~ Echoes of the Past ~
revised and reedited
Part 2
J. M. Dragon & E. O'Reilly
© J.M. Dragon  &  E. O'Reilly 2007

This story primarily features stories involving women. If it is illegal in the state, province, or country in which you live; or if you are under the age of 18, please find something else to read.The events portrayed in this story are fictional and any resemblance to actual events and/or people is purely coincidental.

Language - Violence - Hurt/Comfort:  There are elements of strong language, violence,  physical and/or mental, as well as emotional hurt and discomfort in this story.

The events portrayed in this story are fictional and any resemblance to actual events and/or people is purely coincidental. 

Acknowledgments - Thank you Teresa and Alice for your invaluable help in editing this story.

Dedication: This story is dedicated to Parker who graciously let us use her name.

Author's Note: Going back over the original Echoes of the Past and in particular the characters of Olivia and Parker, we felt that they were not as fully developed as they should be. Therefore, we reedited the story and, as with all editing, we added changes not only to the characters but the storyline as well. We hope you will find this version a satisfying read.

Listen to Julie read and excerpt from part 1

Listen to Erin read and excerpt from part 2

Chapter 24

Amelia laughed at a very amusing story Phil was telling about a trip they’d made on their vacation. Teal, for her part, was embarrassed as it was all about her and a goat.

With a groan, Teal squealed, “Enough! Wasn’t it bad enough the damn goat nearly bowled me over and gored me.” Her eye tracked to Phil whose eyes were brimming with merriment as she recalled the memory.

From her vantage point at the head of the table, Amelia saw the sparkle of love and happiness spark between them and her thoughts and eyes drifted to the empty place at the table–she was annoyed

Teal saw the subtle shake of Amelia’s head and the direction of her gaze. “She can take care of herself Amelia, you don’t need to worry,” Teal softly said.

“Yes I know, but she promised. A phone call would have been better than this…this waiting. It’s almost eight-forty-five and I don’t know about you two, but I’m starving.” Amelia stood up and walked toward the kitchen stairs.

“Need any help?” they both asked in unison.”

With a weak smile, she shook her head. “I’ll be back in a moment with the first course.”

Teal watched her friend mount the stairs and although she was putting on a brave face, she knew that Olivia’s non-appearance had upset Amelia. She had always found their interaction from that first day interesting. Now, after they had shared the same home for almost a year, it wasn’t getting any weaker, especially from Amelia’s point of view. That sort of dependence was dangerous.

“ Penny for them, love?” Phil asked as she reached across the table to interlace their fingers.

With a tender smile, Teal replied, “I think the both of them are in deep waters Phil. Something has to give or they will both drown.”

With a frown, Phil asked, “What do you mean by deep waters?”

“Trust me, when Olivia arrives you’ll see for yourself.” Teal grinned as the door to the kitchen opened and Amelia headed down the stairs with a fully laden tray of food.

With a swift glance toward the oncoming Amelia, Phil whispered, “You think she’s going to turn up?”

“Yeah, if she promised Amelia she’d be here, even if it’s only in time for coffee, she’ll make it happen.” Teal turned her attention to the wonderful aroma of their first course. “That looks and smells wonderful Amelia?”

A beep from the security console in the center of the building, indicated someone or thing had entered the security barrier. Seconds later, the doors opened and the purring of a slow moving vehicle entered the premises.

“I can’t believe it. What does she do…smell the food as it’s arriving on the plate.” The thought of Olivia arriving made her feel giddy inside, as Amelia set the tray down and waited for their wandering friend to appear.

Moments later, Olivia popped her head around the dining room door. “I know I’m real late. I had a case thrust on me…sorry.” Her eyes briefly gave an apology to Teal and Phil before capturing Amelia’s for a long serious glance. Then the curve of her lips tugged into a small smile. “The food looks great and what a magnificent table arrangement. Give me ten minutes to shower and I’ll be with you I promise.”

“Go…don’t be surprised if we don’t leave you any of the first course.” Amelia felt the depression she’d been sinking into drift away. In its place, a light hearted energy enveloped her.

With a wink, Olivia shut the dining room door and disappeared.

Teal looked across at Phil and grinned as her eyes filled with the words, ‘told you so’.

+ + +

Once the meal was over, they moved into the lounge with coffee. The sparse furniture proved to be a problem as there was only one two-seater sofa and an armchair.

Teal grinned as Amelia looked perplexed. “ Phil and I will share the armchair.”

Olivia quickly interceded. “You’re guests, you take the sofa. Amelia can have the floor.”

Amelia moved nodded then giggled. “I love sitting on the floor…call it a nun thing. Please take the sofa and I’ll get the coffee.”

Several minutes later, Amelia reentered the room and a smile tugged at her lips when she heard the three laughing. “Coffee as promised and I know of at least two people who have a sweet tooth,” she said looking at tray laden with small chocolate wafers.

Olivia grinned and waved for Amelia to sit. “I’ll pour. You’ve done quite enough for today.” Her ice blue eyes held Amelia’s for a few moments then with a wink motioned for her to sit beside the armchair. It was an unconscious gesture because it was something they often did when they shared the room together. “Thank you Amelia for a marvelous dinner it will keep me in good stead for my trip tomorrow.”

Eyelids opened and closed rapidly as Amelia asked quietly, “You’re going away? Where? Is it a case? Do you need my help?” She collapsed on the floor next to the armchair and waited while Olivia poured the coffee before she sat down.

Olivia grinned at Teal and Phil. “Always twenty questions isn’t it Teal.”

Teal smiled as she nestled closer to Phil. “Yes, twenty questions, but I have to admit I’m fascinated too…I wasn’t aware of a new case.”

Olivia passed Amelia a coffee and gave her a reassuring smile as she retook her seat and bit into a chocolate wafer. She tried to decide how much she could say without alarming not only Amelia, but the others as well.

“Is it the Shrek case?” Amelia asked as she moved closer to Olivia’s legs and rested naturally against them as she sipped her coffee.

“Wow, a Shrek case? Are we going after animated ogres now?” Teal giggled as she snagged a wafer from the plate.

With a long-suffering expression, Olivia rolled her eyes in Phil’s direction. “You see what I have to put up with.”

Phil chuckled. “Sure, but you love it, right Olivia?” Her eyes traveled to the easy closeness of Amelia in Olivia’s personal space.

The warmth of Amelia’s back against her legs made Olivia aware that they did this usually when they were alone and the others in the room might misconstrue the gesture. She waved away the thought and said, “Yep, wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“Well is that a yes or no?” Teal asked again with a snicker.

Olivia sipped her coffee. “If you call a murderer an ogre, then sure.”

Amelia whispered, “I call that an ogre. How long will you be gone?”

The words hovered between them. Without thought for what the others would think, Olivia touched Amelia’s cheek. “I’ll be back before you know it. It’s just another case Amelia and yes, before you say it, if I need you I’ll call.”

“Thank you. Hey, we’ve gone all quiet. Come on who knows a good joke,” Amelia felt the knots in her stomach ease a little at Olivia’s choice of words. Her attention turned back to their guests as she tried to revive the sagging atmosphere.

The gentle caress of Olivia’s hands threading her long hair through her fingers on the nape of her neck settled the nerves that always jumbled around inside when Olivia went away. This time it was worse for she knew there was something important Olivia wasn’t saying.

+ + +

An hour later, while Teal and Phil were on the journey home, Teal gave Phil a serious glance. “Do you know what I’m talking about now?”

Phil sighed. “Yep I do. For a homophobe, your friend has one weird way of carrying on. What I don’t get though is Olivia’s actions in all this. I’ve never seen her allow anyone that close to her personal space before.”

“Please Phil, Amelia isn’t a homophobe. Remember she explained, all that religious brain washing over the years. It had to have still made a mark even if she isn’t a nun anymore. Besides, Olivia sleeps with people from time to time. I figure that’s as close as one gets to personal space.” Teal laughed at the absurd comment.

“Not what I meant and you know it. Sleeping with someone for sexual gratification doesn’t necessarily mean that person gets inside. I think Amelia’s inside and Olivia has locked the door behind her.”

“Do you think they love each other?” Teal asked quietly. In her heart, she knew the answer, but didn’t want to voice it for fear of jinxing the possibility.

Phil grinned. “In, their own way yes. As to, if it’s the way you and I love each other…time will tell my love. All I care about right now is getting my woman home and showing her how much I love her.”

“Sounds like the perfect plan to me.” Teal felt that warm rush through her veins as she relaxed into the love she shared with the woman beside her.

+ + +

“What time do you leave?” Amelia asked Olivia quietly as they cleared away some of the debris of the evening meal.

Olivia picked up several items of cutlery and didn’t speak. She finally decided it wouldn’t be worth the aggravation if she continued to ignore the question. “I’m leaving at first light,” she said looking at her wristwatch. “That’s in a little over four hours.”

Amelia gave her friend a long, hard stare. “You need to get some sleep. I know you didn’t come home last night and god only knows if you’ve had any sleep in the last thirty-six hours.”

With a chuckle, Olivia stopped what she was doing. “Always looking out for me huh?”

“If I didn’t who would? Will you please go to bed for at least the four hours?”

“How do you know I wasn’t going to bed?” The sardonic glance she received made her smile. “Ok, busted. I was going to check some details out on the case first.”

Amelia scratched the back of her head. “Come on, I’ll clear this stuff tomorrow. You and I are going to do some research. That way I’ll be guaranteed that you’ll at least take a nap.”

“You do? How do you work that one out?” Olivia said with a frown.

“Because, you hate me being a back seat driver when you research, stands to reason you’ll send me to bed and if I go you have to go, am I right?” Amelia grinned and walked toward the area that housed all of Olivia’s gadgets.

Belly laughs echoed in the dining room as Olivia, with hands on her hips and a bemused expression, watched her friend leave the room. “My god she knows me better than I know myself.” She quickly followed Amelia out of the door and caught up with her. “I have another idea. How about we have another coffee and then I’ll give you the details of the case I’m working on. After that, you go to bed and I go deal with the ogre. Do we have a deal?”

Amelia pursed her lips for a moment. “On one condition?”

“And that is?” Olivia waited.

“I’d rather you made hot chocolate …it makes me sleep better.”

“Makes me sleep better too. Ah, that’s your game is it? Ok hot chocolate it is.” With a grin, Olivia headed for the kitchen stairwell as Amelia went back to the lounge. One way or another they were both getting their own way.

Chapter 25

Olivia opted for using her motorcycle for speed was of the essence. Her call to Parker’s cell had gone unanswered and that had pissed her off. Her radar detector beeped for the second time and she sped up knowing the speed she was doing would only create a blur on the radar. If Parker were still in the town where the Peterson’s aunt lived, it would be the logical first call. If she had figured that out with ease, a contract killer of the caliber of O’Donnell would have done the same. As her bike ate up the miles, Olivia wondered about the background of the hit. It was obvious that the Peterson woman was tortured to get information. Once the murderer had that, killing her was the logical conclusion.

The cruel bastard didn’t need to cut off her hands and feet or pull out her nails–there were other less cruel methods that could garner the same information. The final decisive deathblow had made even her feel sick–he severed her head. She knew that violence had its own means to an end for she had practiced it on more than one occasion. What the sick bastard did put him at the bottom of the food chain. Given the chance to kill him with his own methods of torture would be a pleasure. No one outside of DOCO would know. They would clean up her mess especially if she called them and told them she was working for them. Of course, they didn’t need to know that it was Parker’s case…they only needed to know it concerned Shamus O’Donnell. She’d donate the money to one of Amelia’s charities.

When a sign popped up in front of her, Waterston 75 miles, she checked her speedometer and grinned as she increased her speed by twenty miles per hour. With her head down, she felt one with the bike, as they roared down the highway. “Let it rip baby,” she said before laughing.

Chapter 26

Before opening her eyes, Parker knew something wasn’t right. With a start, she opened her eyes and focused on rafters of the barn. She breathed in the sweet smell of the straw and sighed, “Home.” Suddenly, she realized what wasn’t right–Sophie was gone.

Parker stood up quickly and in a loud whisper said, “ Sophie… Sophie where are you?” When no reply came, she scampered down the ladder and took in the barn, her car and the slightly open door. “ Sophie,” she called out a bit louder–nothing. Her eyes focused on the back seat of her old car and saw that Sophie’s belongings were gone. “SHIT! Where’d you go?” Just then, the door opened wider.

“So, you finally woke up sleepyhead,” Sophie said with a chuckled. “We thought you might sleep the day away.”

Parker fixed her gaze on Sophie before she approached the woman and took her by the shoulders. “Never, ever do that again!”

Puzzled, Sophie said, “What?”

“Leave and not tell me where you are going. The people after you Sophie are real and they’re killers…don’t you get that?”

For a long moment, brown eyes competed with blue for superiority. “I’m sorry,” Sophie whispered. “I didn’t think.”

“Well you better start thinking,” Parker bit out. She relaxed her hold and sighed. “I thought they found you.”

“The only one that found me was your mother.”

“My mother?”

“Yeah, I woke up and was looking through my things for a change of clothes when she came into the barn. She said she knew you were here and was checking on you.”

“Knew I was here?”

Sophie laughed. “Apparently she always knew when you came home. She said it’s a mother thing.” When she felt Parker release her shoulders and her face soften, she let out a breath. “Anyway, she sent me out here to get you up. Breakfast is almost ready and your brother and his wife are on their way.”

Parker shook her head. “Are you sure you’re ready for that?”

Sophie furrowed her brow. “For what?”

A reassuring arm went around Sophie’s shoulders as they walked out of the barn. “You’ll see.” As they neared the house, Parker asked, “How long did you and my mom visit?”

“Hmm, oh I’d guess about an hour maybe more.” When Sophie saw the look on Parker’s face, she laughed. “Oh yes, I know all about her Parkie-poo.”

“I always hated that name it reminds me of a poodle mix.”

+ + +

Sophie watched as Parker and her mother hugged. Melancholy washed over her as she remembered her own mother. She was so lost in her thoughts that she didn’t hear the door open, but the ear piercing shrill got her attention immediately. When she turned, she saw a very pregnant willowy blonde rushing toward Parker.

“You’ve come back home,” the woman gushed. “I’ve missed you so much.” Then the woman wrapped her arms around Parker’s neck and gave her a long kiss on the lips. When she pulled away, she took Parker’s hand and put it on her swelling abdomen. “We’re having a baby.”

The next person Sophie saw was a behemoth of a man who lifted the two women off the ground–he had to be the brother.

When the man finally lowered the women, Parker smacked him on the shoulder. “You shouldn’t be squeezing Crystal that hard…in case you didn’t notice she’s with child.” They all laughed and hugged again. Once the love fest was over, Parker turned and proudly said, “ Sophie Durant this is my baby brother Frank and his wife Crystal.”

“Come on everybody find a seat, breakfast is ready,” Ruth Davis said.

Sophie’s eyes bulged when she saw the amount of food on the table. Sophie covertly watched the family interact paying particular attention to the pregnant woman who was sitting so close to Parker that Sophie thought she might be in her lap. Crystal used every opportunity to touch her sister in-law and would frequently pull Parker’s hand to her belly and squeal, ‘she’s moving’. Sophie’s eyes scanned the faces of Parker’s parents and brother to see if they thought the actions of Crystal were weird–apparently not.

Once the meal was over, Sophie said, “Would you like some help with the dishes Mrs. Davis.”

“No thank you dear, I have it under control.” The older woman turned to her daughter. “ Sophie probably would appreciate a nice warm shower after sleeping in that cold barn. Will you show her where everything is?”

Parker escorted Sophie to what the family laughingly called the suite. “This seems like a strange set up…I mean you basically have two houses together.”

“Years ago, when my grandparents moved out here they put on this addition complete with two bedrooms, a living room, bathroom and kitchen.” Parker laughed. “It became known as the suite when for laughs one year my mother turned back the sheets and left chocolate on the pillows.” Parker showed Sophie into the bathroom and opened a closet door. “Everything you’ll need is in here…just help yourself.” She pointed to the hook on the back of the door. “If you need a robe there’s one there.”

“Thanks,” Sophie said.

“My dad brought in your things and put them in the back bedroom,” Parker said pointing down the hall. “If anyone comes after you, they will have to get by me first.” Parker took her cell phone off the holder and saw it flashing.

At the same time Sophie said, “Your sister in-law is very fond of you.”

Parker looked at her phone and saw there were two missed calls. She looked at the caller ID. Shit! Olivia had called twice. Distracted she said, “Is she? I hadn’t noticed.”

“Well yeah, I think she’s in love with you,” Sophie said with her blue eyes fixed on Parker.

“You’re crazy! She’s just a touchy feely kind of person. Besides, she’s married to my brother and they’re having a baby.”

Sophie let out a derisive laugh. “Ok, have it your way, but if someone kissed me the way she kissed you it would have definitely turned me on.” She shrugged and went into the bathroom and closed the door.

Parker laughed. “No way,” she said to the closing door. She touched her lips then shook her head as she remembered the morning so far. Crystal did kiss her on the lips but that wasn’t any different from other times…it wasn’t as if she used her tongue. “I haven’t time to think about that now,” she said as she dialed Olivia’s number. She heard the no nonsense clipped voice of Olivia. ‘You’ve reached When Heaven Meets Hell and the desk of Olivia Santos. If you leave your name and number, I’ll get back with you shortly.’ “O, this is Parker returning your call. I’ll have my phone with me all day.

Chapter 27

The motorcycle came into the town of Waterston in a blur as machine and rider appeared as if a devil in a tornado entered town. As Olivia slowed to a speed fitting the local town law she glanced around and noted it was a small town like many in the area. A main street, a school, church and a few houses scattered around. At the end of the street, she saw a sign that looked a good place to stop. Seconds later, she pulled up in the diner’s parking lot and gave the town another cursory glance. It was like all the others. With feline grace, she dismounted her bike and let down the kickstand. She positioned the bike in such a way that she thought she would see it from most of the seats in the establishment. She removed her jet black helmet with the insignia WHMH bookended by flames on one side and an ethereal light on the other. Her hair cascaded onto her shoulders as she shook her head, then stowed the helmet in the pannier on the back and retrieved her cell phone from the same place. She flicked it on and retrieved her messages including the one from Parker that she just missed by minutes. Her glance took in the diner as the superb smells tempted her grumbling stomach. With ease, she removed her jacket, slung it over her shoulder and entered the diner.

+ + +

Olivia sat in a booth waiting for the coffee she ordered. Her eyes barely registered the interior of the building as she reached inside her jacket for her cell phone. Before she had time to dial, the woman who greeted her headed her way.

“Looks like you’ve had a rough one,” Dolly said as she placed the coffee carafe on the table along with the menu. “I’ll just leave this here for you. Let me know when you’re ready to order.”

When Dolly didn’t move away, Olivia glared at the woman with a look of irritation. “Looks like you’ve had a rough one too.” She placed her attention back to her original goal of calling Parker for the third time.

“Yeah, I lost my help yesterday.” Dolly just shook her head at the woman and left for the kitchen. When she got to the kitchen, she looked at the woman via the pass-thru. The woman had an air about her that said, ‘keep away or you’ll get burned’.

Olivia ground her teeth, which was an irritating habit that she knew annoyed Amelia. A habit she did when she was tired and exasperated with things in general. At the thought of Amelia, a brief smile tugged at her lips as she waited for the call to connect.

Parker listened to the sound of the shower stopping and felt her phone vibrated before it rang. It was Olivia’s number. “Hello.” She needed to speak with Olivia, but at the same time didn’t want Sophie to overhear the conversation.

“It’s me, where have you been? No don’t answer that…I can find you if I need to.” Olivia quietly, but resolutely informed her old lover. “Bottom line Parker… you’re up to your eyeballs in shit, big time

Parker blew out a breath. For the time being, she would play along with Olivia’s misconceptions. “Yeah, I figured that one out all on my own.” Her eyes shifted toward the bathroom door and watched as a towel clad Sophie stepped out. “What have you discovered? Was she murdered,” she whispered.

Olivia hesitated for a few moments before she replied. “Yes. Tortured too, you might want to keep that from the girlfriend.”

“Girlfriend, where the hell did that come from?” Parker hissed.

“Look, the facts speak for themselves. Sophie Durant’s picture is all over the Peterson woman’s place…many are of them together. I call that a little more than childhood friends don’t you. Anyway, you’re diverting the conversation from the real problem, which is why you’re in the mess you’re in and what to do next.”

“I knew they were lovers,” Parker admitted. She watched Sophie’s bedroom door open. “This is very complicated.” When Sophie went back into the bathroom she added, “The stepmother wants Sophie dead so she can get her hands on her money. She has to stay safe for two more months.”

Olivia frowned. “Makes more sense out of why someone is paying heavily for a hit and eliminating anything that comes in their path. Two months can be a lifetime if we don’t get proof quickly. Does she have any solid evidence that the cops will accept?”

The whirring of the hairdryer allowed Parker to speak more freely. “She has nothing that can be solidly tied the stepmother. I’ve tracked her over the last few months…” Silence came from the bathroom. “Listen, I can’t talk much longer. I’d rather not let her hear the conversation until we have a plan set in motion. There was nothing that the stepmother said specifically to me that said to kill her. I always had the gut feeling that is what she intended.”

“How the hell did you let yourself get in this situation Parker?” When she didn’t hear a reply she said, “You have a plan?” Olivia scoffed shaking her head at the words–Parker always had a plan.

“I got into the situation because I needed the money…simple as that. I have to pay my office help, rent and occasionally I do need to eat,” Parker said angrily. “Damn it Olivia, can’t you get past our history?” She let a slight smile wreath her lips. “Trust me, if there was anyone else I trusted and knew had your skills I wouldn’t have called you at all.”

Taken aback by the comment, Olivia was surprised that she felt the sting of the words. “My god at last you’ve said something with a ring of truth in it...I rather you hadn’t called me either, but you have so let’s get on with it. As to the past, that’s dead and buried. I’m not sure R.I.P was on the headstone.” Olivia let out a derisive laugh. “I’m here talking to you aren’t I? With the aim, I might add, of keeping your sorry ass alive, so give up on the sanctimonious crap will you Parker. You and I need to talk seriously. How feasible is a face to face?” Olivia scratched her forehead and frowned when she saw the same woman coming in her direction.

“You ready to order,” Dolly asked as she passed by Olivia’s table.

When Sophie turned off the hair dryer, she heard Parker’s voice angrily speaking to someone. She debated the wisdom of opening the door and interrupting so she put her ear to the door as she did many times as a child when her grandmother spoke with her father.

When Parker heard the hair dryer go off she kept her eyes on the door. She wasn’t ready for Sophie to be part of her conversation with Olivia…or ever for that matter. From the phone she heard Olivia talking to someone whose voice she recognized, but wasn’t certain from where. “Yeah, we can meet,” she said with quiet resignation. “Right now my goal is to keep Sophie safe.”

Usually multitasking was one of her strong suites, but with weariness setting in, it was next to impossible to have two running conversations. Olivia gave her attention to the woman waiting to take her order. “Hash browns, scrambled eggs and a side of mushrooms.” She turned her attention back to Parker and completely ignored the older woman who still stood by her table. “I’m in this place called Waterston and we can meet here at the diner.” Her glance returned to the woman who was giving her an impatient look. “What’s the name of this place?”

“Good Eats,” Dolly said proudly. “I’ll get your order going as soon as I tend to the man over there.”

Olivia nodded, “I’m in a place called Good Eats. Will that pose you a problem? When can you get here?”

“I can’t believe it!” Parker exclaimed. “Let me speak with the woman who took your order.”


“Dammit O, for once just do what I ask.”

Olivia looked at the woman who was coming back by her table. “You’re going to think this is strange, but my…friend needs directions to this place.” She held up her phone. “Please.”

Tentatively, Dolly took the small phone. “Hello.”

“Dolly it is so good to hear your voice…this is Parker.”

Dolly’s eye widened. “Parker is that really you?” she said loudly.

“Yes, it’s important that you keep your voice down. I need your help.”

“Sure, anything.”

“That man that was in there the other day looking for Sophie, have you seen him again?”

“Yes, he’s here now,” whispered Dolly. Her eyes darted to the man, who was now giving Olivia the once over.

Parker blew out a breath. “The woman who gave you the phone can be trusted Dolly…she’s one of the good guys. If she needs any help with information, please tell her everything you know. I’ll see you soon Dolly and thanks. I need to speak with my friend now.”

Dolly loudly said, “We’re right in the middle of town you can’t miss us.” She passed the phone back to the dark brooding woman, whose eyes were now staring at the man who instigated her ‘ Rose’s’ sudden departure. “Here you go, I’ve given the directions. I’ll be back with your meal.”

“Ok, what now Parker? For the record, I think they made you in this town.” Olivia continued to scan the booth opposite her although the man had turned away from her concentrated gaze.

“I can guarantee that no one made me Olivia,” Parker said feeling her irritation with Olivia escalate. “The only reason Dolly knows me is that I worked there. I’m not inept and I resent your implications that I am.”

Olivia felt a rising anger of her own to match the one she heard in Parker’s tone. “I’m going to ask this once and once only…got me Parker?”

Exasperated by the conversation, Parker blew out a long breath. “Ask away,” she said tersely.

“Are you romantically involved with the woman you’re protecting? And don’t give me that crap about you’re not sleeping with her, just tell me if you have feelings more than the norm for our type of work?” Olivia replied quietly.

“I learned a long time ago not to let my heart rule my judgment…you more than anyone else should know that. Sophie Durant is a means to an end and that’s all.” She sat on the couch and put her feet up on a table. “If I can keep her safe for another two months I’ll end up with enough money to pay the bills.”

“Then you’ve changed Parker. The woman I once knew always put the heart first…it was the quality I lov…” Olivia shook the thought away. “Ok, just remember this piece of advice…it comes from someone who knows. When your mind is involved with things other than the job, you do things you never would have imagined possible. I don’t need to spell it out for you do I? If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll know I’m telling you the truth. I can’t do my job if you are carrying on with your client.” Olivia’s thoughts turned to an image she had of Parker. It wasn’t of the women that betrayed her, but that of the woman she’d fallen for in the beginning.

After digesting the words, Parker let her eyes wonder to the bathroom. “I’ll say it again so you’ll have no doubts O… I’m not interested in Sophie Durant sexually or any other way. Right now, she’s vulnerable and I would be a real shit to take advantage of her. All I need to do is keep her safe. If I don’t, then all my efforts will be a waste of time and I will be back at square one. I won’t let anything or anyone get in the way of that.”

From the bits and pieces Sophie could make out, she could tell that whomever Parker was speaking with was annoying her, which meant they had a history. She opened the bathroom door and without looking toward Parker went to her room closing the door behind her.

Olivia smiled tightly. Something was in Parker’s tone that she hadn’t heard before. “How much do you still trust me Parker?”

“That’s never been an issue for me…I never stopped trusting you.”

Olivia sighed she hadn’t been prepared for that answer. “I’m taking charge of this situation…all of it. All I need you to do is stick to Ms. Durant like glue…she doesn’t breathe unless you can hear it got me?”

Parker’s back went rigid at the words. “I need your help,” she confessed. “But, this is my case. We will work it together.”

“And, we will. I can’t protect Ms. Durant, but I can find the person who killed her friend and when I do, I’ll ensure we get the confession of the stepmother’s involvement. If you’d rather, I’ll babysit the woman and you can do the dirty work…go for it. Fire away boss?” she spit out sarcastically. Then she added, “Are you afraid I’ll make a play for her or take the money? As we both know Parker, I’m not like you…I don’t have a heart. I sold mine to the devil years ago.”

Parker ignored the comeback. “We both know that rehashing the past won’t accomplish anything so let’s not go there ok?” Parker said softly. “Dolly told me the man that was looking for Sophie two days ago is sitting in the restaurant right now.” She knew that Olivia could be in danger but her ex-lover was more than capable in defending herself from most anyone–except maybe the unexpected someone like her. “From what you told me about what happened to Camille I think we can assume he’s dangerous.” She smiled before she added, “I…be careful…I don’t want you getting hurt.”

For the first time, Olivia smiled properly as her white teeth gleamed against her olive skin. She considered the words again and closed her eyes. She was certain that if Parker knew the road she’d traveled for the last ten years she never would have said that. “I’ll do that. Believe it or not Parker, I do prefer being alive at the end of the case. After I take care of this guy, we’ll meet here and discuss the next move. That’ll give you time to come up with a plan… you always were better at plans than me.”

Parker felt her shoulders relax. It is just like old times and she felt a chuckle wanting to break loose. If Olivia only knew, what she did. “Listen, why don’t you come here, that way you can meet with Sophie.” She paused then added, “I’m assuming that the guy there has a partner and knows where he is. I think meeting in Waterston is a bad idea.”

A frown filtered over Olivia’s features. It would be good to see Parker’s folks again but could she do that and not get involved again. She found the thought of seeing Parker again not as reprehensible as she once did. “I’ll take care of this guy and see you at your folks place this evening. I take it the barn is still habitable for the night?”

With a crease of the brow and a slight smile, Parker asked, “How do you know I’m there?”

A chuckle passed her lips as Olivia shook her head. “Predictability my dear Parker…you always did run home to mom and dad when there was no one else to turn to. Happened all the time when we fought. It was the perfect hideaway for you.”

All Parker could do was laugh. Talking with Olivia was like old times. “To answer your question, the barn is still habitable, but why not come to the house…I’ll wait up for you.”

“Sounds like a plan to me. I’ll see you later,” Olivia replied quietly.

“I’ll be waiting,” Parker said before adding, “O, thanks I…”

Olivia cut her off. “Yeah, well I’m in it for the money. Just remember that and we’ll both do just fine. My meal is getting cold I’ll see you tonight.”

Parker felt her mind and body go cold with Olivia’s rejoinder. “Yeah, see you later.”

Olivia was about to end the conversation abruptly, but decided in a split second that would be a bad call. “Yeah, bye.” Then hit the end button and held the silent device in her hand. Until that moment, she hadn’t realized that her heart had been thumping at a tremendous rate–there were too many memories to stir up at the farm. “God I hope I don’t regret meeting her again. Neither of us needs that in our lives.”

Chapter 28

Parker let an all out grin fill her face. Olivia was coming to the farm and she couldn’t be happier. The door to Sophie’s bedroom opened and she fixed her eyes on the woman. “Hey, I’ve just spoken with the person who’s going to save you.”

Sophie stood by the couch with her hands on her hips. “What’s the name of this savior?” She watched as Parker patted the cushion next to her. “First, tell me what I want to know.”

From the time she first heard Olivia’s voice the night before, Parker’s emotions were raw and all over the place. “Please Sophie, will you just sit down so we can talk.”

The look on Parker’s face made her shiver as she sat down. “Is it that bad?” Sophie asked.

“Depends on your definition of bad,” Parker said. “You know it was a little more than forty-eight hours ago that we were sharing a beer at that little bar. I think we were developing a friendship don’t you?”

“Yeah. It seems like a lifetime ago doesn’t it?”

Parker nodded. “Will you tell me about Camille and your friendship with her?”

“Not until you tell me who is coming to save me and why.”

For a few minutes, Parker was quiet as she mentally argued with herself as to how much she should reveal. Finally, she said, “Years ago I worked for the police department in Portsmouth. My partner from that time is going to help us out…her name is Olivia Santos.”

“How much is this Olivia Santos gonna cost me?”

 “Nothing, I’m paying her.”

“Why do you have to bring someone else into the mix? You know I’ve done pretty good all by myself over the last ten months.”

“Maybe so, but I found you in Portsmouth.”

Sophie wrapped her arms around her bent knees and shivered slightly. “Instead of me Cammie was murdered,” she whispered. “Do you know how she died?”

Parker tilted her head and asked, “Did you love her?”

“Yes, she was my best friend ever since grade school. Even when my grandmother insisted I go to a private school and Cam couldn’t, we were still close.” She wiped away the tears that brimmed in her eyes. “I went to Penn and she went to Temple, but we still were friends. It wasn’t until she moved to Portsmouth that our friendship became distant.”

“Then how did you end up there?”

“I didn’t think anyone would find me there…it is as simple as that,” Sophie said as she swiped away the tears. “I tired of being on the run and alone. Cammie offered me a place to stay and to be with someone that had the same memories. In the end, all I did was to cause my friend’s death.”

“Would you have stayed with her if I hadn’t found you?”

With watery blue eyes closed, Sophie said, “Only until the year was up. I loved her, but wasn’t in love with her if that makes any sense.”

Parker thought of her long list of lovers and the only one she loved enough to live with. For her you didn’t live with someone you didn’t love so she had a hard time understanding the woman’s mentality. “Were you lovers?”

Sophie’s eyes opened wide and fixed on Parker. “What does that have to do with anything?” she growled. “I’m here in the middle of nowhere with people I don’t know and my best friend was murdered because of me and you want to know if we were lovers? What kind of question is that?”

The fire in the woman dissipated as fast as it rose. Parker eased her arm around the trembling woman’s shoulders. “I’m sorry I asked you that. I was out of line.” Her tone sounded compassionate–she wasn’t.

With her head turning toward Parker, Sophie said, “What happened to her?”

With eyes shifting away from the woman, Parker tried to compose her thoughts–she’d give Sophie the edited version.

“They tried to get information out of her.” Parker turned back and watched as Sophie’s eyes filled with horror before tears began to well. “They beat her…”

“Noooo,” Sophie sobbed as her chin fell to her chest. “She deserved better.”

“Yes she did, and it is up to us to make sure no one else is harmed. That is why I called Olivia. She is a master tactician with resources and capabilities that will keep you safe.”

“When do I meet her?”


Chapter 29

Dolly confirmed that the man in the booth was the same person Parker mentioned and Olivia had to decide if he was a private eye like Parker hired by the stepmother for much the same reason as Parker or was he an associate of O’Donnell. It was obvious that the man lacked many of the skills needed to be successful as a private investigator so she surmised he was an associate of the assassin. As she watched the man at his table, she silently decided that O’Donnell had a flaw–the man he used as a backup was an oaf.

As she considered all plausible options open to her, she looked at her watch. It was ten on Saturday morning and Amelia would be having brunch at home. The picture was so clear that it took her breath away. It made her wonder why she was sitting alone in a town she’d never been in before, helping someone who wasn’t part of her life anymore when she could be sharing downtime with Amelia. If she were honest with herself, she’d admit that it was getting harder to ignore the fact that Amelia had invaded her heart. The only other time she spent living with someone other than family was with Parker. Although the friendship with Amelia wasn’t of a sexual nature, all the other facets of living together were there. Bottom line–she’d be devastated if Amelia moved out.

“Hey honey, he’s gone. Shouldn’t you be trailing him or something?” Dolly said.

Olivia dragged her thoughts to the present and looked at the woman. “Thanks Dolly, I figured I’d give him a head start.” Silently she chastised herself for daydreaming and falling into the same trap she warned Parker about earlier. She couldn’t let that happen again. She quickly selected several bills from her billfold and handed them to Dolly, “I’ll be back another time…the cooking’s great by the way.”

Before Dolly could say another word, Olivia bolted out of the establishment as the older woman peered at the notes in her hand. Her legs nearly gave out on her as she spied two hundred dollar bills. “Oh my, that’s more than I make in a week.”

Olivia wasn’t far behind the man who was loitering in the parking lot. He looked at her as she went toward her bike and sat astride it as if she were moving on. He nonchalantly dismissed her presence and headed to the back of the diner. Olivia swiftly dismounted her bike and sped stealthily, like a lion on the chase of prey, after him. The man didn’t know what hit him when he reached for the handle to the back entrance to the diner. The hand around his neck prevented him from going further until his captor pulled him easily to the ground.

“What the fuck!”

Olivia put her booted foot on his throat in such a way that if he struggled, the pressure would increase. It was a neat little trick she’d picked up from DOCO. “Could be that you’re fucked! Didn’t your daddy tell you it wasn’t polite to speak to a girl like that, asshole?”

The man struggled and felt the downward pressure on his windpipe. Although he had the use of his arms and legs, he was helpless as the she-devil bore her weight directly on his windpipe. Air was at a premium and he felt his lungs contracting like a fish out of water. His hands pulled at her booted foot with as much power as he could muster–the boot didn’t move.

“If you answer my questions you might get out of this alive. Who are you and why are you snooping around asking about Sophie Durant?” Olivia slowly released the pressure of her boot and watched in primal satisfaction as her prey gulped down a breath.

After several moments, the man glared at the tall Latino woman who had him pinned and powerless on the ground. He knew if he got out of his current mess alive, Shamus would waste no time in killing him. “What business is it of yours? I don’t have to tell you anything.” The man spat out defiantly and wished he hadn’t when he saw the feral glint in the blue eyes above him.

“Too bad…I wanted you to give O’Donnell a message for me.” Olivia saw a flicker of emotion in the man’s eyes that confirmed he was working for O’Donnell.

“What message?” he croaked out just before she returned pressure to his windpipe. Olivia began to flex her toe allowing him a little air before stopping it for longer periods. The man looked at the woman’s face and realized that she enjoyed torturing him–he’d seen the same look in his cousin’s eyes.

Olivia gave a chilling laugh as she callously replied, “Hmm, I wonder if we want a verbal message or will a written notation do.” Her hand went inside her jacket pocket and pulled out a small knife. The blade glistened in the sunlight filtering through the cracks in the wooden fence. “Just out of interest, what are you to him?”

Sean wasn’t like his cousin, for he didn’t enjoy the torturing part of the work. He was in a quandary. If he told the woman what she wanted to know, his cousin would kill him and if he didn’t tell her, she would kill him. “I never said I knew him,” he said belligerently before he looked in the woman’s darkened eyes. “He’s my boss and I work for him. I do the legwork that kind of thing. I don’t kill people,” he said with genuine fear lacing his voice.

“Pity, I was hoping you might be more than a foot soldier. They’re easy enough to come by…I guess he won’t miss you then. Guess that means a notation will do,” she said with a sneer and a shrug. “Ah, it’s the luck of the draw…don’t you hate it when that happens.” Olivia held the knife by the blade ready to throw it at the man’s heart. “The way I see it, I can use this knife to kill you or I can use this hand little trick I learned and crush your windpipe.”

The gurgling sound from the man, squirming under her boot for enough air to speak, made a cruel smile cross Olivia’s face. She released a little of the pressure. “My name’s Sean O’Donnell, Shamus is my cousin. I don’t know why he wants to find that woman. I only know that he’ll kill anyone who gets in the way.”

Olivia had an opening for the information she needed. “Does he know where you are…what have you told him?”

“He knows I’m in this town, but not that I located the woman. I told him all the family has gone back to Portsmouth for the funeral. I figured she’d be there too, being all cozy and all with that Peterson woman…if you know what I mean…she’s a pervert.”

Olivia creased her brow. “You don’t like gay people Sean?” Olivia asked in a neutral tone.

His lips twisted into a grimace. “No, it’s a blasphemy against God. They should all be exterminated like Hitler tried with the Jews.”

“Does your cousin feel the same way? Is that why he butchered her?” Olivia felt all emotion slipped away as she went into assassin mode. Any thought of this man leading a normal life after the interrogation was over was nonexistent.

“In his own way, he screwed her first then mutilated the bitch. Said she needed to know what it feels like to have a man inside her before she died.” The man’s blind bigotry incensed Olivia and that didn’t bode well for him.

Staring up to the heavens, Olivia began to increase the pressure on the man’s windpipe until the face of an angel appeared before her. That was how she always thought of Amelia when she entered her consciousness. Cursing her reformed ways, she changed her mind set and removed her boot from the man’s neck. Her eyes pierced Sean and she spit out, “This is your lucky day. Tell Shamus the she-devil’s right behind him.”

The man scrambled to his feet, pulled a switchblade out of his pocket and lunged at the Latina woman’s back.

“Fuck,” Olivia said as she felt the thrust of the blade pierce her leather jacket and lodge in her shoulder. “Now why did you have to go and do that Sean…this jacket cost me a fortune.” She swung around and the heel of her hand found his windpipe derailing his feeble attempt to incapacitate her. “You got your second chance and you wasted it, sorry.” She swiftly wielded her knife and slit his throat in one exact move. He slid to the ground with a shocked look, as his blood gushed onto the pavement.

Well honed instincts kicked in, as she considered her next move. She could put the body in the dumpster but she didn’t know when the next pickup was and if decomposition set before that, the odor would give him away. She fished in his pockets and retrieved his car keys and minutes later, she moved the car to the back of the building and dumped his body in the trunk. Fortune was on her side as she spied a hose hooked up to a spigot several yards away. With a mixture of disgust and satisfaction, she washed away the blood on her hands before hosing down the bloody ground.

The entire incident only lasted a few minutes and the privacy the fence afforded her meant there were no witnesses. She dialed her associates at DOCO to enlist their help in cleansing the scene and removing the body without any trace of the man or his mission in Waterston.

She took a minute to pop her head in the door of Good Eats. “Dolly, I’m leaving my bike out front is that ok with you?”

“Sure is honey. I’ll keep an eye on it for you.” Dolly smiled then asked, “Did you catch up with Sean?

“Yeah I did…in fact he’s letting me use his car.”

Dolly’s eyes narrowed as she considered the strange turn of events. When she looked at the clock all thoughts disappeared–she needed to get ready for the lunch crowd.

With little more than a mild backward glance, she backed the vehicle out onto the street and drove toward the outskirts of town. On her way into town, she’d noticed a wooded area, which would be as good as any to keep a low profile until the clean up team arrived. Ten minutes later, she pulled the car down a dirt and gravel road and sent her coordinates to the controller.

As Olivia sat in the car, she contemplated what just occurred and berated herself for her actions. Killing Sean wasn’t her choice. “If only he’d stayed put and not attacked he’d still be alive.” She was certain that the coroner would keep the Peterson woman’s body for a few days after the autopsy. That meant that the funeral wouldn’t be for at least three more days at least. There was no doubt in her mind that Shamus was waiting to see if Sophie turned up at the funeral so he could take her out there. They had some time to formulate a plan. Her thoughts turned to Parker and she closed her eyes. “That’s a nightmare waiting to happen.” She hadn’t seen Parker’s folks since Amelia came into her life but knew they’d be glad to see her. She kept in touch with them by phone and knew most of what was happening with Parker but seeing the woman again unnerved her a bit. Wiping a hand over her eyes, she sighed and realized for the first time that she had a wound. “For god’s sake that’s all I need…he’s ruined my jacket!”

Olivia stepped out of the vehicle, shrugged out of her jacket, and examined the tear in the expensive black leather. Then, as a second thought, she checked the wound on her back as best she could. A pack of tissues stemmed the flow of blood and after an hour, it seemed to stop. She sat in the hot car with a dead body in the trunk trying to make sense out of her life before she fell into a light sleep. When the sound of wheels crunching along the gravel on the dirt road woke her, she opened her eyes and saw two cars approaching her position.

Half an hour after providing all the details they needed to begin surveillance at the funeral home and the cemetery in Portsmouth one of the men, Dan Estevez gave her a lift back to town. She knocked on the window and waved at Dolly before she revved up the motorcycle and headed out of Waterston toward her meeting with Parker.

Chapter 30

The Davis family along with Sophie Durant sat at the dinner table. Sophie watched as everyone else filled plates and ate with gusto. As she eyed everyone and wondered why none of them were fat slobs with all the food they eat.

“Dig in,” Ed Davis said. He pointed his fork toward his son. “Otherwise, Frank will gobble it all up.”

Frank sputtered his protests then shrugged before he laughed. “It’s mom’s fault, she’s too good a cook.”

“ Sophie, where do you live?” Ruth asked.

“My family is in Philadelphia,” she said eyeing Parker.

“Mom, you ready for more company?”

Ruth looked at her daughter and frowned. “Who?” she asked with raised eyebrows.

When the eyes of the older woman landed on her, Sophie wanted to crawl under the table.

Parker reached across the table and patted her mother’s hand. “Don’t worry Mom…it’s someone you haven’t seen for a long time… Olivia.”

Sophie watched as the older woman’s face lit up. The woman’s expression said she knew the new visitor.

“Oh, Parker, that is wonderful news...it will be good to see after all this time.” Ruth felt her cheeks grow rosy–she and Olivia had kept in touch over the years since the breakup. “When’s she getting here?”

“Not until this evening sometime.”

“Then I’ll stay up till she gets here.”

“Mom, there’s no way of knowing how late it'll be.” Parker shrugged. “She said she’d stay in the barn till morning.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Ed said. “You stay up till she gets here and make sure she has a proper place to sleep.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Crystal interjected. “I think the barn is a good place for her.”

Sophie’s ears perked up for the venom that laced the pregnant woman’s voice was unmistakable. When she noticed the look Parker shot Crystal, she let a thin smile curve her lips–jealousy had reared its head.

“No one stays in the barn in my house!” Ruth exclaimed.

“Unless it’s Frank,” Parker added trying to diffuse the tension.

“Or you Sis,” Frank added. “I seem to recall you spending lots of nights up in that loft.”

Parker chuckled. “Yeah, and apparently I wasn’t as sneaky as I thought.” She looked at her mother and winked.

As the meal continued, Sophie watched as Parker moved her food around with her fork until Ruth put her arm around her daughter’s shoulders. When her mother whispered in her ear, Parker nodded then let a thin smile cross her face. Sophie’s eyebrows creased for she hated being out of the loop.

+ + +

It was almost ten and Parker looked out the curtained window for the umpteenth time. “She’ll be here when she gets here,” Sophie said. When Parker pierced her with an angry look, she saw red. “Maybe you should go outside and walk out to the highway and wait for her there,” Sophie said sarcastically.

Parker shook her head and gave Sophie another angry look. “What’s up with you?” she replied turning her head back to the window. “I can do without your caustic remarks, Sophie.” She looked into the dark night and sighed. The day had finally come when she could face Olivia as herself and not as someone in a disguise. Over the years, she had fantasized about what would occur when they reunited. The fire and passion she’d felt for the woman still roared and she knew that once together, Olivia would feel the same.

+ + +

Olivia glanced at the huge sycamore that was the sign to turn down the Davis’ road to the farm. She turned her bike into the long tree lined dirt road glad that she didn’t have to get off and open the gate. Her face grimaced in pain as she felt the stone chippings of the drive rattle her body. It was in stark contrast to the smooth tarmac she’d traveled on for hours. Within seconds, she saw the welcoming lights of the farmhouse and a slight grin tugged at her lips. She felt as if she was going home again and that felt oddly strange for it wasn’t her home. She had a home in the city with Amelia. Amelia…suddenly with Parker’s reappearance in her life, her friend was now in the background and she didn’t know what to make of that. She decelerated and the bike moved closer to the house and her meeting with Parker.

The roar of the motorcycle made Parker’s heart skip a beat. “She always did prefer that hog over a car,” she said to no one in particular. Seeing Olivia again had her stomach doing the same flip flops that it did when she heard the woman’s low smoky voice on the phone. She opened the door, and went outside and was annoyed when Sophie chose to tag along. When the motorcycle came to a stop, she felt her chest constrict as she struggled to breathe.

The powerful machine rested in the glow of the outside lights of the farmhouse. Through her visor, Olivia briefly glanced at the two figures standing on the porch and she softly snorted at the welcoming committee before she focused on the pain in her left shoulder. She cringed as she dismounted the bike but quickly regained her cool exterior. She turned to the people on the porch and with a deft movement from years of practice regardless of the pain, removed her helmet and shook out her hair. Her cold blue eyes met the woman she had seriously considered killing ten years earlier as familiar stirrings of lust tried to surface–she would not let that happen. “I see you waited up for me,” Olivia drawled as she moved with cat-like grace toward the steps.

Parker watched the sleek body clad in leather move and felt out of her element. All the emotions she held in check when she was with Olivia over the last years demanded attention. She gulped in a deep breath and turned to Sophie. “Here comes your savior.”

Sophie watched when the woman took off her helmet and had to stop herself from gasping…the woman was magnificent and her body reacted with pleasure. When the mystery woman approached them much as a lion would its prey, Sophie shivered with delight. “Does she always present herself like that?” she asked.

“Like what?” Parker asked as she tried to squelch the need to embrace Olivia.

“A predator,” she whispered.

There was no time for an answer for Olivia was upon them.

Olivia saw the twitching muscle in Parker’s jaw and knew that she was tense. “Savior is hardly the word I would describe myself Parker. I see mom didn’t want me to stay in the barn?”

At a loss for words, Parker could only shake her head as she tried to reign in her emotions. “Well, someone needs to save her Olivia and I can’t think of a better person.” She turned to Sophie. “ Sophie Durant this is Olivia Santos.”

The words ‘mom didn’t want me to stay in the barn’ rang in Sophie’s ears as she extended her hand to the woman. “I’m pleased to meet you Ms. Santos.” She felt a jolt course through her body when they shook hands.

When Olivia extended her left arm without thinking, she felt the pain in her shoulder again. She briefly accepted the introduction as her eyes scanned the woman in front of her. She could see why Parker got herself involved in saving her. She had the air of someone you wanted to protect, much as she did Amelia. “Good to see you Ms. Durant. Parker, has mom any of her special coffee brewed? I’d murder…sorry I need the caffeine fix?”

“Sure,” she said as she opened the screen door wide and resisted the urge to touch Olivia as she passed by. Once inside, Parker said, “Everyone is asleep,” in a quiet voice. No sooner had she said the words, than her mother’s voice floated into the kitchen.

“I heard your bike,” Ruth said as she entered the kitchen in her bathrobe. “ Olivia, I’m so glad to see you.” She embraced Olivia and let the hug linger before she let go. “Are you hungry? I can fix you some leftovers real quick.”

Olivia’s eyes smarted from not only the pressure Ruth put on the knife wound, but at the woman’s heartfelt and natural welcome. “I’d love one of your special brews Ruth, but don’t do anything special for me…I’m sure Parker still knows how to fix coffee.”

Ruth took a long hard look at Olivia then furrowed her brow. “You never could hide anything from me young lady…I can tell you’re hurt. While I get your coffee, take that jacket off and let me see what I can do for you.”

Parker looked at Olivia again and saw the slight crack in her façade. “What happened to you?” she asked.

With a throaty chuckle, Olivia kissed the older woman on the cheek. “Busted…I fell off the bike…you know how that goes.” She lied as she carefully slid out of the black leather jacket. The blood from the wound had liberally soaked the back of her shirt. She heard Sophie Durant suck in breathe from behind her as Parker’s words echoed in her ears. After the long journey, she was fatigued so she didn’t answer immediately preferring to sit at one of the kitchen chairs. The fact that the only sleep she had in the last forty-eight hours was the cat nap she took while waiting for the DOCO operatives to arrive, only added to her exhaustion.

Sophie’s hands went to her mouth at the sight of the blood stained shirt. “You got that from falling off your bike? I thought bikers wore leather for protection from that sort of thing.” She looked at Parker and saw the concern on her face.

“I’ll fetch the bandages and antiseptic,” Parker told her mother. As she left the room, she looked over her shoulder and saw the exhaustion on Olivia’s face. “When I get back and we have you all patched up O, its bedtime for you.”

Sarcastically Olivia threw out, “When did you become my mother?”

Ruth shook her head. “Some things never change,” she said with a laugh. “You two stop the bickering right now or I’ll send you both to time out.”

“Only if she does,” Parker said laughing as she left the room.

Olivia forgot that a stranger was in the room and she let her guard down. “How’s she been Mom? I don’t remember her ever being so tightly wound,” she asked softly.

“To tell you the truth, I’m worried about her too. There’s an edge to her I haven’t seen since you…” She shrugged. “Well, she usually is mellow. I think she has taken up your habit of not sleeping much.” She looked squarely at Olivia and added, “I’m not sure I like her job…she’s always stressed when she comes home for a visit.”

Sophie heard the concern in Olivia’s voice, but heard something else–caring and affection. She wondered what their story was as she took in Olivia again and shivered in pleasure.

“Can’t say it’s one of my better traits. I can fix that if you want...I think I remember how.” An amused note filled Olivia’s voice as she recalled a good memory of their times together. All she ever had to do was stroke Parker’s belly in a circular motion and in no time, she’d be sound asleep.

Parker returned to the kitchen and said, “Ok, I’ve got all the stuff we need to patch you up,” She placed the bandages, tape and antiseptic on the table. “Off with the shirt.” She watched as Olivia carefully pulled her left arm out of the shirt and gasped when she saw the wound–no way did she get it from any fall off her bike.

“Do you need my help,” Ruth asked.

Parker positioned her body between her mother and Olivia. “Nope, I got it.” With gentleness, born out of genuine affection, she began to clean the wound. “Who stabbed you? You really need stitches,” she whispered in Olivia’s ear. “I’ve put butterflies over the gash to keep it together and that should hold you until you see a doctor, but don’t wait too long.”

Olivia looked directly into the eyes she once adored. “Yeah I know…I’ll take care of that tomorrow.”

“I can call Doc Pritchard and take you there.”

“I said, I’d take care of it,” she growled quietly. Parker’s touch was reminiscent of a long time ago and despite her body’s reaction, she wasn’t following that path again.

“Sure. All done,” Parker said. She stood there awkwardly trying to get a grip on the emotions that touching Olivia evoked.


Chapter 31

Teal gave a snort of annoyance as she gazed at the invoices that Olivia hadn’t adequately explained. Her attention so taken with the problem she failed to hear someone enter the reception area. She jumped when a familiar face peered over the counter.

“Hi Teal, betcha never thought you’d ever see me here,” the young woman announced.

Teal caught a surprised breathe and smiled wanly at the woman. “Hi Jerry, what brings you to this part of town?” Her eyes quickly veered off to Amelia’s door.

The young woman grinned impishly as her blonde hair bobbed around her shoulders. Conspiratorially she replied, “I was hoping to surprise you know who. Is she in?”

Crap! “Actually no, no she isn’t. I can give her a message when she gets back if that helps.” Teal backed up her offer with a tentative smile.

The young woman’s crestfallen expression said it all. “I figured. She hasn’t been in touch for over a week.” Then she smiled optimistically. “At least its work, and not that she doesn’t want to see me.”

“ Jerry, Olivia won’t be happy you came here. This is where she works and she’s very strict about not letting pleasure interfere with that. I’ll tell her you came by and I’m sure when she gets back, she’ll call you.” Teal gave the younger woman a reassuring smile.

Jerry Nixon looked around the reception area. “Cool place… I’ve never been in a private detective’s office before. Betcha see some interesting things around here don’tcha?”

Teal shrugged as she moved around the counter. “Sometimes, not often…most of our cases are quite mundane, which is why you need to go Jerry.” Then her eyes closed as she heard Amelia’s office door open as she gave her goodbyes to her last client of the day.

Amelia walked into the reception area and turned to Teal who was speaking with a beautiful young blonde woman who looked like she was just out of high school. “Sorry to interrupt Teal, Ms. Smith needs to arrange her next couple of appointments and she’s on a tight schedule.”

“Perfectly ok, we just finished …haven’t we?” Her gaze sought out Jerry’s to confirm what she had said.

“I guess. Will you tell Olivia that I came by and that I’d love her to call as soon as she gets back…oh and tell her I’ll make it worth her while.” Jerry grinned and smiled at the older woman who had entered the room. “See you at your place on Wednesday for the usual girls’ night out Teal.”

With a whisper, Teal answered, “Sure Jerry, see you then.” Turning her attention to Amelia’s client, she hoped that Amelia hadn’t picked up any vibes. Teal cringed slightly at the thought. There was no way she was going to explain Jerry or Olivia’s actions to Amelia.

Amelia stood unmoving in the reception as two things registered in her brain. Neither made any sense, but conversely, they made perfect sense. She didn’t want to acknowledge the prospect. Obviously, the young woman knew Olivia and her perfume had the same scent that Olivia smelled of several weeks earlier.

As the woman walked toward the door, Amelia couldn’t stop from walking quickly toward her. “Hi Jerry, I’m Amelia West, Olivia’s business partner. Do you want to leave her a message? If it’s important I can usually contact her when she’s out of the office.”

Both Jerry and Teal glanced at Amelia for very different reasons.

“Awesome. Will you tell her Jerry misses her and that the bed feels cold without her in it? Have her call me when she gets time, thanks.” Jerry grinned and left Amelia standing at the door like a statue. She moved only when her client, Ms. Smith, cleared her throat for Amelia to move out of the way.

Teal heard the exchange and wanted to curl up in a ball and die. “ Amelia, are you ok?” she tentatively asked.

Amelia turned to her friend and gazed at her dazedly while swallowing hard to lubricate her throat– her vocal cords refused to function.

Teal took pity on her friend for she knew it was only a matter of time before Olivia’s sexual preferences were out of the bag. “How about some coffee…I’m sure it’s been a long day for you.” Her hand tentatively settled on Amelia’s forearm.

With an aggrieved look in her eyes, Amelia shrugged off the hand. “Why didn’t she tell me Teal? Does she trust me so little that she couldn’t confide in me about this? We live together!”

The anguish in her friend's voice tugged at Teal’s heart and she sighed heavily. “I’ll get that coffee for us Amelia…I think we both need it. Do you know when Olivia’s due back?”

Amelia’s eyes welled with tears as she shook her head. “Why would I know that? She obviously doesn’t trust me.” A glint in her eyes indicated that she made a decision. “Strike the coffee Teal…I’m leaving for the day. I’ll see you tomorrow.” She quickly sidestepped any attempt Teal made to stop her. She went into her office, collected her purse and car keys then rushed past Teal without another word.

“Oh, that couldn’t have gone better–not,” said Teal as she pressed a button on her switchboard to connect with Olivia’s private number. It was the number used for emergencies only and she knew Olivia checked the voice mail regularly. If there ever was an emergency, this one qualified as one in spades. “Hi it’s Teal…I think you should come home as soon as you can. Jerry came by the office and … Amelia knows.”

Chapter 32

The bar Amelia went to was less than a block away from her home. She should have parked the car in the garage of the warehouse, but didn't feel the need. She supposed the bar was like all the others, but she couldn't be sure since she hadn’t ever been to one.

She slid onto a stool at the bar and flung her purse on the countertop. A few seconds later, the bartender wiped the spot in front of her with a towel. “What can I get you?”

Amelia hadn’t thought that far ahead, in fact, as she glanced around, she realized that being there might have been a bad idea. The other parties in the establishment consisted of blue-collar workers, who she suspected were enjoying a beer after work. The others, who looked like they were permanent fixtures, were alone and sitting at the bar.

“Lady, I haven’t got all day, what’ll be?” the bartender asked brusquely.

Amelia looked at the man and gave him a half smile. “Sorry, a beer will be fine?”

The bartender growled, “What kind?” Amelia was a loss for words–she hadn’t a clue.

A voice at her side startled her. “The lady looks like a Corona gal to me Mike. Go ahead and make it two.”

Amelia looked and nodded at the woman who she surmised must have just walked into the bar. “Thanks, I don’t drink much.”

A soft chuckle followed the comment. “Wish I didn’t myself, but it’s an occupational hazard.” The woman shrugged and smiled. “I own the place. I haven’t seen you here before…are you new around here?”

“No, not exactly. I was brought up in Portsmouth about three blocks away but…as I say, I don’t drink much,” she said as she cringed at her lame words. Nevertheless, she smiled at the woman.

The bar owner gave her a speculative glance and smiled warmly. “Yeah, you can live in a place for years and not know what’s around the corner.”

Without thinking Amelia replied, “Goes for people too.”

A measure of understanding lit the bar owner’s eyes as she sat next to Amelia. “Yep, I understand that. My name’s Faith, Faith Western.”

Not wanting to be impolite, Amelia turned to the woman, smiled slightly and offered her hand. “ Amelia, Amelia West.”

Although there was a fleeting moment of intense speculation in Faith’s eyes, she didn’t say anything. When the drinks arrived, Amelia reached for her purse. “This ones on me, if you like it here you might come back. A good marketing ploy my accountants tell me.”

“Thanks.” Amelia sipped her drink in silence. She knew she was seeking solace of some sort after learning of Olivia’s sexual proclivities. Having a few drinks with a stranger somehow seemed appropriate. “I saw karaoke on a poster on the door when I came in?”

Faith smiled. “See yourself as a singer, Amelia? We could sure do with some new blood. We’re getting tired of the same old stuff. Will you still be here…it doesn’t start until eight.”

With a glance at her watch, Amelia saw that it was barely four-thirty. “Sure I’ve no one to go home to. It’ll be fun.”

With a knowing look in her eyes, Faith moved her stool a little closer. “Yes, I think tonight might be turning out to be brighter than I thought myself.” With a flick of her hand, she motioned for the bartender. “ Mike we need the song sheets, Amelia and I are going to rock the place this evening.”

Chapter 33

Olivia glanced around the kitchen, it was familiar and homey and she recalled Ruth’s words. The kitchen is the heart of a home. Then she peered at the two women at the table with her. One she knew well, or as well as anyone who had run the gauntlet of the emotional spectrum of love and hate could. The other, was as unfamiliar as Parker was familiar. She knew only the essentials of the woman’s make-up and for now, that had to be enough. “We need to plan a strategy.” Her fingers drummed on the coffee cup. “What have you come up with Parker?”

“I have a few ideas,” Parker said as she watched the drumming fingers and smiled. Some things never changed and the drumming of the fingers was something that always drove her up the wall. “We need to find a safe house that’s invincible.” She held her breath hoping that Olivia would take the bait. “We can probably stay here for a few weeks, but eventually they will come looking for me.” She shook her head. “It won’t take a really good investigator long to figure out I am involved somehow.”

Olivia caught Parker’s gaze. “And, your strategy is?”

Parker moved closer to Olivia and began to jot down what they knew along with different scenarios. “We know that Sophie’s friend in Portsmouth was murdered by an unknown person or persons. Add to that, the man who came to Waterston looking for her and left only to come back. Olivia, you said that Dolly told you the man asked all over town about Sophie, right?”

“Yeah, Dolly felt certain he never found anyone that said they ever saw her.” Olivia chuckled. “She said all it took was telling one busybody that a stranger was looking for a woman so he could kill her and the whole town knew. It seems that small towns have a habit of closing ranks when they need to.”

Parker smiled. “That sounds like Dolly.” She fixed her eyes on Olivia. “Do you know if the guy left town or is he still there?”

Olivia looked away. “He won’t be a problem,” she said in a matter of fact tone.

“How do you know that?” Parker asked. When Olivia looked her square in the eyes, she had her answer. She cleared her throat. “How can you get away with that? Won’t the police be investigating?” Parker already knew the answer but she had to take her role seriously.

Caustically Olivia replied, “I have friends who take care of my back.” The glint in the eye was a reminder to Parker of how Olivia really felt about her.

“Ok, moving on…” she said trying to stay on track. It was imperative that she keep to the plan if she were to get the results she wanted. “I suppose the question now is, how long before they figure out that Sophie is with me.”

“Do you have any reason to think they will?”

“When we heard about the murder, I called Sophie’s stepmother…that’s when she fired me because she had hired someone else.” She shrugged as she recalled the conversation with Evelyn. “I’m certain she knew of Camille’s murder…she said ‘what a pity’…” Parker trailed off squelching any hint of her true motives. She concentrated on the pad of paper and rapidly wrote what she thought would work to their advantage. “I’ve written three ways we can keep Sophie safe for the next two months,” she said sliding the paper over to Olivia.

Blue eyes scanned the page. “I’m not sure any of these are workable Parker…they’re way too complicated.”

“The only complication I can see is that we don’t know who the new hire is,” she countered. “I think number two is our best bet for keeping her safe," she said circling the number. “Once we find out who the new person is, we can confront Evelyn Durant and turn her over to the police. I overheard that guy at Dolly’s say the name Shamus…maybe he’s the hit man.” When Parker turned her head to make her point and found Olivia close enough to feel her breath fan her face.

Sophie watched in fascination as the two women interacted. It was clear to her that despite some of their negative comments about each other, there was a deep abiding bond between them. The fact that they two of them were treating her like a nonentity was annoying so she coughed slightly–neither woman noticed.

“Sure, that can be organized, but it will take more than four days to accomplish.” Olivia frowned as her mind flashed over several possible solutions to the short term problem. In her own way, she was protecting Parker by not telling her the name of the assassin. She was certain Parker would make it her goal to find out everything she could about the person, and when she did, it would freak her out.

Parker frowned and pulled back from Olivia. “Four days…what are you talking about? Didn’t you hear me say we can stay here longer than that?” Parker held her breath hoping that Olivia would react the way she wanted her to.

Olivia raised an expressive eyebrow at the belligerent comment. “Some things never change do they,” she mumbled. “The funeral is in three days…maybe a few more if the coroner doesn’t release the body right away. After that, I’d say you will have twenty-four hours tops to find this safe house you need or…” Olivia nodded in the direction of Sophie. “…things will not be too pretty around here. I’ll not allow you to bring that kind of danger to your parent’s door again. Do I make myself clear?”

It had been a long time since Parker felt her blood boil. Olivia had done what most couldn’t–rile her in an instant. “Don’t you ever insinuate that I would do anything to jeopardize my family again!” She felt her heart hammer in her chest as she scraped her chair back, walked to the door and stared out. She had to get hold of her emotions or she’d ruin everything. It wasn’t the time to allow anger to get the better of her. It was time to play the role. She turned around and with a quivering voice said, “Do you think they’re on to me already?”

Olivia stared into the depths of the coffee cup–it had no answers. She glanced up and caught Sophie’s eyes staring at her with annoyance laced with what she thought was hatred. She was used to that reaction and raised an eyebrow at the woman. “In one word Parker, yes. There’s no way someone didn’t tip off that guy in Waterston. It might have been sheer luck, but it’s more likely that the assassin is a notch above what you might be used to Parker.” Her look intensified. “You should really leave now…but it’s your case…your call.”

Parker blew out a breath. “It doesn’t take a genius to figure that they got the information from Sophie’s friend.” She heard Sophie gasp. “Apparently the guy that went to Waterston looking for her came up empty. I think the question should be…why would they link me to her?” She looked at Sophie. “What do you think?”

Sophie narrowed her eyes and glared at Olivia. When she turned her gaze back at Parker they softened. “Cammie died because of me. I would hate to have anything happen to anyone else. It’s probably best if I just leave and go back to the way I was, that way…” She swiped a tear off her cheek. “I’ve done pretty well so far by myself and I bet I can keep doing it for another couple of months.”

“No!” Parker shouted. There was no way she’d let Sophie go off on her own…she was too close to let that happen.

“Oh, for god’s sake Parker, stop being so dramatic. This is a case and your client can do as she pleases.”

“Excuse me Olivia…I’m not being dramatic…far from it. The stakes are higher now…he killed Camille what makes you think he will stop there?” she said as she leveled Sophie with her gaze.

“Parker’s right Ms. Durant, you wouldn’t last another day on your own. Like a hound dog, they have your scent and you can count on them finding you. Right now, we need to move you into a safe location within the next thirty-six hours. I’ve dealt with the Waterston problem so we at least have that breathing room.”

“Exactly…so there's no way they know I’m involved. I think we’ll have more than thirty-six hours to implement whatever plan we decide on.”

Olivia, forgetting the injured shoulder, stood up and winced at the pain.

Parker saw the grimace and had no choice but to approach her old lover and gently cup her arm. “You ok?” She dropped her hand when Olivia’s eyes told her not to come any closer.

“Of course,” Olivia ground out as she pursed her lips in pain. Despite what her eyes said, she unconsciously moved closer to Parker.

For Parker, it was second nature and she put her arm around Olivia. “Sure you are. Why don’t we take this up in the morning when we’ve all had a good night’s sleep?” She leaned in slightly and closed her eyes when she sniffed the woman’s hair. “What do you say O?”

“I for one, vote yes,” Sophie interjected. “This certainly has been a day of surprises.” Her words sounded hollow as she felt a surge of jealousy at Parker’s familiar attitude toward the dark woman.

Any other time, Olivia would have shrugged off the blatant incursion into her personal space, but all she cared about was ridding her body of the sheer exhaustion she felt. Her relationship with Parker was old news but the familiar comforting arm on her shoulder made her wonder if that were true. She closed her eyes. The familiarity of the farm, the Davis’ and Parker brought up all the good emotions they shared. It would be so easy for her to fall back into that life. With the way Parker looked at her, there was certainly a spark and it would be so easy to let go and enjoy recapturing what they had. As it always did in moments of weakness, Amelia came into her mind and she knew it was impossible. It was one road she couldn’t go back down… Amelia was the overriding factor. “I could do with a few hours sleep before I go back.”

Parker smiled. “Glad you see it my way,” she said resisting the urge to lean her head on Olivia’s shoulder. Then she moved away and looked at Sophie. “With Olivia on our side we’ll all be safe…she’s the best there is at this.” She felt a yawn fight its way to the surface but knew she wouldn’t sleep well–she was too pumped. “We’re all staying in the suite,” she said. “Remember that O?”

A brief memory of good times drifted through her exhaustion. “Yeah, I remember. I know the way…I’m going to take a shower.” She walked out of the room without a backward glance. She was too damn exhausted to worry about the pleasantries of goodnights.

Sophie couldn’t believe the audacity of the dour woman. “Obviously she never had any lesson in decorum,” she mumbled.

“She’s tired,” Parker said defensively. “Usually she would have said goodnight.”

“Ok, go ahead and have it your way,” Sophie said raising her eyebrows. “But, I think she owes you an apology for her rudeness.”

Parker shook her head. She wasn’t going to allow the woman to ruin the moment for her–Olivia was back in her world. “Come on let’s go to bed too.”

“Is that an invitation,” Sophie said with a grin.

“Not tonight.”

Sophie winked and said, “Ok, but it’s your loss.”

Chapter 34

Olivia opened the familiar door to the suite and leaned against it once it closed. She was exhausted physically and mentally. Being back at the Davis’ house had been a bad move on her part for there were too many memories and she was finding it difficult not to respond to Parker–the woman always did turn her on. The exhaustion her body felt made it difficult to resist the attraction but she knew she would never go back to that life. It was over and now she had Amelia in her life. She might never satisfy her sexually but she certainly would in all the other important areas of her life and that was what she’d focus on. She blew out a breath, went in to the bedroom that she and Parker always shared and stripped off her clothes.

The warm water beat against her skin and she instantly felt the stresses and strains of the day disappear. Killing the man hadn’t initially pumped her up as other killings had but seeing Parker again brought those feelings to the forefront. As the water cascaded down her body, she recalled the last time they were together. Lathering the rest of her body, she tried to squelch all the memories of the past that seemed to echo in her mind. She had trusted Parker with her love once and betrayal was her reward. Although if she was being honest, she’d ground Parker’s love into the ground first. Despite what her body and emotions said, she’d never allow that to happen again. She shut off the water, toweled off and opened the door.

When Parker and Sophie entered the room, they stopped in their tracks as a naked Olivia came out of the bathroom. Olivia heard sharp intakes of breath and spun around. “Never seen a naked woman leave a bathroom before?” she said sarcastically. She turned away and reached for the clothes she left scattered in the bedroom.

Sophie, clearly embarrassed, made her way to her bedroom. Parker just stood there trying to make sense of her body’s reaction to the naked Olivia. “Yeah, I’ve seen my share of naked women,” she finally said. “All I need from the room is a pillow then I’ll leave you in peace,” she said as she walked past Olivia.

“Cut out the martyrdom Parker, get over here and share this damn bed." Olivia motioned to the king sized bed. "Don’t worry. I have no intentions toward you other than we both get a good night’s sleep.”

With a gulp, Parker looked at the bed. “No, you go ahead I don’t think I can sleep just yet.”

Olive squared her shoulders making her breasts moved provocatively. “Do you still trust me Parker?”

“I never stopped,” she whispered. Her eyes, like a deer caught in headlights, rested on Olivia’s breasts. The need to touch them was overwhelming and she felt herself shiver in anticipation.

“Excellent, then you’ll remember that I have the formula for making you sleep like a baby, right?”

Parker managed a slight smile. “Yeah, I do,” she said. She striped off her clothes and stood naked in front of Olivia. Her nipples were swollen and hard and she was certain she saw Olivia look at them in desire. She threw back the covers and crawled onto the bed where she laid provocatively. “I’m all yours,” she said as Olivia edged in beside her.

With a gentle touch, she began making concentric circle on Parker’s belly. Surreptitiously she took in the naked body that at one time she craved. Her eyes lingered on Parker’s breast and she felt aroused. She saw Parker’s eyes begin to flutter and she knew that in a few moments she would be sound asleep. A memory that had been fighting to emerge ever since she heard Parker’s voice the day before would no longer stay buried.


Her mind flashed back to a convenience store robbery and the car chase that followed. She and Parker chased the man for several miles with sirens blaring and the police radio squawking. The perpetrator finally stopped his car, jumped out and began running. “What an idiot,” Olivia said as she slammed on the breaks and opened her door. “He thinks he can out run me.” She laughed and set out after the suspect. Once the man was in sight, she shouted, “Stop police,” but he continued running.

Olivia felt the tightness and swelling of arousal as she closed in on the man. When the suspect reached an eight foot fence and tried to climb up, Olivia launched her body in his direction and grabbed hold of his legs. Once she wrestled the man to the ground and had her knee in his back, she felt herself come.

Olivia and the suspect walked back to the squad car and she saw Parker lounging against the car with her legs crossed at the ankles. “Good job,” she said with a grin. “You know mister, if you gonna try and outrun her you need to lose about fifty pounds.”

Once the man was booked and they did all the necessary paper work, they headed for home. They would usually change into civilian clothes before they left, unless there had been a chase. Olivia wasted no time in getting to their house and taking Parker to bed.

Snake like, she started at Parker’s feet and slithered up the naked body letting her wetness glide along the muscled legs, across hips, up her belly, between the valley of her breasts and finally coming to a stop at Parker’s mouth. She closed her eyes as she felt a tongue lick her until it rolled and neatly slid inside and kept time as Olivia's hips began to move.

“Oh god Parker,” Olivia said raggedly before she lost all sense and erupted.

Not yet satisfied, Olivia let her body slide back down until their eyes met. Her body was one with her lover who she hungrily kissed tasting what Parker just tasted. She moved her left leg so it was between Parker’s legs and began to grind against the wetness she felt. In response, Parker mirrored her partner’s movements until she felt herself come – Olivia did not. The lust Olivia felt after a chase was unquenchable and all Parker could do was go along for the ride. Her fingers snaked between their sweaty thighs, found their way inside Olivia and remained there as her lover pumped and jerked until she exploded in one orgasm after another.

“God, how I love you,” Olivia said as she collapsed on top of Parker. Her breathing was hard and fast, but the hand rubbing her back soothed her. “I never want to lose you Parker, you are everything to me.”


Olivia took in the whole of the sleeping woman and felt the longing she had buried long ago. The memory and the sleeping naked woman’s body made her wet and filled with desire. Her eyes focused on Parker’s left breast and she smiled–the body was still enticing. She closed her eyes as she fought the urge she vowed never to feel again. Unable to resist, she leaned in and ever so gently kissed Parker’s left breast. The urge to take the nipple into her mouth and begin lustful lovemaking pushed all other reasons not to into the background.

The vibration of her cell phone distracted Olivia from her wanton need for Parker’s body. For a few precious minutes, she’d forgotten all that had happened in the ensuing years and indulged in the good memories. So much so, that they almost became recent ones. The persistent motion of her phone brought her back to the present. She looked at the soundly sleeping Parker and her eyes took in the naked body once again. With a sigh of regret, she deftly moved Parker on her side and wrapped the sheet and blanket around her. She grimaced at the pain in her shoulder and eased off the bed before reaching for her phone. “ Santos.”

“I have only one thing to say to you Olivia. The eagle has landed.” Teal announced dramatically.

Olivia quietly made her way out of the room and pulled the door closed. “Don’t be cryptic Teal…I’m too exhausted to play games. What do you mean the eagle has landed?”

Teal felt her tension ease when she heard Olivia’s voice in its usual brisk manner. “She knows, at least I figure she’s worked it out since Jerry wasn’t subtle.”

“What do you mean? I take it the ‘she’ is Amelia and just where did she and Jerry meet?” Olivia’s eyebrows met. “Did you have one of your Wednesday evenings early Teal and invite Amelia? If you did so help me…” Olivia took a deep breath and didn’t finish.

“Don’t you check your voice mail Olivia? I sent you a message earlier today and, just so you know, it hasn’t anything to do with me…besides…I would never ask Amelia. Jerry came by the office this afternoon and I tried to get rid of her before Amelia appeared. Just like most things in life, things never quite work out the way you hope,” Teal replied.

“That ditzy blonde came to my office?” Olivia’s eyes darted around the familiar room as she sucked in a deep breath. “Exactly why did she do that?” Olivia retorted angrily. The woman was good in bed but she wasn’t someone with whom she wanted to have a long term relationship. She looked toward the bedroom where Parker was sleeping. She’d done that scene and wouldn’t do it again–there was way too much baggage.

“As crazy as this might sound, she wanted to see you. When she left, there was no doubt in Amelia’s mind that you’d slept together…at least once.”

Olivia ground her teeth. “Shit! Where’s she now?” she whispered loudly.

“ Jerry or Amelia? Ok, I know. Amelia is at the nunnery…”

Olivia cut in, “What? Has she gone back to being a nun? I don’t believe it!” Agitated, Olivia said, “Damn, can’t you speak with her Teal? She trusts you and I’ll explain when I get back.”

Teal scratched the side of her head as she looked down at the sleeping Amelia. “You never let me finish Olivia. I’m with Amelia and she is sleeping it off. Apparently, she got drunk and gave a mean karaoke performance of ‘You Don’t Own Me’, according to the good Sisters who picked her up.”

Olivia couldn’t help it. Of all the images she had of Amelia, drunk at a karaoke bar wasn’t one of them. She laughed as she asked, “You’re joking right? Just how did the Sisters know to bail her out?”

“I wish I were,” Teal said with a smile. “That’s exactly what I thought when Sister Angelica called me. It’s a long story. Amelia hasn’t changed who her immediate contacts are for an emergency. With her parents out of town they called her work contact.” She laughed derisively. “Lucky me.”

Olivia sighed heavily. Her eyes traveled again to the bedroom and the sleeping Parker. She realized the truth–sometimes you just can’t let go of the last vestiges of an old life. To Olivia, it looked as though she and Amelia were, a match made in …yeah well who could say when it came to their respective pasts. “When are you coming home, Olivia?” Teal asked.

Olivia stopped her train of thought and shook her head. “I’ll leave here in under an hour which will put me back at the office for a late breakfast. Coffee on the boil might be good for more than just me Teal.”

“You got that right boss. I’ll have to leave her here tonight since she’s not fit to move. Good thing she wasn’t sick…I really hate puking drunks.” Amelia groaned and the very thing Teal hated, happened. “I have to go Olivia. You have a safe journey see you in…later today I guess.” Her eyes flicked to the mess on the floor and then at her shoe. Teal pushed hair away from her eyes and checked that Amelia wasn’t in any danger. She headed for the door and a bucket and mop. Olivia owed her big time.

Chapter 35

Parker groaned as a hand forcefully shook her shoulder. “Parker, wake up…I need you to wake up right now.”

She blinked the sleep out of her eyes. She fully opened her eyes and looked up at Olivia who was fully dressed. “What’s happened? Did they find us? Is Sophie ok?” Her mind suddenly jumped to all the wrong conclusions as she sprang up in bed.

“Hey, it is ok there isn’t a fire or any murderer in the house. Something has come up that needs my immediate attention. I need to leave now.”

“Is it the case?” Parker, now wide awake, asked. Even though she barely had any sleep, it was deep and refreshing and that was what she needed.

Olivia smiled slightly. “No, it’s personal business in Portsmouth.”

The quiet response had Parker dissecting every syllable. “Won’t they want you to rest? You aren’t exactly one hundred percent. I mean before you attempt a six hour journey at…” her eyes traveled to the clock. “It’s two…I bet you haven’t even slept.”

“People like me only need a bare minimum. You must remember that I was never a long sleeper. When this is over, I’ll take a break, maybe even a vacation.” Her thoughts turned to Amelia and the fact that her friend had gone to a bar alone. She was aware of a sense of guilt that came over her and that felt oddly strange.

“After this is over, we’ll all need a vacation,” Parker said with a wink. “Who knows, we could take it together…like old times.” Parker regretted the impulsive words she hadn’t meant to voice. She stared into the cold, hard look on Olivia’s face and shrugged. “I didn’t mean it the way that sounded.”

Mentally and physically exhausted, Olivia allowed her mind to fall over the mental precipice she’d set when Parker betrayed her ten years earlier. She took in Parker’s naked body and wondered if she knew how close she’d come to having a bullet between her eyes. Probably not and she was thankful for that; she’d let her former lover go on thinking that killing the DA was a onetime thing–Parker didn’t need to know what she’d become. She waved off the comment and said, “I haven’t time for that now. I’ve got to go.”

Parker, suddenly cognizant of being naked, grabbed the sheet and wrapped her body in it. She mentally smacked her forehead. She was too close to allow misspoken words to ruin her plans. “What about Sophie and her problem?” she asked quietly.

Olivia picked up her jacket on the chair and snorted when she saw the rip. “I’m not abandoning you Parker or your little friend. I merely have other responsibilities that need my attention. I’ll be in touch with the details of the safe house within the next twenty-four hours. When I give you that information, I’ll expect you there within twelve hours. If you’re not…”

The unfinished sentence charged the air and hung there as Parker felt her shoulders defensively tighten. She knew Olivia well enough to know if people let her down or didn’t comply exactly with her demands she’d walk away without a thought. “If we’re not then what…we’re written off like yesterday’s trash?” She immediately closed her eyes as she regretted her words again.

“Dragging out the same old stuff Parker, you really don’t have a clue about the person I am today. For the record, I’d send out a search party and that will be costly. I’ve written down my emergency cell number. No matter what, this will be answered.” Olivia threw the small blank card except for the number toward Parker.

“Ok, what if something happens and I need to contact you and you don’t answer?” Parker asked.

Olivia nodded accepting that might happen. “Call 555-7282. It’s the direct line to my associate Doctor West.”

“A doctor…wow, I’m impressed” Olivia’s cold hard stare in reaction to the question made Parker inwardly smile. She knew all about Dr. Amelia West and her involvement with the detective agency and with Olivia. The look only confirmed what she already knew. “What exactly do I tell her?”

“Simple…you tell her that I told you to call her for help. She’ll be on the case immediately.”

“What if she doesn’t believe me?” she asked. Parker shook her head and added, “I’m not sure involving another party in the already complicated case is wise.”

Olivia stretched and found the pain in her shoulder bearable. “We worked out a code. Say ‘mysteries of the universe’ and she will know you’re legitimate.”

Parker softly laughed. “And if she’s not there?”

Exasperated, Olivia flung a disgusted look at Parker as she headed for the door. “Teal’s number is 555-8282 and her code is ‘small but mighty’.”

“Ok, I get the picture. I’ll only call them if I can’t contact you, right?”

“Precisely. Now, I need to go. Will you give my apologies to your parents? Tell your mom that I’ll see her soon.”

Never one to give in lightly, Parker had a final question. “Just out of interest, what’s your code?”

Olivia opened the door. “Give it a rest Parker, I’ll be in touch.” She smiled slightly as she closed the door. Her mind uttered the words Parker wanted to know–‘darker than dreams’.

Parker watched Olivia leave and sighed–she needed to know that code too.

Chapter 36

Sophie woke the next morning feeling more refreshed than she had in a long time. She stretched, closed her eyes and contemplated exactly why she felt so good. Olivia Santos was the answer. She had a distinct dislike for the dark mysterious woman that arrived the night before, but the woman made her feel safe extremely safe. Her thoughts turned to Parker and she smiled as she wondered about the obvious bond her friend had with the dark woman. The electricity the two generated between them was palpable and she wondered if they knew how obvious it was. She’d observe them again and try to figure out what their story was.

She got up and started dressing, but paused when she saw her reflection in the mirror. “Who do you think you’re kidding…you’re jealous of Olivia.” She snorted and shook her head. “You want Parker all for yourself.” She winked at her image. “And you shall have her.”

When Sophie entered the kitchen she said, “Something sure smells good.”

“Oh good morning dear,” Ruth said over her shoulder. “I’m making blueberry pancakes, they’re Olivia’s favorite.”

Sophie said, “Sounds good to me too. I didn’t hear either of them moving around.”

“That’s good. They both need a good long sleep. Did you see the dark circles under Olivia’s eyes? And, my Parker…I’ve never seen her so on edge. She’s usually really mellow when she comes home.” Ruth turned to face Sophie. “ Olivia is just the cure she needs.”

A small polite smile crossed Sophie’s face. “It seems to me that they are really good friends.”

Ruth turned her attention back to the stove and flipped over a pancake. “At one time they were very close, but something happened and…well,” she sighed, “no need to dwell on the past. Olivia is here now and that is all that matters.”

Both women turned when they heard, “Good morning.” Parker stood in the doorway. “Mom, are those your famous blueberry pancakes?”

“Yes, I remember how much Olivia likes them,” Ruth said as she looked beyond her daughter. “Isn’t she up yet?”

Parker shook her head. “She had to leave early this morning. There was some sort of emergency. She said to tell you she’d see you soon.”

Unable to hide her disappointment, Ruth asked, “Did she get any sleep?”

“No, but I’ll call her later to make sure she made it to Portsmouth safely.” Parker felt her stomach churn–she wouldn’t call. Olivia had made it clear before she left that she would be the one doing the calling. She bit her lip. Olivia had moved on or at least that’s what her ex-lover thought–that would change. She would use her mother as a sounding board later. Unwilling to explore the thought further, she turned her attention to Sophie. “Good morning, did you sleep well?”

Sophie’s face lit up. “Yes, I had a wonderful rest. It’s so calm and peaceful here that I feel more relaxed than I have in a long time.”

A genuine smile crept across Parker’s lips. “I’m glad you feel that way,” she said softly. “After breakfast I’ll show you around the place.”

Just then, Crystal came charging into the kitchen. “Who the hell was that on the motorcycle making such a racket? Frank had his shotgun out ready to shoot them.”

“Oh Crystal, stop being so dramatic,” Ruth chided. “It was Olivia. Remember Parker said that she was coming for a visit.”

A look of disgust crossed the pregnant woman’s face. “ Olivia,” she snorted. “I should have known.” She looked around. “So where is the perfect Santos?”

+ + +

Later that morning Parker drove Sophie around the farm in her dad’s old Ford pickup. “Parker?”

“Mmm hmm.”

“I’d have to be deaf and dumb not to see that you and Olivia have a history.”

“I already told you that we were partners on the Portsmouth police force.”

Sophie reached over and touched Parker’s arm. “That’s not what I meant.”

The old truck came to a stop. “What exactly do you mean Sophie?” Parker’s eyes narrowed and locked Sophie with a scowl.

“You two have an undeniable chemistry,” said defiantly.

Parker did not intend on sharing anything about Olivia with the woman. “That’s not a subject that’s open for discussion.” She pursed her lips and nodded. “First you tell me about you and Camille.”

“She was my best friend…nothing more.”

The brown eyes refused to let go. “Now is not the time to lie to me Sophie.”

“Ok, we were lovers! Satisfied…is that what you wanted to hear?”

“Will you tell me about her?”

Sophie adjusted her position then looked out of the window. “Cammie always had a crush on me…she knew I didn’t feel the same.” She returned her gaze to Parker. “She took me in and we became lovers…more out of need on my part than love.” Her eyes filled with tears. “She had pictures of me at every stage of my life…I needed to feel connected and she gave me that.”

Parker’s defenses let down some and she put a comforting arm around Sophie. “We all do what we have to so we can survive,” she said.

“Is that what happened to you and Olivia?”

“No, I wish it were that easy.” Parker blew out a breath and sighed. “She’s the love of my life…my soul mate.” She looked past Sophie to the distant trees. “She killed someone and she thought I betrayed her. Until I called her the other night, we haven’t spoken in ten years.” Their eyes met. “Just because you have a misunderstanding doesn’t mean you stop loving someone.”

“You still love her?”

Parker creased her forehead. “She’s moved on.”

Sophie let out a derisive laugh. “You may think she’s moved on, but from what I saw last night, that’s hard to believe.”

Parker put the old truck in gear and let out the clutch lurching it forward. She knew the truth of the words but she’d already said too much on the subject. Keeping Sophie on track was critical. “Right now, the most important thing to me is keeping you safe. Olivia has ways of doing that and I don’t. Therefore it was necessary to involve her.”

Sophie grabbed the dashboard as they bumped along the dirt road. “What do you mean?”

Once again, Parker pressed the brake pedal and stopped the truck. “I wish I could guarantee that you’ll be safe until the conditions of your grandmother’s will are met. Over the years, I’ve kept track of Olivia and I know that she possesses contacts, resources and skills that I don’t.”

Sophie’s mind flashed back to the morning and how safe she felt knowing Olivia was there. “Can’t ask for much more can I?”

Parker hesitated before she let a smile cross her lips. “Neither of us can.” It was only a matter of time now.

Chapter 37

Olivia parked the motorcycle in its designated bay within the warehouse apartment complex she called home. Exhausted from head to toe, she blew out a breath and then chuckled as she recalled Teal’s account of rescuing Amelia. Teal spoke with Sister Angelica when she collected Amelia and the negativity that the order felt about the depravation of one of their own was unmistakable. Although Amelia had given up the order, Teal had the distinct impression of once a nun always a nun. One of their own waking up in the convent with a hangover hadn’t settled well with any of them…especially Amelia. The downside of Amelia’s adventure was that she was in no condition to work and Teal had to scramble to cancel all her appointments.

When she dismounted the bike, Olivia winced at the pain in her shoulder. She’d need to see a doctor sooner rather than later and questioned the wisdom of not allowing Parker to call the doctor. A part of her was wary of the new situation of Parker back in her life, while another felt the exhilaration of the old lust fueling the fire of her ego. After all this time Parker still had a thing for her, it was dangerous and at the same time a situation she might exploit if the events called for it. Stringing Parker along with a vision of what might happen between them again had its merit–cruel justice for old injuries. She walked over to the central console and checked for the email she was expecting from her associates. As predictable as always, her private, secure inbox was flashing. Deciding to check the mail before looking for Amelia, her fingers raced over the keyboard entering her code. She saw the familiar name and opened the message.

The package you forwarded is secure.

No sign of the other package…will continue to monitor for its arrival.

Expect imminent danger.

In deep thought, Olivia stroked a hand down her chin as her eyes scanned the mail. It wasn’t until she heard the rattle of shoes on the metal staircase that she became aware of another’s presence.

“I wasn’t expecting to see you,” Amelia remarked in a cool voice. Amelia allowed her eyes to wander over every inch of the woman she thought trusted her as a friend–she saw a stranger.

Olivia closed her eyes before swinging around to face the woman. “No, I came back earlier than expected. I heard you were partying last night?” She tried a smile and it froze on her face as angry glittering eyes caught her gaze.

Amelia’s lips curled in snarl. “It’s none of your business if I chose to party or not! What I do in my own time is my affair! I hope you didn’t make a special journey to keep me out of trouble because, I don’t need your help.”

Olivia closed her eyes again to squelch her annoyance–she didn’t need Amelia’s grief on top of everything else that was happening. She sounded as if she was whining like a two year old who’d had their toys taken away. She wasn’t a toy! “I believe you have a message for me?”

As if in a Mexican standoff, brown locked with blue. They held each other that way for a few moments while all the senses in their bodies responded to the raw charge passing between them. Amelia was the first to drag her eyes away, as she looked everywhere but at Olivia.

“A friend of yours…no, let me rephrase that, a girlfriend of yours… Jerry…yes, that was her name, would like you to call her. She said to tell you that the bed was cold without you in it.” The coolness of the words belied her rapidly beating heart and pent up anxiety. Once she had confronted Olivia with the information, she felt her shoulders drop in relief as she turned her head away.

Without thinking, Olivia moved quickly and had to suck in a deep breath as the pain in her shoulder hit her hard. “Thank you. Is that all you wanted to say to me?”

Not realizing that Olivia was in such close proximity, Amelia spun around and the sensual overload it caused had her taking in a sharp breath. “I’d like to know just one thing…why Olivia?”

When Olivia saw Amelia’s brown eyes fill with anguish as they plead for understanding, she bitterly regretted her act of omission. It wasn’t Amelia’s words, but the expression of betrayal in her eyes that cut her to her heart. “I won’t insult your intelligence by asking exactly what you’re talking about Amelia. I didn’t think it mattered who I slept with or what my sexual orientation was. We’re friends Amelia and business partners. What we both do in our private lives, as you rightly pointed out, isn’t either of our businesses.”

Amelia growled her irritation. “Damn you Olivia, that’s a cop out. You can do better than that…I deserve better.”

“Do you? What gives you the right to judge me? Have I ever asked you who you preferred to go to bed with or why you decided celibacy was for you. Isn’t me being me enough for you Amelia? If we are true friends, it should be.”

Amelia stepped back as if Olivia had slapped her. “I have a headache. I’m going to take a nap.”

Olivia watched as Amelia took several steps knowing that it wasn’t the end of the conversation… it was the beginning. “I’d never bring anyone here that would make you embarrassed Amelia…if that’s what you’re worried about.”

Amelia felt her back go ramrod straight. “I can’t have this conversation now Olivia.” She lightly pressed her hand against her churning stomach hoping to quell the emotional upheaval she felt.

“Ok, maybe we should table it for good.” She watched Amelia silently walk to her bedroom and slam the door–hangovers were a bitch. An indulgent smile hovered on her lips as she shook her head as the picture of Amelia drunk and singing karaoke entered her head again.

Once she swung around to the console, she flicked on the speaker phone and deftly dialed a number. All her thoughts were now concentrated on Parker and getting her and Sophie to safety. The warm feelings she had for Parker were confusing but she didn’t have the luxury of time to dwell on them; the mission was topmost in her mind.

Chapter 38

Parker heard her phone ring and raced out of the bathroom naked. “Hello,” she said breathlessly.

“It rang six times. I thought I told you to have the phone with you at all times,” the low smoky voice said.

“I was in the shower. Did you expect me to take it into the bathroom?”

Olivia considered switching off the speakerphone, but when she glanced in the direction of the firmly shut door, she left it on. She needed to walk around to reign in not only her anger but also the feelings speaking to Parker evoked. “Frankly, yes.”

“You only left here six hours ago and you did say you’d call in twenty-four hours and I thought I’d at least have time for a shower.” She frowned. “How fast did you go to get there?”

With a chuckle, Olivia said, “Fast enough.” Then in anger, she growled, “For the record, you must do as I say and keep that phone with you twenty-four seven. When I call, I expect an immediate answer and not wait for you to answer as you see fit.”

“Hey, I don’t treat you that way, so knock it off! Who rattled your cage anyway?” Parker said tersely. Olivia still knew all the buttons to push.

Olivia snorted like a bull in a rage, at the confident way that Parker seemed to assume that the last ten years never happened–they had. Even if she herself was having a hard time disassociating the memories, she wasn’t going to allow Parker to know that…ever. “I’m not in a cage Parker, never have been…never will be. You think you know me so well don’t you…well think again!” she spit out. “Are you ready to leave?”

Sophie opened the door and said, “Hey Parker, do you think…” She stopped dead in her tracks when she saw the naked woman. Naked women seemed to be the norm. Her eyes gave Parker a deliberate once over. “Sorry,” she said. When their eyes met and she saw anger, she backed out of the room.

Parker felt her jaw torque in anger. “Listen, I never said I think I know you…in fact…oh screw this, I should have known better than to call you.” She ground her teeth. “Just forget it Olivia! I’m sorry to have bothered you!”

“If you hang up on me Parker it’s the last thing you’ll ever do,” Olivia threatened. She closed her eyes and tried to put the lid on the angry emotions that boiled over into the conversation with Parker.

Parker blew out several breaths before she answered. She needed to get a handle on her anger before she ruined everything. It was time to grovel. “I need your help O,” she said in a calm, measured voice. “Either you want to help or not…it’s your call.”

It would be so easy to walk away and leave Parker to her own devices for she had given her the perfect out. She closed her eyes. In a way, the scenario would fit their past but an element to her relationship with Parker still had a stranglehold on her future. She opened her eyes and turned them to the closed door of her friend and business partner. Amelia would never abandon the innocent because of an argument. She’d follow the path of doing the right thing for the right reasons. In a much calmer tone she said, “I want you and Sophie to leave the farm by the morning and arrive outside our old precinct in Portsmouth as soon as possible. Call my number or one of my associates when you get there. Someone will come to take you to the safe house.”

Parker felt the immense weight on her shoulders leave–everything was back on track. “We should be there by two…three at the latest. I don’t drive as fast as you,” she said with a forced laugh.

Glad for the relief that allowed her facial muscles to change from a frown, Olivia smiled. “That’s good to hear. If you speed and had an accident on the way here, I might feel guilty,” she said with a softer voice.

“One thing you can count on is my driving safely.”

“I’m sure there are other talents of yours I can count on and before this is over we’ll need them all. When you get here I’ll update you fully on the situation your friend and you are in.” Olivia mentally decided in those few seconds that it was pointless not using Parker’s skills. Wasting resources could get her killed.

“Sounds good,” said Parker as she bit her lip in thought. “O…”

Olivia snorted softly. She could always count on Parker to want more. “Yes?”

“I know you and I have issues and you have every reason not to help me.” She paused. “I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate everything you’re doing.” She added, “When you got here last night I could tell you were spent. Then, you turned around and drove back to Portsmouth. Please try to get some sleep.”

A door opened and Olivia watched as Amelia moved in her direction. She was weary and the conversation with Parker hadn’t helped. At that moment, she didn’t know if she could handle Amelia’s retorts too. “Save it for when you get here.” Amelia stopped and stood near Olivia and allowed a hiss to escape. Olivia looked up at Amelia in query. “Anything I can help you with Amelia? I’m nearly finished here.”

Amelia glared at her. “I can’t believe that you’re inviting a strange woman here! You said you wouldn’t?”

Parker listened wide-eyed to the conversation Olivia was having with Amelia West. The familiar tone on the woman made her close her eyes as jealousy took hold of her.

“I’m on the phone with a client, can we talk afterwards please?” Olivia asked distracted between business and personal problems along with her waning physical and mental state.

Amelia retaliated, “Even though you lied to me, I was prepared to trust you Olivia I really was. It certainly didn’t take you long to arrange a rendezvous…I think you’ve a compulsion,”

Olivia took umbrage to the remark and turned to face Amelia squarely. “Compulsive, me…give me a break! You’re the compulsive one in this partnership, ask anyone.”

Fascinated by the conversation, Parker noted Olivia’s mood. She could always tell by Olivia’s tone what her physical condition she was. The woman was exhausted the night before and it was clear that in addition to exhaustion she was in pain. It was obvious that Olivia cared for the doctor by the gentleness in her voice. She smiled–they were arguing about her. How delicious.

The headache that caused Amelia to return to the room for medication was pounding like a thousand drums in her head. She sucked in a deep breath before replying. “You have the nerve to say that to me…me? I’m not the one who labels every damn thing in the place and has to have every room just so. If I put a magazine in the wrong spot on the coffee table, you have to move it to the magazine rack. I can’t even have my personal knick-knacks in the bathroom because you need it orderly. I call that compulsive. Take it from me that I know these things, it’s what I do for a living.”

Angry, Olivia bit out, “If you feel that way why didn’t you tell me that I irritate you. Oh, and you could always leave you know…I’m not holding you prisoner.”

Amelia felt outrage at the answer. “You’d like that wouldn’t you? Then, you can have a revolving door of girls to have sex with.”

As the argument heated up, Parker heard Olivia’s tone change from indulgence to an all out anger. She smiled broadly, as she recalled Olivia’s warnings about not getting personally involved. From the sound of it, her ex-lover was involved hook line and sinker, but she knew that would change…it was only a matter of time. She snickered and coughed.

Distracted by the sound from the loudspeaker, Olivia realized that Parker was privy to the spat she was having with Amelia. Crap! “You know, I love…the way your mind works. Have I ever told you that? Give me a minute please.” She saw the look in Amelia’s eyes and added, “Just don’t argue ok.”

Stunned, Amelia nodded mechanically as she felt the words send a soothing balm over her ruffled emotions.

Olivia took a deep breath before returning to the conversation. “Do you understand my instructions Parker?”

Parker smiled. She knew what Olivia really meant–keep your mouth shut. It was so tempting to say something provocative but for now, she needed to stick to the script. “Yep, I understand them perfectly. See you tomorrow.” When she closed the phone and felt a chill run over her body, her eyes opened wide–Sophie saw her naked.

+ + +

Olivia shut off the connection and paused for a moment. “I understand why you’re upset with me Amelia. Believe me I do.”

The few seconds of patience she exercised as Olivia finished her phone conversation settled Amelia’s nerves enough to speak in what she thought was a logical way. “It’s like you don’t trust me. Do you know how hurt I was finding out like that? I really thought you and I could say anything to each other.”

Olivia grinned. “Yeah, I heard you got stoned in a bar across the street and gave a mean karaoke.”

A hint of a smile traced Amelia’s lips. “Apparently so, I think I scandalized the bar when the Sisters arrived to collect me. I’m not sure who was more surprised, them or the nuns.” Moving closer to Olivia, she placed a hand on her shoulder and immediately Olivia winced. “You’re hurt?”

With a frown, Olivia nodded. “Yeah, I have to get to the doctor. Want to drive me and we can discuss the case? I’m gonna need your help.”

Amelia felt her world right again as the previous disagreement pushed to the back of the queue. “Sure, but we need to collect my car from the bar’s parking lot.”

“We’ll take the jeep.” Olivia reached for the keys and handed them to Amelia.

Wide-eyed, Amelia stared at the keys. “You’re going to trust me with the black monster?”

Olivia softly replied, “Yeah and with a lot more.” She walked along side Amelia and allowed her to open the door to the door for her. “I think you named it the Shrek case. I’d like your take on the situation.” An image of a Parker naked tried to make its way to the top but Olivia censored it–that was in the past.

To be continued in part 3 of 4

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JM Dragon author of Define Destiny
Co-author with Erin O'Reilly of New Beginnings

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