Fatal Hesitation

(A story in the When Heaven Meets Hell series)


© JM Dragon 2006


Love/Sex:This story features relationships between adult women. If this bothers you, is illegal in the State, Province or Country you live or if you areunder the age of 18, find something else to read. There are loads of general stories out there.

Language:No strong language.

Violence:There is implied violence in this story.

Hurt/Comfort:There are scenes of heartache to be dealt with by the characters.

The working week had started well. Amelia had been over the moon with her apartment and office additions and wore a smile for most of the week. It finally disappeared when they went to visit Sharon Agnew. She and Olivia had a brief discussion while travelling to the prison hospital, where Agnew resided, pending her trial for murder. If the institution doctors were over-worked Amelia was going to offer her services as long as the authorities and Sharon Agnew agreed. However, Amelia found out that in the real world things don't always go exactly the way one plans them.

After Sharon had pleaded guilty to the murder of her neighbour, she had been placed in the prison hospital under minimal supervision. That move proved her undoing as Sharon escaped a long stay in a mental health facility by committing her final act in this world - her own death. Several hours prior to their arrival, she had hung herself from the window bars in her room. Olivia repeatedly told Amelia that the death was due to Sharon's state of mind. "There was nothing you could have done to save her Amelia." But, her words were ignored as Amelia locked herself in her office for two days only venturing out for a brief consultation with Teal.

Olivia's frustration with Amelia's mood increased with each passing hour. "I've had it Teal. I'm going in there and see if I can get through to her," she said as she was about to enter the lion's den.

"It won't help Olivia." Teal announced quietly from her vantage point behind her desk.

"Says who?" Olivia snarled more to herself than the diminutive woman who had spoken.

Teal gave a woeful smile. "Says someone who has known her for years. Normally she would have gone to Mother Superior to talk over her problems with. Now, she has no one…" Teal noticed the flare of the nostrils and changed her tact. "Or, at least she thinks nobody will understand her dilemma

"Look she can't run away from this… shit happens. If she wants to function in the real world, our world, then she has to take the rough with the smooth. If you, her friend won't tell her, then I will!"

"I have told her that she needs to understand she can't save everyone she meets and situations occur that she can't do anything about. Amelia is Amelia and she thinks she's failed if she at least doesn't give it her best shot. And, right now, I think she feels she abandoned the Agnew woman to her fate. You have to remember Olivia that Amelia will always have that strong affinity to God and it's a sin in God's eyes to commit suicide. We have to handle her for the moment with kid gloves."

Olivia was thoughtful for a moment and then gave Teal a long look. "Is that why you've not revealed your relationship with Phil to her?"

Teal's eyes went heavenward. "Damn, you would say a thing like that Olivia. Actually I was going to invite her tonight…"

The door to Amelia's office opened and she stepped out. Her eyes cautiously glanced at each of the women, "Invite whom and to where?"

Olivia moved away from Teal's desk. She waited to see what the woman would say. This is going to be interesting.

"Hey Amelia, how are you doing? I was going to invite you of course." The self-conscious laugh that followed had Olivia smirking behind the hand she placed over her mouth.

"Okay. Where are you inviting me Teal?" Amelia's eyes drifted slightly to the detective who appeared to be enjoying a private joke. Something she saw in Teal's body language wasn't going down well with her friend.

Clearing her voice slightly, she said, "A few of us are meeting at my place for a couple of drinks and nibbles. We're going to watch the whole first season of The L Word…or at least as much as we can before we all fall asleep."

Olivia choked on the laughter she had held back. The L Word, wow that is going to be a blast. I wouldn't mind being a fly on the wall for that party.

Distracted by Olivia's laughter, Amelia turned to the detective. "Is it a good series? I'm afraid I haven't heard of it before."

Teal ducked down behind the reception counter praying that Olivia wouldn't be her usual non-diplomatic self.

"I've heard of it… in fact I may have even seen the odd episode. I think it's always best to judge for yourself. I'm sure you and the girls will have a great buddy time together."

"Hey, I was hoping you might join us too Olivia." Teal announced as she sucked in a deep breath waiting for the response.

This time Olivia moved stealthily towards the counter and her tall frame lounged over the top as she came face to face with Teal. "Sorry Teal, other plans," she replied loudly then whispered for Teal only. "Oh, I'm going to love seeing you two together after the weekend. The L Word, great idea for a sleep over Teal."

Teal gave an exasperated sigh as she resigned herself to not being top of Amelia's list. Amelia was being thrown, figuratively speaking, into a pride of horny lesbians watching one of their favourite programmes.

"Are you going to be there Amelia…tonight my apartment at seven?"

Amelia smiled. "I'd have liked that Teal, perhaps another time. Tonight I'm pretty drained and a good night's sleep is the only thing I'm up for this evening."

With a sigh of relief, and a memo to herself that she had to do better next time, Teal nodded her understanding. She took the opportunity to close the office for the weekend. "Good night Olivia and Amelia. I hope you both have a wonderful weekend."

They silently watched Teal leave and get into a waiting vehicle. Then Amelia remarked in surprise, "I didn't know Teal had arranged for a pick up in the evenings. It's a great idea, though I wish she'd learn to drive."

"Yep, she's been given a ride home in style most evenings for several months now."

Amelia became thoughtful. "I guess I've been preoccupied with my own problems and haven't paid attention to what's happening around me, especially my friends. Do you think it is anyone special? I always hoped that she'd meet a great guy and settle down, have kids and all that. She deserves it."

Olivia shook her head slightly as she considered how to reply to the comment. She could take the matter into her own hands and relate that Teal's idea of a great guy needed translating to girl. Then again, why should I bother, it really isn't anything to do with me. "You'd have to ask Teal."

"I will. Perhaps I'll call her over the weekend and arrange to have coffee and a friendly chat together. It's been a long time since Teal and I have done that," Amelia remarked absently. Her thoughts drifted. I sure am making mess out of my life. But, how do I prevent it from spiralling even further out of control.

Olivia watched several expressions cross the doctor's features. It didn't take a degree to know she was battling with herself about something or, in Amelia's case, more than one thing. Hesitating for a short time, she decided against a confrontational stance. Besides I still owe her an explanation for my own behaviour at the motel. Thankfully, doc hasn't pressed the issue. Teal had been right - that kind of attitude wouldn't work with Amelia and a part of her was glad for that. There has to be people out there who care about those that appear not to be able to help themselves. For herself, she felt it a pointless exercise. "Do you feel better?" Okay, it isn't the most compassionate of questions but it is the best I can do. Amelia's eyes flared open wider as she gave Olivia a startled expression. I wonder if doc has forgotten that I am in the same room.

"Yes I'm fine thanks for asking. I haven't anything else to do today so perhaps I'll call it a day myself. What about you?"

"Oh you know me, always things to do and actions to plan for. Plus, the paperwork is piling up again and we both know how I hate that part of the job." Olivia smiled briefly as she headed towards her office.

"If you want some help I'd be happy to do the filing for you. After all, it is my usual Friday evening pastime isn't it?" Amelia hoped Olivia would take up her offer. It will be better than going home to an empty apartment with the prospect of spending the rest of the weekend alone. At least at the convent I was never alone and if I wasn't working on a case, I had my general chores to take care of. In a strange kind of way she missed the kinship of her fellow nuns and the stability of the convent. Was I too hasty with my decision to quit and leave it all behind? No one said it was going to be easy to integrate into the outside world again but I hadn't expected it to be this difficult either.

"Not tonight Doc. You need the rest. It's been a hell of a week but don't expect that to last. When you have any free time next week I'd appreciate a helping hand." Olivia could have done with the help but the woman's bleak expression was enough to make her chose the alternative. Amelia wasn't the most physically attractive woman on the planet but that didn't matter to her. There was more to a person than their outward appearance. Although, right now the darkness encircling her eyes and the pallor of her skin gave her a seemingly uglier façade which clearly meant she needed to go home.

"Yes you're probably right. Well goodnight Olivia. Have a wonderful weekend." Amelia had found over the months since she and the detective had become partners that there wasn't any use in trying to ask about her activities for the weekend since she literally gave nothing away. Even if she has a romantic attachment she won't mention it ever. Something a person never undertook with Olivia, unless they wanted to be scorched by the flames of hell, was direct questioning. Amelia had learned that lesson the hard way.

"Sure thing Doc, have a good one yourself. I'll see you on Monday."

With a faint smile, Olivia left Amelia standing in the middle of the open reception area. For several minutes, Amelia just stood there wondering, and hoping that Olivia would return. She did not, which left Amelia with nothing to do but collect her things and leave.

+ + +

Olivia answered the phone and at the same time glanced at her watch. Damn, it is 9.30 pm. Where has the time gone?

"Hello, Santos speaking how can I help you?" Her clipped voice sounded harsh as it echoed slightly around her office.

After a few minutes the phone call ended and Olivia grabbed her jacket and stood up. With a quick flick of the button on her answering machine, she switched it to auto before locking her office. She checked the outer office and the windows then set the alarm system and locked the main door leaving the agency behind her.

The roar of her motorcycle was the only sound in the otherwise quiet neighbourhood. Where she was speeding off to in the dark of the night was known only by her and the mysterious caller.

+ + +

Amelia had settled in her apartment in a rather listless fashion. Even the soothing sounds that greeted her didn't have the effect they were supposed to. As she showered and changed from her office clothes, she tried to sum up her current lifestyle. Basically, I am still trying to be both a nun and an ordinary member of the community. I, of all people, should know that won't work. There are times when I am so sure that living like Teal or Olivia is what I want. Then, a crisis occurs shaking my resolve and I yearn for the security of the order and my fellow nuns. I sure could use the guiding hand of Mother Superior.Perhaps I've made an unwise decision by going into business with Olivia. From what she had gleaned from the records she filed for Olivia over the past months and from her own personal experience, detective work wasn't the most glamorous of professions. Her professional life is filled with kidnappings, acrimonious divorces, brutal behaviour to one's fellow man, and, in the last case, murder. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised it is after all how we met.

Flicking on the burner under the stainless steel kettle on the stove, Amelia pondered those events and the conversation she had with the detective soon after they had begun their agency together…

Olivia glanced at Amelia, as the woman was lost in a world of her own. The doctor had volunteered to help her with the dreaded paperwork that she abhorred. She wondered if Amelia read her last case file, which hadn't been that pleasant - a battered wife and kids to help escape the tyrannical spouse. "A penny for your thoughts Doc?"

Amelia's head shot up and she gave a sheepish smile. "Sorry I was kind of daydreaming. You never did tell me what was really going on behind the scenes at the convent."

With a faint smile, Olivia walked over to the desk Amelia was using and sat on the edge as she considered the comment. "That's true I never did. I take it you want to know all the facts?" Amelia nodded her head and Olivia continued. "Father Johansson had been using the convent as a breeding ground for drugs. It was a fairly low key affair but nonetheless, profitable. A sister named Mary Claire was his accomplice inside. That's the nun we saw that evening we were outside the convent walls. The good Sister, who rolled over nicely, confessed all to the police. According to Sister Marie, she had stumbled onto the weed growing by accident several months before. At first she remained silent…I figure she probably didn't know what the plants were. Then, curiosity eventually got the better of her and she carried out some research."

"Why didn't she ask the Mother Superior?" Amelia interjected thoughtfully.

Olivia chuckled. "Sure and who around any convent knows everything?"

"You mean Mother Superior was in on the drugs too?" Amelia's eyes nearly popped out of her head. Her naivety one of the things Olivia liked best about her new partner. It helped her put perspective on a world gone mad - at least the world she inhabited.

"No, at least not knowingly. As we know, the good Father was a slick talker. He was very convincing that the plants were for medicinal use within the church, and it would be a great service for the convent to help. What she didn't know, was Sister Mary Claire had been brought into the convent to ensure only she knew the real story and kept everyone out. Our friend Sister Marie became suspicious and began asking questions. Obviously too many and rumours began to surface but not the rumours you'd expect…it was the ones regarding Sister Marie's insanity. That brought you and me into this playground, except it never played out the way Father expected."

Amelia's eyes flashed upwards to meet Olivia's as she whispered, "He never expected us to see the meeting between his henchman and the nun that made you suspicious."

With a wink Olivia nodded. "Of course yours too. Because you did something he didn't want to happen. You removed the one person who was overly suspicious out of the convent and into a potentially dangerous open arena - the real world. He wasn't to know that you were following your training and instincts and your only interest was the welfare of the nun and the baby she carried. Once Sister Marie had left the confines of the convent she was as good as dead in the eyes of the priest."

"Oh my God you mean I was ultimately responsible for all those people being killed?" Her voice choked over the words as tears filled Olivia's eyes.

"Sorry Doc, you give yourself way too much credit. There was ever only one person responsible for the deaths that day, Father Johansson. You and I were merely catalysts for events to occur. Sister Marie from her safe house later gave her full account of what she saw happening at the convent. No one but Sister Mary has been charged. To give the church its due, it did help in convincing the law that the Mother Superior, in particular, wasn't responsible. I believe she's been retired and good old Sister Agnes has taken over." The sarcasm at the nun's name wasn't lost on Amelia.

With a faint smile Amelia replied, "Hmm Sister Agnes, thankfully I'm not in that order or convent."

Olivia moved away from the desk and back to her own. With her voice barely a whisper she said in the still air of the room, "Thankfully for me you're no longer a nun."

Amelia thought creased her brow. She thought she had heard the words but was sure she must have been mistaken. "What was that Olivia?"

Making as much noise as possible by dragging several files across her desk Olivia gave a blank look. "I didn't say anything."

Amelia was shaken out of her thoughts as the door bell insistently peeled around the walls of the hallway. Pouring the water into her coffee mug she trotted towards her door and without a second thought opened the door wide. Big Mistake! Her eyes grew wide as she saw the person standing at her doorway. How did Don Clayton manage to find me?

"Don, what are you doing here?" Her voice shook slightly as the man, who towered over her, gave a sneer before quickly replacing it with a sickly smile.

"Why, your parents of course Amelia. They knew if ever I was passing this way I'd want to look you up. Aren't you going to ask me in?"

No way! There is absolutely no way my parents would give my address to this man! They knew it was over between us and it was because of this man that I suddenly left. "I'd love too but…"

Amelia was unable to hold back the door she was about to close as he stepped forward and virtually forced his way inside. What can I do now? Okay, okay he is an old friend and probably wants to know why I left so suddenly. Well that is easy…work related and I'll be telling the truth.

Walking down the small hallway towards her kitchen, Don glanced around and made noises that Amelia decided were approving. It really didn't matter to her what he thought about where she lived.

"You have a great place here Amelia. Looks like you've settled down well since leaving the church." His voice, that she once thought attractive, sounded hollow and sarcastic now.

"Thanks I've had a lot of help. Don, why are you here at this time of night?"

The desperation in Amelia's voice must have communicated itself to Don as his lips curled into a cruel smile. "It isn't late Amelia, why it's only seven. Time enough to have a long chat with a long lost friend, wouldn't you say. If I didn't know you better Amelia, I'd think you wanted to get rid of me." His laughter mimicked his mocking expression.

Hesitating for a moment, Amelia wanted to shout; as far as I'm concerned I never wanted to see you again in my lifetime. "Really Don, you know it's lovely to see you but I have another invitation tonight."

"Why don't I tag along and you can show me off." He stared at her and she was unable to prevent the displeasure she felt appear in her eyes.

"I've had a hard week Don and my friend is expecting me in half an hour. Why don't we catch up tomorrow morning for coffee?"

Amelia's fatal mistake was she believed that the man was still the boy with whom she had grown up. He turned to her unexpectedly and grabbed her arm in a vice-like grip, which felt like it was stopping the flow of blood. His eyes never faltered. Amelia wished fervently that he would look away as the eyes hardened with what could only be described as a evil predatory expression.

"Oh no Amelia, from now on you and I are never going to be out of each other sight. I can't have you running away as you did last week. I told you that you were always on my mind Em, and you are, and always will be the only woman for me. Now that you've left the church, we can be together. I intend to not allow a second go by without you by my side. Don't you see Amelia, it's our second chance and I know that you love me."

His feverish words frightened Amelia as she wondered how I ever allowed myself to forget everything I learned professionally in the months since meeting Olivia is beyond me.Here is a classic case of obsession and I didn't see it coming… or maybe I did but didn't consider how dangerous it could be. For years she had been coddled by her order and once inside the convent walls she had been secure in the knowledge that it was rare anything dreadful happened behind the religious walls.

Attempting to break away from Don's grip, she felt it tighten as his face moved closer to hers. She was certain that his next action would be to kiss her - there is no way that is going to happen. "Don, look, I'll cancel my visit with my friend tonight, but I'll have to call her first. Then, we can go out to dinner and talk, how does that sound?"

Fleeting hope was dashed as he shook his head. "No calls to friends, not tonight. Dinner sounds good but later. Right now, I think I've waited long enough to consummate our relationship Amelia. Tonight is going to be the beginning of the rest of our lives together. Trust me, you'll feel better once we've made love."

Tears welled up in Amelia's eyes as she realised she was woefully inadequate to be out in the world. He dragged her towards the nearest closed door looking for what he thought would be her bedroom. This shouldn't be happening to me. I am stronger than this. I have faith in God, but right now, I need faith in myself the most. As he opened the door leading to her bedroom he cruelly pushed her inside and slammed the door shut.

+ + +

Teal stood in her kitchen listening to the laughter of her friends enjoying the simplicity of just being together socially. One friend she would have dearly loved to have there was, Amelia. They had known each other for over ten years and had shared the highs and lows of college life and business events. When most people would have been politely friendly towards her, Amelia had been genuinely so. Although we have completely different goals and backgrounds it is clear our friendship is the real deal.

"Hey babe you look pensive anything I can do?" Gentle arms encased the small body and warm soft lips kissed the top of her head in tenderness.

Teal smiled slowly as the meditative state she had been in dropped away immediately as Phil's voice invaded her senses. Her lover's words, no matter what they were, did that to her. "I was thinking about my boss."

With a warm chuckle, Phil gently turned the diminutive body around in her arms so that they faced each other. "Really, should I be jealous? Tall, athletic and dangerously sexy is a hard bench mark to follow, but I'll try." In response, she stole a gentle kiss from Teal.

"Oh no worries there Phil, Olivia is one of those women you dream about. She's like a fictional heroine always out of reach. Actually, I was thinking about Amelia. Right now, she's so messed that all I want is for her to be as happy as I am. I even invited her to join us tonight can you believe that? She'd have picked up her habit and run screaming back to the convent after a few hours with our crowd."

Phil gazed seriously at the woman in her arms. She'd spent so much time working like a demented fool that relationships had hardly entered into her mind. Teal had broken her down subtly as she worked on the renovations at the agency. And, she couldn't have wished her life had taken any other turn. We are made for each other. "Does she know about us…about you?"

It was a loaded question but shouldn't have been. Somehow Amelia and I never got around to discussing romantic attachments. It wasn't appropriate. Amelia, after all, was a nun and still is to all intents and purposes. "I don't think she knows I'm a lesbian, we never discussed that part of our lives. Besides, she's been so preoccupied in the last few months it's highly unlikely she's noticed much going on around the place. Olivia wants me to tell her and get it out in the open. I don't want to lose her friendship Phil, she needs my support not another problem"

"You think who we are and what we share with each other is classified as a problem? Teal give the woman some credit she might be a nun, or was, but she isn't completely ignorant of what is happening around her. She's a psychiatrist right?" Phil was astonished at Teal's lack of trust in her friend's judgement.

"No! No, Phil. I guess I think she's going through too much trauma in her own life that my choices are basically irrelevant in the big picture." Teal lifted her small arms and pulled Phil's head closer to hers as they shared a deep satisfying kiss.

"Tomorrow, you and I are going over to see Amelia and tell her that we're in love. In fact we'll go one better. Teal, will you marry me?"

The squeal that followed from Teal almost deafened Phil. She laughingly lifted Teal off her feet into an embrace that told each other exactly how they felt.

+ + +

"Olivia, are you sure she won't mind? Its late and maybe she's gone to bed early."

Olivia glanced at her wristwatch as they headed towards Amelia's apartment. She rapped on the door firmly, ignoring the doorbell, before she answered. "Oh, don't worry. She'd kill me, figuratively speaking, if I didn't bring you over immediately."

Two women stood at the door one impatient for the door to be answered the other apologetically wondering maybe tomorrow morning will be a better time. Receiving no immediate answer, Olivia ground her teeth as she pressed the doorbell. Instead of taking her finger off the button she kept it there.

"Olivia I really think tomorrow would be more convenient. Perhaps she's gone out. She is a free agent now isn't she? No Mother Superior to atone to."

"I know she's in there. Didn't you hear that noise?" Olivia had heard a faint noise from inside but it could have been anything and not necessarily Amelia. Maybe she relented and went to Teal's party after all.

This time Olivia tried the more direct approach - she knocked harder on the door and shouted for Amelia to open up or she would be sorry. The door opposite Amelia's apartment opened and a young couple peered out wondering about the commotion. Then, as the noise in the corridor increased Olivia heard definite footsteps inside the apartment. Well she sure wasn't going to be the doc's best friend after tonight. But, the visitor I've brought with me will help smooth the ruffled feathers for disturbing the neighbours.

The door opened slightly and Olivia's eyes almost fell out of their sockets as a man as tall as she was stood there. His shirt was open wide revealing a mass of hair on a bronzed body. Nice body. After that derelict thought, Olivia glanced around the bulk of the man to see inside. Where is the doc? She's obviously been keeping secrets.

"What do you want?" Don asked. The tone of his voice said annoyance in marked contrast to his bland expression.

"Who are you?" Olivia's voice accused. She fought back the urge to punch him, although she didn't know why she felt that way.

The woman at Olivia's side intervened as the two protagonists eyed each other suspiciously. "We're friends of Amelia's and we thought we'd drop by and visit, obviously it's inconvenient. We'll call back tomorrow. Will you please say hi to Amelia for us. Come on Olivia you can take me to dinner."

No way! There's no damn way I am leaving here without seeing Amelia. If this is the cause of her being morose for the last few months instead of the nun business as we thought, then she at least owes me an explanation. "Sorry, but I need to speak with Amelia it won't take a minute."

Pushing past the man, she entered the hall before she was grabbed from behind by a grip that would even make her proud. She was dragged viciously backwards into the sinewy body of the stranger. "She's indisposed," he said through gritted teeth, "Try back tomorrow or in your case never," Don snarled into Olivia's ear as he gave her a dark malevolent stare.

A muffled noise escaped Amelia's bedroom and that was all Olivia needed. She kicked back at the man and hit him squarely in his manhood. There will be no lovemaking on his part for a while. He howled in pain, releasing his grip, as she sped to Amelia's bedroom. The room swam in front of her for a few short moments as she saw the doctor tied to the bed, with her clothes partially ripped and a piece of duct tape over her mouth. Just as she knelt to help the woman, she felt a piercing pain in the small of her back as a foot viciously kicked her.

With the agility of a cat, Olivia rolled away from the bed as another blow headed in her direction. She flipped up and began a tussle with the man who, in theory, should have been too much for her. She had more moves up her sleeve than any man would ever expect - even those that knew her prowess in the art of self defence were often surprised by her agility. The anger that fuelled her was a frightening thing for Amelia to watch as she thrashed around the room. She was helplessly for there was nothing she could do…not even cry out for help.

The woman who had arrived with Olivia heard the commotion and decided to follow the noise and as she peered through the bedroom door a gasp escaped. She saw Amelia's present condition and the two people fighting. As far as I can see, this isn't consensual. The fear and desperation she saw in Amelia's eyes had her reaching for her cell and calling 911.

Don fuelled his own energy reserves with…no one on this earth is ever going to take Amelia away from me. If I can't have her then no one can. He directed a telling punch to Olivia's nose, which had the detective reeling. Blood which began trickling at first soon flowed more profusely. Holding a defensive hand to her face, she saw the blood seeping through her fingers onto the beige carpet. Clayton chose that moment to reach for the knife he had used to threaten Amelia into submission. She had been no match for his strength. He felt her fear increase with each passing moment until she became pliant in his hands as a willing participant in the consummation of their lives together.

Moving swiftly to the bed, he lunged at Amelia with the knife attempting to do her harm. His actions were thwarted as a book flew through the air hitting his hand holding the knife. t The impact caused him to drop the knife in reaction to the pain he felt.

Olivia had, by this time, seen what the man was attempting and horror etched in her mind before the book hit its mark. That is something I never want to happen again my life. Leaping to her feet, and with grim determination, she decided Clayton was going down hard. With a few quick steps, Olivia was airborne as she tackled Clayton. As they hit the floor, the whoosh of escaping breath could be heard. For a split second, no movement was seen but then, as if in answer to prayer, in a few quick moves Olivia was able to manoeuvre Clayton into a secure, lock-down position. She heard to wail of sirens and held the man in that position until the police arrived on the scene.

+ + +

It was midnight and Olivia sat quietly drinking coffee in Amelia's apartment. The police had taken away Don Clayton whose rage reminded her of a caged demented animal - that was being cruel to the animal kingdom. Statements had been taken and Amelia had refused to be checked at the local hospital. Olivia's eyes strayed to the two women talking in the kitchen and felt tears, which she refused to allow free reign, sting the back of her eyes. What just happened had been beyond her expectations for the area of the city reminding her of how deceptive low life scum like Clayton could be. Amelia was violated and threatened to within an inch of her life. If it hadn't been for Sister Marie's skills with flying books Amelia would have suffered an injury or worse. And, at the time I couldn't have prevented it.

The maelstrom of the events threatened to overwhelm her to such an extent crying was on the top of her list and she hated that particular weakness. All she could think was Sister Marie has impeccable timing. What would have happened if she hadn't called to say she was in town, at the railway station and wanted to catch up with Amelia and me? It might have been, no, it would have, been too late! Too late to save Amelia from the ultimate violation and whatever else that bastard would have done to her.

A hand placed on her shoulder had Olivia's eyes rising to its owner. "Olivia, how do you feel?" Amelia asked quietly and calmly. Though it was clear to any one the terror she had just experienced hours before would live with her for the rest of her life.

"I'm good Amelia. Sister Marie arrival was a bit of a surprise wouldn't you say?" What the hell kind of answer is that Santos! She knew in her heart that all the hopes she had for Amelia staying with them at the agency, had been shredded with the events of the evening. There is no way Amelia will stay…besides, the safest place for her is the convent. Tomorrow, I'll help her pack then take her home where she belongs… the convent.

Amelia had long since realised that Olivia wasn't likely admit to anything that exhibited any sign she was hurt. Now, even after the heavy beating she had received at the hands of Don, she shrugged it off as nothing. "Yes, she looks wonderful. I thought we'd never see her again. How did she get here… why is she here?"

Olivia winced as she shrugged feeling an acute pain in her back acute. Tomorrow I'm going to be black and blue with bruises everywhere. "She called out of the blue earlier this evening and said she wanted to see us both."

Hearing the conversation, Sister Marie smiled a smile that gave her face an ethereal quality. After all that she had seen that evening it was hard to understand how she could appear to remain so innocent of the world. "I had a feeling you both needed me. It's been nagging at me for days and finally I gave in to the calling and made the journey." Her quiet words echoed in the room.

Sceptical as always, Olivia shook her head. "I've heard a few things - you just wanted a change of scenery from the domestic life in the country." Olivia winked teasingly Sister Marie.

Amelia, with a surprised look on her face, turned to stare at Olivia, "You knew all along where she was and how she was?"

Sheepishly, Olivia admitted, "Well…yeah, I did know but from a distance. I have contacts that gave me comprehensive information on a weekly basis."

"Why don't we dissect all that in the morning? I think we all can do with some sleep." Sister Marie interjected before the two embroiled themselves into a discussion that was best left for another day.

Amelia's body shook for a moment as she thought of her bedroom. Sister Marie and Olivia promised to stay the night and keep her company but she didn't want to go in her bedroom alone. "I'm going to stay up for a few more minutes," she said with a note of hesitation. "You both go onto bed I'll be fine."

Olivia heard the hesitation in Amelia's words. That was the essence of what had gone wrong today between them. But, not just for today, but ever since we became partners in the agency. They had been hesitant in what they asked of each other and what they gave away. Tonight wasa fatal hesitation that could have cost both of us our lives - I will not to allow that to happen again. "You go on to bed Marie. I have the sofa so I'll keep Amelia company until she's ready for bed."

Ten minutes of silence passed and all the while Olivia could see the fatigue, coupled with fear, in Amelia's eyes. "Do you want to talk about it?"

The softly spoken words reached into Amelia's heart. She realized there had always been someone she could talk to in the new life she has chosen. And, that person was sitting pensively opposite her waiting for a reply. If she chose not to say anything Olivia would not force the issue, but maybe I should. Perhaps that is the problem between us.

The detective gave the impression of complete imperviousness to the situations around her when, perhaps she wasn't. She didn't know how to show she cared. At the end of the day, that was all anyone wanted - someone who cared enough about them to listen to their woes, however trivial they might appear.

"I'm scared Olivia. I didn't realise someone I'd considered a friend and grew up with could turn into a monster. How can I ever feel safe again?"

The impassioned words hit Olivia squarely in her heart. I've been there and done that. My brother was my world for so long that it was hard to equate his death as a reality. When she finally admitted to his death, her spirit had been broken but she tracked down the person who murdered him and found it was her brother's trusted friend. I haven't felt entirely safe since his death. Max had been my saviour and now he is gone.Where can I turn when things weren't working out now? My heart and mind knows but I can't admit it and probably won't ever after this evening. "You will feel safe again Amelia I promise you that. Perhaps not tomorrow or next week, maybe it will be a year from now, but eventually you will feel safe again."

Amelia gave a faint smile which was the first since her ordeal. "Marie said much the same to me. She looks fabulous doesn't she? She told me her daughter is a scary handful but Danielle has helped her. Did you know she and Danielle live together? Oh what a stupid thing to say of course you knew…"

The words trailed off and Olivia sucked in a deep breath, which was as physically pain filled, as it was emotional. "You have to understand Amelia that it's a very special programme they went into. Danielle's husband still isn't in police custody and until he is, they are all in danger - even the children."

"I see. Would you ever have told me?" Amelia asked quietly.

Olivia moved slowly out of her chair as injures she sustained earlier were now making a massive claim on her body's inner strength. "Eventually, anyway you probably know more than I do now or will, before she leaves tomorrow."

Wistfully Amelia said, "Does it have to be so soon?"

"Yes, she shouldn't really be here. What she did today was remarkable. Great timing I guess."

Amelia had known from that first meeting with Sister Marie that the nun was important in her life. She will enter my life again. The Sister had saved her life much, she supposed, as they had saved the Sister's life. "I guess it was payback."

Olivia shook her head knowingly as she stood next to Amelia's chair. "I think my dear Doctor you are right. However, I also think you need some sleep."

Amelia didn't dare look into Olivia's eyes. "Maybe I'll sleep in the recliner tonight and keep you company."

A few moments of silence filled the room as Olivia contemplated the suggestion. "I think that's a great idea, except I have a better one."

This time, Amelia genuinely smiled. Just being here with Olivia in the same room makes me feel safe, "You do? Go for it."

Reaching out her hand, she smiled fondly. "How about we both share your bed? My body is protesting at the beating and lack of rest and I think sleeping on a sofa will only irritate it further. You can keep me company while I sleep, how does that sound?" Right now, that is the only tactic I can think of to get Amelia to accept what happened in that room and move on.

Thoughtfully, Amelia considered the suggestion and placed her hand in the much larger outstretched one. "Thank you Olivia."

Fully clothed, they climbed into the freshly made bed and within seconds Amelia began to shake uncontrollably. A strong, yet gentle arm extended itself and encompassed her in a warm, friendly hold. "My shoulder is pretty good to sleep on, please take it Amelia."

The essence of the words and the way they were spoken had Amelia's heart thumping as she accepted the comfort of the woman at her side. "Thank you again."

"No thanks necessary, Amelia. You will always be safe with me." Olivia meant the words with every fibre of her being.

Amelia pondered that for a few moments, then the image of the kiss they shared popped into her head. After all she'd been through that evening, sharing a kiss with anyone should have been a thought locked and bolted behind a ten-foot thick door. However, her feelings regarding the action were in sharp contrast to how she thought she should feel. "You know you still owe me explanation from our last case…particularly that kiss."

Olivia groaned inwardly. This is clearly not the time to dwell on my actions during the Agnew case. Now, looking at the situation in retrospect, I'm no better than Clayton is. "We can do that tomorrow. I was thinking that maybe after Sister Marie has left to go home you could go home too."

Olivia felt a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. I know that under the circumstances this is the only thing that Olivia can recommend. But she had heard the strain in Amelia's voice of as she gave her quiet reply.

"I can't go home! My parents are still away. What would be the sense of going from one empty apartment to another?"

"Actually I was thinking of your other family… you know the convent." Olivia's secure, yet gentle hold on Olivia, stiffened a bit as she tensely waited for the answer.

"Olivia I'm no longer a nun. I rescinded my vows two days after we came back from Ransomville. The only family besides my parents that I have now is Teal…," Amelia hesitated, "and you." She held her breath for she knew what Olivia was like when it came to close ties and relationships.

Life had a way of providing a silver lining when you least expected it and it had just arrived as far as Olivia was concerned. Sighing deeply and holding Amelia a little closer she said, "I guess you can always spend the weekend with me and if you can't face living here again we'll make other arrangements."

Amelia smiled at the offer. It was a very generous one considering the solitary life of the detective. "Might that include sharing your apartment?" I'm teasing.But, does Olivia know that.

A slight splutter was Olivia's initial reaction. "Tomorrow…um…sure…ok." She yawned. "I don't know about you but I'm shot to pieces right now."

With all that had gone on, Amelia felt remarkably relaxed. Right here and now in Olivia's arms I am in the safest place in the world. Devilment flared in her thoughts as she turned slightly and, in a bold move, chastely kissed Olivia's lips. Then she settled happily into the crook of the detective's arm.

Olivia, for her part, didn't know what to make of the gesture. Maybe I'm so tired that I dreamed that it happened. Lamely she replied, "Sweet dreams Amelia."

"Thank you Olivia, it's sure to happen now. I've replaced Don's vicious lips with yours, and believe me I know which ones I prefer. Although that doesn't mean I'm letting you off the hook you still owe me an explanation."

Deciding it was best to say something but what that would be had her stumped for the moment. "If I give you the simple version will you go to sleep then?"

Amelia smiled into Olivia's shoulder. "Yes."

Clearing her voice slightly, Olivia decided on the truth. "I was frustrated with you and that's what happens when I become that way." Yes, perfect. That should do it - simple and to the point.

"Frustrated? When you become frustrated you kiss people. Do you treat everyone you're frustrated with like that?" An incredulous note entered Amelia's voice as she tried to sit up but Olivia prevented her with a gentle tightening of her arms before pulling her closer into her shoulder.

"Actually, for the record, no I don't - I usually shoot em! Now will you go to sleep?" The whole conversation had a surreal, but nice feel to it.

There was silence between them for a few moments then Amelia murmured exhaustedly, "I guess I was one of the lucky ones. Goodnight Olivia."

Before Olivia could respond, she heard the low breathing of the woman lying on her shoulder as exhaustion took its final toll on the doctor. Whispering into the virtually silent room, "You are the only one. My goodness this really has been a day when hell meets heaven." Her eyelids dropped and she fell into a comfortable healing sleep. Tomorrow would be a glorious day for the agency and their continued partnership.

The End

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