Disclaimers: This story and everything within is my intellectual property, not to be used in any way other than to read. I hope you enjoy it.
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“What the hell,” Sheriff LuAnn Tipton muttered, dark blonde eyebrows drawn as she focused on the computer screen before her. Her hand absently moved the mouse on the pad with Hamilton County’s seal on it before stopping when the cursor reached its desired location and clicked with her right pointer finger.
About to go on the move again, LuAnn paused when she heard something come over the radio, which sat at the corner of her desk. Switching from the mouse to the black rectangle with antennae, she brought the walkie-talkie to her mouth and pressed the button to allow her to respond.
“I copy, Talbert. Bring the subject on in.”
LuAnn put the radio aside and returned to her task at hand, clicking several times as the mouse was moved around the screen. It didn’t take long before she heard her deputy’s tires crunch on the hardened snow as he pulled up outside the small building. She groaned and rolled her green eyes when she heard raised voices outside the main door into the Sheriff quarters proper.
“Damn it! Let go of me, you son-of-a-bitch!”
“You just calm down, Miss and do what I tell ya. That’s what got you here in the first place.”
LuAnn sat back in her seat, hands gripping the edge of the desk in case she needed to get up to assist. Within a couple moments, the large black man that she’d worked with for the past twelve years pushed open the door with one hand, the other wrapped around the arm of his perp, her hands handcuffed behind her back. Her long dark brown hair was wild, as though she’d been fighting him for awhile, quite obviously losing the fight.
She eased the tension in her arms, knowing full well the woman was no match for Talbert King. The man was a foot taller than his boss, standing at six feet, four inches. The width and breadth of his shoulders were frightening, yet to her credit, his prisoner seemed to give him a decent run for his money by the look on his face.
“Gonna put this one in cell one, Sheriff,” he said, grunting as he shoved the struggling woman in the direction of the four cells, which were all lined up with a hallway in front of them and a door with a window for access to them. The building was old and the cells were old school, bars with massive keys for massive – and often stubborn – locks.
“Sounds good,” LuAnn murmured, her attention fully back to her computer screen. “What on earth is a capsicum?” she said, brow knitting as she tucked her bottom lip under her top teeth.
“It’s a pepper of sorts,” Talbert said, reentering the room. “It’s used to spice food, can be used as a pepper-like veggie and,” he added, shrugging out of his snow-dusted Sheriff’s Department jacket, “it can be used in medicines.”
LuAnn stared at him for a long moment before shaking her head and returning her attention back to her screen.
“Hey,” he grinned, walking over to her desk and perching on the edge. “You like to play Farmville 2 and plant shit you’ve never heard of and I like to watch my bro, Robert Irvine on Food Network Channel and watch him make shit I’ve never heard of.”
LuAnn chuckled, nodding her head. “Fine, fine. So, what’s up? What we got?”
“Well, that one is a spitfire and a half,” he said, hitching his thumb back towards the area of the cells. “Squatting. Someone called it in. Hell, with this storm blowing out there, I’m not sure she would have made it through the night. Figured she’d be safer here.” He grinned, revealing even white teeth against the smooth brown of his skin. “She, however, did not agree.”
LuAnn laughed and sat back in her seat once more. “Yeah, well I can babysit her tonight. Hopefully you took the fight out of her and she’ll sleep it off.”
“Agreed. I’ll write up my report then, if you’re fine with it, I’ll head out.” He pushed up from the desk, the wood creaking slightly from the relief of his weight. “Kerry’s making dinner for us, first Valentine’s Day and all.”
“Ah, yes. How is the little make-up artiste?” LuAnn asked, tossing in a bad French accent for good measure.
“Come on, now!” Talbert whined, waving a big hand at her. “Don’t embarrass me, now.”
“Did you get her the wine I told you to?” LuAnn asked, fingers steepled beneath her chin and eyebrows raised in question.
“Yes, ma’am!” he exclaimed, his boots clicking together as he stood at attention in mock salute.
LuAnn laughed, waving him away. “If it doesn’t get you laid, I’m not sure what to tell ya.”
Talbert’s booming laughter followed him over to his desk before he sat down and fired up the computer.
LuAnn glanced over to the door that led to the cells and let out a heavy breath. The woman – and only inmate currently – on the other side was well known in the department. Her name was Evan Spencer, and she was well known to LuAnn. In a small town, it was impossible to not know or remember your numbered classmates when they popped back up.
“How much snow is out there?” she asked, tearing her attention away from what she already knew was trouble.
“A good five inches already,” Talbert said, heavy brows drawn as he chicken pecked his way through his Spencer’s arrest report. “Damn good thing you’ve got chains on your Bronco already.” He spared her a glance. “Gonna need ‘em come morning.”
LuAnn groaned. “Goodie.” She watched as her friend and employee finished up his report and shut down his computer before shrugging back into the quilted jacket. “Be careful and let me know how everything goes. Don’t have too much fun, hear?”
“Yeah, you’re just mad ‘cuz you’re stuck here all night with no hot dinner of your own at home waiting on you.”
LuAnn grinned with a nod. “Probably right. Have a good one.”
Left alone, LuAnn tapped an absent tune on her thighs before she glanced at the large round clock on the wall. It was only ten-thirty, and she had until after seven in the morning before her shift was over. She’d begun her career working the night beat, and back in those days – sixteen years ago – she didn’t mind. Now, however, not so much. She wanted to be home snuggled up in front of the fireplace with a good book and cup of coffee. For now, a bad cup of coffee would have to do.
Pushing the chair back from her desk, she walked over to the coffee maker that sat on the small dorm fridge near the restrooms, which she used to fill the carafe with water to brew a fresh pot.
While in the women’s room, she looked at her reflection above the sink. Her blonde hair was cut into a short, sporty style, which was much easier to maintain on the job than her long hair had been. She’d learned that early on in her career, though still grew it out to her shoulders from time to time just because. She supposed she was a pretty woman, though didn’t give it much thought. People mostly complimented her on her eyes, a true, rich green, just like her great-grandmother’s. She looked into those eyes now and saw how tired she was. She’d been working nights all week.
The truth of the matter was, as Sheriff, it was entirely her discretion to put her deputies on revolving nights and save the sweet shifts for herself, but she just couldn’t do it. When she’d run for the job, she’d promised fairness in all ways, a quality she was known for. So, working the night shift was part of the deal.
Finished filling the carafe, she headed back to the main room and got the coffee pot perking to life. In the meantime, she glanced over once again at the door that would take her into the cell block and, with deep breath to steel herself, headed in that direction.
Everything was quiet, save for the whistle of the wind coming in through the cracked window at the end of the hall. LuAnn had been trying for a month to get funding to get someone in fix it. Pretty soon, she may just have to take it out of her own pocket for the safety of her staff.
She walked to the only occupied cell in the building. Once she reached the bars, she looked into the five by eight room within. The cells weren’t much more than holding cells, with a bench along the back wall and a connected toilet and sink against the right hand wall. Her prisoner lay on her back on the bench, one booted foot on the cement floor, the other propped up on the bench. Her hands were clasped over her belly. She wore jeans with a hole in the right knee and a red quilted jacket.
“What?” she snapped, still staring straight up at the ceiling.
“Comfy?” LuAnn asked, leaning her shoulder against one of the bars.
“Do I look comfy?”
LuAnn pushed away and shoved her hands into the hip pockets of her work-issued slacks. “Not particularly.” When she got no response, she studied the woman’s profile for a moment, noting the fine bone structure and definition of dark arched eyebrows. She was quite attractive, LuAnn had to admit.
Shaking her thoughts from the completely inappropriate, LuAnn stepped slightly away from the bars and dropped her hands to her sides. “If you need anything, let me know.”
With that, LuAnn headed back into the office area and to her computer, about to sit down when she remembered the coffeemaker, which sputtered to a groaning finish as she reached it.
Pouring herself a steaming mug, she glanced out one of the large windows that showed her Bronco in the parking lot, snow rising up to cover the tires now.
“Shit,” she muttered. She may be pulling a double, depending. The good news was, crime would essentially be at zero. They would, however, have the stranded motorists who didn’t listen to the warnings on the news to worry about.
She set her mug on the desk when a loud howling caught her attention. Another glance outside showed the storm picking up, visibility nearly down to nothing. She just hoped Talbert had arrived at his destination safely.
“Hey! Hey, copper!”
LuAnn hurried to the door to the cellblock, yanking it open and hurrying into the corridor beyond. She stopped at Evan’s cell, an eyebrow raised in question.
“’Bout damn time you deal with me,” she said, already at the bars, fingers wrapped around the two on either side of her head.
LuAnn crossed her arms over her chest. “Seriously? You’re going to start this already? I figured you’d stop the passive-aggressive bullshit bullying in Mr. Halston’s class.”
Evan grinned, leaning her face forward just a bit between the cold metal. “This isn’t tenth grade anymore, rich girl.”
“It’s not,” LuAnn agreed. “So, what do you want?”
“I was just wondering if you were planning on giving me a snow shovel or maybe just a blanket.”
LuAnn glanced over to the broken window and sucked in a breath. Snow was blowing in at an alarming rate, a small drift already gathering on the floor.
LuAnn hurried over to the window, which was mounted high up on the wall. Hands on hips, she stared at it, trying to think of what she could plug it with and how she’d be able to reach it to do it.
“I could stuff a towel or something in there,” Evan said, as though reading the Sheriff’s mind.
LuAnn glanced over her shoulder at the prisoner, who rested her forehead against the bars to see as far past them as possible. Looking from the taller woman to the taller problem, LuAnn shook her head.
“I can’t let you out of there just to plug a hole,” she said, turning and heading back to the other room.
“You can’t leave me in here to freeze, either!” was yelled behind her.
Quickly looking around the office for anything useful, she found a metal chair with vinyl seat by the front door and a t-shirt one of her deputies had left behind. She grabbed the metal grip on the back of the chair and lugged behind her as she headed back to the cellblock and the window. She held a hand up as she passed Evan’s cell.
“No comments from the peanut gallery, thank you.”
It was brutally cold in the cellblock as she positioned the chair beneath the window. Squinting against the deluge of wind-driven snow, she climbed atop the seat and grunted slightly as she tried to get the t-shirt positioned into the hole to stop the storm from coming inside.
“Damn it,” she grunted, a tad too short to do a good job, even with the boost of the chair. She glanced back towards the one occupied cell, just barely able to see Evan’s fingers wrapped around the bars. Stepping down from the chair, she freed the large key ring from her utility belt and gave her prisoner a pointed look. “Don’t make me shoot you.”
Evan smirked as her cell was unlocked and opened.
LuAnn shoved the t-shirt into Evan’s hands and watched as the taller woman took her place on the chair and easily maneuvered the material into place. Evan was about to step down when the wind screamed into action, throwing a tree limb to crash against the metal mesh that covered the outside of the window, the remaining glass exploding into a glass shower over Evan’s head and upper body.
“Evan!” LuAnn screamed, her voice nearly lost above the holler of the storm, which sounded more like a racing freight train then a mere blizzard.
Evan staggered backwards off the chair, slamming into the bars of one of the cells, her hands covering her face.
“Are you okay?” LuAnn yelled, placing a hand on Evan’s arm. At the small nod she got, she tugged on that arm, forcing one of Evan’s hands away from her face. She was blinking rapidly, bits of glass stuck in long eyelashes and a smattering of superficial cuts on her face. “Come on.”
Letting Evan enter the office area before her, she used all her strength to pull the cellblock door closed and locking it, the sudden muffle of the storm nearly deafening. LuAnn leaned against the door for a moment, catching her breath. Running a hand back and forth through her hair to knock the shards of glass out, she pushed away from the door and towards where Evan stood at the center of the room.
“Come on,” she said, tugging on the cuff of her jacket. “Let’s get your face cleaned up.”
In the women’s bathroom, LuAnn grabbed the First-Aid kit from the cabinet under the sink and maneuvered her inmate to sit on the toilet seat, her denim-clad legs spread so LuAnn could have easier access to the cuts on her face.
“Sorry if that hurts,” LuAnn said quietly, picking a few bits of glass from pale skin. She winced in sympathy at a couple of the deeper ones, though didn’t feel any stitches would be required. “So,” she said after a bit, her fingers gently running a rubbing alcohol-soaked cotton ball across the injuries before gently leaning in to blow cool air over what she knew was stinging with every pass.
“How did you end up here?” Evan asked, brows drawn in pain. “Did your daddy the judge buy your election to Sheriff?”
LuAnn stopped what she was doing and leaned back, glaring down at her impromptu patient. “Why are you such a bitch sometimes? I mean, here I am helping you and all you can do is be snide.”
“Well, if it weren’t for your impetuous deputy, you wouldn’t have to be doctoring me up at all.”
LuAnn was about to continue with her ministrations but stopped, meeting Evan’s angry gaze. “Why were you in that house, Evan?”
“Doesn’t matter,” Evan muttered, pushing LuAnn away from her. “I’m fine,” she said as she got to her feet.
LuAnn gathered the medical supplies and slammed them back into the plastic box. “It does matter, Evan. Why were you there?”
Evan turned to face LuAnn, her hand on the handle to the women’s restroom. “It didn’t matter to your guy and it doesn’t matter to you. If you don’t mind, I’d like to get some sleep.”
With that, she was gone, leaving LuAnn to watch the heavy door slowly sigh to a close on its hinges.
LuAnn knew she needed to hurry out after her prisoner to make sure she wasn’t doing anything stupid or crazy, but she couldn’t seem to budge from where she stood on the cracked tile. She took a look around the bathroom, with its three stalls, two sinks on a long vanity, both stained white enamel. The long mirror above was spotted, no matter how many times it had been cleaned. The building was old and rundown.
She pulled her thoughts from her surroundings to the woman in the other room. She’d gone to school with Evan Spencer since the third grade. Her family had moved into the valley when Evan was eight and her brother, Bruno was ten. The Spencer family had made quite a splash, with the police constantly at their trailer for domestic situations – many LuAnn’s own father had been involved with as an attorney and then judge. Also, it was widely known that Evan’s mother, Rita was having affairs with just about any man in town that was willing to fall for her undeniable beauty – the same beauty that her daughter had inherited.
There were rumors of abuse in the Spencer household, both from the parents and even Bruno as he got older. The town bully that was what he’d been called, up until his death at the age of nineteen. Some said it was suicide, others said it was murder. Either way, that case had single-handedly peeked LuAnn’s interest into police work. Only seventeen, she’d found the case intriguing, and Evan’s behavior after frightening.
Shaking herself out of the past, she focused back on the present and headed out of the bathroom. Evan lay on the floor with her legs up and crossed booted-feet resting against the wall. Her hands were clasped over her stomach and her eyes were closed.
LuAnn studied her for a moment before she grabbed her own quilted Sheriff’s jacket from her desk chair and walked over to her. “Here,” she said, squatting down and offering the wadded up jacket. “You can use this as a pillow.”
Evan glanced at her briefly before lifting her head to accept the jacket then lay her head back down. “Thanks,” she muttered, her eyes slipping closed once more.
Not sure what else to do, LuAnn placed her hands on her thighs and pushed back to her feet before walking to her desk. By the error message on her computer screen, she could tell the internet had gone out.
With a low growl, she plopped down in her chair and reached for the mouse, clicking out of her game. Staring at the desktop image of the County seal, she tucked her bottom lip under her top teeth and glanced once again at Evan, whose position had not changed. As she watched, the brunette cleared her throat and readjusted her shoulders on the berber carpeting before growing quiet again.
Bored, LuAnn decided to open up some budge reports she needed to get started on. She opened the first file when Evan’s voice rent the air.
“So, did daddy throw in his weight to land you the job of Sheriff?”
LuAnn glanced over at the other woman to see that her eyes were still closed and she held her prone pose. The Sheriff sat back in her chair as she clasped her fingers and rested them on the desk in front of her keyboard.
Evan shrugged a shoulder, lazily turning her head to face LuAnn as she opened her eyes. “You’re his little girl. I’m sure he’d do just about anything for you.”
“Yeah, well not that,” LuAnn spat, turning her attention back to her computer screen.
The truth of the matter was, it wasn’t the first time she’d either been asked that question or had sensed it. Duvall Tipton had been a pillar of the community for the entirety of his career as a prosecutor and then a judge. He was known throughout the area and later on in his career, he’d become a contributor on legal matters for various cable news networks.
LuAnn could feel Evan’s gaze on her, but she couldn’t make herself face it. She clicked randomly on the opened report, not really sure what she’d clicked on until a new column appeared. She cursed softly under her breath and undid it.
“That really pissed you off, didn’t it?” Evan asked, sitting up and turning to face LuAnn as she pulled her legs up to her chest.
“What do you think?”
“I think you’re pissed off.”
“You’re quite observant, Evan. My whole life, all I’ve wanted was to be seen for me, not for what my father has done,” LuAnn exclaimed, thumping her own chest with her hand. “I’m an individual, not my father.”
Evan gave her a sad smile. “Bingo.”
LuAnn was about to continue her tirade when it occurred to her what Evan had said. She glanced at her, turning in her desk chair so she was facing the sitting woman. “What, what do you mean?”
Evan cocked her head to the side, a sly little smile on her beautiful face. “Are you seriously asking me to explain?”
“Why were you in that house?” LuAnn asked quietly in lieu of a response to Evan’s question, which LuAnn figured was rhetorical, anyway.
Evan smirked. “Because it’s my house.”
“I came back into town to start on renovations, but the storm snuck up on me before I could get out. Your guys didn’t like that too much, I guess.”
LuAnn studied the other woman, trying to gauge whether she was telling the truth or not. As an officer of the law, trained to detect deceit, she saw none. Falling back against her chair, her hands fell into her lap as she looked down at them for a long moment. Finally, she looked up and met an angry gaze.
“I’m truly sorry, Evan,” she said softly. “I’ll talk to Talbert tomorrow and I’ll delete his arrest report.”
“Gee, thanks.” Evan muttered, running a hand over her hair.
“Well, hey,” LuAnn said, crossing an ankle over a knee. “At least you have a warm place to spend the night.” She glanced over at the door to the cellblock door. “Kind of.” They sat in awkward silence for a moment when LuAnn noticed her untouched coffee. She grabbed the mug, which was still warm and headed towards the coffeemaker. “Would you like some?”
Even got to her feet, nodding. She picked up LuAnn’s bundled up jacket and carried it to her desk. “Thanks.”
LuAnn poured a mug for Evan and handed it to her. “Cream and sugar is in that cabinet,” she said, pointing to the small cabinet that hung on the wall over the small “kitchenette” area.
“Thanks,” Evan said again, grabbing a couple packets of sugar and the can of powdered creamer.
LuAnn glanced at her from time to time as she prepared her own cooling coffee. A few in the microwave was definitely going to be a must. “Why did you buy a house here?” she asked, hoping her voice sounded conversational. She felt bad about the events of the evening, and wasn’t entirely sure how to make it better.
Evan paused briefly in stirring her coffee and spared a glance at LuAnn. “It was time to come home. I’ve been gone for almost twenty years.” She shrugged, sipping from the hot brew. “It was just time.”
LuAnn nodded. “I can understand that.” She gave a brief smile. “In all honesty, I figured I’d be gone from here long ago. Figured I’d be a New York City cop by now. Instead ….”
“Instead you’re the star of the Andy Griffith show.”
LuAnn studied Evan’s face, looking for sarcasm, but only found true amusement. She chuckled with a nod. “Yeah, guess so. But,” she said with a shrug as she looked over the office. “I love what I do and I love my town, so … “
Evan was quiet for a moment before she spoke. “I’m sorry about what I said, you know, your dad helping you get the job and everything. He’s a good guy, and I know he wouldn’t do that.”
Luann nodded. “Yes, very good guy. Lives in Myrtle Beach now.”
Evan nodded, sipping from her cup. She eyed LuAnn for a moment before lowering her cup. “He helped me once, to get out of a jam.”
LuAnn met her gaze, an eyebrow raised in interest. “Oh?”
“Yup.” Evan walked over to one of the desks near LuAnn’s and sat down, crossing her leg over her knee, her cup resting atop it. “I had just turned eighteen and was still running around with Carl Watson and his sister, Tressa.”
“Ah yes, the trouble twins,” LuAnn said, a small smile on her face.
“They would be the ones. So anyway, I got caught up in what could have been some pretty bad stuff but your dad intervened on my behalf.”
LuAnn could only stare, no idea any of this had happened.
“He told me I could go away for a very long time if I wasn’t careful.”
“You were an adult.”
“I was an adult,” Evan agreed with a nod of her head. “He pulled a couple strings and got me off easy as long as I promised to leave the area and start over somewhere else.”
She’d finished her story so quietly, LuAnn barely heard it. Once it registered what she’d just been told, she was stunned. “He did that?” she whispered.
Evan nodded, her gaze meeting LuAnn’s. “I left Colorado and moved to California. Been there ever since. Well,” she added, “until the past couple days.”
“What did you do in California?” LuAnn asked, utterly fascinated.
“Well, shit,” Evan said, setting her coffee cup aside on the desk in front of her. “You figure, I was an eighteen, nineteen year old kid. I had no money, no friends, didn’t know a soul out there.”
“Then why did you choose it?”
“Because it was warm. I knew if I needed to, I could sleep in my car.” She gave LuAnn a pointed look. “Which I did. I ended up running into this woman, Rose, who was painting on the beach who taught an art class and needed models and asked if I’d be willing to pose nude for her class.”
LuAnn listened to Evan’s story, and she was caught by the tender tone in the smooth alto voice as Evan mentioned Rose’s name. She also had to stop a wave of heat that swept through her body at the mere thought of such a gorgeous woman posing nude.
She cleared her throat and asked, “Did you?”
“I did,” Evan said, absently reaching for her coffee cup and looking down into the steaming liquid inside.
“And, Rose?” LuAnn asked gently.
“We were together for twelve years.” A beautiful smile spread across her features. “Twelve wonderful years.”
LuAnn smiled just from the sheer joy she could see in Evan’s blue eyes. “That’s really wonderful, Evan. Sounds like Rose was good for you.”
“She was. She changed my life and changed me forever. I got my shit together, stopped the drinking and the partying and,” she held up her fingers for air quotes, “settled down.”
“So, what happened?” LuAnn asked, afraid to hear the answer.
“She died,” Evan responded, her voice quiet and even.
“Oh, Evan,” LuAnn breathed, her heart hurting at the pain she heard in those two words. “Truly. I can’t imagine.”
“I hope you never have to.” Evan took a deep breath and looked over at the Sheriff. “It rocks your world and changes the core of who you are. The choice then becomes, does it change it for the better or for the worse?”
“You’re very strong, Evan,” LuAnn said, pushing up from her chair and walking the scant distance over to Evan’s where she laid a hand on her shoulder, squeezing a bit. “Courage takes work and honesty.”
“Yes. Well,” Evan said, slapping her hands against her thighs as she stood, causing LuAnn to take a few steps back. “I’m exhausted. I think I’ll try that sleeping thing again.”
LuAnn watched Evan finish her coffee then resume her place on the floor, sans her Sheriff’s jacket, and close her eyes. Letting out a sigh, LuAnn took Evan’s empty coffee cup from the desk and walked to the women’s room, rinsing it out so the strong coffee wouldn’t stain the white finish of the mug.
Finished, LuAnn wandered back to her desk, about to sit down when she heard the storm begin to raise the stakes yet again. The howling wind was so loud and aggressive, the entire building felt as though it would collapse. She was concerned that the breach in the cellblock would weaken the structure of the old building, as the cellblock was the strongest part, built of stone and metal, while the office structure was built of essentially wood and nails.
As LuAnn headed to the window to see how bad it was the lights blinked several times then flickered out a final time. She cried out in surprise when the front door of the station flew open, the doorknob embedding itself in the drywall behind it. Frigid wind and snow blew in, causing a literal blizzard inside the Sheriff’s station.
LuAnn got her composure back and felt around in the darkness for Evan, who was standing a few feet away. “We’ve got to get out of here!” she yelled above the storm.
Not waiting around for a response, LuAnn’s training kicked in. She felt her way to her desk and tugged her heavy quilted jacket on and reached around in her desk drawer for the high-powered tactical flashlight and flicked it on. Instantly the beam was consumed with blowing snow, making visibility in the building difficult. She tugged on the heavy knitted cap – with face protection – that she’d made for herself over the summer, and grabbed Evan’s hand tightly within her own, pulling the taller woman to her so she could be heard.
“We’ll have to get out and head to my house! It’s just down the road!”
Hand in hand the two headed for the door and into the storm. A loud crash followed them, and LuAnn figured another branch must have been tossed at the building, making a direct hit with a second window. She tugged harder on Evan’s hand, getting them out into the open.
The night was aglow with the swirl of white, the moon overhead throwing nearly blinding light in places and deep patches of shadow in others. It was obvious that her Bronco wasn’t an option, as half of the vehicle was completely covered in a drift. For a moment she considered getting into the car, anyway, just to wait out the worst of the storm, but instead decided it would be wiser in the long run to make for her house before the snow deepened. Besides, at home she had a back-up generator and a fireplace.
The trek through the deepening snow and unrelenting wind was slow and painful, both women holding up their free hand as often as they could to protect squinted eyes. The tree branches were ruthless and unavoidable as LuAnn led them through the short patch of woods that would lead directly to her back door.
Relief was swift when she recognized the shape of the two-story against the white night and tugged harder on Evan’s hand, quickening her own pace as much as the snow would allow.
Minutes later, LuAnn and Evan climbed and fought their way up the stairs of the back porch, LuAnn’s fingers nearly frozen as she tried to insert the key into the lock. It took a few tries, but with a whoop of victory, she got it.
“Hurry!” she yelled, tugging Evan into the warmth of the house before they both used their full body weights to slam the door closed, LuAnn flicking the locks back into place. She leaned back against it, her chest heaving and lungs burning from the cold air they’d been forced to inhale. Through the shadows of the kitchen, she could see Evan leaning against the counter. “You okay?”
After a moment, Evan responded. “Yeah. This is crazy.”
“Yes. Here,” LuAnn said, handing Evan the flashlight. Get out of that wet jacket and boots and get us a fire started. I’m going to see about getting the generator going.”
Not waiting for a response, LuAnn hurried from the room, stripping out of her own jacket after leaving her boots by the door. As she hurried through the house, which she knew like the back of her hand, she unbuttoned her issued trousers, the snow-caked legs making her shiver. She dropped them at the hearth of the living room fireplace before continuing on in her uniform shirt and long underwear to the basement.
Within ten minutes, the power was on in the house and Evan had a good fire going. LuAnn came down the stairs from the second level changed into warm sweats and a hoodie with slipper boots on her feet. She held out a similar outfit folded in her arms to Evan.
“I know the pants will be a little short, but they’re the biggest pair I’ve got.”
“Oh, thanks a lot.” Evan took the clothing and disappeared into the downstairs bathroom near the kitchen and stepped out a few moments later to a chuckle from LuAnn. “Yes, I know I look like a dork, Sheriff.”
Evan tossed her folded damp clothing to the hearth next to LuAnn’s then followed the blonde where she’d headed into the kitchen.
“Hungry?” LuAnn asked, fridge door open as she peeked inside. “I’ve got some leftover potato soup that I made yesterday that I can heat up.” She looked at Evan over the door. “Sound good?”
“Yeah, sounds great,” Evan said, arms crossed over her sweatshirt-clad chest as she leaned a shoulder against the doorframe to the room. “So,” she said conversationally, looking around. “Got the old place, huh?”
LuAnn smirked as she set the large container of thick soup on the counter. “Part of my inheritance.”
“Gee, and all I got was a seventeen year sober chip for mine.”
LuAnn glanced over her shoulder at her smirking companion, not returning the humor. “That’s really great, Evan. I know it’s not an easy feat. I see it every day here.”
“Um,” Evan murmured, clearing her throat. “Thanks.”
LuAnn grabbed two bowls from the cabinet overhead. “How much do you want?”
“You’re sure?” LuAnn asked, obvious doubt in her voice. “You’re sure you’re going to stay warm enough?”
Evan looked at the pile of bedding that had been placed on the couch. “Even without the fireplace going, I have no doubt I’ll be fine,” she assured, turning back to LuAnn.
“I’m so sorry I don’t have enough wood to keep it burning overnight. I can’t get to my stacks and I wasn’t prepared to have comp – “
“Lu!” Evan exclaimed, holding a hand up to forestall LuAnn’s ramble.
LuAnn stopped talking abruptly, surprised to hear the shortened version of her name come from Evan’s lips. She hadn’t heard her call her that since that brief period in seventh grade when they’d shared a locker and been slightly friendly with each other.
“It’s okay.” Even placed her hands on LuAnn’s shoulders and turned her towards the direction of the stairs. “I’ll probably be warmer than you up there in your bed beneath all this.”
“Alright, alright,” LuAnn said, capitulating despite her conscience. “I’ll leave you to it. Goodnight.”
LuAnn headed upstairs to her own bedroom. One of the two remaining bedrooms had been turned into a home office while the third – and only guest room – wasn’t put together, yet, as LuAnn had painted it and pulled up the carpet, intending to refinish the wood floors beneath. The couch – or her bed – was the only option for Evan to sleep.
LuAnn’s childhood home was a gorgeous, and most importantly paid off, Victorian built towards the end of the nineteenth century. Her parents had done tons of upgrades to it during their thirty-three years there, but now LuAnn was making some of her own, making the house more modern in conveniences as well as making it more her own home, not that of her parents. And, the truth of the matter was, it gave her something to stay occupied with in a life that had been boiled down to her career and a handful of outings with friends each month.
It was bitterly cold upstairs away from the fire as the storm continued to rage outside. LuAnn figured a gas line must have gone down somewhere, as the heat wasn’t working. In the morning she’d dig out the remaining electric heaters from the attic for downstairs as she always kept one handy in her bedroom closet for the bedroom.
Pulling that out now, she got it plugged in and turned on, intending to warm up the bedroom as much as possible before turning it off just before she climbed beneath the covers, not wanting to waste the gas in the generator by running it all night.
Hours later, LuAnn woke up shivering violently. The night had turned dangerously cold and the temperature in the house had dropped considerably. Even buried beneath a heavy quilt, blanket and sheet, she was still cold.
Shoving the mound of covers off her, LuAnn quickly tugged her slippers on and hurried through the darkened house to the first level. She could hear Evan’s shivers before she even reached her.
“Evan,” LuAnn whispered, lightly nudging her shoulder from where Evan lay on the couch, her back to the Sheriff. “Evan.”
“What?” Evan murmured from beneath the cocoon she’d created for herself, even as she shivered.
“Come on. It’s gotten too cold. Come upstairs with me.” LuAnn waited until she was sure the other woman heard and understood, backing away as Evan pushed the covers off herself and staggered to her feet. “Come on. We’ve got to get warm.”
“Holy shit!” Evan exclaimed once her sock-covered feet hit the wood floor. “It feels like it’s thirty degrees in here!”
“You’re probably not far off. Come on,” LuAnn urged again, taking Evan’s hand and hurrying through the darkness to the stairs and then to her bedroom.
“This is a little sudden, don’t you think?” Evan smirked, climbing under the heavy covers atop LuAnn’s bed. “But then, you did make me dinner first.”
“Hardy har har,” LuAnn laughed, climbing in on her side after kicking her slippers off. “Go to sleep before I arrest you again.”
They lay in silence for several minutes, both laying on their backs a full person apart in the king-sized bed. LuAnn suddenly wasn’t sleepy anymore, but felt wide awake, her body stirring in a way that it hadn’t in the two years since her breakup with Nikki, which had been very sudden and painful.
She tugged the heavy covers closer up around her chin, still cold. A glance to her left showed her that Evan was looking back at her, her beautiful features almost ethereal in the moonlight. She gave LuAnn a small smile.
“You know, regardless of how innocent this situation is, it’s the first time I’ve been in bed with another woman in a long time.”
LuAnn returned the smile, taking a moment before revealing her own thoughts. “Me, too. First time for me to have another woman in my bed in two years.” Her smile widened by the shock she saw in Evan’s eyes.
“Well, hot damn.” Even murmured, her gaze going to the shadows of the ceiling, which she seemed to contemplate before she again turned to LuAnn. “A girlfriend?”
“For six years.”
Evan whistled between her teeth. “The judge’s daughter, who woulda guessed.”
“Besides absolutely nobody in town, a couple.”
Evan laughed outright. “No doubt. Must not be easy in this town.”
LuAnn shrugged a shoulder. “It has its moments. Luckily, my family has been here for so long and everyone has known me since I was a kid, they pretty much play possum about it. I don’t rub it in their faces and they don’t lynch me.” LuAnn chuckled at her own words, which though exaggeration, a kernel of truth in their depths.
They remained quiet for a few moments until Evan broke the silence. “Are you still cold?”
“Okay, we got into the same bed to share heat. Let’s take this trip from the coasts back to the middle of the country, huh?”
LuAnn chuckled as she scooted closer to the middle of the bed as per Evan’s example. Now, nearly shoulder to shoulder to shoulder, the Sheriff felt that same warm tingling from moments before pitter patter through her body. She squeezed her eye tightly closed for a moment, trying to get her body to behave.
There was no doubt that Evan Spencer was about as beautiful a woman as was humanly possible, her features nearly flawless and, from LuAnn could make out, a body to die for. But, there was something more. The woman was obviously very intelligent and funny. But, there was something else. Something about her drew LuAnn to her in a way that surprised her, especially considering they’d only been reacquainted for a handful of hours, now after twenty years apart.
She’d changed. Something about Evan was vastly different than the troubled rebel of their youth. But then, she thought back to a few times in middle school, when they’d seen more of each other, as Evan was rarely in school during high school, when Evan had stood up against bullies to protect some of the other kids. She’d even protected her a time or two.
She glanced at the other woman. Had this person, this kinder, gentler person, been there all along?
“What?” Evan asked, meeting LuAnn’s gaze.
LuAnn shook her head. “I’m just trying to figure the woman lying here with me from the girl who stuck grasshoppers down my shirt when we were ten, yet chase Arnold Stathers halfway down the block when he made me cry when we were in sixth grade.”
“You remember all that?” Evan asked, turning from her back to her right side, facing LuAnn, who grinned.
“I have a wonderful sense of recall. It’s helped make me a great cop.”
“Oh, I bet. Remind me not to piss you off! You’ll remember it when we’re eighty.”
“Pretty much,” LuAnn laughed, but then quickly sobered. She copied Evan’s pose, tucking her hands beneath her chin. “What do you do for work?”
“Nope,” Evan said, readjusting her head slightly on the pillow. “I write books. Children’s books and young adult.”
LuAnn nearly swallowed her tongue. “Are you serious?”
“Very. When I was more into children’s books, Rose illustrated them for me. After she died, I just couldn’t imagine anyone else bringing my vision to the page, so I moved on to young adult books.”
“Would I have seen any?” LuAnn asked, utterly fascinated.
“Not if you don’t have children, you wouldn’t. But, they’re out there. I’ve made a nice living telling stories.” Evan smirked. “I figure, with all the lying I used to do as a kid, might as well make money making stuff up. And,” she added, “with all the stupid stuff I’ve done in my life, I have a whole lot of wisdom to impart.”
“I really want to read them, Evan. I’m completely shocked and fascinated! You,” LuAnn said, poking at Evan’s shoulder with a finger, “ are full of surprises.”
“I always was. The surprises just used to be a fifth of Jack or an ounce of grass.” Evan’s face scrunched up as her mouth opened wide in a jaw-cracking yawn. “But for now,” she murmured, “I need sleep.”
“Goodnight, Evan,” LuAnn said for the second time that night, turning to her other side and closing her eyes.
LuAnn awoke, her body warm and something soft pressed against it. She blinked several times as the rays of the morning sun peeked in through the slats of the partially-closed blinds. No idea what time it was, she took stock of herself and realized that, though still a bit sleepy, overall she felt content and comfortable.
As she had drifted into wakefulness, she had wondered if the body she felt spooned up behind her was a dream, but now she knew full well who it was that breathed deep and even behind her. She could feel her warm breath ruffle her hair as well as feel her hand resting casually on her side, LuAnn’s own arm tucked over it.
LuAnn was about to close her eyes once more when Evan let out a soft sigh behind her, her fingers tightening slightly in the material of LuAnn’s sweatshirt, her hips pressing a bit closer against LuAnn’s behind.
The Sheriff closed her eyes, reveling in the physical touch, even if it was while Evan was asleep. No doubt the beautiful writer was dreaming of Rose or someone from back in California, and just for a moment, LuAnn didn’t allow herself to care. She hadn’t been touched in far too long and wasn’t willing to give it up just yet.
LuAnn had so stop an outright sigh when that hand began to go on the move, the sensations dull through the thick material of her sweatshirt, but the pressure was there, enough to send warmth through her body and straight down between her legs, which began to scissor restlessly.
Evan’s hand trailed from over LuAnn’s side to her stomach, the fingers stretching out, the tip of her index fingers just barely grazing the underside of the blonde’s right breast. LuAnn did what she could to not arch her back in invitation. Instead, she squeezed her thighs a bit tighter together, her fingers clenching a small wad of the fitted sheet beneath her.
It wasn’t until Evan’s hand fully covered LuAnn’s breast and she nuzzled the back of her neck that she realized that Evan was indeed awake. This frightened her, as it meant this was truly happening, but at the same time heightened the sensation and feelings within her.
She pressed her behind a bit further into Evan’s hips, which responded with a gentle thrust of their own. LuAnn gasped slightly when two fingers pushed against her hardening nipple.
LuAnn gasped, her hand moving back to grasp a strong thigh that was pressed against her own. She did arch her back this time, the hand covering her breast growing more bold as it squeezed the entirety. A small sigh escaped LuAnn’s lips as Evan’s own lips found the back of her neck, leaving a small kiss there.
Deciding she needed more, LuAnn took Evan’s hand in her own and slid it down her flat belly to the hem of her sweatshirt, pressing slightly. Seeming to get the invitation, Evan’s fingers found their way underneath, fingertips grazing over the smooth, hot flesh of LuAnn’s side. The hand was about to retake its former prize when LuAnn just couldn’t take it anymore.
Quickly moving away just enough to be able to turn over, she took Evan in a passionate kiss, which was returned immediately. LuAnn found herself engulfed in strong arms and pushed to her back, Evan’s warmth following. LuAnn wrapped her arms around Evan’s back, pulling her as close to her as possible as their kiss deepened, all-consuming.
Suddenly, Evan broke the kiss and pulled away. She looked deeply into LuAnn’s eyes, a hand coming up to brush a soft cheek. She left a simple kiss on her lips before rolling off of her, leaving LuAnn confused until she realized Evan was tugging her own sweatshirt off, trying to stay beneath the covers as it was a frigid morning.
With lots of giggles and Evan nearly falling out of bed, the two women managed to get their clothing off and tossed to the floor before coming back together. LuAnn pulled Evan as close to her as she could as they faced each other on their sides, their legs entwined with one of Evan’s thighs pressed against her saturated need.
She gasped as Evan pressed harder against her, a firm hand cupping LuAnn’s behind to pull them even closer together as their kiss heated up, becoming sloppy and wet. LuAnn’s hand wormed its way between their bodies and cupped one of Evan’s breasts, the flesh full and pliable with a rigid nipple pressing into her palm.
Evan moaned into LuAnn’s mouth before she pushed her to her back, reaching down to nudge strong thighs apart before settling between them. LuAnn gasped as Evan pressed against her most sensitive place with her own. LuAnn wrapped her arms around her, moving her hips with Evan’s as the taller woman braced herself on her hands and thrust her wetness into LuAnn’s.
Both women moaned with the rising pleasure of the insistent thrusts of Evan’s hips, the bed banging against the wall with the intensity. LuAnn hung on for dear life as her orgasm built, finally flooding her body with a loud yell from her lips. Moments later, Evan’s own cry of release erupted. She barely caught her breath when she was taken in a soft, gentle kiss. She responded, her lust curbed, leaving her wanting to touch and explore.
LuAnn’s head fell to the side as Evan’s lips left soft kisses and licks to her neck, her hand running along the blonde’s thigh, which rose higher on Evan’s hips at the touch. She buried her fingers in Evan’s hair as her mouth moved lower, laying a hot trail down her throat and further still to between her breasts.
LuAnn let out a long sigh as her right nipple was taken into a warm mouth as her left was taken between two fingers. Her body squirmed slightly against Evan’s, which still lay between her spread thighs. She felt restless with her reborn arousal. She was wet and uncomfortable, her need painting Evan’s stomach.
Head falling back, LuAnn’s legs fell open fully beneath the covers as Evan’s head disappeared beneath, only for her tongue to glide through wet folds moments later. Her back arched as her hands flew to Evan’s head, fingers buried in thick dark hair as she was feasted on, her hips moving with every stroke of Evan’s tongue.
Quickly, the pleasure became so intense it was almost painful and LuAnn cried out so loudly, her voice echoed in the room. Evan seemed unwilling to stop as her barrage continued, but LuAnn couldn’t take it, so she pressed down on her head, pushing her mouth away from her sensitive clit.
“Stop,” she whimpered, breast heaving as she tried to bring her world back into focus.
Evan climbed up from under the covers, her hand continuing to caress LuAnn’s body as she nuzzled her neck. LuAnn hummed in contentment as she returned the caresses, her fingers itching to explore and touch hot flesh of the beautiful woman pressed against her.
She initiated a slow, yet passionate kiss as she trailed her fingernails down Evan’s arm then over her back and down over a rounded cheek. Evan moaned into the kiss, deepening it as LuAnn found her breast, lightly tweaking the nipple.
LuAnn stroked Evan’s tongue as her fingers stroked her skin, maneuvering them so Evan lay on her back, LuAnn on her side next to her, hovering over her. She could smell Evan’s need as well as could see the desperation in her eyes.
Placing a final kiss on soft lips, LuAnn explored the glorious bounty before her, kissing and licking Evan’s neck and along a collarbone before she nuzzled a soft breast with her cheek. She loved the feel of the hard nipple against her lips just before she brought her tongue out to taste it. She moaned as she engulfed the rigid flesh, her fingers trailing down Evan’s stomach to the trimmed patch of hair between her legs, which opened in invitation.
Fingers easily gliding through slick folds, LuAnn left Evan’s breast and looked down the gorgeous body beneath her to watch her fingers play. She loved the little whimpers and mewls her touch elicited.
LuAnn’s mouth fell open slightly in a silent moan as two of her fingers slid into the volcanic depths between Evan’s legs. She began a steady rhythm, her thumb rubbing against a rock hard clit with every pass in or out, intensifying Evan’s pleasure. LuAnn found Evan’s mouth and took her in a demanding kiss as she continued to thrust deep inside her until Evan was breathing too hard to kiss.
Suddenly – and loudly – Evan cried out, her back arching and her thighs slamming closed around LuAnn’s hand, trapping her. LuAnn stayed with her, laying tiny kisses all over her face and side of her head in tender comfort. When her hand was finally released, she took the still-trembling woman into her arms, reveling in the warmth and closeness she felt.
Evan left a lingering kiss on soft lips before looking into LuAnn’s eyes. “I must say, Lu,” she said softly, “I’m definitely glad I moved back to town.”
LuAnn returned the smile. “Me, too,” she murmured against Evan’s lips.