Murder Has Two Faces


Tonya S. Coley


For disclaimers see Part 1.

WARNING!!!!!!!! Angst and high drama in this part

Chapter Three

Alma paced back and forth in the living room. She was nervous; not knowing what was going on with Johnnie and wondering what was happening at the mayor's office. Why is she going to see the mayor? Alma wondered. Her anger began to rise because Johnnie had ignored her request for her to come home. She blew me off. Like what I wanted was no concern to her. "Oh, Querida. You will have hell on your hands when you get home." Alma hissed.

"What you say, Mami?" Phillip, who was playing with his fire truck, asked.

Alma ruffled the little boy's hair. "Oh nothing, mijo. Mami was talking to herself."

"Kay, Mami." He said, and then returned his attention to his truck.

Another thirty minutes had passed, when Alma finally heard the door to Johnnie's truck slam shut. She stood near the door, waiting for Johnnie to come in.

"Mama!' Phillip squealed as she ran over to Johnnie.

Johnnie lifted and hugged him close. She looked over at Alma and could see anger in her eyes. Johnnie was still furious from her confrontation with the mayor, but she hid it well in front of their son.

"Mijo, why don't you go and play in your room. Mama will be there in a little bit." Alma said as calmly as she could, reigning in her fury.

Phillip looked to Johnnie. She nodded and put him down. "Okay, Mami." He said as he toddled off with his truck.

When Phillip was out of earshot, Johnnie turned to Alma. "Baby, whatever it is, it's going to have to wait. I have had a hard day and I don't want to fight." She told her, and began to walk away.

Alma grabbed Johnnie by her arm and spun her around. "Well you aren't too old for your wants to kill you." She angrily spat.

Johnnie, anger already raging through her, snapped. She moved closer to Alma. Their faces were mere inches apart. "Woman, have you gone out of your fucking mind?" She furiously demanded.

Alma was shaken by Johnnie's uncharacteristic response. For the first time in all their years together, she knew what it was like to see Johnnie truly angry. 'What is it that has you like this, beloved?'

"Damn it, Alma. I said I didn't want to talk about it." Johnnie growled. She saw a glimmer of fear in Alma's eyes and took a step back. 'She doesn't deserve this. This is my problem and it has to stay out of our home.' Johnnie began to calm herself. The look in Alma's eyes helped her pull her emotions in check. "Baby, I'm sorry for yelling at you. This has nothing to do with you, and here I am being a bully." She calmly told her.

"Johnnie, I want to know what is going on. I want to know what has you like this." Alma whispered. "I have a right to know what's going on. I have earned that right, beloved."

Johnnie nodded her head in agreement. She walked over to one of the bay windows. Looking out, she began to tell Alma of what was going on.

"Tori told me that someone had been snooping around in our finances." She said. "Everything was looked at, even Champ's trust account. Nothing was left unturned." Johnnie paused and sighed heavily. "I work my ass off to make detective. Do everything by the book. I nearly loose my life and now they are saying that I took dirty money."

Alma was in shock. Their privacy had been invaded, and now they were accusing Johnnie of being a cop on the take. All of Johnnie's accomplishments were being tarnished.

Johnnie continued. "I went to Ballantine's office to confront him. It was a slap in the face the way he spoke to me, accusing me." She paused. "I let him know that I would be doing some digging of my own.

Alma could see the pain and despair in Johnnie's eyes. She walked over to her and embraced her. "Baby, I am so sorry. I understand how you feel."

Johnnie pulled away from her. "No, Alma, you don't." She turned away from Alma, as tears filled her eyes. "I'm gonna go downstairs for a while; work off some of this frustration. Tell Champ I'll be with him in a little while." She headed for the basement.

Alma watched her as she walked away. "I'm so sorry, beloved." She whispered.

After the meeting ended, Ballantine and his assistant Jonas Peters discussed what had transpired with Johnnie.

"How dare she come into my office and communicate threats. I should have her arrested." Ballantine angrily spat, contempt weighed heavily in his voice.

"I think it is a threat that you should take seriously, Alex." Peters advised. "Green was a good cop and an even better private investigator. She could cause problems for us."

Ballantine hated being told how good Johnnie was, when all he saw was an abomination. "She was not a good cop. She is a homosexual." He snapped. "She is a discredit to the police force and to this city." He had done everything that he could to discredit Johnnie while she was on the force. He used the same tactics to get others to resign from the force and other civil service jobs.

"Do you think that we should inform our benefactors about what's going on here?" Peters asked. "They are too important to us to be kept in the dark, and far more dangerous."

"We don't need to bother our friends with this. She is not worth their time." He spat. "We can handle her."

"You're the boss." Peters said. "But you had better not underestimate her. She's not as vulnerable as you think, and she won't go down without a fight."

Ballantine faced him. "Are you afraid of that pervert? Does she scare you that much?"

"Alex, she could cause problems for us." Peters sharply said.

"Then you go and run with your tail between your legs." Ballantine disgustedly spat. "She is nothing, a nobody. It's time she got what she deserved."

Peters tried to reason with him. "Alex, I don't think......"

Ballantine cut him off. "I don't pay you to think, Jonas. I pay you to do what I tell you."

"Alright, Alex, this is your show. I just hope that you know what you are doing." Peters said, and then put on his jacket.

Ballantine took a moment to consider what Peters said. "Tomorrow, we take our suspicions to the press. That will keep her busy."

"Whatever you say, Alex." Peters said. You can fuck up if you want to, but I will be damned if I'm going down with you.

Phillip and Johnnie were roughhousing on the floor in his bedroom. Alma stood leaning against the doorframe watching mother and son at play.

"One, two, three. You win Stone Cold Phillip Green Martinez, the new WWF Heavyweight Champion." Johnnie announced, and then began to cheer. Phillip stood up and began to walk around like Steve Austin himself, lifting his arms in victory.

Both mothers laughed at the antics of their son. "Okay you two, it's time for the champion to go to bed."

"Aw, Mami." Phillip whined in complaint. "No bed, wanna beat Mama."

"Beat Mama tomorrow, Champ. Time for bed." Johnnie said as she picked him up and placed him in his crib.

Johnnie was lying on her stomach, with her arm thrown possessively over Alma's waist. She tried to turn over and couldn't because something was on her back. She opened her eyes and cautiously looked over her shoulder, and found a three-year-old Phillip sleeping soundly on her back.

"Alma, baby, wake up." Johnnie whispered.

"Not now, Johnnie. Too tired." Alma groggily responded.

Johnnie chuckled. "No, baby, look at my back."

Alma slowly opened her eyes, and found Phillip straddling Johnnie's back and a line of drool running off her shoulder.

"Seems the little bambino has become an escape artist." Johnnie laughed.

Johnnie returned from her thoughts. "Hey Champ, do you want a big boy bed?"

"Yay, Mama." Phillip exclaimed as he jumped up and down in the crib.

"Well, if you go to sleep now, when I get home tomorrow you, Mami and I will go and buy you a big boy bed. Okay, Champ?"

"Kay, Mama." Phillip agreed and quickly lay down to go to sleep.

They kissed him goodnight, and turned off his light.

In their bedroom, Johnnie wrapped her arms around Alma. "Alma, I love you so much. I'm sorry I was so short with you."

Alma smiled and whispered. "I love you, too. Now come, time for bed."

"But I'm not sleepy." Johnnie said in protest.

Alma slightly pulled away, so she could look at Johnnie. She smiled seductively. "Who said anything about sleeping?"

Johnnie left for work earlier than usual. When she arrived, Laura had made coffee and booted the computers.

"Morning, Laura." Johnnie said.

Laura was startled. "Good morning, Johnnie. You are here early." She asked, concern drawn on her face.

"Yeah. We have a new assignment. A very important one." Johnnie said. "Everything else is on hold." Johnnie grabbed her mug and poured herself some coffee. "As soon as everyone else gets in, I want all of you to come into my office."

Laura studied her tall friend. She could sense that whatever was happening was big. "Sure, Johnnie. I'll take care of it."

"Thanks, Laura." Johnnie said as she absent-mindedly stirred her coffee. "By the way, I'm not taking any calls today. Nobody, except for Alma." With that said, she turned and walked into her office.

The doors to Green and Associates swung open and a slender woman of medium height strolled in.

"Good morning, Laura." Glenda Washington said in a singsong voice. She was a twenty-seven year old law school graduate who had just recently passed the State Bar. Her pursuit of her degree was delayed when she became pregnant and gave birth to her daughter. Glen was African-American, with a light complexion and gray eyes. She wore her hair in Cherokee braids, and was dressed to the nines in a pale blue Donna Karan suit.

"Good morning, Glen." Laura said, smiling. "Here are your messages." She paused as she handed them to her. "Johnnie wants us in her office as soon as Mike and Tracy get here."

"What's going on, Laura?" Glen asked. "Another big case coming up?"

Laura shook her head. "I don't know, but whatever it is Johnnie is not happy about it."

Any further conversation was interrupted when Mike and Tracy made their way into the office. Mike was a forty-five year old former FBI agent. His burly physique reminded one of a cuddly teddy bear. Tracy was a thirty-three year old former Special Victims Unit detective. He was forced into early retirement by the tactics Mayor Ballantine used to 'weed out' homosexuals from the police department.

"Good morning, you two." Laura said as she handed them their messages.

"Morning, ladies." Tracy said in his deep baritone voice.

"Good morning." Mike cheerfully said.

"Johnnie wants to see us in her office." Laura said as she stood and walked around her desk. They all followed.

Johnnie was sitting at her desk. She was deep in thought when a light knock stirred her, bringing her back. "Come in." She said.

The small group filed into her office. "Johnnie, you wanted to see us?" Glen asked, and then she noticed the look on Johnnie's face. "What's going on?"

Johnnie stood up and walked over to the window. She was silent as she looked out at the Wilmington skyline. She finally cleared her throat and began to speak. "I have been targeted by Mayor Ballantine. He has launched an investigation into my professional and private life. I am being accused of being a dirty cop."

Tracy stood up in outrage. "What? This is a joke. How can that bastard accuse you of being dirty?" He yelled. He knew what Ballantine was capable of doing; how easy it was for him to destroy lives.

Johnnie turned to him, and in silent agreement acknowledged the true meaning of his words. "You know how he rolls, Tracy; and we both know the reason behind this."

"Well, what are we going to do about it?" Laura asked.

"Fight fire with fire." Mike firmly said. "We know how to dig, too."

Johnnie smiled. It made her feel good knowing that her friends were standing by her. "Mike's right. We are going to do our own digging." She paused as she walked back over to her desk. "I want everything; from what time his mother hatched his ass, to what time he took a piss this morning." A feral grin formed on her face. "Let's take a look at his finances. Especially his campaign contributions."

"There was a rumor that during the last election he received contributions from out of state." Laura said.

Johnnie's grin became even bigger. She knew that Laura had contacts everywhere in Wilmington. "That's great, Laura. Please work that angle for me."

"I'm on it, Johnnie." She said.

"Well, we all know what to do." Glen said. "Let's get to work."

Johnnie was beginning to feel a little more in control. Realizing that she may be working late tonight, she decided to give Alma a call.

"Hello." Alma groggily said.

Johnnie smiled. "Hey, baby. What are you still doing in bed?" She asked, knowing that she was the reason.

"My wife was overzealous last night." She happily sighed as she snuggled Johnnie's pillow. "It was a long night."

Johnnie chuckled. "I couldn't help it. My wife has that effect on me."

"So, do you want to pick up where you left off?" She seductively asked.

"I can't baby, as much as I would love to. I have a lot of work to do." Johnnie said. "Are you going to be busy around lunchtime?"

"No, why?" She asked.

"I want to have lunch with you and Champ, and then go shopping for his bed. I'm going to be working late tonight, and I don't want to disappoint him." Johnnie said.

Alma smiled at the commitment Johnnie had for her family. "Sure, Querida. We'll be there at noon."

"I'll be waiting." Johnnie said.

Ballantine had called a press conference. All the city's television and print media were present.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the press, I have an announcement to make." Ballantine stated, as he stood on the steps of City Hall. "We are fighting a war against corruption in the public and private sectors of our fair city. Criminals have had a foothold in Wilmington for far to long." He paused as he mugged for the cameras. "As mayor, I plan to take back our city and run these criminals out on a rail." He paused again to clear his throat. "This office has launched an investigation into the goings on of public officials and private citizens that have or may have had ties into civil government."

Linda Cruz, of the Wilmington Sun, interrupted him with a question. "When will this investigation begin, and who will be investigated?"

Annoyed at the interruption, he hesitantly answered. "It has already begun. Those that are under investigation are in city government and the private sector."

"Karen Grace, WWIL." The reporter stated. "Who are some of the people that are under investigation, and what are the allegations?"

Ballantine was a little unnerved. He had only planned to give the reporters a little information, hoping that they would investigate on their own. But now he was cornered into dropping names. 'Damn that Karen Grace.' He thought to himself. "One of those that are under investigation is Johnetta Green, former homicide detective of the WPD. We have information that she was involved in organized crime."

Gasps came from the group of reporters. They could not believe that a former police officer the caliber of Johnnie Green could be corrupt.

Grace bombarded Ballantine with questions. "Where are you getting your information, sir? Is she linked to organized crime? How long has she been involved?"

'Alex, what have you done?' Peters inwardly groaned, knowing that what Ballantine had just done could be political suicide.

"We cannot divulge our sources, nor can we make any more comments on the details of her involvement." Ballantine stammered. "When we are free to comment more, we will hold another press conference. Thank you for coming." He quickly turned and walked back to his office, a visibly upset Peters followed.

The reporters hurried back to their respective papers and TV stations to meet their deadlines.

Johnnie, Alma and Phillip returned from lunch and shopping. They entered the office as Laura was hanging up the phone. Johnnie could see the look of outrage on Laura's face.

"What's wrong, Laura? Is it one of the kids?" Johnnie asked, her voice full of concern.

"No, Johnnie, nothing like that." She responded. 'How can I tell her. She's going to hit the roof.'

"Well what is it?" Johnnie asked.

"The phone call was from a friend of mine. A reporter from the Wilmington Observer." She hesitantly said.

"And?" Johnnie asked.

'God, please don't let her snap.' Laura prayed. "The mayor had a press conference this morning, alleging that you are involved in organized crime."

"What?" She angrily yelled. "He has gone too far this time. That sorry son of a bitch." She hissed through clenched teeth.

"Sonda bish." Phillip said.

"Phillip, no!" Alma said, rushing over to the little boy. "That was not nice."

"Sonda bish." He repeated. "Mama said sonda bish."

"Johnnie, do something." Alma begged.

Johnnie calmed herself as best she could, the walked over to the boy and picked him up. "Son, what Mama said was not nice. I don't want you to say that, ok?"

"Kay, Mama." He said.

"Uhm, Laura, could you watch Phillip for a couple of minutes. I need to speak with Johnnie." Alma asked.

Laura nodded. 'I hope you can calm her down. If you don't she's gonna be a bear to work with.' "Come on, little man. Let's get you some juice." She said to Phillip.

Alma walked with Johnnie into her office. When Alma closed the door, Johnnie cut loose with a string of very choice expletives.

"Baby, calm down. It's all lies and when the truth comes out, he'll be a laughing stock. They may run him out of office." She calmly said.

"In the meantime I'm just supposed to let the bastard ruin my reputation? Damn him." She yelled as she slammed her fist onto her desk.

Alma walked over to her and cupped Johnnie's face into her hands, and looked into her eyes. "Johnnie, your clients won't believe those lies. They know you and trust you. Trust me, they will stand behind you. If they don't then to hell with them."

Johnnie sighed heavily. "Always the optimist." She said as she wrapped her arms around Alma's waist. "That's why I love you so much. You always keep me centered." She kissed her softly. "Te amo, Alma."

Alma smiled. "I love you too, Querida. Don't work too late tonight. Te quiero hacer el amor." She whispered.

Johnnie pulled her closer, kissed her neck and fondled her buttocks. "Te deseo ahora?"

"Right now?" Alma asked, stunned. "What about Phillip?"

Johnnie released her, and walked over to the door and locked it. "Laura has him. He'll be okay." She said. She walked back over to her and led her to the sofa. "A little now, and a lot when I get home."

"Si, si, Mami." She breathlessly said as Johnnie mounted her.

Johnnie was kissing and licking Alma's neck as she fondled her breasts. Alma pulled away.

"What?" Johnnie huskily asked. "Laura has Champ. He's fine."

Alma smiled. "I want to ease your tensions, baby. Let me handle things."

"Yes ma'am. What do you want to me to do?" She asked, even more aroused.

"Strip." Alma ordered.

Johnnie was shocked. "Are you serious?"

"Don't make me ask twice." She softly demanded.

"What ever you say, Mami." Johnnie said, as she quickly undressed.

Johnnie was standing completely naked before Alma. Alma marveled at her gorgeous body. She looked at her muscular calves and thighs, admiring the definition. Her eyes traveled to the soft hair that covered Johnnie cleft. Her mouth watered, imagining the sweet taste of Johnnie. She looked at the hardness of Johnnie's stomach, her well-defined abs. Her gaze continued up to Johnnie's soft breasts; the nipples engorged, just begging to be suckled. Alma looked at them hungrily. She stood and walked over to Johnnie. The scent of Johnnie's cologne permeated her nostrils and intensified her desire. Alma touched Johnnie's strong shoulders. Her hands traveled down to aching breasts, causing Johnnie to moan with desire. Alma's hands traveled further south, past a quivering stomach to reach Johnnie's ache. Alma teased her clit, and then allowed her fingers to slide into moist aching folds. Johnnie moaned and shuddered, her legs became weak. Alma removed her fingers and tasted them. Johnnie was wobbling, but managed to softly kiss Alma's forehead.

Sensing that Johnnie was about to fall, Alma led her over to the sofa. "Sit, beloved."

When Johnnie sat, Alma pulled her thighs apart and slid her fingers back inside. She brushed her thumb against Johnnie's swollen clit.

"Oh yeah, baby. Just like that." Johnnie softly said.

Alma smiled to herself, knowing that she was working her magic on Johnnie. She wanted more, so she sucked Johnnie's clit into her mouth.

Laura sat at her desk, while Phillip played on the floor with his toy car. She heard Johnnie moan loudly, causing a blush to creep up her neck. "Phillip, why don't we go into the conference room and watch a little TV?"

Alma's tongue was softly brushing against Johnnie's clit. The clockwise motion worked Johnnie into a frenzy. Alma kneaded Johnnie's breasts, rolling the nipples between her fingers. She placed her tongue inside Johnnie, causing her hips to rise from the sofa. Johnnie began to thrust her hips in rhythm with Alma's tongue.

"Oh Alma." Johnnie hissed. "Yes baby. Ohhh..."

Alma moved her tongue back to Johnnie's clit, and put two fingers inside, matching Johnnie's thrusts.

"Shit, yeah baby. I'm co- coming. Gods help me. Oh, Alma." She hoarsely said, her body gasped for air.

After Johnnie's release, Alma moved up to kiss her lightly. She breathed her warm breath against Johnnie's lips and kissed her again. Johnnie tasted herself on Alma.

"I needed that, baby." Johnnie breathlessly said.

Alma softly smiled. "I know you did. Now I'm going to wash up and get out of here. I want you home as soon as you can get there." She said, with a wink.

Johnnie stood, weak legged. Alma stood up to steady her. "I love you, Alma."

"And I you, beloved." Alma softly said.

They walked to the bathroom to freshen up. Johnnie dressed quickly. They walked back into the outer office. Laura smirked at both of them, causing Johnnie to look down at her feet in embarrassment.

"Are you alright now, Johnnie?" Laura teasingly asked.

Johnnie chuckled. "I'm fine." She picked up Phillip and hugged him. She kissed both he and Alma goodbye, and watched them as they left.

Chapter Four

Mike, Glenda and Tracy were in the conference room talking with Johnnie. They were going over the information that each had while they ate take out. Laura ran into the room with a smile on her face.

"You guys will never guess what I just found out." She said, out of breath.

"Spill it, Laura." Glenda said.

"Our mayor didn't just get his campaign contributions from the citizens and corporations of Wilmington." She told them. "He also got contributions from an organization called The Friends of Alexander Ballantine."

"So?" Tracy asked, wanting her to elaborate.

"The Friends of Alexander Ballantine is not based in Wilmington." Laura said.

"Well, where is it based?" Johnnie anxiously asked.

She straightened herself. "New York." She smugly announced.

Johnnie smiled. "Well, well, Mr. Mayor." She paused. "Let's see if we can put some names and faces to this group of contributors."

"I'm on it, Johnnie." Mike said, as he picked up his organizer.

"Alright, Mike. But let's call it a night." Johnnie said. "Good work, Laura."

Laura smiled. "Thanks, Johnnie."

It was nine pm when Johnnie arrived at home. She walked in and saw Alma sitting on the sofa holding the newspaper.

"Hi, baby." Johnnie said as she kissed Alma's cheek and sat down next to her. "Is Champ asleep? Did his bed get here? Was he excited?"

"Yes, Querida. His bed arrived and they set it up." She sighed heavily. "He loves it."

Johnnie calmed down from her excitement. She looked at Alma and could tell that something was wrong. "Alma?"

Alma looked at her with tearful eyes. She could say nothing, so she just handed the folded newspaper to Johnnie. Johnnie opened it and saw her picture and a headline stating that she was under investigation by the mayor's office for connections to organized crime. She leaped from her seat, and threw the paper across the room.

"Damn him, Alma. How can they print these lies?" She angrily asked. "This is all unsubstantiated. Fuck me!" She hissed. "This is going to ruin me."

Alma stood and walked over to Johnnie. "Look at me, beloved." She took Johnnie's face into her hands and forced eye contact. "These are all lies. He has nothing to back this up with. When the truth comes out, and it will, it will be him that is ruined. Not you, baby, him."

Johnnie's rage began to subside. Alma held her shaking body, soothing and consoling her.

"Go take a shower, and come to bed." She softly said. Johnnie nodded.

Alma knew that Johnnie would be in there for a while, so she placed aromatherapy candles around the bedroom. She had a couple of Coronas in an ice bucket near the bed. She lit the candles, and then she put an Isley Brothers CD in the stereo. Alma took 'Little J' from the drawer, and took it and the remote over to the bed. She took off her robe and slipped between the sheets.

When Johnnie came out of the bathroom, she was calm. She looked around and a smile formed. 'She did all this for me.'

Alma whispered for her to come to bed. She turned on the stereo with the remote, and turned back the sheet for Johnnie.

After hours of intense lovemaking, Johnnie gave Alma a chance to rest. She was spooned behind her, kissing her neck. "Alma, I love you so much. I would lose my mind if I couldn't be with you." She whispered.

"I love you too, baby." Alma softly said. "I'm so glad to have you in my life."

"You keep me grounded, love. You always know what to do. I'd be going crazy if it weren't for you." Johnnie said.

The respite was short lived as Johnnie began to fondle Alma's breasts. Alma arched her back to meet Johnnie's strong but gentle hands. Johnnie, still strapped, rose to her knees. She pulled Alma up to face her, and began kissing her lips, neck and then breasts. She slid her fingers into Alma's wet folds, making both of them moan. After a while of gentle fingering, she moved behind Alma. She rubbed the phallus against Alma's buttocks. Alma knew what Johnnie wanted; knew what she needed.

Alma was so wet; Johnnie had no problem entering her. She pulled her back toward her hips, slowly at first. She reached around Alma and gently rubbed her clit. Alma was on fire, and she intensified her backwards thrusts.

"Is it good, baby? Do you want more?" Johnnie asked, keeping pace with Alma's rhythm. The sound of flesh slapping together echoed in the bedroom.

"Yes!" Alma breathlessly hissed.

Johnnie withdrew, and quickly turned Alma over onto her back. She entered her again and pulled Alma's knees apart to watch as the phallus slipped in and out of her with ease.

"Johnnie, I'm coming." She moaned.

Johnnie lowered herself onto Alma. She wrapped her arm around Alma's waist, and quickened her thrusts. Alma wrapped her arms around Johnnie's neck and shoulders like a vise, and then screamed her release. "Oh, God!"

Johnnie was gently biting Alma's neck, as she had her hands cupped around Alma's shoulders. He stomach tightened as she neared release. "Alma, oh baby." Johnnie moaned as she went over.

Exhausted, they lay together, with Johnnie still inside Alma. After moments of murmurings of love, Alma slowly began to thrust her hips upward.

"More, beloved." Alma pleaded.

Johnnie eagerly gave in to Alma's pleas.

Johnnie arrived at the office around noon. When she went into the building, she was met by a large group of reporters.

"Ms. Green, any comments on the allegations made by Mayor Ballantine?" Karen Grace asked.

She continued to walk as they followed her. Johnnie held her temper well. Outside she was the model of composure, but inside all hell's fire burned.

"Is it true that you are involved in organized crime?" Another reporter asked.

Johnnie made it to the bank of elevators and stepped into one that was available. As soon as the doors closed, she cut loose with a barrage of expletives and didn't stop until she walked into her offices.

"Good lord, Johnnie." Laura said. "What is going on?"

"There are reporters crawling all over the fucking lobby." She angrily spat. "Damn that Ballantine to hell." She yelled as she hurled her coffee travel mug across the room, shattering it against the wall. "No calls, Laura. No visitors." She then walked into her office and slammed the door shut.

'Johnnie please hold it together.' Laura thought. 'For all of our sakes.' "Better call maintenance for a clean up." She sighed.

"That is very good news." Ballantine said over the phone. "Thank you for calling." The smile that was on his face could light downtown Wilmington.

Jonas walked in and saw Ballantine smiling. "Well, looks like you are very happy. Care to share with the rest of the class?" He asked.

Ballantine leaned back in his chair. "Looks like my plan is already in motion." He smugly answered. "Green has so many reporters up her ass, that she won't know what to do."

"How do you know this?" Jonas inquired as he took a seat across from his boss.

"I just got a phone call from one of my friends at The Observer." Ballantine said. "Green was swamped with reporters as soon as she walked into her office building."

Jonas stood up and leaned onto Ballantine's desk. "Alex, I don't know about this. Green is someone not to be messed with."

The smile that was on Ballantine's face was wiped away and replaced with an angry scowl. He stood up and placed his fists on the desk. "I am not to be messed with. That woman is an abomination to human race. They all are." He spat. "I am finally going to bring that high riding dyke down." He arched his eyebrow questioningly. "Are you afraid of her?"

Jonas was becoming angry at his arrogant attitude. "No. It's not her that I am afraid of. It is our friends that scare me. They are not going to like it if you bring attention to them and the partnership they have with us." He paused as he tried to control his temper. "Alex, Green is not going to sit still for this. She said that she would do her own digging..."

Ballantine cut him off. "That bitch won't have time to do anything but clear her name. She is going to be to busy trying to make nice with her clients." He returned to his seat. "If that is all, then you can leave. I have business that needs to be taken care of."

Jonas looked down at him. 'You are a stupid little man, Alex. When you fall, I will not be falling with you.' He thought to himself. He said nothing in response, knowing that it wouldn't do any good.

Later that afternoon, Johnnie was talking on the phone with Tracy when there was a knock on her door. "Hold on a minute, Tracy." She told him. "Come in."

Laura stepped into Johnnie's office. "I'm sorry to interrupt, but there is someone here to see you."

"I said no visitors, Laura. I don't want to talk to anybody." She said, annoyed.

"Johnnie, I think you will want to see him. He says that he is a friend of a friend, and that what he has is of the utmost importance." She whispered.

"Tracy, let me call you back." She said. "Tell him to come in."

Johnnie stood up and rolled down her sleeves as Laura brought the young man in. He was in his early thirties, with dark hair and green eyes. "I'm Bobby Cerrone. Are you Johnnie Green?" He asked as he extended his hand.

Johnnie accepted his gesture. "Yes, I'm Johnnie Green. How may I help you?"

He smiled at her. She immediately recognized his smile. "I'm here to help you. I'm Tori's cousin, and I think I have something that may be of interest to you."

Johnnie returned his smile. "By all means, please have a seat."

Laura smiled. Her friend's mood was changing for the better. She left and closed the door behind her.

"We get Mama something?" Phillip asked his mother as they walked in the mall.

Alma smiled down at him. "Sure, baby. What do you want to buy for Mama?"

Phillip's eyebrows knitted together as he thought. "Moosic, Mami. We buy moosic for Mama twuck. She like moosic."

Alma laughed. "She sure does. Let's get Mama some music."

"She be prised, Mami?" He asked.

"Yes, mijo. Mama will be surprised." She said. 'We both have surprises for Mama.'

Johnnie pushed herself back from her desk. "You have got to be kidding me. He does what?" She asked in absolute disbelief.

"Your Mayor Ballantine is a pedophile. He has a lust for young boys. He comes to New York, and goes to what is known in some circles as 'chicken houses' and picks young boys to have sex with." He informed her.

Johnnie abruptly stood from her chair. "That fucking hypocrite. He has the nerve to call homosexuals sick and perverted. He is the sick one. That bastard is a child molester." She walked over to the wet bar. "All this time, all the damage he has done to so many people, he projected his own self hatred on to others."

Bobby pulled a file from his briefcase. "Not only that, he takes these little trips at the taxpayers' expense."

She turned around to face him. "Almost everything that he has accused me of, he has done himself."

"I have this for you, too." He told her as he pulled a large manila envelope from his briefcase. "You may need these."

"What are they?" She inquired.

"These are photos." When Johnnie gave him a questioning look, he continued. "I have a friend in Vice at the NYPD. They raided one of those houses, and that's how I got all this."

"I can understand files, but pictures. How?" She asked.

"The owner of the house got his jollies by taking photos of his customers." He revealed.

Johnnie took the file and the envelope. "Thank you. This will come in handy."

Closing his case, he stood. "I must go now. Here is my card, use it if you need to."

Johnnie took the card, and then extended her hand. "Thank you for handling this so promptly."

He took her hand and shook it. "You're welcome. Tori told me that this was urgent, so I dropped everything to get it done."

"Tori is a good friend." Johnnie said.

"That, and good cousin, too." He said. "I wouldn't be where I am if it weren't for her." He looked at his watch. "I'd better go, or I'll miss my flight."

"Thank you, again." Johnnie said.

Alma and Phillip were returning from their shopping trip, when they noticed a group of reporters on her front lawn.

"Who dat, Mami?" Phillip asked from the back seat.

Alma became nervous. "Just some people, mijo. Don't worry about it."

When she pulled in the driveway, they descended on the car like a pack of wolves. Alma opened the door, and got out of the car.

"Ms. Martinez, do you have any comments to the statement that were made by Mayor Ballantine about Ms. Green?" One reporter asked.

"No comment." was Alma's response. She opened the back door to retrieve Phillip from his car seat. The reporters continued to hound her. She put Phillip down on the ground so she could get the two bags. "No comment, now please leave us alone." She yelled.

The flashes from the cameras and the noise from all the questioning frightened Phillip so much, that he took off running down the driveway. Alma looked for him and saw where he was heading. At the same moment she saw a car speeding around the corner. She took off in hot pursuit of him.

"Phillip, no!" She screamed. "Oh God!"

Johnnie and her associates were about to have a meeting in the conference room, when Alma's brother Miguel ran in.

Johnnie looked up at him. "Miguel, what are you doing here?"

"Johnnie, there's been an accident." He said, out of breath.

She became panic-stricken. She grabbed him by his upper arms and began shaking him. "What's happened? Where is Alma?"

"It's not Alma. It's Phillip." He tearfully told her. Johnnie was in shock. "Come, we must go now."

When they arrived at the hospital, Alma was crying hysterically. She looked up and saw Johnnie. Johnnie ran over to her, and embraced her. Tears were streaming down her face. "What happened, baby? Is he alright?" She quickly asked, her voice trembling.

Alma was frantic. She was speaking Spanish and was incoherent. Johnnie took Alma's face into her hands. "Calm down, Alma. You aren't making any sense." She softly said.

Alma looked into Johnnie's eyes. Eyes that were so much like Phillip's. She could see Johnnie pleading to her, so she tried to calm herself. "Johnnie...the reporters were at the house...scared Phillip.........made him run into the street." She told her. "A car hit him. A car hit our baby." She began to wail.

Johnnie pulled her into her chest. "He's gonna be ok, baby. He just has to be ok." She said, crying.

Rosa and Miguel were waiting with them. Laura and Glenda came in. "Glenda kneeled in front of Johnnie and Alma. "Any word?" She asked.

Alma was quietly sobbing into Johnnie's chest. Johnnie had tears in her eyes as she held Alma. "No, nothing yet, Glen."

The doctor came out. Johnnie and Alma stood up, surrounded by family and friends. They looked at him expectantly.

"We did everything we could to save your son. I'm sorry." He told them.

A loud wail came from Alma before she fainted. Miguel was able to catch her before she hit the floor. Johnnie stared at the doctor in shock. Tears began to flow freely from her eyes. She moved closer to the doctor and grabbed him by his lab coat. "It's a mistake. My son is not dead." She said as she held on to his coat. "My boy is fine."

"Ma'am, I'm sorry. We did everything humanly possible." He softly said. Then he removed himself from Johnnie's grasp to go and attend to Alma.

"Johnnie?" Laura whispered, placing her hands on Johnnie's shoulders. "Alma needs you."

Johnnie was in a fog. She could hear a voice, but didn't recognize it. Then she heard Alma's name. "Alma?" She began to come back to her senses. "Alma, where is Alma?" She asked Laura.

"She's here, Johnnie. Look." She said pointing to the sofa.

Johnnie could see an unconscious Alma. She rushed over to her. "Alma, baby, please wake up." She softly said to her.

The doctor waved smelling salts under Alma's nose. Her head snapped to the side, and she pushed his hand away. Her eyes fluttered open, and she looked directly at Johnnie. She could see the pain and agony in her eyes. She sat up and pulled Johnnie to her. They both wept.

When they regained some composure, they asked if they could see him. The doctor led them to the treatment cubicle where Phillip was. Upon seeing the small body, Alma broke down again.

"Mijo. Porque, Mi Dios? Porque?" Alma asked, weeping.

Johnnie looked at his broken little body. She ran her finger through his black curls, and touched his bruised face. She could feel her heart breaking, and a lump in her throat.

"What are you looking at, Champ?" Johnnie asked Phillip as she held the book she was reading to him.

"You hands, Mama. Dey big." He said.

She put the book down and took his hand and placed it in hers. "One day, son, your hands will be bigger than mine."

"When, Mama?" He asked.

Johnnie kissed the boy on the top of his head. "When you grow up, buddy. When you get bigger and taller."

Johnnie took Phillip's hand into her own. 'That will never happen, now.'

She held Alma, and they cried together.

To be continued in part 3

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