Conspiracy of Swords
by Shadowriter

(See Part 1 for Disclaimers)

Shadowriter can be reached at

Chapter Twenty


In minutes, the scene was total chaos again. Two ambulances and a dozen cop cars pulled up in and around the small parking lot. It didn't take long for them to get David onto a stretcher, and then Alex was closing the doors behind him as they rushed him to University Hospital.

One of the Philadelphia agents had been shot twice, once in the arm and once in the leg. He and Ken were taken in the second ambulance.

A third showed up to help collect bodies.

Alex was still watching the ambulance carrying her partner as it disappeared around a corner. She started when she felt a hand touch her shoulder. She turned her head to find Teren beside her.

"David'll be okay, Alex."

She wanted to believe that. But she'd seen the pallor of his face and knew it would take good luck for him to even survive the trip to the hospital.

After a moment longer, Alex turned to watch as a crew picked up Brogan's body. Her brain kicked in, and she stopped them for a moment.

"I want his body searched, here and now. Everything is to be recorded and tagged as evidence. Do the same with the other unidentified bodies. I want the stuff bagged and ready to be taken to FBI headquarters."

"FBI? This a PPD crime scene and --"

"Wrong, Sargeant. This is the scene of an ambush of six FBI agents, two of whom are now dead. That makes it a federal crime scene. You can either work with me, or you can get the fuck out of the way." Alex's coldness made Teren raise an eyebrow. It made the sargeant angry.

"Well, if you feds hadn't --"

"That's enough Sargeant." Jeff Harnisch stepped up beside the glowering officer. "Agent Reis is correct. Your men are to secure the scene, but the FBI will take care of any further investigations here. Is that clear?"

The man nodded. He glared once more at Alex and turned away. Harnisch watched him leave, then he turned back to the blond agent.

"What happened, Alex?"

"What happened? We got ambushed. Brogan showed up, we were attempting to get him to come in of his own accord, and in the middle of the discussion, we were attacked. It was a blatant, frontal assualt, and it should have brought our backup police friends running, or at least calling for help, but it didn't. Ken and Rick left their two-way radio in the vehicle because they expected that the two in the drive car would be within reach of their set. They were told to stay in the car; why they didn't do it, I don't know."

"And your police backup?"

"When we checked in with Wister before Brogan showed up, he said he was in position. We've heard nothing since."

Teren cleared her throat. Harnisch looked up at her. "You are?"

"Teren Mylos. CIA. And you?"

"Jeff Harnisch, Director, Philadelphia FBI." The agent narrowed his eyes. "I've got two conflicting reports on you, Mylos. Cliff Jackson said I could trust you. But I got another call that said I wasn't to allow you anywhere near this investigation."

"I heard that. I'd like to know who that second call was from."

"Assistant Deputy Director Calvin Bishop, FBI, Washington. He said he wasn't happy to hear that the CIA was getting involved in domestic affairs, and he wanted it stopped." Harnisch crossed his arms. "Can you give me a good reason why I should disobey orders, Mylos?"

"I can't tell you what to do. But I can point out a few things."


"For one, even before that call was made to you, someone had called the Philadelphia PD and countermanded a request from Agent Jackson. And the caller did not identify himself as the Director, but as Agent Jackson, though Cliff said he had nothing to do with it."

"And that means?"

"Someone didn't want me here."

"Obviously. But just because the FBI doesn't want the CIA --"

"But that's the point. I'm not a current CIA operative, and the CIA is not involved in this case in any way, official or unofficial. I am currently on loan to the Bureau as an instructor in their self-defense recertification program. While I may have used a contact from my days at the CIA I have not filed an official report, or been officially connected with this FBI case in any way." She tilted her head and looked at him. "So, this leaves two questions. One, who told Bishop that I was involved, two, and who countermanded the order from Agent Jackson?"

Harnisch stared at the tall woman, thinking that what Jackson had told him about her was correct. She wasn't someone to be taken lightly. "Got a question for you, Mylos. Did you take out those thugs by yourself?"

She nodded. "Pretty much. One of them was holding his shoulder, though, it looked like someone got a lucky shot on him."

Alex hadn't realized that Teren had been the one to rescue them, and she stared at the former spy. "You shot them? All three of them?"

"Yes. I tried to tell them to freeze, but they turned and fired, and I shot back."

"How did you get here?"

Teren smiled. "I commandeered a police officer and his vehicle. We heard the gun shots as we got nearby, and I left him to call for backup. I came around the corner from that direction," she pointed down the street, "and got behind them from across the street."

Harnisch put a hand to his forehead. "Are you telling me you kidnapped a police officer?"

"No. Federal law says that a federal agent in pursuit of a felon has the right to commandeer a vehicle from local law enforcement to continue pursuit of said felon." She shrugged. "I may have used a rather broad interpretation of the law, but I was after a felon."

The older agent shook his head, rubbing at his temple. "And I thought Davies was pissed at me before. He's gonna be really mad if he finds out about that."

"No," Teren said. "What he'll likely be even more upset about is the fact that the two police officers set for back up are both dead." Alex and Jeff Harnisch stared at her. "I checked the area out a few minutes ago. I found the police car on the path behind the wall. Both men in it were shot to death."

The three of them were silent for a moment, then Harnisch blew out a breath. "Have you told anyone else?"

"No. I thought I should tell Alex first."

Alex looked up at her. "Why?"

"Because both of them were shot in the back of the head at point blank range. Which means whoever shot them was sitting in the back of the car. And I doubt they'd let anyone sit back there with a gun unless they knew them."

Alex's eyebrows rose. "Are you saying another policeman killed them?"

"Not necessarily. But it does make you wonder."

Harnisch was looking at the ground. "Ms. Mylos, you're telling me that not only did someone from the FBI illegally countermand an official request from the Washington office, but that someone, possibly from the police department, is a turncoat." He raised his eyes to meet hers. "Does that sound very likely to you?"

The smile she gave him held no humor. "You'd be surprised what I find to be likely, Agent Harnisch."

He nodded again, and went to clap a hand on Alex's shoulder, opposite of the one Teren had placed her hand on. He was surprised when the blond woman jerked away from his touch.

"Reis, you alright?"

"Couple scrapes. Nothing major."

"So, some of that blood you're wearing is your own?"

She shrugged. "Maybe a few drops. I'm fine."

"Right. You go get them scrapes looked at, you hear?"

"I will. As soon as --"

"No. Now. I'll make sure all the information gets to headquarters. You just get your ass out of here." He looked around and then gave her a smirk. "And try to do it before our buddy Davies shows up, okay?"

Alex nodded, but could not return even the barest grin. "Yes, sir."

Harnisch nodded again, and left, running a hand through the gray hair at his temples.

Teren took Alex's arm. "Come on, Reis. Let's get you looked at."

The small agent shook off the hand. "I'm fine. I just need to find a ride to the hospital."

"I think I can help. I spoke with the officer that drove me in from the airport, and he said he'd take me there when I was ready. I think you should come with us."

"Fine." Alex turned to her. "But only because I need to find out how David is." She started walking towards the car. "And then I need to call Miri."


Alex refused to let anyone look at her shoulder or arm, even though Teren could see there was a spreading stain of fresh blood across the inner sleeve of her jacket. In the lights of the hospital corridor, the path of the bullet across the top of her left shoulder could be seen, and the rip on the underside of her right arm testified to the intensity of the battle. But Alex was adamant; she wanted to know how her partner was doing, and then she was heading back to the park.

Alex was still arguing with a nurse when Teren's phone rang. She glanced at Alex, and slipped around the corner in the corridor.


"Teren, where are you?"

"Cliff? I'm at the hospital, trying to get information on David. He was shot in the chest."

"Oh, no. Goddamnit. Is Alex with you? Is she alright?"

"She's being stubborn and won't let the doctor examine a couple bullet scrapes. I think that means she's mostly okay."

"You've got to get out of there. Both of you."

"What? Why?"

"Listen to me, and listen good. I got a call from Harnisch. It seems a police captain named Davies has decided that you caused all the excitement tonight, and he wants you for questioning in the deaths of two police officers."

"Fuck. I should have known not to stick around."

"Yeah. Well, if you leave, take Alex with you. And whatever you do, don't let her near Harnisch, and don't let her call me."

"Why not?"

"Because the order has come down from Deputy Director Bishop. He's blaming the whole fiasco on her, even though he doesn't know the whole story. If Harnisch sees her, he's to take her ID and her weapon. If she talks to me, I'm to order her to relinquish them." He hesitated. "They're trying to railroad her, Teren. Get her out of there."

"And then what? She can't go the FBI offices here, and she can't go home to Washington. Where is she supposed to go?"

"I don't know! All I know is if she doesn't see Harnisch, he can't take her badge, and if I don't talk to her, I can't tell her to hand it over. You're the only chance she has of keeping her badge. You have to keep her safe until we can clear her name. "

"Why the hell should I do that? I'm not even officially in this case, and now you're telling me that I'm wanted by the Philadelphia PD? Because I saved the lives of a few agents?"

"No. Because you're convenient. And so's Alex. What's happening here is wrong, Teren, but I can't stop it right now. All I can do is warn you, both of you. And I could lose my job for doing it."

Teren had to admit that was true.

"Alright. I'll get Alex out of here, if she'll let me. I'm not sure what we'll do after that. Both of our phones will be off after this, so don't bother trying to call." She sighed. "I don't know if we'll stay in the city, or not, but I'll find a way to contact you about where we're going and what we're doing."




"Don't think for one minute that this is going to make me get out of this case. This is the second time in two months that someone's set me up, and I'm not letting go."

"I didn't think so. Be careful, okay?"

"Yeah. Find out who the snitch is, got it?"


Teren hung up and turned around to see a black man on crutches watching her intently. She recognized him as the man she'd helped at the scene. Alex had called him Ken.

"So, you're the Teren Mylos that everyone was talking about, " he said. "We didn't exactly get around to introductions earlier. I'm Kendall Thomas." He held out his hand, carefully keeping his balance. "Everyone calls me Ken."

"I'm Teren." She shook his hand. "How's the leg?"

He grimaced. "Hurts. But there's not a lot of damage. The bullet passed right through and didn't hit anything major. It's just going to be a bitch to deal with for a while." He looked up at her. "I take it that was Cliff you were talking to?"

Teren eyed him with wariness. "Yes. Why?"

He raised his hands, palms to her. "Don't get defensive, please. David warned me you had a tendency to get a little gun happy when you were feeling defensive, and I don't think I could duck right now."

His words were said in humor, and Teren's lips twitched into a smile.

"Actually, I spoke to Cliff a few minutes ago, and he told me someone was trying to railroad Alex. It wasn't her fault, but she's the only one that wasn't wounded, so she's gonna be the scapegoat."

"I wouldn't say she wasn't wounded, but they are trying to blame her."

Ken frowned. "Are you saying she was shot?"

"Couple of bullets grazed her. She won't let the doctors look at her, though. Her only concern right now is David."

The agent nodded. "Sounds like Alex. Her and David are like brother and sister. Every time one of them gets sick, the other gets sympathy pains."

"Well, she's gonna hafta have her pains outside the hospital. Want to help me talk her into leaving this place?"

"What about her wounds?"

"She's still on her feet, so I don't think they'll kill her. I'll swipe a couple suture kits and fix her when we get where we're going."

"I won't ask where that is. Tell you what. I'm supposed to still be in this little room just down the hall. I saw where the kits are. You get Alex, and drop by the room before you leave. I'll give you the supplies."

"Oh, right, make me talk her out of barging into the operating room."

Ken grinned at her, and she gave him one of her own before turning to find the blond woman.

Teren found Alex sitting on the floor against the wall. She was folding up her cell phone. Alex's cheeks were dry, but her eyes were red.

"Who were you talking to?"

"Miri." Alex was looking at the floor, and she didn't raise her eyes. "She's going to find someone to stay with Arlea, and get a flight up."

Teren wondered how Alex had found the courage to call her partner's wife. It had taken Teren herself nearly a month to speak to Perry's parents.

"How's David?"

"Still in surgery. The bullet broke a rib and punctured a lung. Plus, it's close to the heart. At this point, they're giving him a fifty-fifty chance."

Teren was silent for a moment. She knew what it was like to lose a partner, and she could only hope that Alex didn't have to go through the same thing.

But at the moment, they had other things to worry about as well.

"Alex, are you sure you don't want a doctor to look at your wounds?"

Alex shook her head. "No. They'll be fine."

"Then we need to get out of here."

Alex stood up, wincing as she did so.

"You're right. I'm going to headquarters. Are you coming with me?"

"Alex," Teren said as she reached out to stop the agent, "you can't do that."

"What are you talking about?"

Teren searched for the words to tell her friend what was happening. "Look, there's good news and bad. The good news is I saw your friend Ken, and he's fine. The bullet passed through without any real damage." She took a deep breath. "The bad news is, I spoke to Cliff. He said that there's a serious effort underway to railroad you, and place all the blame for the shooting on your shoulders. If you go to headquarters, you'll lose your badge."

Alex just stared at her.

"Cliff also said he's under orders that if you call, he's to order you to relinquish your ID and your weapon."

"Great. So, we get ambushed, my partner is shot, and someone's trying to blame me?" Alex's voice was very quiet.

"That's not all. I believe you know a police captain by the name of Davies?"


"He wants me for questioning in the deaths of those two cops. He's claiming I killed them."

"Wonderful." Alex dragged a hand across her forehead, and Teren noticed that she left a trail of blood.

"Are you sure you don't want to get looked at? You're still bleeding."

"It looks like I don't have time, and neither do you. Davies and Harnisch will both send someone to find us here."

"Right. Come on. I told Ken we'd stop by his exam room before we left."

"What for?"

"He's stealing some medical supplies for me, so I can fix your arm later."

"Great. With one night I got Rick Price killed, David shot in the chest, and turned Ken into a thief. What's next?" There was no humor in Alex's voice, and Teren tried to inject some levity into the situation.

"Well, you're about to go on the run with a suspect in a murder investigation."



They stopped by the hotel where Alex and David had stayed. For a moment they considered remaining there, but decided that it would be too easy to find them. Teren went in and gathered Alex's things, ensuring no one saw Alex's bloodstained clothes. She also found a hotel near the airport for them to stay in, registering with a false ID. Alex raised an eyebrow when Teren told her, but didn't say anything.

They rented adjoining rooms, and as soon as Alex walked into hers, she dropped her bags on the bed and sat in a chair. Teren was knocking on the connecting door, but Alex ignored the sound and just stared into space.

There were two emotions battling inside her. The first was anger, a rage that boiled just under the surface. It fought with the second emotion, the despair that wanted to settle over her. One moment she would be clenching her fists until her fingernails cut into her palms. The next, she was wondering if she shouldn't just let them have her badge.

Besides the emotional pain, there was a physical ache. She hadn't yet pulled her shirt off to see just how bad her wounds were. She knew they couldn't be too serious because she hadn't keeled over from them. But she dreaded getting undressed, knowing that the congealed blood would be pulled off the wounds, and there would be more blood and pain.

She looked up when a shadow crossed her vision. Teren had somehow gotten into her room.

"I guess ignoring you was pointless. You must have some magic way to get into any locked room, courtesy of the CIA, right?"

"Actually, when I rented the rooms, I got two keys to yours. Just in case."


Teren sat down on the bed, facing her. "You want to get out of those clothes?"

"Not particularly."

They were both quiet for a moment.

"Do you generally like to sit around in blood stained shirts?"

"No. But it seems better than the alternative."

"Which is?"

"Ripping them off and opening the wounds again. That sounds painful, so I think I'll stay in these for a little while longer."

Teren nodded, and got up. She went into the bathroom, and Alex could hear the water in the shower come on. Moments later Teren sat across from her again.

"Okay. Empty all of your pockets, take off your shoes and pants, and leave on any clothes that seem to be glued on. Then get into the shower, let the water soak the cloth that's stuck to your skin. Once it does, you can peel the material off with a lot less pain."

Alex stared at her. "Had to do this much, Teren?"

There was a sad smile on Teren's face. "As a matter of fact, yes."

Without bothering to reach down, Alex kicked off the boots she'd been wearing. They thunked on the floor.

"You'll have to help me with my holster. I don't think I can reach it."


Between the two of them, they got Alex down to her shirt and underwear, and Teren watched her disappear into the bathroom. While she was in there, Teren unlocked the door to her own room, and brought back several large towels. She also ordered room service, asking them to send the meal to her room. Taking a chance, she added a bottle of wine to the order. She didn't have any pain killers, and enough wine would help Alex get some sleep.

A few minutes later the bathroom door opened, and Alex came out. She was wrapped in a large bath towel that draped around her breasts, leaving her shoulders free. Teren could see the bloody scrape across her shoulder. It was bleeding, but didn't look like it would need stitches. Her right arm, however, had another towel wrapped around it. This one, Teren could see, was bloody.

"Okay. How about I move a chair into the bathroom. We'll probably need to be by the sink, and there's tile in there. I'd rather not leave blood stains on the rug if we can help it."

"Fine." Alex returned to the bathroom, dutifully sitting on the chair when Teren brought it in. They held the arm over the sink and Teren unwrapped the injury. The blood began to run down Alex's arm, to her side, where it disappeared into her bath towel.

"There is no local anesthetic. Are you going to be okay while I sew this up, or do you want to wait for the bottle of wine I ordered?"

"Just do it."

Teren knelt beside the woman, and ripped open the suture kit. "Are you ready?"


Teren expected to hear Alex cry out when she put the first stitch in, but Alex just clenched her jaw. By the second stitch she was crying. It wasn't until the fourth stitch that she actually made a sound, and that was a moan rather than a scream.

"I'm sorry, Alex. I know it hurts."

Alex didn't say anything, she simply sat there, her arm over the sink, and tears running down her face.

Teren was halfway finished when they heard the knocking from the other room. She apologized to Alex, and went to collect their dinner.

Alex stayed where she was. She was too exhausted to do anything else.. The pain from her arm had mixed with the emotions inside, becoming a roaring storm in her head. It was exhausting, that storm, and she leaned her head back, trying to quell the turmoil she felt.

But when she closed her eyes, she saw David's body on the ground, and heard Miri's accusing voice asking why Alex didn't protect him like she'd promised. Alex tried to say that she couldn't, she couldn't have protected anybody, but the voice kept asking why it was David in the hospital, and not her. Why Rick had died, and not her. Because she had been a fool, and a coward, and --

Unable to stand the voices in her head, Alex sat up quickly. The motion jarred her arm, sending bolts of pain through her. She bit her lip until she tasted blood, trying not to scream.

Teren came through the door and handed her a glass of wine. "Drink this. All of it. It's not a great pain killer, or even a great wine, but it's the best we have of either one."

Alex drank the wine, feeling it burn her lip. When she was finished, Teren set the glass aside and knelt by the sink to finish sewing Alex's wound.

There were fourteen stitches in all. The bullet had sliced through Alex's sleeve, leaving a wicked gash on the underside of her forearm. The other bullet had taken a layer of skin off her left shoulder, but only needed bandaging.

"Okay. Let me get a bandage on this, and you'll be set. There's a bottle of wine out there for you. I wouldn't recommend drinking the whole thing, but another glass or two might take the edge off the pain."

Alex said nothing. She held the pad where Teren told her to, and then let her hand drop back to her lap as her friend wound the gauze wrap around her arm. When they were done, Teren carried the chair back to the other room.

Their food was on the table by the window in Alex's room, and the bottle of wine was beside Alex's plate. She poured herself another glass, downing half of it.

"Do you want to get dressed before we eat?"

"You can eat. I'm not hungry."

"Alex --"

"David and I ate earlier."

"When was that? Five, six? It's after midnight. Besides, it's not a good idea to be drinking on an empty stomach."

Alex downed the rest of the glass. "Why not? I'll get drunk a little faster."

Teren sighed. She knew what Alex was going through, and she wished she could take the pain away. But the truth was, that in order to get rid of it, Alex would have to face it. She wasn't going to do that if she was drunk.

"Alex, please, just eat something. There's some soup, or the dinner rolls if you want. But you need to put something into your stomach."

Alex reached for the bottle, and Teren stopped her. They glared at one another for a moment, before Alex dropped her eyes and nodded.

"Alright. I'll eat something. Let me get dressed first."

Teren turned away, not willing to leave the room in case Alex reached again for the bottle. Two glasses on an empty stomach was enough.

Alex dug through her bags, trying not to jar her right arm. She found the extra long t-shirt she usually slept in, and slipped it over her head.

"Hope you don't mind if I just stay like this. I'm not in the mood to worry about pants right now."

Teren turned, seeing the long black t-shirt. It contrasted well with Alex's blong hair, but made the bandage on her arm stand out even more.

"That's fine. Now, sit down and eat."

The younger woman did so, trying to find her normal appetite. It wasn't there. She picked at the charbroiled chicken, and tore the roll apart instead of eating it.

"He missed you, you know."

Teren stopped and looked at Alex. "Who?"

"David. He said so, in the car. I said it would have been nice to have you there and he said you make everyone nervous." Alex set her fork down. "He said he missed you too. It was right before Brogan showed up."

Teren stared down at her plate. She had no idea how to heal the woman in front of her.

"Why weren't you there?"

Startled blue eyes looked up into haunted green.

"Why wasn't I where?"

"At the park. With us."

"You know why. My flight got in just after nine and --"

"No." Alex shook her head. "No. Why didn't you come with us? Why did you go to Washington instead?"

Teren took a deep breath. "Alex, I --"

"NO!" Alex was shouting now, the anger inside demanding a target. "Why weren't you there? You were supposed to be there. You wanted to be part of this team, and I agreed, even though you said it would be dangerous. But when the danger showed up, you weren't there. Why not, Teren? Why weren't you there?"

"I had to go to Washington."

"Why? Why? If you had been here, David wouldn't be dying. Damn you, Teren, you should have been there!" Alex swept her good arm across half the table sending her plate and glass flying into the wall. "You should have been there!"

Alex stood and walked away from the table, anger seeping from her. Teren waited, knowing what would come next.

"I should have demanded you come with us. I should have made sure we had more back up. I should have insisted on waiting until morning, or at least insisted on a different location. I should --"

"Alex." Teren stood and crossed the several steps to the smaller woman, placing a hand on her good shoulder. "Alex, you couldn't have changed anything. This was a set-up, just like when Perry was killed."

Alex turned on her. "I know that. But I should have been able to stop it. I should have known, and I shouldn't have let it happen."

"Alex, you couldn't stop it."

"Yes, I could. I should have. I should have kept David safe. I promised Miri I'd keep him safe, and I didn't. I didn't."

The tears finally came, and Teren pulled Alex into her arms. They sat on the bed, Teren rocking the younger woman. She let Alex cry, knowing that the release of emotion would allow the agent to think more rationally. After this, Alex might be able to see that there was no way they could have known it was a set-up. They couldn't have known they would be ambushed. Most importantly to Teren, Alex might be able to see that there was no way she herself could have prevented David being shot.

Rational acceptance would eventually allow Alex to slowly release the guilt she was feeling, Teren knew, but that would take much longer.

After several minutes, Alex's sobs became hiccups, then deep sighs, and then normal breaths. She still clung to Teren, and the darker woman continued to hold her, gently rubbing her back, and occasionally stroking her head.

When Teren was sure the tears had fully stopped, she took a deep breath, and kissed Alex on the top of the head.

"Alex, do you want to get the men behind the shooting of your partner?"

The blonde head tilted back until green eyes were inches from Teren's blue ones. Alex studied Teren's face for a moment, then whispered her answer.


Teren could feel the word on Alex's breath as it left her lips. Without thinking, she leaned down to kiss those lips, surprising herself and Alex. Then she pulled away and stared back into Alex's eyes.

"Then we will."

This time it was Alex who brought their lips together, pushing up and back as Teren fell against the mattress. Alex tangled her hands in the dark tresses and pulled Teren's mouth tight against hers even as she pressed down with her body. Teren ran her hand up Alex's back, stroking her neck, and weaving her fingers into the golden hair.

For Alex, there was nothing left but this. There was no more pain, no more anger, no more fear. Only Teren, and the feel of her body as Alex pulled her clothes from her. Only Teren's lips, and her hands, as they teased Alex further into this vacuum of sensation. There was only the touch, the taste, the smell, as Alex felt herself wound tightly in this cocoon of warmth and safety.

Teren had been surprised at the intensity between them, almost afraid of letting it build too high. But this joining was less about desire, and more about healing. Teren felt Alex's body begin to relax, the rage inside her beginning to calm. As it did, the flames between them rose, becoming a firestorm of sensation that Teren could feel sweeping across both of them. It was a warm and welcoming sensation, as warm as the body on top of hers, and Teren let herself slide deeply into it.

The explosion, when it came, was too much for Alex, and she cried out, arching her body, and holding tightly to the dark woman who tenderly stroked her neck and back, whispering soothing words into her ear. Exhausted, she let her blond head drop onto Teren's chest, trusting that Teren would hold her, and keep her safe. She was asleep before either of them realized it.

Teren rested one hand against Alex's back, and used the other to wipe the tears from her own eyes. There was a gentle peace that had settled over her, and while she knew it wouldn't last for long, she craved the comfort it could give her. After a momentary struggle with the bedspread, she managed to pull it over their heated bodies, wrapping them tightly together. Then she closed her eyes and let herself drift into that peace.



Continues in Chapter Twenty-one

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