Disclaimers: This story is mine. The characters are mine. They do not bear a resemblance to a certain duo, who we all know and love. Although Wilmington is a real city, the names and places of certain areas have been changed to protect me from being sued.

Language: This story contains a lot of foul language.

Violence: This is a murder mystery, of course there's violence. Some of it is graphic.

Sex: This story contains details of a loving relationship between two women. Some scenes are very graphic. If this is not your cup of tea, or you are under the age of 18, I suggest you move on to something else. Additional Disclaimers: Included in this part is a rape scene. It is not graphic. Also angst rears it's ugly head in this one, so be prepared.

Editing Credits: This story was edited by Katia N. Ruiz. Thank you for all your help.

Feedback: Please feel free to let me know what you think. Good or bad reviews I can take, but please don't be cruel. My email addy is

Special Thanks: For Peaches. You helped me to see beyond myself, and gave me the courage to try something new. Muchos gracias, mi amiga.

c. 2002

Chapter 4

Two weeks passed, and Johnnie and Pizo were no closer to solving Valerie's murder than they were on day one. The mystery woman had not been seen at The Back Door, since Myra shot down her advances. The captain was receiving pressure from the mayor's office, and thinking of closing this case, but Johnnie hoped that he wouldn't. She knew, from first hand experience, that if the victim was not a well-known member of society, that the case possibly would never be solved. Fortunately, the captain decided to keep the case open.

"This is un-fucking believable." Johnnie let out an exasperated breath. "Not one damn clue, and that asshole Mayor Ballantine wants to close the case. It is hurting tourist trade, he says."

"He's an asshole. Like tourism is what he's really concerned about. We both know what the real deal is. The victim wasn't one of those snots from the hill." He told her.

"The fact that she was a lesbian is what this is all about. He is so self-righteous. He's been after me for years with that goon squad of religious fanatics. A lot of the family has gone back into the closet. It pisses him off that I'm out and proud. I guess it makes the city look bad, in his mind." Johnnie said.

Pizo looked at his partner. He knew how the city frowned upon gays and lesbians in civil service jobs. Ballantine and his people drove a lot of them off. Johnnie was one of the few that remained out. Pizo regarded her even more for her convictions.

"Well, at least there haven't been any more murders." He paused. "Let's call it a night, J."

Johnnie looked at her partner, stunned. He has never been in a hurry to leave before. She noticed a change in her partner over the past couple of weeks. He had cleaned himself up, cut and combed his hair. His clothes were even pressed. Pizo basically looked like a million bucks.

"Alright, I am tired and Alma is cooking tonight. Not only in the kitchen, either." She told him, wriggling her eyebrows. "You wanna come over for dinner?"

"No, I wouldn't want to interrupt you two. I have plans anyway." He told her.

Johnnie was relieved to hear that he was dating. "Who is she, and when do I get to meet her?"

"Her name is Diana Andrews. She works in the coroner's office, she's a secretary." He proudly told her.

"You mean that cute little red head? I like her, she's nice." Johnnie said. "Well, we are going to have to get together soon. Alma and I have to give her the once-over, make sure she's worthy of a prince such as yourself."

He smiled. "We'll do that real soon. Go on home and handle your business. I'll see you in the morning."

Alma was preparing dinner when the doorbell rang. She turned the burners down, and went to answer the door. Looking out the window, she saw the back of a young man's head. 'Oh God, not today, Guillermo.' She sadly thought to herself. She opened the door, and to her surprise, it was Javier. He was her brother, two years her senior. Javier was slight of build, like Guillermo, with smooth skin and handsome features. She pulled him inside and hugged him. They held on to each other tightly. She gave him a big kiss on his cheek.

"Where have you been? I've missed you so much." She told him, slapping him lightly on his arm.

"I had to go out of town on business. Didn't Guillermo tell you? He asked.

Sadness washed over Alma's face. "I haven't seen Guillermo in almost two weeks. Not since that night he and Johnnie got into it."

Javier sat down on the sofa and motioned Alma to sit next to him. "Not again. Pepita, you are going to have to cut him loose. I can't stand watching him make you miserable." He told her, taking her hand into his. "When is he going to learn?"

"I don't know. I'm hoping that he will. I will not allow him to destroy what I have with Johnnie." She firmly said.

"How is Johnnie, anyway?" He asked.

Alma's eyes lit up. Her face gave away the strong bond of love she felt for her lover. "She's doing fine, working on the murdered prostitute case."

Javier grimaced. "That one was gruesome. How is she handling it?"

"Like she always does, she leaves it at the precinct. She never brings it into our home." She told him. "I'll be glad when it's over. We're going to Jamaica on vacation."

"You two really love each other, don't you?" Javier asked, smiling as he touched her cheek.

"We do." She told him. "Come with me to the kitchen. I have to finish dinner."

Johnnie opened the door, and heard Alma talking to someone in the kitchen. She walked in with a huge smile on her face. The smile quickly faded when she saw a young man, whom she thought was Guillermo, talking with Alma.

'Aww, fuck.' She winced. 'I don't need this bullshit today.'

Alma looked up at Johnnie and smiled. "Look who's here, baby." She said as she kissed her.

Javier stood up and turned around.

Johnnie breathed a sigh of relief, and smiled. "Hi Javier. I'm glad to see you." She told him.

"Glad it's me, and not Guillermo." He said, as he patted her shoulder.

Johnnie stuck her hands into her pockets and looked at the floor, suddenly interested in the pattern of the tile. "You are right about that."

"Johnnie, Alma filled me in on what happened between you and him." He told her. She looked at him, and he continued. "I hope that it won't reflect poorly on the rest of us."

"No, it doesn't." She commented. "I know it was hard for all of you at first. Accepting me, and coming to terms with the fact that Alma is a lesbian. All of you, except for Guillermo, gave me the opportunity to prove that I would never hurt Alma."

Javier smiled. "You treat her like a queen, Johnnie. Almost to the point of spoiling her."

"Hey!" Alma playfully yelled. "Talk about me like I'm not even here. That's good for my self esteem."

Johnnie wrapped her arms around Alma, giving her a sensuous kiss. "I'm sorry, baby. We didn't mean to make you feel bad."

Alma was really working that mock pout.

"Yes, your majesty. Please forgive us poor fools. We did not mean to offend, thee." Javier added.

"Next time, it will be off with your heads." Alma told them in her most regal mocking tone.

"Now that that is settled, will you be joining us for dinner?" Johnnie asked.

"No, I have some work at home to catch up on." He told the cuddling pair. "Then I have to unpack. Can I have a rain check?"

"Of course you can." Johnnie told him, as she released Alma.

"Good. Maybe next weekend. That is if I'm in town." He said, heading toward the door. He turned, kissed Alma on her cheek, and said his goodbyes.

After a fabulous meal, Johnnie helped Alma clear the table, and load the dishwasher. Salsa music was playing in the background and Alma was feeling the music, shaking her hips in time with the rhythm.

Alma danced suggestively in front of an aroused Johnnie. "Dance with me baby." She said as she unbuttoned her blouse, revealing an ample bosom.

Johnnie took her in her arms, and moved along with her. Alma was pleased with the way Johnnie could Salsa. It was the first Latin dance she taught her.

"You dance well, querida." Alma told her.

"Natural rhythm, baby. Natural rhythm." Johnnie said playfully.

The music stopped, but Johnnie didn't. "Keep moving, baby." She put her hands on Alma's behind, pulling her close. They were grinding against each other, sex thick in the air. Alma's breath was ragged against Johnnie's neck, as Johnnie leaned down to trace Alma's jaw line with her tongue.

"You taste so good, Alma. I want to taste you all over." Johnnie groaned. Unable to control her desire any longer, she bent her knees to lift Alma off her feet. Alma responded by wrapping her legs around Johnnie's waist. Johnnie walked them to their bedroom, as they passionately kissed.

A young Hispanic woman entered 'The Back Door'. She wore a pair of torn Levi's, black tank top, and lightweight jacket. She surveyed the crowd, and then turned her attention to the bar. Not recognizing either of the bartenders, she chose a table across from the bar.

After sitting for a while, she was approached by the young Asian woman named Suki. She was wearing a red crop top with a black mini skirt. The skirt was so short; it left little to the imagination. She had 'fuck me hard' written in Japanese on her right shoulder.

"Would you like some company?" Suki asked.

"Please have a seat." The woman told her. "Can I interest you in something to drink?"

"No, I have one." She told her, holding up the glass. Suki was impressed with the wiry body before her. "I would like to know something, if you don't mind?"

The woman leaned forward. "What is it, my lovely porcelain doll?"

"Are you a natural redhead?" Suki sexily asked.

The woman smiled. "There's only one way to find out. Would you like to take a walk with me to the dunes?" She fingered two one hundred dollar bills.

"Lead the way, Red." Suki told her.

They both stood, the woman wrapped her arm around Suki's shoulder, and headed for the door.

Alma was straddling Johnnie, with the strap-on deep inside her. Johnnie grasped Alma's hips, pulling her down harder, as she thrust upwards. Alma leaned forward, enabling her to increase her speed.

"Ride it like you want to, baby. Take all of it." Johnnie moaned.

Alma was unable to speak. Her chest was constricted with the guttural moans caught in her throat.

At the dunes, Suki attempted to kiss her companion. "No, no, I don't do tongues."

"Sorry about that." Suki softly said. "What do you desire?"

The woman reached into her jacket pocket, and pulled out a pair of latex gloves. "I practice safe sex. You don't mind, do you? She asked, placing them on her hands.

"For what you're paying honey, we can be as safe as you like." Suki told her.

The woman stood behind her, caressing her hair. Her hands moved to Suki's neck, sliding gracefully to her shoulders. "Would you like to play a game?" She asked, as her lips gently tickled Suki's ear.

"How ever you want it, baby." Suki whispered.

"Good." The woman told her. She reached in her pocket for a short rope, and tied Suki's hands behind her back. She put the money in inside Suki's thong. "Let's play, dyke." She growled as she pushed her to the ground.

"Hey, not so rough." Suki yelled.

"Shut up, bitch. This is my dime." The woman hissed.

Suki started to scream, and the woman clamped her hand over her mouth. "Shut up. This can be easy or hard. I prefer hard, but the choice is yours."

Her eyes were full of fear as rivers of tears escaped them. "You are so full of it. Stop the waterworks, whore. I'm just here to give you what you deserve." The woman told her, amusement thick in her tone. "Now if you promise to be a good little freak, I'll move my hand."

Suki nodded her agreement.

"That a girl." She told her, slapping her lightly on the cheek. She cautiously removed her hand.

"Please don't hurt me." Suki begged.

"I'm not gonna hurt you." The woman sneered. "I'm here to help you get out of this life. You're to beautiful to be doing what you are doing."

The woman ripped Suki's top off, and fondled her breasts. "Have you ever had any dick?"

"No." Suki managed to squeak.

"Let me introduce you to my friend." She unzipped her pants, and pulled out her dildo. It was black, and twelve inches in length.

"I can't. It'll hurt." Suki told her, as she tried to choke back her sobs.

The woman stood over her, and stroked the entire length of it. "All women experience pain before pleasure. It's the nature of things." She got on her knees, between the prostitute's legs. She slid the thong over, and gently inserted the head. The woman then dropped her weight onto Suki, forcing the length inside her.

The scream that tore through the air was matched by the screams of pleasure in the bedroom of a detective a few of miles away.

The phone rang at 4:30 am. "What?" Johnnie croaked.

"J, it's Pizo. Meet me at the dunes. We have another one." He told her.

"Damn." She said. "I'll be there in thirty."

Pizo met Johnnie a few feet away from the body. "J, you know this one."

"Who is it?" she nervously asked.

"It's the little Asian girl." He said.

"Suki? Damn." She said in disbelief.

They walked towards the body. "The CSU can't look for anything until sun up. The area is secured, and a guard will be here." He said.

Johnnie looked at the lifeless body, shining her Mag-lite looking for clues. She saw a bloody hammer, and a strap-on dildo. She turned the light back onto Suki's body. "She's worse than Val was. When is the M.E. getting here?"

"They're on the way." He told her.

"After we wrap up here, I want to stop by Annie's and she if she knows anything." She said.

It was almost seven am when they pulled up in front of Annie's house. They had to bang on the door to get Annie to open it.

"What the fuck........." Annie trailed off when she saw Johnnie and Pizo at the door.

"Sweet Jesus." Pizo gasped. Annie stood there as naked as the day she was born.

"Come in, guys." She told them, as she returned to her bedroom. When she returned, she was wearing a t-shirt and a pair of boxers.

Johnnie was sitting on the sofa, with her head leaned back, and Pizo sat on the loveseat.

"What's wrong?" She asked. She knew deep inside that it would not be good news.

"There's been another murder, Annie." Pizo told her.

Fear gripped her heart. "Who is it?" She thought it might be Myra.

Johnnie looked up at her. "It's Suki."

"Fuck." Annie responded.

"Did you work last night?" Johnnie asked.

"No." She told her, looking at the floor. "I was off last night."

"When was the last time you saw her?" Pizo asked.

Annie was in shock. "I...I saw her night before last. She was happy. She said she would be able to get out of the life and go back to Charlotte, soon."

"She was from Charlotte?" Pizo asked.

"Yeah. Her mother is getting older and she was saving her money so she could go back home and help out." Annie told them, trying to hold back her tears.

Pizo could sense the pain from both women. He wanted to get this case solved. "Have you seen the mystery woman lately?"

"No, but if I do, her ass is grass. I'm gonna enjoy fucking that bitch up." She angrily said.

"Don't do that, Annie." Pizo warned. "Call us and let us handle it."

Johnnie sat up. "He's right. Call us, I mean it." She rubbed her forehead. "Maybe you should tell Myra to cool it for a while."

"I will." She told her.

They stood and was heading for the door when Johnnie turned back to face Annie. She looked at her large friend, and could the tears running down her cheeks. Johnnie grasped Annie's forearm with her hand, and Annie grasped Johnnie's with hers. "I'm serious, Standing Bear, do not take the law into your own hands."

Annie knew Johnnie was serious when she used her Cherokee name. She placed her large hand on Johnnie's shoulder. "I hear you, Red Owl. I will do as you say."

"Good, my friend." She told her.

Johnnie and Pizo then left for the precinct.

Chapter 5

Johnnie sat at her desk, mentally chastising herself. 'If I had warned the girls to be careful, would it have saved Suki's life? Would she still be alive if I had said anything?'

Pizo noticed the anguish on his partner's face as he walked back to their desks with coffee in hand. "I know what you're thinking, J. There was nothing you could do."

"I'm not too sure about that. Maybe we should have warned them." She sighed, feeling defeated and helpless.

Pizo handed Johnnie a cup of coffee. "We couldn't do that Johnnie, and you know it. We don't know who this killer is, and if we had warned the girls we could have tipped our hand."

Johnnie drank a couple of sips before she spoke again. "In my mind I know it, but my heart still aches for the two Vics. We have got to find this bitch before she kills anyone else."

Johnnie was going over her case notes, at one point unable to get the scene at the dunes out of her head. Her phone rang, startling her from her thoughts.

"Detective Green, make it quick." She answered.

"Hi baby. I'm not catching you at a bad time am I?" Alma asked.

A smile formed on Johnnie's face at the sound of her lover's voice. "No, baby. I was just going over some notes. Is anything wrong?"

Alma could sense the tension in Johnnie's voice. "No, I'm fine. Are you ok? I was worried when you didn't call." She told her as she stared out of her office window.

Johnnie mentally kicked herself. She left their bed in a rush when Pizo called, only giving her a quick kiss as she dashed out of the house. "I'm sorry, baby. I was wrapped up with this case. I'm ok, just a little tired."

When Alma woke up to prepare for work, she had a nagging feeling that something wasn't quite right. "Honey, I know I'm being silly, but I'm worried. Something is going to happen today."

"I hope it's going to be a break in this case." Johnnie told her.

"I'm not sure what it is, but I want you to be careful today. Querida, promise me." Alma beseeched.

Johnnie chuckled, but gave in. "Alright, love. I promise to be careful. Do you love me?"

Alma smiled. "Of course I do."

"And I love you, too. I'll see you tonight." Johnnie told her, and then she hung up.

Before she had finished her conversation with Alma, Pizo had received a call from the coroner's office. He had completed the autopsy, and wanted them to come for the results.

An officer placed the CSU report on Pizo's desk. He picked it up to look at it, but Johnnie had finished her call and took it out of his hands.

"Ok, what do we have?" Pizo asked.

Johnnie perused the report, picking up on the highlighted portions. "No prints on the hammer or dildo. No DNA on the dildo but the vics. The coroner had sent over some fibers that were on the body. Denim fibers to be exact. They also found black fibers on the strap."

"So that gives us what?" Pizo asked.

"Not a damn thing." Johnnie grimaced.

"Well, the coroner has completed the autopsy. Maybe I should go and get his findings." Pizo advised.

Johnnie was lost in thought once again, but caught Pizo's last words. "I'll be ok, Pizo. I'm going with you."

Dr. Murray ushered them into the morgue. He pulled the sheet from Suki's body, and stopped just below her waist.

"She was murdered in basically the same manner as the first victim, but in a more brutal fashion. Her wrists and hands were broken. There was vaginal and anal penetration, but unlike the Mozingo woman there was tearing. Enough so, that it appears that she was raped."

He then pulled the sheet down to her knees, and the sight caused both Johnnie and Pizo to gasp. The doctor continued his narration. "I measured the wounds against the hammer that was found at the scene. The killer did a number on this woman. I haven't seen anything like this in my thirty years in medicine."

Johnnie was visibly angry. Pizo volunteered to drive, seeing the state that Johnnie was in. "The two victims were lesbian prostitutes. She's targeting lesbians." She paused to control herself. "That bitch is gonna pay for this."

"You'd better get an handle on that temper, partner. We don't want to screw this up." Pizo warned.

It was 3 pm, and The Back Door had been open since noon. There were a couple of people waiting for happy hour to start at 4. Annie was tending bar, when she noticed a woman come in. She looked like the woman that had approached Myra. Annie nearly flew into a rage, but remembered what Johnnie had told her. She glanced under the bar, and saw Johnnie's cell number. She picked up the phone and hurriedly dialed the number. Not wanting to scare the woman off, she decided to play it cool.

Johnnie's phone rang. "Green, talk to me."

"Hey baby, how's tricks?" Annie asked, leaning against the bar. She talked loud enough so the woman could hear her.

"Annie, what the fuck is going on?" Johnnie asked.

"Oh, nothing baby. I just missed you, is all." Annie said.

"You got company, don't you?" Johnnie asked, feeling excitement rush through her.

Annie was relieved that Johnnie had caught on. "Yeah. So when are you coming to see me?"

"We'll be there in fifteen." Johnnie told her.

"Okay, baby. Just don't make so much noise tonight when you come in. My landlady nearly threw a fit the last time. Bye, sexy." She told her.

Johnnie laughed, even through the anticipation. "I gotcha, no sirens."

"Shit." The woman hissed under her breath as she saw Johnnie and Pizo walk in. She reached down and removed her shoes, placing them in her bag.

Johnnie looked expectantly at Annie. She motioned them to where the woman was sitting. Johnnie felt a wave of uneasiness run through her as they walked toward the woman. When they were almost up to her, the woman flipped the table over and ran out through the door. Johnnie and Pizo were knocked off balance, but took off in hot pursuit after her.

She ran down the street, turning onto Oak Street. Johnnie was not too far behind her. Pizo decided to keep straight until the next block in efforts to cut her off. The woman ducked into an alley when she noticed Johnnie was gaining ground. She hid behind a dumpster to ambush Johnnie. She reached beneath her skirt and pulled out the 9mm that was strapped to her thigh.

Johnnie stopped running, and walked slowly into the alley with her gun drawn. "Ma'am, we just have a couple of questions, that's all. We need some information." Johnnie told her, trying to catch her breath.

Pizo was running up the block when he heard the gunshots. He finally made it to the alley, and saw Johnnie lying on the ground. He ran up to her and saw blood, her blood, pouring profusely from her chest and mouth. He heard the blood gurgling in her throat. "Shit, Johnnie, hold on. I'm going to get help."

By that time, Annie came running into the alley. "I called 911 and told them you guys needed backup." When she saw Johnnie, she fell to her knees and began to cry.

Pizo could hear the sirens in the distance. "Stay with her, Annie. I'm going to let them know where we are." He looked at Johnnie again. "Hold on, J." He ran towards the street.

Annie took Johnnie's bloodied hand into hers, pulling it to her chest. "Fight, Red Owl. Do you hear me? You better fucking fight."

Johnnie squeezed her hand. She whispered, but Annie was unable to understand her. "What.... what is it, babe?"

Johnnie was finally able to get a word out. "Alma." Blood gushed from her mouth, then her hand went limp inside Annie's.

"Johnnie!" She screamed. "Don't you die on me. Fight! Fight for Alma!"

Pizo heard a wail come from Annie that made is blood run cold. He frantically waved in the ambulance and other patrol cars to Johnnie's location. They ran to where Johnnie's still body was lying. The EMT's began to work on her.

"No response." The burly EMT told his partner. "Keep working on her." The smaller female told him. They worked on Johnnie, while Pizo, Annie and the other officers stood by.

"I got a pulse." The EMT announced. They quickly loaded her on the gurney, then into the ambulance.

Annie grabbed Pizo's arm. "The last thing she said to me was Alma. You better go tell her. I'll meet you at the hospital."

A visibly shaken Pizo agreed.

When Pizo arrived at Wilmington Steel, the company that Alma worked for, he was afraid to go inside. 'How can I tell her what's happened without frightening her to death.' He thought to himself. He mustered up the courage, and went inside.

The receptionist knew both he and Johnnie. She smiled at him, but saw immediately that something was wrong. "Go on in, detective. She's not busy." She told him.

He knocked on Alma's door. "Come in." She said. He went inside and closed the door behind him.

Alma's eyes lit up when she saw Pizo. She thought Johnnie had surprised her with a visit. She realized that Johnnie was not with him. Tears began to fill her eyes. "Where is she, Pizo?"

"They've taken her to Memorial." He told her as calmly as he could.

Alma could barely get the words out. "Is she..."

"It's pretty bad Alma. We should go." He told her, as he picked up her purse and attaché' case. He realized that Alma was not moving. 'Shock.' He thought to himself. He walked around her desk and helped her to her feet. At that time the receptionist stuck her head inside the office, and seeing the distress that Alma was in, told them that she would shut down Alma's computer and lock up.

When they arrived at the emergency room, Pizo noticed Annie pacing the waiting area. She was very agitated.

"Pizo, thank the spirits, you're finally here. These bastards won't tell me a damn thing." She told him.

"They'll tell me something." He told her as he pulled out his badge and headed for patient registration.

Annie turned her attention to the small woman, who was obviously in a state of shock, standing before her. She reached for her hand, and Alma turned an expressionless face to her.

"I'm Annie. You may not remember me, I'm a friend of Johnnie's." She told her.

Alma looked at her and nodded her acknowledgement. Her eyes then focused on Annie's bloodstained shirt. She touched it. "This is Johnnie's, isn't it?"

Annie pulled Alma's hand from her chest. "Yes, it is." She looked into Alma's eyes. "Red Owl has a warrior's spirit. She will pull through this."

"She has to, I can't lose her. Not now." Alma whispered.

Pizo walked back over to them. "She's in emergency surgery. They lost her twice on the way here."

Alma's knees went limp, and Annie caught her before she hit the floor. Annie walked, with Alma in her arms, over to the sofa in the waiting area. "Pizo, what will I do if I lose her. Mi Dios, por favor." She sobbed into Annie's shoulder.

Members of the police force came to the hospital in support of their wounded comrade. Captain Hill, Johnnie and Pizo's supervisor, arrived three hours into Johnnie's surgery. He remained by Alma's side until the surgeon came with word of Johnnie's condition.

After eight long hours, Dr. Pedrazo came with news of Johnnie's condition. "The family of Johnetta Green?" He tiredly asked.

Alma immediately stood, and walked over to the surgeon. Captain Hill, Pizo and Annie stood behind her.

"We retrieved three bullets from Ms. Green's chest area." He told them. "One bullet lodged inside her left lung. The other went through her breastbone, pressing dangerously against her heart. The third pierced her liver. She's a fighter. We lost her once during surgery." He paused, looking at Alma and noticing he looked as if she was going to faint. He took her by her arm and led her back to her seat. He continued, "She's in ICU, and the next forty eight hours are critical. She's also in a coma. It will give her the opportunity to heal."

"May I see her?" Alma asked, almost begging.

The surgeon paused, and then asked, "How are you related to Ms. Green?"

"I'm her lover. She is my life." Alma told him.

The doctor, knowing that it was against hospital policy, smiled at her. "I won't tell if you won't."

"Thank you." Alma told him, as he took her hand into his.

"I know what it was like for my brother and his partner." He told her, as he led her to ICU.

When they reached Johnnie's room, Dr. Pedrazo stopped. "I must warn you, it is a frightening sight. She has a respirator to help her with her breathing, and of course the other post operative equipment."

"I understand." Alma hesitantly told him. She walked into the room slowly. When she saw Johnnie's motionless body, the tears began to flow again. Her steps continued until she stopped at Johnnie's bedside. Her heart was full of anguish. She wanted to take her in her arms, but only reached for her hand. She leaned down and kissed Johnnie's forehead, the moved to her ear. "Johnnie, I love you. Baby, please fight. I need you, beloved. You are my strength. Can you hear me? I want you to come back to me." Alma looked for any sign of response. She found none. She kissed Johnnie softly near her lips. "Como te amo, bebe."

The nurse came in to check Johnnie's vital signs, and then told Alma she had to leave.

"I'm not going anywhere." She told her.

"Ma'am, visitors are only allowed fifteen minutes each hour. There is a waiting area right outside those double doors. You can wait there." The nurse told her. "Hospital regulations, and we have to follow them."

Alma kissed Johnnie's hand. "I'll be back in forty five minutes. I won't be far, just down the hall." She reluctantly went into the waiting area, where she found Pizo and Annie talking.

"How is she?" Pizo and Annie asked at the same time.

"It's hard to tell with all the equipment she's hooked up to." She told them. "She looked pale, and so still." Tears threatened to flow, but Alma fought them back.

Pizo put his arm around Alma's shoulders. "J is a fighter. There's no way in hell she's gonna give up."

"We asked the staff for a pillow and blankets. You need to get some sleep." Annie told her. She looked at Alma, sensing that she was on the verge of collapse.

Alma gave both of them a tentative smile. "I can't sleep. Johnnie may need me."

"Even if you can't sleep, you need to let your body wind down and rest. You can't help J if you're in a bed next to her." Pizo warned.

Alma relented, walking over to the comfortable looking sofa. "Pizo, you find who did this her. You find them and make them pay."

Pizo was taken aback. Although he was well aware of Alma's temper, she was not one that condoned violence. That is until today. What he saw in the usually dancing brown orbs was a bloodlust beyond measure. 'I feel for you, you little bitch.' Pizo thought to himself. 'Not only do you have all of the Wilmington police department after you, but you have one short and highly pissed Mexican wanting your head on a platter.'

Alma was stretched out on the sofa, with Annie sitting on the ottoman. Pizo sat in a chair, going over the shooting in his mind. 'If I had only been with her, we could have caught her. This case would be over. She'd be at home in bed with Alma right now if I hadn't fucked up.'

Before Pizo could continue his musings, he heard the faint sound of alarms going off. He looked at Annie, then to Alma. They all stood when they heard a code called on the PA system to ICU. Pizo got to the door first and pulled it open. He saw doctors and nurses running into Johnnie's room. Before he could say anything, Alma was through the door.

"What's going on?" Alma asked the nurse who was closest to the door. She could hear Johnnie's heart monitor going of scale. "What's happening to her?" She demanded.

"You will have to stay out of the way, ma'am. We can't do our job if you're in the way." The nurse told her as she tried to pry Alma's hand from her arm.

"Come on, Alma. Let them work." Annie whispered to her, as she gently pulled her back.

Dr. Pedrazo, along with an intern and two nurses, worked frantically on Johnnie. Pizo, holding Alma in his arms, and Annie stood outside as they watched the scene through the room's window.

Alma was beside herself. She could hear what the doctor and nurses were saying, but couldn't make sense of the conversations. 'Increase...joules...10mg of... clear...what are they doing? I don't...Johnnie, please don't leave me.' Her mind was raging. 'Clear...joules...c'mon damn it...clear...what do we have nurse? What's going on?' She thought.

Flat line. "Increase joules to three hundred." The doctor yelled. "Clear." Still flat line. "Call it." He said.

"2:19 am." The intern stated.

"NO!" Alma screamed. "Johnnie!" She ran to the window and saw her lover's lifeless body lying on the bed. The tears flowed freely from her eyes as wails of mourning escaped her lips.

Annie touched Alma on her shoulder, and Alma turned into the behemoth's chest, sobbing pitifully into it. Pizo stood at the door as a lone tear ran down his cheek.


To be continued in part 3

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