill managed to get a smile from her. "Bill, how is it that such a sweet talker as yourself is still single?"
"Many have tried, Nicki, many have tried." He picked up his bag and placed a solid arm around her shoulders as they started walking. "I brought everything we're gonna need, and a couple of extras I thought might come in handy." She gave him a wry look and he winked at her in return. "Nic, I know you're worried about your partner's sister, but we'll get her back."
Before they reached the escalators Nic stopped. "Bill, there's something I didn't tell you on the phone."
Her friend removed his arm from her shoulders and looked at her. "What?"
"Carly is more than my partner's sister." She hesitated. The dark haired woman looked into the taller man's eyes. "I think I'm falling in love with her."
"You, Nicole Stone? You're actually falling in love with someone?"
She swatted his bicep with the back of her hand. "Yeah, smart ass, I am." Bill hadn't changed much. He was still three inches taller than she was and built like a linebacker. The smile, the glimmer in the mischievous brown eyes, the infectious sense of humor, it was all still there. The Feds hadn't squashed it out of him and for that she was thankful.
"Well then, let's go save this young lady because I want to meet the person who's captured my friend's heart."
Back at the station Nic introduced Bill to Lieutenant Raimes, Mahoney, and Sanders, as well as a few other detectives that were in the squad room when they arrived. They all convened in the lieutenant's office to go over the details of the plan Bill and Nic had come up with. Bill had brought several interesting pieces of equipment with him, which he now laid out on the lieutenant's desk.
"Since Marcone's men will undoubtedly be watching the Pier we need a way to keep track of Nic. That's what this little baby is for." He pointed to a tiny electronic component about the size of a penny. "We attach this to your belt and we'll be able to monitor your movements within a ten mile radius with this device," he pointed to a slim, silver notebook computer. "Now we also need to hear and see what is going on and that's what these two things are for." He picked up a gold necklace with a large medallion hanging from it. "This will give us crystal clear audio transmissions, while this ear piece will allow you, and only you to hear us, so you know where we are at all times." Next he picked up a pair of black eye glasses with clear, non-prescription lenses. "There are two miniature cameras inside these frames right here." He tapped the two corners. "Nic, when you have these on we'll be able to see everything you see." Nic nodded her head in understanding. "This is the latest in Kevlar vests. It's half the weight of the ones you currently use, which will allow you to have much more flexibility."
"Now, I'm going to need to train someone on how to use the various software packages that will work with these external devices. I'll be monitoring Nic through this unit until we get a fix where she's going and how many men are involved." He scanned the room. Sanders and Mahoney were leaning against the wall, arms crossed. Nic was standing next to the table, eyeing the equipment with interest. The lieutenant was seated behind his desk. "Once we know that I'm going to be backing Nic up. Lieutenant Raimes, are there any SWAT guys available?"
Sanders pushed himself off of the wall. "What do we need them for? We can handle this!"
"Listen...Sanders was it?" The perpetually angry detective nodded. "We need at least two other guys to go in there with me, plus we need one monitoring the activity inside and another ready to take down anyone who might try to escape. That's a minimum configuration. Now, I'm not saying you and your partner are not qualified, but I've dealt with SWAT guys before and they are best suited for this type of work."
"Patterson is right, Sanders, so settle down," the lieutenant stated. He picked up the phone and dialed, then waited. "This is Lieutenant Raimes. I need two of your guys for a special assignment tonight. Is anyone available?" He paused, listening to the person on the other end. "Great! Send them up here because we're going over the details right now." He hung up the phone and looked at Patterson. "All set. We'll have two of them at our disposal."
"Okay, then after we fill them in I suggest we all get a bite to eat, sort of get to know one another a little. After that I'll demonstrate the equipment to whoever is going to handle it and we'll be ready to roll." Bill glanced at Nic who looked a little distracted as she fingered the equipment. "Nic, can I have a word with you outside?"
Nic looked up. "Sure, Bill." The pair stepped out of Raimes' office, getting inquisitive looks from the others.
"Why don't we grab a cup of coffee?" Bill asked placing his hand on Nic's back and guiding her in the direction of the coffee area that he spotted when he arrived.
"Okay," she replied, half-heartedly.
Bill poured them both a cup of the thick black brew that was a main stay in every police precinct. "Nic, I know this is a very tense situation, but you have to get focused."
Pale blue eyes regarded him. "I'll be fine."
Placing a gentle hand on her shoulder he continued, "Nic, we'll get her back."
"You know Bill, that's all I care about. As long as she's safe, that's all that matters to me."
"I know," he said as he watched the two SWAT guys enter the squad room. "Come on, let's go talk to these two, then get some chow."
The room was much darker now. Carly opened her eyes and could barely make out the ceiling fan that was hanging over the bed. She started to move when she realized she couldn't. Her legs were bound at the ankles and her hands were bound at the wrists. She heard the doorknob turning and she rolled her head to the side to see who was coming into the room. A tall man entered and switched on the overhead light, temporarily blinding her.
"Who are you and what do you want with me?" the blonde demanded with her eyes barely open.
"I don't really think you're in the position to ask these questions, do you?"
After her eyes adjusted to the brighter conditions she could see the man she was talking to. He was well dressed in a dark suit and white shirt with a bold, red tie. The man had black hair and black, soulless eyes. She noticed a tinge of white around his temples and he sported a thin line of hair along his jaw line. "I don't give a shit what you think! Why am I here?"
Victor Marcone studied the beautiful young woman. For someone in such a vulnerable position she certainly was feisty. Frank said he had a hell of a time chloroforming her after she'd woken up early that afternoon. Victor looked at the torn curtains and broken vase on the floor. According to Frank she put up a hell of a fight. "You're here because I need you."
A million thoughts swirled through Carly's mind. "For what?"
"Why to make sure that Detective Stone does exactly what I want."
Carly's face went pale. She felt lightheaded, but she struggled to remain alert. "Who are you? And what do you want with Nic?"
"I don't really want to spoil the surprise." He inspected his fingernails. "Besides, you'll know soon enough. We'll be leaving in an hour. Try to get some rest, will you." Marcone left the light on as he exited the room. He could still hear her yelling when he made it to the other end of the hall.
Nic was standing in the locker room performing a last minute check . Black pants, black sweater, black boots. Perfect. She had all ready donned the Kevlar vest that Bill had brought with him. She secured the tracking device to her belt and threaded it through the belt loops then she dropped the necklace over her head. Since she had to be unarmed, she decided to take a precaution, so she attached two leather harnesses to her forearms and inserted two throwing knives into each one, then pulled the baggy sleeves of her sweater over her arms. If they patted her down they wouldn't check her arms. Looking into the mirror that hung on the inside of the door, she gave herself a confident smile, before slipping the glasses that Bill gave her onto her slender nose. A picture of her parents and Jessie was taped to the door, just above the mirror. "Wish me luck," she said to the picture as she closed the locker door and walked out of the room.
At exactly eight forty five everyone was in place. Bill and the two SWAT guys were dressed the same as Nic, all in black. They were sitting in a van marked 'Ed's Dry Cleaning Service' about half a mile from the waterfront. Nic was in her Xterra peering at the docks through her night vision binoculars. There was no activity anywhere, which probably meant Marcone was going to redirect her to another area or he and his mean were all ready inside one of the warehouses.
She felt a vibration on her hip and realized she hadn't removed her beeper. It was so much a part of her daily life she sometimes forgot she was wearing it until it went off. She didn't recognize the number, so she grabbed her cell phone and punched it in.
A man answered, "Doctor Austin."
"Doctor, it's Nicole Stone. Is Jimmy all right?"
"Yes, Miss Stone, that's why I wanted you to call me. Jimmy regained consciousness about thirty minutes ago. I've run some preliminary tests and everything seems fine."
Nic was holding her breath and with the doctor's last words she inhaled deeply. "Thank God! I can't tell you how happy I am to hear that."
"I'm glad I am able to tell you that. If you hadn't acted so quickly I don't think the outcome would have been so favorable. Anyway he's resting comfortably."
"Thanks for calling doctor. Have a good evening."
"You, too, Miss Stone."
Nic hit the end button and dropped the cell phone onto the passenger seat. "I hope I do have a good evening, Doc, I really do."
The two-way radio squawked on the seat next to her. "Eagle one, status?"
Nic picked up the radio and fingered the talk button, "All clear."
"Activate all devices."
"10-4," Nic responded. Placing the two-way radio on the dash she flipped the switch on the medallion activating it, then she placed the ear piece into her ear. "Testing, testing, do you copy eagle's nest?"
"10-4 eagle one. Proceed with caution." Nic heard Bill through the ear piece. It was like he was standing right next to her.
"10-4," Nic responded. She looked at her watch. It was five minutes to nine. She grabbed the valise containing the incriminating evidence the police had against Marcone. Exiting the car she started walking toward Pier 22.
Sanders was in the van's driver seat tapping the steering wheel in an attempt to release some of his nervous energy. Mahoney, Patterson, and the two SWAT guys were in the back of the van. Bill had just performed a sound check on the audio devices Nic was wearing. As Nic walked to the pier Bill could see everything in her path, thanks to the well-lit waterfront. A small red dot on the notebook's screen and a continuous beep indicated her position. As soon as she made contact Mahoney would monitor the situation while Bill and the other two guys would move into position.
Nic walked through the pools of light that peppered the docks from a series of antique lampposts that lined the waterfront area. The sound of her boots on the wooden beams echoed hauntingly over the lightly lapping water. Her eyes were constantly searching for any movement along the building side of the docks. When she reached the front of the pier she stopped and slowly scanned the area. Without moving her lips much she said, "V clear?" Nic wanted to know if Bill was receiving a clear video signal.
"10-4," came the response.
Nic stepped onto the pier and kept walking, unsure of exactly where she should go. Several fishing boats of various sizes were moored along the pier, which stretched out into the water for about four hundred feet. Half-way to the end, a solitary phone booth sat like a beacon, the silver parts of the booth reflecting the dock lights back onto the inky water below. As she got closer she could hear the phone inside the booth ringing. She made her way to the booth, popped the door open and answered the still ringing phone. "Hello?"
"Detective Stone. I'm glad to see you made it."
Quickly Nic's eyes darted around the immediate area, but she saw no one. "Listen Marcone, let's cut the crap and get this over with. And if you've done anything to Carly, and I mean ANYTHING, this evening won't go like you planned."
She heard a low chuckle on the other end of the phone. "I don't think you should be making any threats, detective. Especially if you want to see the blonde again."
Nic tightened her jaw. In her other ear she heard Bill's voice, "Keep cool, Nic. We don't want to piss him off, yet." Nic swallowed her anger. What makes him think that's a threat? As far as she was concerned it was a promise.
"So, Marcone, what do you want me to do next?"
Marcone smiled. "That's better. Cooperation is the name of the game, detective. Now walk over to building 16A on the north side of pier 21. Go inside and wait." The phone disconnected before Nic could say another word.
Bill pulled the headset away from his ears to avoid hearing all the foul language Nic was spewing as she did as Marcone instructed. "Okay, guys, once Nic's inside the building we're going to get into position. We'll be able to hear everything, but only Mahoney will be able to see what Nic sees, so everyone stay on your toes!" The three men double checked their weapons and waited.
Reaching building 16A, Nic slowly opened the heavy door, a loud creak announcing her arrival. She flashed her light inside and found it empty so she cautiously entered. Three hallways converged on the point where she was standing. The interior was exceptionally dark so she knew Mahoney couldn't see a thing on the video feed, since she couldn't see much of anything herself. While she waited, several fantasies of how she would personally deal with Marcone danced through her mind, bringing a feral grin to her lips.
Several minutes later her acute hearing picked up the sound of footsteps approaching to her left, but the darkness provided adequate concealment to the owner. The footsteps stopped several feet away from her. The sound of a switch being flipped, then a dim light appeared at the end of the hallway she was facing.
"Detective Stone, drop the documents on the floor and proceed to the door at the far end of the hall."
"I'm not turning this over until I see that Carly is okay," she stated without turning toward the voice.
Back at the van Bill and the SWAT guys were scrambling out and heading in the direction of building 16A. They stayed strictly in the shadows since they still didnít know where Marcone's men were located. They wouldn't move any closer to the building until they knew their positions.
The voice mumbled something low, which Nic was able to hear. "She won't give up the documents until she sees the girl." A long pause. "Yes sir!"
"Enter the room at the end of the hall."
Nic smiled, pleased that Marcone recognized her seriousness. As she made her way down the hall she realized the person she had just spoken to was not following her. Reaching the door she turned the knob and pushed it open. The light above the door went out, plunging her into a thick blackness that completely blinded her. Every nerve was on edge as adrenaline surged through her. Where are you, you slimy son-of-a-bitch? Almost as if Marcone could read her thoughts a bright light came on forcing her enlarged pupils to constrict and reflexively she closed her eyes.
"Welcome, Detective Stone."
Cautiously Nic opened her eyes allowing them time to adjust to the brighter conditions. Directly ahead of her a tall man in a dark suit was standing behind her friend who was gagged, and bound at the wrists. Nic's first impulse was to run to her friend, but the since Carly looked more angry than frightened, she squelched the urge.
"Do raise your hands and keep them away from your body." Marcone instructed. "Tony, pat her down."
On command a man stepped up behind her and ran his hands down her sides and along her legs, patting as he went along. "She's clean." He grabbed the valise from her hand as he stepped back and without having to look she knew he was holding a gun on her.
"I'm surprised at you, Mr. Marcone. I thought you'd have had one of your men take me out the second I stepped foot on the docks."
"Well, I wanted to meet you face to face."
"And why is that?" Nic asked in a sardonic tone.
"To see if you were truly as beautiful as my men said you were."
"And what's your conclusion?"
"I think you know the answer to that. You are stunning!" He held Carly firmly around the neck with his forearm. Her green eyes were locked onto Nic. Nic had a good sense that Carly was okay, now she needed to proceed with the plan.
"Forgive me if I don't thank you." In her left ear Nic heard Mahoney's voice, "I've got a good look at Marcone, but where are the rest of his men?" As inconspicuously as possible she searched the room with minute eye movements to try to locate them.
"I understand. I am holding your friend after all." Marcone studied the dark haired detective. She was a cool one, all right. She hadn't moved an inch since he flooded the room with light. He imagined she was a formidable opponent, given her size and obvious physical conditioning. "I have to admit that you surprise me. I didn't think you would come alone, but I am pleased that you have. It'll make things much easier."
"What makes you think I am alone?"
"I'm hurt Nicole, may I call you Nicole?"
"Detective Stone will be fine."
Marcone raised his brows in surprise. Even though he was holding all the cards this impudent woman was going to deny him, Victor Marcone, his request. The nerve! "Fine. I'm hurt that you would think I wouldn't know your every move since you arrived. My men saw you exiting your vehicle and have been tracking you ever since."
"I guess you're smarter than I thought," Nic retorted, but not by much, she thought. Bill's voice came through her ear piece, "Eagle three, check perimeter with night vision scope. Verify two men on adjacent building, one in the boat in the first slip. Neutralize and report."
"By the way, Detective Stone, condolences about your partner."
Carly's eyes widened at the statement and she struggled under the tall man's grasp. "Now, now, settle down."
"Actually my partner is doing very well, so there is no need for condolences. However please accept mine, seeing that your nephew is gone."
A bolt of anger shot through Marcone. He wanted to snap the blonde's neck just to make the detective angry enough to charge him, but he controlled himself. He had other plans for the blonde. Was the detective baiting him. He had sent Tony to take care of her partner and Tony never failed him. He decided to play it cool. "Thank you," he said in a calm tone. "My nephews passing was indeed unfortunate, but life sometimes deals you cards that you'd rather not have.
Nic gauged Marcone's reaction to her statement. She knew she was riling him. The question was could she protect Carly if the place erupted? There was one man behind her, maybe more, and she spotted two men behind Marcone. One on his left, the other on his right, both partially concealed behind large wooden crates. There were probably more, but she couldn't tell at the moment. In her ear she heard Bill again, "Eagle two to eagle one...we're ready. Give us a count of ten, then you know what to do." Nic's breath caught in her throat as she mentally began to count down. Ten
"I agree. I've received a few hands I'd have liked to turn down myself."
"I know. I'm familiar with your parent's accident." This hit Nic like a baseball bat to the back of the head. For a split second she lost count. Marcone signaled the man to his right to retrieve the valise from Tony. He complied and handed the valise to Marcone, who released the struggling Carly. "Donít move!" he snarled.
This was perfect. Carly was out of his grasp. Nic tried to signal with her eyes that she wanted Carly to slowly step away from Marcone while he was busy inspecting the contents of the valise. She acknowledged her understanding with two rapid blinks.
The room was plunged into total darkness when Bill cut off power to the building. The instant the lights went out Nic was on a dead run for the spot Carly had been occupying.
Gun fire erupted in the room, sending flashes of lights where muzzle blasts were going off in rapid succession all over the room.
Shattering glass descended onto the floor from two windows on the wall behind Marcone when the SWAT guys came crashing through.
Nic dove at the spot where Carly had been standing. BANG! She felt a hot blast of pain shoot through her as a bullet grazed her upper arm. Ignoring the intense pain she was relieved when she landed on something small and soft. Instinctively she shielded Carly with her own body to protect her from the bullets that were flying around the room. She heard Bill shouting into her ear, "Eagle one, status?"
"Eagle one, we're on the deck and clear!" Nic slid one of the knives out of her forearm harness and freed Carly from the ropes that bound her. In the semi darkness she pulled the gag from the blonde's mouth.
"Nic, thank God!" Carly grabbed her friend and hugged her fiercely.
"Shh! Listen I have to get you out of here." A bullet zipped past and a man cried out, then landed two feet to their left, blood spilling liberally onto the floor from his gaping wounds. Just as Carly was about to scream Nic clamped her hand over the woman's mouth. "Shhh! It's all right! Just stay under me and we'll crawl over to the crates behind us."
"Get them you fucking idiots!" Marcone shouted from behind a stack of crates, while clutching the valise to his chest. "Tony! Don't let them bitches out of here!"
Nic and Carly started crawling through the semi-darkness. "Eagle two, location?"
"Eagle two, I'm pinned down behind a forklift to the right of the door. I can see you both. I'll give you cover, get moving!" BANG! BANG! Several shots rang out. Nic and Carly picked up the pace until they were safely behind the crates. Carly threw her arms around Nic's neck. "Nic, I'm so glad to see you! Are you all right? What are we going to do?"
"I'm glad, very glad, to see you, too, Carly." She took a second to enjoy the sensation of holding this woman who without even knowing it held her heart so thoroughly. It was something she wasn't sure she'd ever get to do again. "Now, we're going to get out of here, so don't worry." Nic released Carly and felt around the crates until she located what she was looking for. One of the crates was partially open. The crate was large enough for Carly to get inside. Several larger crates surrounded it, so the chance that a bullet would penetrate it was slim. "I want you to get inside here and wait until I come and get you, okay?"
Carly wanted to grab Nic and not let go, but she knew better. "Where are you going?"
"I need to help the others. I won't be gone long."
"Promise?" Green eyes implored her.
"Yes, I promise. Now lie down in there and stay quiet."
"I love you..." there it was, plain and simple. She wanted Nic to know just in case they didn't get out of this.
The dark haired detective leaned down and whispered into the blonde's ear, "I love you, too." She placed a soft kiss on her head, then she closed the crate and crawled away and tried to pinpoint Bill's position. Grimacing from the pain in her arm, she gritted her teeth and said, "Eagle two, I'm going to give you some help, so hang on!" No response. This surprised her! Then she realized her medallion was gone. It must have fallen off while she was crawling to the crates with Carly. "Shit!"
BANG! BANG! Shots were still being fired from several guns; a combination of Marcone's scattered men, the SWAT guys, and Bill.
Peering over the top of one of the crates Nic saw two muzzle blasts from up in the corner where several crates were stacked on top of each other. Without a gun she was going to have to rely on her other skills. Easing her way along the wall she managed to place herself even with the gunman in the corner. She saw return fire from Bill's last known position, which made her feel better. The gunman fired again and Nic swiftly released one of her throwing knives in his direction. Her aim was good, even with her arm hurting like hell. The gunman collapsed as the knife pierced his throat spraying him with crimson blood.
Nic felt her own blood seeping through her sweater. She fingered the tear in her leather jacket silently cursing out the asshole that shot her. Her ear piece crackled, "Eagle one, position?"
"Eagle one, I'm along the wall opposite the guy who was firing at you from the upper corner."
BANG! A shot splintered a crate to Nic's right forcing her to dive to the floor. She crawled along on her belly until she was in a better position to look around.
Marcone screamed, "Can't anyone turn the fucking lights back on?"
"Not likely, Mr. Marcone. They've cut the circuits!" Frank Torelli yelled. Across the room he spotted the dark haired detective as she crawled into position against one of his men. Figuring he could come up behind her he started to make his way through the maze of crates on this side of the room.
"Nic, there's a guy trying to come up behind you to your left. Be careful!" Bill informed her.
"Gotcha!" Nic replied. In one swift motion she jumped up and nailed the guy in front of her directly in the upper chest one knife, then she pivoted and fired another knife at the guy to her left, catching Frank Torelli in the forehead and dropping him in his tracks.
In the darkness Marcone saw Frank get hit and start to fall. He screamed, "NOOOO!" Then he charged out from behind the crates, dropping the valise and heading straight for Nic. She had one more knife, but she couldn't grasp it with her fingers, which were now slick from the blood that had been running down her arm. Marcone was three steps from her when she heard the shots being fired.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
Marcone fell to the floor at her feet. His hand opened on impact with the floor revealing a large dagger. Nic breathed a sigh of relief as she collapsed to the floor beside him.
"NIC!" Bill saw his friend fall to the floor. "Your boss is dead! Give it up!" he shouted to the two remaining gunmen. Instantly guns clanked to the floor and the SWAT guys descended on the two men, pinning them down and cuffing them. "All clear!" Bill yelled, signaling that everyone had been taken care of. He rushed to Nic's side and felt her neck for a pulse. "Get an ambulance here on the double," he barked into the radio that was attached to his shoulder.
"All ready on the way," Mahoney answered.
Hearing one of the cop's give the signal that everything was okay Carly kicked the crate door off and scrambled out. "Nic!" Carly called.
"Carly, over here!"
It was a man's voice, not Nic's. Why hadn't Nic answered her? My God, was Nic okay? Carly could barely see where she was walking. Suddenly a flashlight shed some light on the area. To her horror she saw Nic lying on the warehouse floor, in a pool of blood. Carly felt like her legs were going to give out, but she managed to get herself over to Nic. Dropping to the floor a torrent of tears poured out of her. "NIC!" she cradled her friend in her arms. "Is she dead?" she screamed at the large man who was kneeling beside her friend.
"No. I think she may have passed out from the sudden loss of blood. Help me get her jacket off. I think she was hit in the arm." Bill instructed one of the SWAT guys to keep holding the light on the area.
Carly held Nic's head gently in her lap while the large man lifted her and slipped her arm out of the blood soaked sleeve. Bill pulled apart her sweater revealing a nasty gash about an inch below her right shoulder. Removing a piece of cloth from one of the many pockets in his jacket he tied it securely just above the wound to try and slow the flow of blood.
Tears streamed down Carly's face as she cradled the dark haired woman in her arms. "Nic, please open your eyes...please..."
Bill laid a hand on the blonde's shoulder. "I think she'll be fine. It looks like the bullet only grazed her arm."
"Thank God!" Carly plastered a hundred kisses on Nic's damp forehead.
Sanders burst into the room a second later along with two patrolmen and two paramedics. "Jesus!" was all Sanders said at the carnage inside the room.
Slowly Nic opened one eye and smiled at the site of Carly. Carly smiled back and kissed her again. Nic let her eye close as she felt herself being lifted onto a stretcher.
"Come on, let me help you," Carly demanded, opening the passenger side door.
After two hours they were finally back at Nic's house. Her right arm was in a sling, and she had been given a shot to ward off any infection. "Okay, but I'm telling you I can walk just fine."
"Humor me." A pair of pale green eyes indicated they weren't going to take a rebuttal.
Realizing it would be in her best interests to comply, Nic got out of the car and leaned on Carly for support. Truth was she did feel a little woozy from the loss of blood, but she wasn't about to admit that. They made it to the deck at the back of the house. The newly installed motion lights triggered and flooded the deck with light. Nic punched in the security code and waited for the three-beep tone that indicated the alarm had been deactivated. Once inside the kitchen Nic sat down slowly in one of the chairs while Carly turned the lights on. It was just past eleven thirty and both women were clearly bordering on exhaustion. Two pieces of paper were lying on the table, one from QHS and one from the carpet place.
"Would you like some tea?" Carly asked, noting her friend's pale face.
"Yeah, that sounds good."
Carly filled the sunflower-covered teakettle with water then placed it on the burner to heat. Taking a seat next to her friend, she covered Nic's hand with her smaller one. "Nic, have you eaten anything in the last twelve hours? I'm worried, you look awfully pale."
"I'm fine now that you are safe." Nic lifted the blonde's hand and kissed the knuckles one at a time. She noticed the red burn marks around Carly's wrists where they had been tied with the rope.
"Thank you." Carly paused as she looked into the light blue eyes that regarded her. "Thank you for saving Jimmy and me." She started to shake her head. "I just don't know how you did it. You are the most amazing person I've ever met."
Nic felt a blush creeping onto her face. "I'm just glad that we're all okay." She reached over and brushed the lone tear that was sliding down Carly's cheek. "Why don't we have our tea upstairs. I'd really like to get out of these clothes and get cleaned up."
"Okay. Let's get you settled up there and I'll come back down and get the tea." Carly helped Nic get up and they headed down the hallway that led to the front of the house. Carly turned lights on as they progressed.
With relative ease they ascended the stairs and entered Nic's spacious bedroom. Nic was impressed to find the room in order. The new carpet looked good, all freshly laid and vacuumed. Nic sat down on the bed and flipped her boots off. "Looks like everything went according to plan here today."
"Yeah, your friend did a great job with the carpet."
Carly picked up Nic's boots and dropped them in the closet. "So, what's next?"
"Well, I think I'm going to need some help washing up..." Nic wiggled her eyebrows in a manner Carly found very sexy.
"Let's not forget you're injured." Carly reprimanded her.
"It's just a flesh wound. I'll be fine. You do want to help me, don't you?"
"Nic, you know I do. Get undressed while I start the bath." Carly walked into the bathroom and flipped the light on. "Wow! This is some bathroom you have here. Look at this garden tub!"
"Yeah, I like that a lot. I'm a bubble bath kind of girl."
Carly started the water running, then splashed a cupful of jasmine bubble bath into the water. "That's sort of surprises me, Nic."
"Why is that?"
Carly gasped when she turned to see Nic standing in the doorway dressed only in her undergarments. God, she was even more beautiful than Carly imagined, even with her arm in that sling. Struggling, she managed to regain control of her mouth. "Whhaatt?"
"I said why is that?"
Carly blinked several times in quick succession. "Why is what?"
Nic started walking toward Carly. "Why does it surprise you that I like bubble baths?"
Carly had completely lost track of the conversation now that Nic was standing inches away from here. She looked up into the incredible blueness of her eyes and she felt her heart skip a beat. "I...I...don't know." Her breath was coming in short bursts. "Nic?"
"If you don't kiss me soon I think I might die."
A slow, sexy smile started in one corner of Nic's face and worked its way to the other side. She bent down ever so gently and captured the blonde's lips. Steam from the hot bath water encircled them. The rich fragrance of the jasmine enhanced the mood. Carly wrapped her arms around the taller woman and leaned in soaking up the contact. She had finally found the one person who made her feel complete. The kiss deepened as Nic curled her free arm around Carly's waist pulling her closer, as if that were possible. Nic felt like her life was starting over again and for the first time in her life she wasn't in a hurry. They had all the time in the world and she would see to it that they enjoyed every second.
(Keep watching for the sequel)
Special thanks go to:
My beta readers for finding all the things I miss and for their unending, positive feedback.
To the many fans that have taken the time to drop me a line and let me know that my story was entertaining.
Finally, to my better half, who holds my heart...forever. Thanks for the love, encouragement and sacrifice you make every day so that I can feed my creative side. I love you.
Until Next Time....
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