Get Away with Martha Hall

Artemis Callaghan

Warning: scenes of a sexual nature, probably strong language knowing me.

Part 7

If things with Cody were going better than she’d expected, the same couldn’t be said of Julia. There was a palpable tension when the deputy was in the shop, not quite animosity but still uncomfortable and disconcerting. Lauren tried to be unobtrusive, often going out for an hour to avoid her, but it wasn’t always possible. There were things around the shop that needed to be done. She was constantly aware of Julia’s eyes on her but when she turned to meet them, they’d flicker elsewhere. Cody acted as if nothing was wrong and chattered away, her attempts at engaging both women in conversation falling flat on their face. The first time Julia didn’t show up, Cody had been puzzled.

“Maybe she’s changed shifts”

“She usually says”

“Perhaps it was at short notice and she didn’t have a chance to tell you”

Cody appeared unconvinced but said no more. When Julia didn’t come in the next day, or the one after that, Cody said nothing but it was as if a bit of the light had gone out of her. On the fourth day, she didn’t bother going into the kitchen before three to start a new pot, and Lauren couldn’t bear it any longer. She knew Cody would never say it, but it was because of her, that much was obvious, and it was up to her to sort it out. Now was as good a time as any.

The Sheriff’s Office was a squat brick building just up from Bannerman’s motel. Outside two flags fluttered in the light wind, the Stars and Stripes and another that Lauren figured must be the state emblem. The words Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office were picked out in large white plastic letters. It wasn’t a place Lauren would want to spend a lot of time, and that was probably the point. The man at the reception desk could’ve been a recruitment poster from the 1950s, blonde and square jawed, when he smiled at Lauren she was almost dazzled by his white, regular teeth.

“Afternoon, ma’am. How may I assist you?”

She refused to be intimidated by his broad chest and obvious muscles. She gave him her best nice girl smile.

“Yes, I was wondering if it would be possible to speak to Deputy Sanchez”

Lauren never failed to be surprised by the effect her accent had on people. Cody had laughed and said she should have her work on sales because the customers would think they were buying books from the Queen of Fucking England. Judging by the expression on the deputy in front of her, its charms weren’t wasted on him. He pulled himself up as if to attention, slightly bowing his head as he spoke.

“She’s just out back right now. I’ll give her a call and get her out here for ya”

“If it’s not a problem”

“No problem at all, ma’am”

He already had the receiver in his hand and was punching in some numbers.

“Yo, Sanchez. Lady here to see you. Forgot to ask – ”

He covered the phone with his meaty hand.

“Can I ask your name, ma’am?”

“Lauren Ray”

“– a Lauren Ray. Yup, sure will. Ms. Ray if you’d like to wait here. Deputy Sanchez’ll be right out”

Lauren thanked him and moved away from the front desk, and was reading the posters on the notice board when she heard an internal door click open. She looked over towards the sound and her eyes met Julia’s. Her heart instantly started thundering in her chest, her mouth dried. Julia was frowning slightly, Lauren felt sick but tried to smile. The smile wasn’t returned.

“Ms. Ray”

“Deputy Sanchez. May I have a word?”

Julia nodded tersely and opened the door behind her, indicating for Lauren to follow her. Lauren rubbed the palms of her hands on the legs of her jeans. She’d never been in a police station before but was too nervous to be interested. Julia led her through a maze of corridors painted institutional magnolia, the floors covered with grey, rough industrial carpet, the sort that stripped the skin from your knees and elbows. She followed Julia, her eyes fixed on the legs in front of her, the bottoms of the dark trousers, the heels of her boots; not noticing when Julia came to an abrupt halt, she nearly ran into her. Julia tapped a number into the key pad of a non-descript door. When the lock thunked, Julia opened the door and held it for Lauren.

It was a long and narrow room lined with shelves packed from floor to ceiling like a warehouse. An electronics warehouse: televisions, DVD players, video cameras dominated the majority of the storage space.

“Bloody hell, it’s like a branch of Dixons in here”

Julia leant against a shelf and regarded Lauren steadily.

“It’s where we keep the stuff we seize in raids. Most of this we got off of a fence we busted last week. What do you want, Lauren?”

“So much for small talk. You’ve not been in the shop for a while”


“Damn it, Julia, Cody misses you like hell”

“I figured she don’t need company”

“No, she doesn’t need company, you stupid plod, she needs you. I won’t be around much longer”

“Why are you still here?”

“Because it’s a free country and I’m allowed to be”

They glared at each other for a moment. Anger brought colour to Julia’s cheeks, a brightness to her eyes, and Lauren couldn’t look away. Lauren shook her head to calm herself a little.

“You know, if you like her, you should tell her. I’m really not standing in your way, I’m just a sorry arsed Brit who needs a decent hair cut and a kick up the pants. I can’t compete with that cute Smokey the Bear hat, or that frankly scary but ooo really rather butch gun, or those fucking beautiful eyes – ”

“Do you ever shut up?”

“When I’m asleep”

“I doubt that”

Lauren reached out and put her hand on Julia’s arm.

“Will you come back, please?”

Julia looked at Lauren’s hand and nodded. Lauren smiled.

“Thank you. Cody’ll be pleased to see you”


Lauren moved her hand away and cleared her throat.

“Me too”

“You too?”

Lauren’s voice was a whisper.

“I’d be pleased to see you too”

At three o’clock the next afternoon, Cody had just made tea and Lauren was stock-taking when the door chimed, and both women looked over as Julia walked in. Lauren’s relief was matched in intensity only by the wattage of Cody’s smile.

“Well, howdy stranger. You’ll have to settle for stewed coffee or a nice cup of tea”

“Have the rosie, Deputy Sanchez, the coffee’s purely rank”

Julia raised an eyebrow.

“I’ll get ya a coffee”

While Cody was in the kitchen, Lauren met Julia’s eyes. She smiled her thanks and Julia, solemn as ever, simply nodded.

Lauren pulled the bill of her cap so that it shielded her eyes against the glare of the sun off the water. She leant her forearms on the rail of the jetty; she still couldn’t bring herself to call it a pier. The promise of spring hung in the air, the sun was starting to warm up and it was finally pleasant to be outside. She hadn’t wanted to stay in the shop, she felt awkward and hadn’t wanted to intrude. Cody was bordering on the skittish, excited to have Julia back in her usual armchair, and Julia was more relaxed than Lauren had ever seen her. Neither had noticed when Lauren grabbed her jacket and cap and slipped out.

Two seagulls were bickering over a lump of what might’ve been the remains of a sandwich, but it was hard to tell with all the squawking, pecking and flapping wings. Greedy and belligerent, gulls were themselves wherever they were and Lauren felt oddly comforted.

“Shame you have to settle for a sarnie, boys, I’m sure you’d love chips”

“Somebody dropped a bag of chips farther down, they’ve already had ‘em”

“Not crisps. Chips. What do you want, Deputy?”

Lauren had known Julia was standing behind her. She hadn’t heard her, Julia was too good a law enforcement officer for that, but something in the make up of the air had changed and Lauren could smell Julia’s subtle but distinctive scent. She knew it was just shampoo and deodorant, but it still could only be Julia. The deputy moved to stand next to her, mirroring Lauren’s stance.

“Officer Brady wants to date ya, I said I’d ask”

“He’s barking up the wrong tree”

Julia nodded.

“That’s what I thought but I promised I’d try”

Lauren dared a glance at Julia’s face, but quickly looked away when their eyes met.

“How did you know where to find me?”

“I didn’t. I was passing in the car. Recognise you anywhere in that ratty ol’ cap”

Memory briefly assaulted Lauren. A woman leaning over her, blonde hair failing in curtains over her face, blue eyes hot and demanding as the fingers buried in Lauren urged her on. Lauren had come hard, the sensation still part of her sense memory. She pushed the cap further back on her head.

“Yeah, well, that’s me. I’ve fucked my way across the union, never the same woman twice. Ratty describes me pretty well, don’t you think? Ratty and skanky”

“If I’d known you were throwing a pity party, I’d have brought balloons”

“Fuck off, Julia”

“Julia? What happened to Deputy Sanchez?”

“So arrest me – ”

Lauren held out her arms, wrists pressed together.

“ – slip the cuffs on, I’ll come quietly”

“Some how I doubt that”

Lauren let her arms drop by her side.

“I should get back. Cody might worry”

“I’ll give you a ride”

“It’s only twenty minutes”


They didn’t go the way they should to get back to Cody’s. Hawkins Harbor was laid out in a basic grid, like almost every American town and city, so Lauren knew it had nothing to do with the vagaries of a one-way system. Rather than turning right into the centre of town, Julia took the cruiser up the coast road. Lauren pulled her feet up and propped them on the dashboard, her knees bent; the expected chastisement didn’t come. They were driving towards the town limits. Lauren looked out of the window, the sea was on one side of the road, on the other, houses were giving way to farms and woodland. She turned to address Julia’s profile.

“What is it with you and the long way round?”

When Julia didn’t reply, Lauren chewed the edge of her thumb.

“You’ll make that bleed”

“What does it matter when you’re going to take me into the woods and shoot me?”

Julia abruptly swung her head around and stared at Lauren.

“You seriously think I’d do that?”

Lauren shrugged, shamed by the outrage in her voice.

“Like I’m going to ruin a fifteen year service record wastin’ yo’ ass”

“I don’t know whether to be relieved or insulted”

“Just sit there and shut up. I’m trying to show you some countryside”

“Don’t you have to get back to work?”

“I’m following up a line of enquiry”

Lauren wrapped her arms around her knees and watched the trees as they whizzed past. They were starting to bud, flashing glimpses of green.

“You know, Deputy, I will be going back home soon”

Julia shot her a sideways glance, not saying anything for a while. Her attention returned to the road.

“I wasn’t Julia for long”

“You’re always Julia. I just don’t say it out loud very often”

“Except to tell me to fuck off”

“You’re a big girl, Deputy, you can take it. Are we going anywhere in particular?”

“Wait and see”

After a while, they turned off the main road onto a narrow, unmarked track that led them down towards the sea. Julia stopped the car in what opened up into a small cove; a stand of trees reaching down almost to the sandy beach gave way to a rocky outcrop that formed the arms of the cove. The tide was out, leaving the sand exposed a little way beyond the headland. The beach was deserted. Lauren stepped out of the car, her hair whipping in the brisk breeze. She ran a restraining hand through it before pulling her cap back on.

“It’s gorgeous. Why isn’t there anyone else here?”

“It’s on private property”

“Won’t we get into trouble?”

Julia raised an eyebrow at her.

“My mistake. I forgot you were the law”

“Wanna take a walk?”

“I most certainly do”

They walked the short distance to the headland. The sand was almost white, smoothed by the sea and the wind that sent eddies of the pale dust across the beach. Julia had stuck her hands in the pockets of her jacket, like the first time Lauren saw her. Suddenly, she felt giddy, light hearted in a way she hadn’t for a long time, and she started to run towards the sea before turning round to laugh at Julia, still moving backwards.

“Come on, Deputy, I know you can catch me if you want to”

So much easier to run on sand than pebbles, but the Atlantic, for all its grandeur, was not the North Sea. The first time Lauren had seen the Pacific Ocean, it had been so clear, so blue, throwing itself onto the crystalline sand, the sun so bright and hot in a cloudless sky, she couldn’t believe it wasn’t a dream. She pointed out towards the breakers, raising her voice so that Julia could hear her.

“Deputy, I demand that you arrest that ocean for trying to pass itself off as the sea. It’s fraudulent. Everyone knows the sea is not that colour”

Julia was shaking her head at her, steadily walking towards her.

“Don’t walk, Sanchez, run”

Lauren turned to face the sea again and started to run as fast as she could, but suddenly her legs went out from under her and she ended up face down in the sand with a warm weight pressing into her back. A voice was hot in her ear.

“You should know better than try to evade an officer of the law”

Lauren wriggled, only to find herself pressed down harder into the sand as Julia adjusted her weight, straddling her. She could feel the heat rising to her cheeks and seeping out along her body, her breath coming out in spurts.

“Gonna stop struggling?”

As if on cue, Lauren fought back a little only to have Julia grind her hips into her backside. Lauren bit back a groan. Just as suddenly, the weight was gone. Disappointed, Lauren turned over onto her back, gazing directly into a sky of scudding clouds. She propped herself up on one of her elbows and looked at Julia. Unconsciously, her knees dropped open, her other hand absently stroked down her stomach towards the waistband of her jeans. Julia’s eyes narrowed as she hooked her thumbs into the belt loops of her trousers. She tilted her head to one side and a slow smile crept over her face. The effect was incendiary. The heat was stoking up in Lauren, she knew it must be coming off her like a radiator; Julia must’ve been able to feel it. Not just Julia, everyone on the North Atlantic seaboard. Hell, it would’ve been visible from space. She’d never seen Julia smile like that.

“Ya gonna be shaking beach outta ya pants for days”

Her voice was rich and thick as golden syrup. Out of the strong came forth sweetness. Lauren was indolent and unwilling to move.

“This isn’t a beach and that isn’t the sea. A beach is stones and broken shells and bits of sea glass. The sea is cold and brown and sludgy. This is a sandpit and that’s a paddling pool”

“Some awesome paddling pool”

“Yeah, some awesome”

Julia reached down her hand and pulled Lauren to her feet. It was a solid, strong and reliable hand. Warm.

“C’mon, there’s something I want to show you”

Julia was still holding her hand and led her over to the cliff face. As they neared, Lauren could see that the rock had been cut into by the sea, creating pools and rivulets, topped up with water by the retreating tide, leaving behind crabs and starfish, strands of kelp and bladder-wrack. Julia gripped Lauren’s hand tighter, and helped her step over a large pool; behind it was a gap in the rock wall. Lauren laughed her delight.

“This is even better than the Famous Five

The entrance was too narrow for them to go in side by side, so Julia went in first with Lauren following close behind. She couldn’t resist slipping the fingers of her free hand into Julia’s belt and holding on tight. After about ten feet the tunnel opened up into a scooped out cave with a dry sand floor. At its highest point, the stone roof was six inches above the top of Julia’s head, and both women had to duck as they neared the back. Lauren pulled her fingers out of Julia’s belt and ran them over the rock, scoured smooth by the tumbling power of the ocean.

“Some awesome paddling pool”

She felt strong fingers catch a lock of hair and tuck it behind her ear before trailing down her jaw. A shiver coursed through her body; she didn’t attempt to disguise it.

“Do you come here a lot?”

Her voice was croaky, she barely recognised it. Julia was looking at her, her eyes soft and warm.

“Yeah, when it gets a bit too much for me”

“Is that often? You always seem so together”

“Appearances can be deceiving”

There was only one thing Lauren could do then: she slipped her arms around the other woman and buried her face in her shoulder. Initially stiff, Julia quickly relaxed and pulled Lauren tight against her body. It was Lauren who drew back. She walked to the entrance of the cave and looked out towards the sea. The sky was starting to darken.

“We should get back. Cody will worry”

She felt Julia’s arms slide around her from behind, and for the second time that afternoon Julia’s firm body pressed into her back. She sighed and laid her hands on top of Julia’s. It was too nice, especially when soft lips pressed just under her ear.

“Julia, don’t. You’re right not to trust me, I’m bad news. I wasn’t exaggerating about all the women I’ve slept with”

The arms tightened around her but Lauren wouldn’t let herself be sidetracked.

“I think you’d better take me back”

Cody looked up when she heard the door, anxiety she hadn’t wanted to admit to herself washing away when she saw Lauren walk in, hands tucked into her armpits, her eyes on the floor.

“Hey, trouble, I was starting to wonder where you were”

Lauren glanced up at her, her brown eyes deeper than usual. There was no denying that she was a pretty girl, even now when she was clearly distressed. In fact, whatever it was, the upset had brought colour to her cheeks, giving her a glow that enhanced the out of place desert tan. She could understand what Julia saw in her. What she couldn’t understand was what was taking them both so long; there were times when she could bang their heads together. Lauren shuffled off her jacket and flopped into the armchair she shared with Julia, rubbing her eyes with the heels of her hands.

“You okay, kid?”

Lauren nodded and then shook her head and laughed. Cody stroked her hair.

“I’ll make you a cup of tea, honey, and you can tell me all about it”

If there was one thing Julia Sanchez had learnt from her no-good father it was not to shit on your own doorstep, and she’d made a point of living by that credo. Ten years ago she’d left the city wanting a quieter life. Hawkins Harbor had its fair amount of crime, especially in the summer when the population tripled. There would be robberies, brawls that quickly got out of hand and would end in a night in the cells. There had been deaths, and sexual assaults, but nothing that matched the continual grind of dehumanising murder, brutal and shattering rape. Julia had taken in a breath of cool sea air and let it out in a huge sigh of relief.

However, everything came at a price; she’d swapped the anonymity of the city for the everyone-knows-your-business of a small town. Usually it wasn’t too much of a problem: she was naturally reticent and good at keeping herself to herself, giving the locals nothing to gossip about. There were times when the loneliness got to be more than a visit to Cody’s could cure; then she took herself off to the city for the night. It was an itch that needed to be scratched and was as emotionally demanding as that implied. Of course, she wasn’t immune to the tank tops and shorts, the bikinis of summer, but she knew just to look and be subtle doing it.

She sat in the driver’s seat of the Sheriff’s Office cruiser, resting her arms on the steering wheel, staring at the door to Cody’s book store long after Lauren had gone in. The radio was crackling, dispatch trying to get hold of her. Julia knew there was only so long she could ignore it. No woman was worth a disciplinary. That was shitting on your door step of the highest order. With a sigh she started the engine and pulled away.

Lauren hadn’t moved. She was still sitting staring at her scuffed boots. There was a small pile of sand at her feet; Cody raised her eyebrows but said nothing. Lauren was drawn to the sea, she spent at least two hours every day down on the boardwalk or the pier. It seemed to soothe something in her. Not today. Cody handed her the mug and sat in her straight back chair and waited. Lauren would talk when she was ready.

They sat in silence for about five minutes, Lauren sipping her tea, Cody pretending the read a rare book catalogue. Eventually, Lauren put the mug down between her feet and cleared her throat.

“I met Deputy Sanchez at the jetty”

Deputy Sanchez. Would she ever stop being so formal? Cody smiled and waited for Lauren to continue.

“She took me to some secret cove down the coast”

“A secret cove?”

Lauren nodded.

“She goes there a lot apparently”

After that, Lauren seemed to clam up. Cody was reluctant to push her. Despite her apparent good humoured friendliness and quick wit, Lauren gave very little of herself away. Cody had come to realise how unusual it was that Lauren had admitted to her feelings for that television presenter, what was her name? Martha Hall? Yes, that was it. Cody hadn’t pushed her on that story either. If people wanted to tell Cody something, then they would; if they didn’t, they wouldn’t, and Cody respected that. Everyone had their secrets. She’d known Julia Sanchez for years but couldn’t really say she knew her. They’d never been anywhere together, their whole relationship revolved around the forty five minutes Julia spent in the book store, and that was okay. Everyone set their own limits. That Julia had taken Lauren somewhere that obviously meant something to her was amazing but Cody managed to hide her surprise. For some reason, the afternoon had upset Lauren. It had been quiet for so long, Cody was considering shutting up shop and suggesting they move upstairs, and was startled when Lauren spoke.

“When I was a kid, I wanted to see the world, you know. I thought travel would be the answer”

“The answer to what?”

Lauren shrugged.

“The bit that was missing. It had always been missing and I thought that if I could get away it would fill it. But I never did get away. I just stayed in Dad’s shop and dreamt about it”

“So what changed?”

“Matty – Martha came back. She got out and she found what she wanted, you know. She’s got a career she wants, she’s got a relationship. She’s happy”

Cody remembered the picture of Martha Hall on the arm of a man whose smug arrogance was almost palpable through the computer screen. Happy wasn’t the word she’d have used to describe the beautiful young woman, haunted came closer, but Cody simply nodded.

“Travel’s supposed to broaden the mind, isn’t it?”

“That’s what they say”

“Well, that’s a bag of pants. It does nothing of the sort. It makes you even more insular and self absorbed. Fuck it, I was better off looking at the pictures in Dad’s books”

She suddenly found the stitching on her jeans fascinating and became absorbed in studying it. When she finally looked up, her eyes were dark and the most open Cody had ever seen them.

“I want to tell you what I told Julia but I’m afraid you’ll think less of me”

Cody reached out and put her hand on Lauren’s knee, squeezing it gently.

“There’s nothing you can tell me’ll make me think less of you, honey. Unless you tell me you’re a serial killer, or a closet Republican”

That earned a brief bark of laughter before Lauren returned her gaze to the seam of her jeans.

“The first time I had sex was on my eighteenth birthday, with a woman, a holiday maker. It was a one night thing, you know. I mean, I could’ve seen her again but I didn’t want to. I’ve never wanted to. It was something I’ve done quite a bit in the season, pick up some woman and go back to hers. Didn’t always make it as far as that. And it never touched me, never affected me. Sex is just sex. Then I came over here and, God, I’ve been a complete whore. I told Julia that I’ve screwed my way across America, and it’s true, but it’s not working anymore”

“What’s not working, honey?”

When Lauren looked at her, Cody could see the tears gathering. Instinctively, she moved to sit on the arm of the chair and put an arm around the young woman, who relaxed into the embrace. She was struggling to keep the tears in check.

“Sex. It’s not working. Before, it wiped everything out. The – the emptiness. For a few hours it would fill it and take my mind off it. But it’s still there. No matter how far I travel and how many women I fuck, it’s still there. And I know I’ve hurt people, I know I have, I’ve made them cry, all because I’m too empty. I’ve got nothing to give them”

She couldn’t stop the tears now. They were streaming down her face. Cody tightened her grip, pulling Lauren close, the woman burying her face in Cody’s shoulder so that when she spoke, her voice was muffled.

“I thought it was safer not to love”

“It’s safe, sure, but it ain’t healthy”

Lauren pulled away a little and looked up at Cody. She was so open, so vulnerable, Cody felt her heart tug.

“I’ve always admired how emotionally self sufficient you are”

Cody’s laugh was self mocking.

“Trust you to find a fancy pants way of saying that. I ain’t emotionally self sufficient, kid. More like emotionally stunted. A woman whose closest relationships are with the mailman and the deputy sheriff, who can’t bear an unhappy ending? Believe me, that is not to be admired, it’s to be avoided. You don’t wanna end up like me, baby girl. I’m only gonna give you one piece of advice, cos I’m not ya momma: stop running, if that’s what you’re doing. This isn’t something you can outstrip”

“Cody, I think it’s time I went home”

“I think you might be right”

            Dammit. Why did the traffic have to be so bad? Julia was tempted to flick on the siren just to clear the road but she knew that was an overreaction. It wouldn’t really get her there any quicker. There were fifteen minutes before the bus was due, plenty of time, especially as she could abuse her position and park where she liked. As she neared the bus station she could see Lauren sitting on a bench out front, her large rucksack braced between her feet. Julia took a moment to look at her; as usual, she was wearing the faded dark blue cap. It was pulled down so that her eyes were cast in shadow, but the bottom half of her face was visible: the clean lines of her jaw and the soft fullness of her mouth. The weather was warmer, and Lauren was wearing a T shirt under the black biker jacket that was as habitual as the ball cap. Julia smiled; the woman looked so disreputable, if she hadn’t known better she would have felt professionally obliged to tell her to move on.

“So you weren’t even gonna say goodbye?”

Lauren looked up, her brown eyes dark and unreadable under the cap. The smile she gave Julia was sad and beautiful.

“I always said I wasn’t stopping long”

“Mind if I make sure you actually get on the bus?”

“It’s a free country, or so I’m told”

Julia dropped onto the bench next to Lauren, careful to make sure their bodies didn’t touch. They sat watching the cars drive past.

“I’m no good at farewells, Deputy”

“I like it better when you call me Julia”

“I’m not good at goodbyes, Julia”

“Then don’t say goodbye. Do you remember when you told me that beaches should be made of stones and broken shells and bits of sea glass?”

Confused by the sudden change of subject, Lauren frowned but then nodded. Julia reached behind her neck and unclasped a chain, holding it so it threaded through her fingers, the metal warm from her body heat.

“I want you to have this”

Suspended from the chain, set in silver wire, was a small piece of brilliant blue glass, made smooth and cloudy by the motion of the sea. Julia remembered the day she found it, lodged in a rock pool, deep blue at the bottom of the clear water. As it dried, it lightened, and had sat round edged in her pocket for months until the day she had taken Lauren to the cove. Lauren had pulled off her cap, and when her eyes met Julia’s, they were wide and deep.

“O Julia, it’s beautiful. Thank you”

“Here, let me put it on”

Lauren lifted up the hair at her nape, allowing Julia access to skin starting to finally lose its tan. There was something trusting and vulnerable about the gesture and Julia’s hands trembled as she slipped the chain around Lauren’s neck and fumbled with the catch.

“I – I found it on the beach at the cove. Will you wear it and remember me?”

The tips of Lauren’s fingers were so soft against Julia’s cheek, she barely registered she’d been touched until equally soft lips brushed hers. When she spoke, Lauren’s voice was a breath against Julia’s lips.

“How could I forget you?”

“When’s your flight?”

“Tomorrow lunchtime”

Julia was not an impulsive woman, but she suddenly caught Lauren’s fingers in her hand.

“Let me drive you”

“B-but aren’t you on duty?”

“I get off shift in a couple of hours. Please”

She was aware how plaintive, pathetic and begging her voice sounded but she couldn’t help it. To her intense relief and joy, Lauren smiled and slowly nodded her head.

“Thank you, o God, thank you. Go and wait in the diner. I’ll pick you up in a while”

Lauren was nursing her fourth cup of tea, dangling the string attached to the bag. Anymore and she’d be swimming in liquid, her bladder unable to take the strain. Around her neck, the blue sea glass had quickly adjusted to her body temperature and sat silky and warm on her breastbone. She pulled it from under her T shirt and popped it into her mouth, a gesture she knew would soon become a habit. She let the glass clack against the back of her teeth, imaging she could taste the salt of the sea and Julia’s skin. Julia. Soon she’d be sitting next to the deputy for an unexpected extra two hours. There was no real hurry; her flight wasn’t until one o’clock the following day. They could afford to take their time. But she shouldn’t hope so much. Julia was a busy woman and had better things to do than tool around the countryside with her in the passenger seat. She let the sea glass fall out of her mouth and raised her fingers to her lips. She could still feel the impression of Julia’s mouth on hers, even though it had been the slightest of kisses. Lauren leant back in her chair. God, she was acting like a teenager. She hadn’t felt like this since, well, since she was a teenager, with Matty, and look where that had got her. Taking a gulp of her cooling tea, she tried to stop herself watching the clock.

Of course, she glanced over the second the door opened and was unable to stop her heart from thundering when she heard Flo greet the new comer.

“Hey there, Deputy Sanchez, don’t usually see ya in here at this time”

“Good afternoon, Mrs. Dolan”

“Lord, call me Flo. Everyone does. Mrs. Dolan is my mother in law and I don’t wanna be mistaken for that old witch”

During the brief exchange, Lauren took the opportunity to let her eyes drift over Julia. It was the first time she’d seen her out of uniform, she realised. She’d changed into low-riding boot cut jeans of a very pale blue, the ends just covering brown suede boots, and a white cotton shirt worn under a suede jacket that matched the boots. Her hair was in a short pony tail rather than her regulation bun. Lauren estimated that loose it would just sweep Julia’s collar. Everything about Julia was dark and glossy, and suddenly Lauren felt inadequate, scruffy and unkempt. She was stupidly unrealistic to think that a woman like Julia would look at her twice.

But then Julia did look at her, and the intimate smile she gave her caused her heart rate to redouble.


“Hello, Deputy”

“Can I get ya something, Deputy? Cuppa coffee? Blueberry muffin?”

“Cuppa coffee sounds good, thanks Flo”

With Flo Dolan momentarily satisfied, Julia pulled out the chair opposite Lauren and sat down. Self consciousness swamped Lauren, leaving her emotionally water logged.

“You know, you don’t have to drive me to the airport if you don’t want to”

Julia frowned slightly and then smiled again. Lauren was starting to grow accustomed to this recent development, thrilling at the way it lit up the other woman’s usually serious face.

“I kinda do. You missed the bus”

“O yes, fair point. Okay, but you don’t have to take the scenic route”

Julia raised an eyebrow.

“Come on, when have we been in a car and you’ve not taken a detour, even if it’s just to threaten me?”

“Okay, I promise to take you straight there”

Lauren caught the hint of disappointment in Julia’s voice, in the way her eyes dropped to the table. Before she could stop herself, Lauren reached across the gap and put her hand on Julia’s arm.

“I didn’t mean – ”

“There ya go, Dep. On the house”

Flo Dolan presented Julia’s coffee with a flourish, accompanied by a slice of apple pie large enough to feed a family of four.

“Thanks, Flo. Wanna share?”

Lauren shook her head, her throat too constricted to even swallow her now stone cold tea.

“Get ya a refill, honey?”

“N-no. Thanks. I’m fine”

She sat and watched as Julia ate with the concentrated precision she’d seen her do everything. Julia had beautiful hands, the fingers long and strong and slightly splayed at the ends. Piano playing fingers, maybe, or the guitar. The nails were trimmed short; Lauren imagined the rake of them on the sensitive skin of her back, and felt the blush colouring her face intensify when Julia suddenly made eye contact. Lauren had to drop her gaze.

“Is that Wonder Woman?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Is that Wonder Woman on your T shirt? I can barely make her out”

“I’ve had the shirt a long time”

“Looks that way”

Lauren’s smile crumpled. She’d been right before: why on Earth would a woman like Julia Sanchez be interested in her? For once in her life, why couldn’t she be classy, a grown up like the woman in front of her?

“It’s like you. Cute”

“Is that a good thing?”

Julia looked puzzled.

“Of course”

She dropped her fork onto the empty plate with a clatter and wiped her mouth with a paper napkin before taking a swig of her coffee.

“Ready to go?”

Lauren hadn’t expected to see the Sheriff’s Office cruiser, well, not really, but when Julia pressed the key remote and Lauren saw the corresponding flash of lights, she was delighted to see a new Mini Cooper. She ran over to it, sliding the palms of her hands over the roof.

“Cool car, Sanchez. It would be better in British Racing Green but silver is pretty pukkah. Mickey Flynn had an old school Mini, you know. It was like being in the Italian Job. The Michael Caine version, not that awful remake. What –?”

“Just get in the car, will ya?”

“Yeah, alright. It is a cool car”

“And if you put your boots on the dash this time, I’ll shoot ya”

The inside of the car was neat and clean. There no empty pop cans or sweet wrappers. A road atlas was tucked into the passenger door, its cover uncreased as if it had never left the shop let alone been consulted with any sort of regularity.

“Do you iron your knickers, Julia?”

Julia snorted.

“Carry on like that and you ain’t never gonna find out”

Whoa. The blood in Lauren’s body couldn’t decide if it wanted to go into her face or between her legs; the conflict left her light headed. She couldn’t look at Julia. Instead, she stared out of the window as the streets of Hawkins Harbor slipped by.

Saying goodbye to Cody had been hard. She’d gone and waited for Julia in the diner because the idea of having to through it again was too much to bear. Cody hadn’t wanted to say goodbye at the bus station and neither had Lauren. It was too final. This way they could pretend Lauren was simply going out for a walk along the front like she did every day. The night before they’d sat in the flat with the French doors open. It was still a little too cool to sit on the balcony but the sea breeze carried the sounds of the town as it slipped from day into night. Music and laughter was drifting up from the bar two doors down.

“Ya gonna miss the summer frenzy, ya bitch”

“If only that were true. Same frenzy, different town”

“Tourists are tourists, I guess”

“And their money’s as good as anyone else’s”

“Hell, ain’t that the truth?”

Cody walked in from the kitchen and handed Lauren a cold bottle of beer. She had made herself comfortable on the sofa facing the window, her legs stretched out in front of her. Cody dropped down next her, sliding an arm around Lauren and pulling her close to her side before kissing her forehead. Lauren sighed, resting her head on Cody’s shoulder.

“Cody, will you do something for me?”

“If I can, kid”

“Will you give things a go with Julia?”

Cody pulled away to look at her, her expression one of surprised amazement.

“Whaddya mean?”

“The two of you mean so much to each other. You’d be perfect together”

“Lord, where do you get these ideas from?”

“I just want you both to be happy”

Cody flopped back in the sofa and took a pull of her beer. And then she started to laugh.

“Cody, it’s not funny”

“Fuck, of course it’s funny. Funniest damn thing I’ve heard all year”

Lauren knew she was pouting, that her bottom was sticking out like a petulant child but she couldn’t help herself. She picked at the label on the gently sweating bottle.

“No use sulking, honey. Look, I won’t lie to you. I probably do love Julia but not in the way you think or would like, and I’m pretty sure Julia feels the same way”

They were driving down the same road they’d taken when Julia showed her the cave, and Lauren looked out for the turn off but couldn’t tell it from any number off tracks that led to farms and fields. She gave up after awhile and turned her attention to Julia, watching her as she drove with the same concentration she had cutting up her pie. Julia became aware of Lauren gazing at her.


Lauren shook her head but didn’t turn away. She reached out and lightly touched Julia’s hand on the steering wheel. Julia linked her fingers with Lauren’s and drew their joined hands into her lap, steering with her free hand. Happiness seeped into every part of Lauren.

“Where are you staying tonight?”

They’d been driving for an hour and a half, Julia keeping to the smaller roads. It would take them longer, Julia said, but it was nicer. Lauren had nodded, but nice wasn’t the word. It was too weak. It wasn’t nice; it was peerless: the blue sky, the clear blue ocean to their leeward side, trees and the green, green fields. And on top of that, Deputy Sheriff Julia Sanchez was holding her hand in the warm well of her lap. This was their one perfect day.

“I hadn’t thought that far ahead. I’ll either check into a hotel at the airport, or just sleep in the lounge. I’ve done it before”

Julia squeezed her hand.

“There’s a bed and breakfast that’s halfway between here and the airport. If you like, we could check in for the night”

The glance she shot Lauren was unusually shy and nervous.

“How does that sound?”

“Like a brilliant idea, darling”

Julia’s face softened at the endearment and Lauren realised it was something she’d never said to anyone before. Darling? Well, whatever, it felt good to say it and Julia’s reaction was even better. Lauren leant across the gap between the seats and gently kissed the other woman’s cheek and then whispered in her ear. Darling.

O boy. Sweat had sprung out on the palms of Julia’s hands. What was with that? That never happened. Not even before a major bust. She had a reputation for icy coolness in the face of what the others considered incredible stress. Of course, all these things were relative. A major bust in Hawkins was nothing compared to the city. The biggest haul Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office had made was out at a farm where a bunch of entrepreneurial hippies were growing weed on an industrial scale. Her fellow deputies were totally psyched, banging the chests of their Kevlar vests and barking commands at the perps, who came out meek as day old kittens. Meeker in fact. Kittens had a bit of spunk. Still, the boys all high fived each other and talked about the bust for months after. So what if they called her the Snow Queen? She’d never told them the reason why she’d given up and left Boston, the final straw that broke her already bent back. All they knew was that she was emotionally untouchable, and that suited her just fine.

And yet here she was in the parking lot of a B&B wiping her wet hands on the legs of her jean, her heart beating so fast it made her breathless and a little dizzy. Lauren was stretching the kinks out of her back, the faded blue T shirt riding up with the action and exposing skin the colour of pale honey, golden and perfect. Julia’s rapid breathing ratcheted up another gear and colour flooded her cheeks. She made a fuss of locking the car so she had an excuse to look away. When she glanced up again, Lauren was standing with her thumbs tucked into the edges of her pockets, the shirt had retreated to its usual length. Admittedly, that was still short of the waistband of her jeans and still showed a sliver of that gorgeous stomach, but Julia was disappointed as well as relieved. Lauren’s smile was open and happy, hopeful; Julia’s palms were drenched.

What had happened to the woman who could book into any number of anonymous hotels with women she’d only just met, who could stare down the knowing smirks of the desk clerks? The Snow Queen was notable by her absence, deserting her completely when she’d been about to ask for a twin room and Lauren shook her head, her lazy smile letting Julia know that wouldn’t be necessary. Her signature in the register was as spiky as an old lady’s, her hand trembling too much to hold a pen properly. In comparison, Lauren was the epitome of sang froid, signing her name with a flourish. Practice signing invoices, she said. Like a bride trying out her new name. She joked and laughed with the clerk, making light of the situation so that it didn’t become a big deal. Lauren’s name on the page was solid, its curves generous and reassuring, it sat snugly under her own. When the clerk was busy flirting with Lauren, Julia let the tips of her fingers trace it. Lauren Ray. When she looked up, Lauren was smiling at her; the slow, sexy smile that would be the undoing of her.

“Well, Jimmy, it’s been lovely chatting with you, but I think my companion needs a bit of a lie down after all that driving”

The boy blushed, obviously as taken with that accent spoken with that voice as Brady had been. It wasn’t as if Julia was immune herself, she was just better at hiding it. Feeling a warm palm slip into hers, she looked into eyes that were so dark they were almost bottomless. When the hand tugged gently, Julia followed it.

Their room was nice, not that Julia could concentrate on much beyond Lauren shrugging off her jacket and slipping it over the back of the spindle backed chair. The stripped wood floor had been stained mahogany, matching the wardrobe, chest of drawers and the frame of the large bed in the middle of the room. It was covered with a gold and scarlet striped duvet, the arm chair by the window similarly upholstered. Now they were alone, Lauren’s confidence wasn’t as apparent. She ran a hand through her almost black hair.

“Maybe you would like a lie down”

The distance between them was easily breached, two steps did it and Julia’s fingers were restless until they were touching smooth, warm skin, thrilling at the slight ripple that ran through the muscles underneath, and the gasp that escaped a mouth that was opening under hers as she followed her own momentum. Hands clasped the side of her face, holding her in place just in case she changed her mind and wanted to pull away. The tip of a wet tongue snaked out and ran along her sensitive bottom lip, and she touched it with her own, encouraging it into her mouth. The face in front of her drew back slightly and the hands moved to the back of Julia’s head, releasing her hair from its restraint, gripping handfuls of it and pulling her back into a scorching kiss. Sharp teeth nipped her lip and then that tongue took the sting out of it before plunging into Julia’s mouth. With a gasp both broke the kiss, panting heavily. Lauren leant her forehead against Julia’s, her breath a hot laugh against Julia’s mouth.

“I’ll take that as a no shall I, Deputy?”

“Yes, it’s a no”

Julia sat in the gold and red striped armchair, reaching out to catch her fingers into the waistband of Lauren’s jeans and tugged until Lauren fell into her lap, where she shifted so that her face was buried in Julia’s neck. Lauren’s fingers in turn tangled in the hair at the nape of Julia’s neck.

“I’ve never seen your hair down. I like it”

Soft lips pressed into the skin under Julia’s ear, one of the sweetest of her sweet spots.

“I could sit here with you forever”

There was an unmistakable catch in Lauren’s voice; Julia tightened her arms around her.

“Look at me, honey”

When Lauren raised her head, Julia gently pressed her lips against Lauren’s. A moan caught in the back of Lauren’s throat, its vibration sending a small shock wave through Julia. This time her hands were in Lauren’s hair, loving the silky sensation of the strands as they slid between her fingers. They gradually tightened as she wrapped them into coils. Lauren moaned again, louder this time, squirming a little in Julia’s lap.

“Am I hurting you?”

“No, o God, no. You’re driving me crazy”

“You like it, hm?”

“Yes. Do it harder”

Julia obliged and was delighted when Lauren’s body surged into hers; Lauren’s kiss was ferocious. Julia moved her mouth so that it was sweeping Lauren’s throat, when she got to the base, she could feel Lauren’s pulse throb under her lips and she sucked hard. Lauren’s sudden cry was accompanied by an unconscious thrust of her hips. Julia grabbed them to hold them steady, a sense of power coursing through her veins. She was sucking harder than she really should, she was marking the beautiful skin, but she didn’t want to stop, not while Lauren was making that fantastic sound: part whimper, part sob, part song. She eased up a little, flicking her tongue over the reddened skin, tracing a line back up to Lauren’s mouth. Kissing her hard, she let her hands slide up the front of Lauren’s T shirt, watching Wonder Woman’s face stretch as she cupped Lauren’s breasts. There was that sound again, a sound she’d be content to hear for the rest of her life.

The nipples hardened through the fabric of Lauren’s bra, pressing into Julia’s palms. Her breathing had become rapid, coming in short, quick bursts. Julia found herself matching it, panting until she was in danger of hyperventilating. She could already feel the tingling on her scalp, in her fingers. She deliberately slowed her breathing.

“You okay?”

She nodded and smiled at the other woman.

“Sometimes if I breathe too hard, I pass out”

Lauren wriggled closer on Julia’s lap, running her hand through Julia’s hair.

“Then take it easy, darling. I don’t want you fainting on me. Well, not yet anyway. I had a friend who was prone to hyperventilating. We used to have to make her watch her breathing when she got too over excited. Why don’t we go and lie down”

She clambered off the chair, grabbing Julia’s hands to pull her up.

“Nice as you look, and you look lovely, it’s a shame you’re not in your uniform”

Julia raised an eyebrow. She tried hard not to laugh when Lauren blushed and bit her bottom lip.

“Like it, huh?”

Lauren looked up at her boldly.

“Yeah, it’s a shame you don’t have your bracelets with you, that’s for sure”

Julia stepped closer to her, letting her nails drag along the exposed flesh just above Lauren’s jeans.

“I don’t need cuffs to restrain you”

“Pretty confident, aren’t we?”

Julia didn’t reply, instead pushing Lauren down onto the bed, the other woman gasping with surprise at her sudden movement. Within seconds, Julia had her immobilised and was looking down into a flushed and beautiful face.

It’s easy to pin down someone who isn’t really putting up a fight, easy to straddle them and hold their hands above their head so they don’t struggle. And how easy to skip the Miranda and instead bury your mouth in their neck and hear them cry out. It’s the easiest thing in the world.

O God. Lauren could barely think. Her conscious mind had been scorched clean and all she could concentrate on was Julia. The urge to completely give herself over, to let Julia do and take whatever she wanted, was overwhelming. She’d stopped counting how many women she’d had sex with, especially in the last year. Anonymous women she met in clubs and bars, women she’d open her legs to in toilets and alleyways. She was amazed to find clubs where you could fuck anyone you wanted right there on the premises in full view of everyone else. She’d been like a kid in a sweet shop, but like the same kid, her appetite had sickened. But that hadn’t stopped her; she felt less and less and tried hard to recapture the oblivion she once found in sex. And now here she was, pinned down only in name. If she really wanted to, she could flip Julia off. It would be a struggle, there was no denying Julia was strong, but could manage it. Except she didn’t want to. Why would she? When Julia sucked on her neck like that, it went straight to her cunt, made her want to wrap her legs around Julia’s back and grind against her until she lost it completely.

Not that she could move her legs. Julia had straddled her, trapping her with her strong thighs. That thought alone was enough to make Lauren giddy. But it was nothing compared to Julia’s mouth on her skin: the brush of her lips, the flick of her tongue, the sharp tug of her teeth. Fuck.

“Harder, Julia, please”

She felt Julia shake her head against her throat.


She was not above begging, it would seem. She wanted to lay herself bare to this woman, to have her take her roughly, as roughly as Julia wanted. She felt Julia’s fingers tighten around her wrists. Her lips moved from Lauren’s neck to her mouth, her tongue quickly demanding access. She drew back, her brown eyes hot but serious.

“I’m not gonna mark ya too much, honey. I’m not a teenager and you’re not my property”

“I wish I was”

Julia slowly shook her head.

“No, no, you don’t”

This time the lips on her neck were soft and Lauren felt something give way inside. Her vision blurred and when she closed her eyes, wetness splashed her cheeks. Julia released her hands and stroked her face.

“Hey, don’t cry”

“Sometimes – sometimes I want it fucked away”

Julia slipped off her, and Lauren instantly missed the comforting weight, but Julia stretched alongside her and hugged her close.

“You can’t ever fuck it away. Believe me, I’ve tried”

“Kiss me”

Warm breath huffed on her lips just before Julia’s pushed against them. Lauren’s mouth opened instantly, desperate for the contact of Julia’s tongue on hers. As soon as the tip slipped in, she sucked it in deeper, revealing in the groan she felt rather than heard. She pulled Julia closer still until the whole length of their bodies were touching. She could feel Julia’s nipples hard against her own and couldn’t help the moan that escaped around the fullness of both their tongues. Julia responded, hooking her leg over Lauren’s hip, running her hand up Lauren’s T shirt, her nails raking the hot skin from the small of her back to the base of her skull. Fingers in her hair tugged, sending a pulse of intense energy through her. Her own hands skimmed down to Julia’s arse and gave it a firm squeeze.

“Take your trousers off”

“You’ll have to let go first”

Lauren sighed and reluctantly moved her hands away, letting Julia put enough of a gap between them to be able to flick open and undo her fly. The sound of unzipping was almost more than Lauren could bear. She pushed Julia’s hands away, sliding a hand down the front of Julia’s jeans. Julia’s surprised yelp made her laugh, but the laugh stilled when she felt Julia’s wetness through her knickers.

“O Julia”

“So much for taking my pants off”

Julia was trying to make light but her voice cracked and gasped when Lauren pressed the back her bent middle finger directly onto her clit through the soaked material.

“I love cotton pants. I know silk and satin are meant to be sexy, but they’re just a bit obvious”

All the while she was talking, she let her finger lightly brush indirectly against the hardening clit. Julia’s breathing was becoming increasingly shallow and quick. Lauren shifted closer and slid her other hand up Julia’s white shirt until it reached the gentle swell of her breast.

“More cotton? Deputy Sanchez, you are a delight”

“Let – let me take my shirt off”

“No, let me”

She withdrew her hand from Julia’s jeans and started to unbutton the shirt, taking her time. Julia was panting.

“Please go quicker”

Lauren shook her head and chuckled.

“Uh-uh, I don’t think so. I’m enjoying this too much to hurry”

It was true. With each button she popped open, more of that glorious olive skin was revealed. Lauren’s fingers itched to touch it, but she forced herself to be patient, just as she expected Julia to be.

“All good things come to those who wait”

“That’s such a stupid saying”

Lauren had reached the last of Julia’s buttons, and slipped the shirt off her shoulders. Just above Julia’s right breast was a ragged scar the size of a ten pence piece. For a moment she let her fingers caress the rough skin. Looking up, her eyes met Julia’s dark, sad eyes. Lauren knew better than to press her; there would be time later to ask. Instead she put her lips to the scar and tenderly kissed it. Fingers wrapped in hair but gently this time, stroking rather than tugging. Lauren’s hand went around Julia’s back to unhook the bra.

“Sit up, darling”

When Julia obliged, Lauren removed both the shirt and bra, rocking back on her heels to take in her first glimpse of Julia’s naked torso. Her breath was as shaky as her hands. Julia was even more beautiful half naked. Time in the gym was evident in the muscle definition in her arms and shoulders. Like Julia herself, nothing was overblown or overdone, just enough to keep her fit and strong enough to do her job. There would be no vanity involved, and that added to her beauty. Lauren swept her hands over Julia’s shoulders and down the strong arms. She felt Julia’s shiver, saw the dark nipples pucker, heard her shuddering sigh.

“Lauren, take your shirt off”

Not needing to be told twice, Lauren grabbed the hem of her T shirt, and in one smooth movement pulled it over her head, throwing it onto the floor before doing the same with her bra. Julia’s eyes widened and then narrowed, her gaze a smouldering short fuse that Lauren knew would eventually make her explode. She could already feel the slow burn of it in her belly.

Her eyes slammed shut when Julia reached out and cupped her breast, the thumb stroking her nipple. Suddenly, her back hit the mattress and Julia was above her again: just where Lauren wanted her to be. She put her hands on either side of Julia’s face and gazed up, wanting to remember that image for the rest of her life.

“Julia, I want you inside me”

Colour flooded Julia’s face, her eyes hot enough to burn a hole through tungsten. Lauren’s flesh and blood didn’t stand a chance. She was already to melt when Julia undid her jeans and dragged them down past her knees. When she did the same with her knickers, Lauren’s knees had become rubber, her sinews over stretched elastic. Her knees were incapable of staying together, even if she’d wanted them to. Julia moved down the bed to unlace her boots, easing them off and letting each drop with a thunk to the wooden floor. Lauren shivered when the skin of her legs was exposed to the air, her jeans and knickers joining the boots, her T shirt and bra. She was floppy on the bed and unable to put up any sort of a struggle. All she could do was watch as Julia stood up and slowly undid her own jeans. Lauren’s chest was tight, her breathing difficult; she couldn’t tear her eyes away when Julia’s hand glided down her flat stomach into the front of her trousers. Julia’s lips parted the same moment her eyes narrowed.

“Does that feel good?”

Even to her own ears, Lauren’s voice was huskier than usual. Julia nodded. Lauren could see her fingers moving through the denim, with a smooth indolence, as if she had all the time in the world. Lauren hadn’t realised she was mimicking Julia’s actions until she felt her own wetness.

“Yeah, honey, let me see you touch yourself”

O God. Julia’s fingers had stopped moving but still created a bulge in the front of her trousers. Those hooded eyes were fixed on Lauren’s index and middle fingers as they grazed over hard, hot and wet flesh. Julia blew out a protracted breath that seemed to come from her boots, sending a wave of arousal through Lauren, coating her fingers.

“Take your trousers off”

Julia raised an eyebrow and resumed her slow teasing strip, thrusting a hip out as she slid the trousers down. Beyond her hips, they dropped to pool around her ankles. In a surprisingly graceful move, she toed off her suede boots, never taking her eyes off Lauren. Pressure was building in Lauren’s head, if she wasn’t careful, she would come any moment and would be helpless to prevent it. She moved her fingers so they were brushing through wiry hair. It seemed to still affect Julia but put her own excitement on a simmer.

But that excitement was in danger of flaring out of control at the sight of a now fully naked Julia Sanchez standing in front of her. As with her shoulders and arms, Julia’s legs were well shaped and toned, her hips subtly curved, and nestling between her thighs was a triangle of black curls. Lauren wanted to run her thumbs through them to find the soft and warm wet she knew was there. She shifted so that she was sitting on the edge of the bed.

“Come here, darling”

When Julia stepped towards her, Lauren wrapped her arms around her and kissed her stomach, letting her tongue linger in her navel. Julia’s hands came to the back of her head, caressing her scalp. The pressure of the hold increased as Lauren’s mouth moved further down Julia’s body, steadily towards that triangle of hair.

“Christ, Lauren”

Fuck. She tasted so good: rich and thick and sweet. Lauren’s hands gripped Julia’s buttocks, hard enough to leave bruises. The hands on her head had now moved to her shoulders, digging in as hard as her own on Julia. Lauren flattened her tongue and ran it along the length of Julia’s sex once and then twice before using just the tip to touch her clit, making Julia gasp and then groan, her hips bucking, unconsciously pushing herself into Lauren’s mouth. When Lauren sucked Julia’s clit between her lips, Julia’s short nails dug harder into her skin, crying out as she came hard. Lauren smoothed her hands up Julia’s back and pulled away to look up at her new lover.

“That was quick”

Julia bent down, framing Lauren’s face and kissing her.

“Hardly quick. I’ve wanted you for weeks”

She pushed a lock of hair off Lauren’s forehead and gazed down into those glorious brown eyes; at the moment they were nearly completely black, the iris almost impossible to detect. Suddenly close to tears, Julia cupped Lauren’s face and let her lips flutter against Lauren’s.

“You are so beautiful”

Lauren gave her a half smile and shook her head. Julia caught her chin in her hand and squeezed it.

“You are, ya foolish girl”

With a gentle but insistent push, Lauren lay back on the bed, and Julia climbed on top of her, bending her head so she could murmur in the other woman’s ear.

“Do you still want me inside you?”

Lauren groaned by way of response, her back arching.

“Ya have no idea how much I wanna fuck you right now”

“If it’s as much as I want you to, yes, I have”

“Turn over”

Lauren was lying on her stomach, her right cheek pressed into the pillow, her left flushed. A swell of affection momentarily overwhelmed Julia, and she tousled Lauren’s hair. Lauren lifted her head and looked at her, the connection so intense it had her breathless. Julia rubbed Lauren’s neck and with a sigh the other woman dropped her head back on the pillow, this time face down. A sound not dissimilar to a purr came from her throat, making Julia smile.

“Ya big pussy”

She drew her hails down Lauren’s back and the purr intensified into a growl. Julia leant down to place a gentle kiss between Lauren’s shoulder blades; when Lauren wriggled under her, she kissed her harder, sucking the skin between her teeth in the same way she had the skin of Lauren’s neck. There it was, that sob song. No one at the airport would see Lauren’s back; she could let herself go. By the time she’d made a chain leading from Lauren’s shoulders to the top of the curve of her buttocks, Lauren was incoherent, pushing herself into the mattress with progressively frantic thrusts. Julia shifted her position so that she was between Lauren’s legs, her head level with Lauren’s ass. She had to admit that it was a breath taking sight, the sweep of honey coloured skin from head to ass, flawless apart from where Julia’s mouth had marked her.

Gently, she separated Lauren’s buttocks and ran her tongue down the crease. The hitch in Lauren’s breathing was all the encouragement she needed; she circled the tight muscle of Lauren’s anus, slowly opening it with tip of her tongue. Lauren cried out with surprised pleasure.

“Lift your hips for me, honey”

Lauren complied without hesitation, Julia slipping her right hand under her, entering her so easily with two fingers that she immediately added a third.

“Fuck, Julia”

“As you asked so nicely”

Her thrusts were steady, taking her cue from Lauren’s own movements. She was incredible; whatever Julia did, Lauren could take it and more. Julia insinuated a fourth finger, causing Lauren to lift herself onto her knees to give Julia better reach.

“Touch yourself”

Lauren propped herself on one elbow, her free hand moving between her legs to stroke her clit with two fingers. Julia’s skin was starting to prickle, the arousal building in the pit of her stomach as she watched. Before she knew what she was doing, she found she was pressed up to Lauren, rubbing herself against her ass. Jesus, it felt good. Lauren’s ass was tight and firm, the skin hot on her own hot skin. They were moving as one now, Lauren pushing back into onto Julia’s hand and into Julia’s crotch. Her breathing was as ragged as Julia’s, but with that catch, that distinctive sob. She was tightening too, Julia could feel her start to close around her fingers; she deepened her thrusts, causing Lauren to fall on to her stomach, taking Julia with her. Julia continued to pound into her, still rocking her hips. Christ, they were both so close, so close, she could feel it in the clenching around her fingers, in the explosion that was going to go off in her head within a matter of moments. Ignition in T minus twenty seconds. Here it comes, here it comes, here it comes.


It was dark in the room but neither of them wanted to put the light on. Julia’s stomach was growling, Lauren could hear it, her ear pressed against Julia’s chest. She lifted her head and grinned at her.

“Hungry, Deputy?”

“Haven’t had anything since that bit of pie”

“God, that feels like years ago. Do you want to go get something?”

Julia shook her head.

“Maybe later”

Lauren let her fingers wander over Julia’s torso, her breasts, the touch light and not meant to be arousing. She came to the scar.

“Is it okay to ask how you got this?”

Julia shifted under her, her expression impenetrable.

“You don’t have to tell me”

“No, it’s alright. I was shot”

“Shot? Fuck, Julia. In Hawkins?”

“No, in Boston. I was in Boston before Hawkins, born and bred there”

“Nice place”

“Bits of it, sure. But not all”

Julia scrubbed her face with the heel of her hand. She’d gone back to being the reserved, detached woman had always known, and it saddened her. She reached up and gently kissed her mouth.

“If it makes you unhappy to think about it, darling, please don’t”

“I’d like you to know. I haven’t told anyone in years, not even Cody. The guys at the Sheriff’s Office think I just couldn’t cut it in the city, and I guess they’re not wrong. Jesus, they have no idea what it’s like. They swagger around town like Gary Cooper in High Noon. If they pull someone over for speeding they think it’s a big deal. Ya know if ya’d overstayed ya visa that would’ve been the biggest crime since we busted the West Farm hippies”

“Wow, I could’ve been a one woman crime wave and I didn’t even know”

“Yeah, you’re a fire coated criminal, anyone can see just by looking at ya”

“What happened?”

Julia sighed.

“A fuck up of the first order. There was a drugs bust, and I mean a really big deal, not a few cannabis plants in an old barn. We’re talking several keys of cocaine, nasty guys with automatic weapons who didn’t think twice about using them. It all went to hell quicker than ya can blink. Jesus, it was terrifying. Bullets flying, people screaming, the stink of gunpowder and blood. Afterwards, ten people were dead, three of them police officers. No major serious players were taken out. I got hit in the chest but I was lucky. My partner Rico got hit in the head. He – he died in my arms Lauren”

Lauren moved up the bed so that she could take Julia into her arms, holding Julia’s head against her shoulder, stroking her hair.

“Once I was cleared for work, I realised I couldn’t go back. I’d had it with the drug dealers, the pimps and murderers, all the rapists and child molesters. I put in for a transfer to somewhere calmer. Those boys long for that life but they don’t know shit. If the most serious thing I ever have to do is issue a parking violation ticket, I’ll be the happiest woman ever”

Lauren kissed the top of Julia’s head.

“I’m glad you chose the quiet life. It means you’re here with me now”

“But you’re going”

“Only because I have to”

Continued in part 8

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