Hey guys,

I'm really sorry for taking me so long to update this one. I had some personal issues that I had to deal with. But I'm back now and hope that you guys are still with me.

Anyway, keep sending me feedback, I love them!

Enjoy…

WA

 

Part 12

Sunlight crept through the blinds and around the drapes with every intention of illuminating the room. Off to one side, a glass sculpture filtered the beam creating a rainbow effect dappling over the bed on the opposite wall. The shimmering colors were what first caught Ann's attention. She stirred only long enough to hide her face under her right arm in an attempt to stave off the offending brightness. That lasted for only a few more minutes until the growing intensity chased her out of the land of her dreams. She turned to the side and slowly opened her eyes. Her brain quickly reacted to the bright light and between the squinting, her throbbing head, and dry mouth Ann easily diagnosed the situation.

“Great! A hangover,” she groaned running a hand through her hair.

Little by little Ann began to take in on her surroundings. The color of the walls, the furniture placed around the room, the curtains and the flooring, nothing looked familiar.

Where am I?

Ann started to panic as she rolled onto her back.

“That's not my ceiling.”

Confused, Ann turned to her side and her arms met big comfortable pillows. “These aren't my pillows and this is NOT my bed.”

Ann's heartbeat picked up as she kicked the covers off only to be hit by a cold breeze. Looking down, Ann saw that she was wearing only a slim-fit tank top and panties. Shocked, she instantly pulled the covers up around her neck in an effort to conceal her expanses of exposed flesh.

“What the hell?” She tried to recall the events from the previous night but failed miserably. Ann moved quickly to survey the room one more time. Her actions increased the throbbing in her head ten-fold and she realized it wasn't the best decision she'd ever made.

Kill me, just kill me now.

Sinking back into the pillows she waited for the throbbing to stop. When it did, Ann turned her head slowly to the side and let her eyes wander about the room. On the nightstand there was a note, a bottle of pills, and a tall glass of water.

Reaching over, Ann took the note from under the glass and read it.

 

Good morning,

Sorry, but I couldn't stay to wake you up due to work. I left a couple of Tylenol for the headache you're sure to have. Drink all the water, it will help. There's hot, strong coffee in the kitchen if you want it. Feel free to take a shower or whatever else you need. Your clothes are neatly folded on the armchair near the window. I took the liberty to remove them last night, but don't worry I didn't take advantage of you!

There's food in the fridge and you can stay as long as you want to, nobody will bother you here. Anything else you need just give me a call, my card is next to the telephone.

Enjoy your stay,

Sam.

 

“You do know how to treat a lady, detective.” A tinge of a smile crossed Ann's lips as she swallowed the Tylenol Sam had left for her.

Ann reclined back against the pillows releasing a contented sigh as glimpses of the night before started coming back to her.

 

Sam led Ann into a Mexican themed bar and motioned for her to proceed to an empty table. Ann watched Sam greet the bartender and smiled at the woman's natural charm as she talked to a few other costumers while she waited for their drinks to be made. Ann felt a pang in her heart as a redhead woman approached Sam and hugged her from behind whispering something into her ear. Deciding to ignore the feeling, Ann looked away and focused on the environment. The bar was darker than most, dimly illuminated only by several old fashioned railroad lights hung haphazardly around the ceiling. There was a huge Mexican flag hung on the wall behind the bar and a few stools along the counter. Ann caught sight of Sam approaching the table carrying two glasses of frozen margaritas with small sombreros on top of them.

“You said you wanted something stronger than coffee,” Sam settled the drinks down. “But I thought we'd start with something light first.” She winked and sat in front of Ann sending a ravishing smile in her direction. Ann's heart nearly stopped beating.

 

The events of the night unfolded in her daydream leaving Ann with a sense of completion filling her body as if she were finally at the place she belonged. A picture at the nightstand caught her attention. It was a photograph of Sam being squeezed in a group hug amongst three handsome men. She grabbed the picture and studied it closer. All four people were laughing and there was a happiness emanating from the impromptu family photo. Ann swallowed to get rid of a twinge of jealousy that formed in the pit of her stomach. For a moment, she wished she were the one holding Sam in the picture. She returned the frame to its place and retrieved Sam's business card.

“Samantha Matthews.” Ann whispered as she played with the card until an overwhelming need to hear Sam's voice washed over her. Without a second thought she reached for a cordless phone placed on the nightstand and dialed the number inscribed on the card.

“Matthews.”

Ann immediately recognized the deep, sexy voice coming across the line.

“You know, I'm not used to waking up in strange women's bed.”

“Well, I'm not used to having strange women sleeping in my bed while I spend the night on the couch.”

A wicked smile broke on Ann's face.

“So, shall I put my clothes on and leave?”

Ann could swear she'd heard Sam gulp. “What detective, cat got your tongue?”

What am I doing? Am I flirting with her?

“No,” Sam's voice broke the silence. “Actually I was just trying to remember the last time I stripped a beautiful woman without sleeping with her.”

“Look Sam,” Ann said in a more serious tone. “I want to apologize for my behavior last night. I don't know what came over me to drink like that.”

If the truth was to be known Ann didn't remember much of what she'd done, but she wasn't going to ask that now.

“You were upset. There's no need to apologize, Ann. You did nothing wrong.”

The softness on Sam's voice comforted Ann.

“But I still want to thank you anyway, for everything.” Ann paused. “You're very nice.”

“Anytime, anywhere…you just give me a call dear lady.”

Ann's heart started doing back-flips and she wished she could see Sam's face.

“Listen…”

“Sam…” they spoke at the same time.

“You go first,” Sam offered.

“Okay, I was wondering if…uh…if we could get together again sometime,” Ann started tentatively. “Perhaps you might even consider this weekend, maybe. What do you say?”

“I'd love to.”

“Good. I'll call you to arrange the details.” Ann tried to keep her enthusiasm from her voice.

“I'm looking forward to it.”

Ann hesitated; her mind running for an excuse to keep the conversation going, but when she found none there was nothing left but to end the call.

“Bye, Sam and thank you again for your kindness.”

Ann hung up still a little surprised by her behavior. The words had flown out of her mouth before she could stop them. Ann couldn't understand why, but she couldn't avoid it. There was something about Sam that affected her and she was curious to find out what it was.

Her interest piqued, Ann threw off the covers and started moving about Sam's modest but rather cozy apartment. Slowly, she perused the living room where an entertainment wall complete with a big screen TV and an extensive variety of DVDs caught her eye. She surveyed the collection, noticing that there were more action movies than anything in the collection. A stereo rack completed the scene with a small collection of CD's stacked to its side. By the styled looks of the artists emblazed on their covers Ann knew the music held within spanned a length of the last several decades of Jazz. She carefully returned them to their place and turned to view the rest of the room. Next to one side of the couch was an odd assortment of law books and sports magazines tossed on an end table.

“So you like sports, jazz and action movies when you're not studying the law. Interesting…” Ann contemplated as she continued surveying her surroundings. On the couch, she found a sweatshirt with the NYPD symbol on it. Without a second thought, Ann reached for the shirt, pressed it firmly against her nose and inhaled. Instantaneously the intertwined scents of sandalwood and jasmine unleashed additional memories from the night before.

 

“Hell yeah, this is definitely stronger than coffee.” Ann said lifting her glass and downing her drink in a single gulp. The liquid slid over her tongue and down her throat with ease until it hit her stomach. That's when the fire erupted in her, leaving a scorched trail behind it. Ann could feel her eyes opening wider and a rush of air being forced out of her lungs in an effort to cool the burning sensation that was overtaking the back of her throat.

“Whew! Just what I needed, something with a little more kick,” Ann said a little more boisterously than she needed over the loud music. “How about another?” Ann uncorked the bottle of ‘Jose Cuervo' Sam had ordered for them.

“You should take it easy,” Sam cautioned. “Tequila is a very tricky drink.”

“I think I can handle a few shots, detective.”

Ann poured herself another drink then lifted her glass and downed it. The burn wasn't quite as bad this time, apparently knowing what to expect was half the battle. She set the shot glass down on the table.

“I'm not as fragile as I look.”

“I'm pretty sure about that.” Sam said locking their gazes.

Ann was immediately lost in a pool of blue until her attention was dispersed when she heard a sexy Spanish accent interrupting their moment.

“Can I get you anything else?”

A ball of anger knotted in Ann's chest when she noticed a hot waitress leaning over the table displaying her generous cleavage for Sam's appreciation in a shameless flirtation.

“We're good, thanks,” Sam answered without taking her eyes of Ann.

The waitress nodded and left shooting a frustrated look at Ann.

“I think she was flirting with you,” Ann's anger turned into teasing.

“Who?”

“The waitress.”

“Was she?” Sam blinked. “I didn't notice.”

“Why not? Isn't she your type?”

“No, it's not that.” Sam gulped her drink and leaned back in her chair.

Ann lifted a curious eyebrow.

“I'm here with you and, although we are not a couple, I think the least I can do is devote my full attention to you.”

“You definitely know how to make a woman feel special.” Ann wrinkled her nose in a charming gesture.

“I have many skills.” Sam winked.

Ann's heart skipped a beat. There was something about Sam, something that was making Ann fall hopelessly in love with her.

“Let's dance,” Ann blurted out of nowhere.

“What?” Sam sat straight up.

“I want to find out if dancing is one of your many skills.” Ann stood up and extended her hand as an invitation. “Are you coming or are you afraid I'll find out that you don't have so many skills after all?”

A rakish grin slowly spread across Sam's face. She latched onto Ann's hand and let the high-spirited woman lead her to the dance floor. Ann grinned proudly as she caught a few jealous glares being thrown at her, one in particular made Ann puff out her chest. The redhead woman that had hugged Sam earlier was shooting daggers at her. She sent a triumphant smile and clutched Sam's hand as they glided among the other couples reaching the back of the room. Sam stopped and slid her hand around Ann's waist. A larger grin covered Ann's face and she placed her palms against Sam's shoulders taking a step closer to her. The sudden closeness left both women uneasy as their bodies began swaying back and forth in the rhythm of the music. When Sam tightened her hold on Ann's waist the only thing left for Ann to do was to close her eyes and enjoy the closeness of their bodies.

Ann pressed the sweatshirt hard against her chest flinging the sleeves of it around her waist as if trying to relive the sensation of Sam's arms around her.

“What am I doing?” She whispered without letting go of her grip on the shirt.

You're falling in love that's what you're doing.

 

The realization hit Ann like a ton of bricks. She tossed the shirt back on the couch as if it was on fire.

“I've got to get out of here,” Ann mumbled as she staggered off toward the bedroom, her only thought was to put time and space between her and the feeling that were closing in on her. She donned her clothes on as quickly as she could and left the apartment with the door slamming shut in her quake.

***

The walk through Central Park helped Ann's nerves to settle but all was for nothing when she entered her apartment. For the first time she felt lonely. The feeling of solitude almost overwhelmed her until blue eyes popped up in her mind. Hurriedly Ann closed her eyes and mentally pushed the image of Sam away. Once she thought it was safe, she held her breath and opened her eyes. To her surprise nothing gazed back at her. In fact, the only thing to catch her attention at all was the blinking light on her answering machine. Relieved and ready to keep her mind from drifting back to the source of her haunting, Ann crossed the living room and perched on the arm of her sofa. She stared at the blinking light that was beckoning her until she mustered up the courage to press the replay button.

The mechanical voice from the machine soon followed.

“You have four new messages. First message:”

“Hey, Ann, it's your mother. I hope you still remember that you have one. Listen sweetie, your father and I are a little bit worried about you, so as soon as you find some free time, please call us. Love you!”

“Second message:”

“Hi ya, Doc. Where the hell are you? I've been trying to call your cell phone since you left the hospital. I hope you're ok and don't do anything stupid, like getting back together with dull boy. If you have this itch, don't scratch it. Call me and we will get really drunk until it goes away. Seriously, Ann, you know my number so call me.”

“Third message:” the mechanical voice signaled yet another.

“Hi baby, I know that you asked me not to call but I just wanted to see how you were doing. I miss you Ann, I really do. I don't know what I did or maybe I didn't do but…I really want to say I'm sorry. I'm sorry if I'd put a lot of pressure on you. I'm sorry if I made you believe that your needs are less important than mine. I'm sorry if I wasn't there when you needed me. But please, please give me a chance to prove to you that I love you more than anything—”

“Like I really needed to hear Joe declaring his love for me,” Ann muttered struggling against her on emotions.

“Fourth message:”

“Jesus, now who?” Ann muttered under her breath.

“It's me again.”

The second Ann heard Joe's voice her stomach began to churn.

“I think I ran out of time. Anyway, I just wanted to say that you're my best friend and I miss you. I miss you like crazy. Please call me, anytime. I'll be glad just to hear your voice. I love you!”

Hearing those three words directed at her caused Ann's bile to rise into her throat. She swallowed fast to keep it from coming up any further.

“End of new messages.”

The sound of the answering machine clicking off set a landslide of tears rolling down from Ann's eyes. She didn't even bother to try to stop them. She just let go of all the confusion, all of the emotions, and all of the turmoil from the past few weeks. Ann collapsed onto the couch and wept until she felt the heaviness slowly leaving her chest. When all of the anguish was finally gone, Ann pulled herself together and reached for the phone. She punched in the numbers from her memory and waited for the call to go through. It didn't take long.

“Hi…yeah, it's me…no, no everything is ok. I was just wondering if you'd like to meet me tomorrow morning. We need to talk.”

To be continued…

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