Storm Surge

by KatLyn


Rating: NC-17

Status: WIP

Disclaimers: There mine. Do not use them, steal them, or abuse them.


Part 1

Chapter One

The wind blew softly in the darkness, caressing her skin like gentle fingers. It was soothing, reassuring, and hopefully, it would be healing. The air still held the heat of the day, as did the sand sifting between Alex's toes as she walked along the deserted beach. It was after midnight, and all of the tourists had long since retired for the night. This was the time of day Alex liked to walk the beach. There was something about the darkness and the unending roar of the surf that calmed her. Maybe it was the simple fact that the ocean never slept, never tired. Or maybe it was because she felt so comfortable in the darkness. Who knew, who cared, as long as the peace came?

For Alex, peace had been a distant friend for far too long. The last six years had been hard, mentally and physically. However, Alex knew that if life were to move forward, she would have to finally find some sort of peace within herself. Too many days and nights had been spent running from the past. Now she was here, back where it all started, to face the demons, exorcise them, and hopefully move on.

The drive had taken sixteen hours, and Alex had driven it non-stop. Once she had made up her mind to come back, she hastily packed, called the agency to get the house prepared, and set off for the long journey home. Alex had arrived in Jacksonville earlier in the afternoon, and spent the first few hours settling into the house. Sam, the owner of the agency, had as usual gone beyond the call of duty.

When Alex arrived there had been fresh flowers, a bottle of wine chilling in the refrigerator, and a well-stocked pantry. Sam had even put the usual personal touches on everything by leaving a prepared dinner, ready to heat and eat. Alex made a mental note to call Sam the next day and say thank you. She knew she would have to see some of her old friends while she was here, but all she wanted to do for the first few days was get settled in the house and relax a while.

Now walking on the deserted beach, Alex began wondering if she had made the right decision to come back. Maybe it was too late to attempt to reconcile the past, but that nagging pull kept tugging away until Alex finally decided it would not go away until she just dealt with it.

Alex remembered her childhood years in Cedar Cove. She had been one of the few that had bolted after graduating from CHS. She attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, a few hours north of her hometown. There she focused all of her attentions on her studies, and graduated six years later with a master's degree in Political Science with an emphasis in International Relations. After graduation, she felt caged working a desk job. She wanted, needed to be free, so when she heard the FBI was taking applications for field agents, she jumped at the chance to apply.

Alex had always been athletic, playing basketball, softball, and volleyball in high school. While in college she had also developed a daily routine of running to keep in shape. What with her natural athletic ability and her excellent grades at UF, she made the initial cut, and was invited into the Inner sanctum of the elite FBI.

Alex stood about five foot nine, and weighed 130 pounds soaking wet. She was a tall svelte creature. Her body was like a panther, dark skin, and rippling muscles. She had dark shoulder length hair that she allowed to fall in a naturally curly style. Her face was, was simply indescribable. Her cheekbones high and sharp, a nose that was absolutely perfect, and led right down to the most delectable mouth you could possibly want to taste. Unbeknown to most were the hidden twin dimples on each side of that luscious mouth. Only when she smiled did they appear from the depths of her cheeks. She smiled very little, especially lately, but on the rare occasion that she did, it was an all-encompassing caress that warmed the soul. Unless, of course, the smile was a cold calculating expression, then it could send chills throughout its recipient's body, warning of the barely contained fury that raged within. Probably her most intriguing feature were her eyes, so blue they could kill or seduce you, depending on her mood. Combined with the smile, one could easily tell if they were loved or hated.

Alex fit in well at the Quantico, excelling academically as well as cruising through the physical tests much to her classmate's astonishment. She could do a 15 miler with a 30-pound backpack, and spend only 10 minutes re-energizing before taking off for the gym or the obstacle course for a little practice. She was hated and admired by all of her classmates. Hated because it all came so easy, admired because she excelled in almost everything she attempted but never let it go to her head.

Alex was always the first to give a high five to one of her classmates for a job well done. The competition so often present between the trainees at the academy was absent within Alex. The only competition Alex desired was to better her personal record. She believed the adolescent competition between the trainees only consumed their much-needed energy and took up too much of their thought processes.

After graduating from the academy, Alex spent the first four years learning the job inside and out. After two years, she was assigned to the counter-intelligence department of the Chicago FBI Field Office. There she spent her time collecting, analyzing, and utilizing information. Information that would identify and neutralize the activities of foreign powers and their agents.

While this area of work fell within her area of education and expertise, she often felt pulled towards the sometimes-darker world of drug trafficking, and organized crime. When an opening came available with the Jacksonville Field Office in the drug and organized crime department, she put in for a transfer to Florida. To her surprise, she found herself moving everything south a short time later. Alex thought she would finally find her niche in life, but what she found, almost too late, was her worst nightmare.

Jacksonville allowed Alex more time for visits with her family, and she would often travel to Cedar Cove for long weekends when she wasn't on an active investigation. Alex had always thought of Cedar Cove as a haven away from the dark world in which she lived. When she went home she was simply Alex, not Agent Montgomery, Special Agent for the FBI. There was a peace that surrounded the small south Florida town. A stillness that allowed her to drop her guard and simply relax and enjoy her surroundings.

These long weekends had allowed her to regenerate, refocus, and smooth out the ragged edges of her mind. On occasion, Alex was lucky enough to plan a weekend home when Karen her baby sister would be there as well. Alex and Karen had always had a special bond, like twins, although there were four years separating their birth. One would know what the other was thinking or feeling just by looking into the other's eyes. Sometimes that was good, for it opened the door for long heart to heart conversations. Other times it wasn't so good for Alex, when all she wanted to do was forget and not think of the darkness in her soul.

Karen could somehow tell when these times were present, and would allow Alex the time and space to reveal what she could. Other times Karen knew the only way for Alex to escape the darkness was to stage a frontal assault and force Alex to purge the blackness from her soul. Now as she walked the darkness she wished that Karen were here to help her purge. The last time Alex had talked to Karen was a little more than a year ago. Alex hoped she was safe, and happy, rebuilding her life. A life that had almost been destroyed because of Alex.

Alex, at 35, had been an FBI agent for 10 years. Now as she walked on the beach, she wondered if she wanted to come back. This was a time in her life that crossroads were presented, and choices made. Choices that not only affected her, but everyone she cared for. The last few years had proven to Alex that she didn't live in an encapsulated world within the FBI.

Everyday her life was in danger, but more terrifying than anything else was that everyone she cared about was endangered as well. Her last case had proven that the best way to get to an agent was to get to someone they loved. It had been drilled into them at the academy. Alex had always been careful that she kept her family and friends well away from her work. However, somehow they had found the one thing she loved most dearly in her life, and extinguished it like a match. They not only destroyed the only person she had ever allowed her self to love, they had destroyed her heart and darkened her soul. As Alex walked through the darkness, she vowed that they would pay. "I will come for you, Malcolm and when I do you will pray for an escape to hell."

Alex walked up the steps towards the warm lights shining in the house. She sat on the deck a while and drank a glass of the wine, and ate one of the sandwiches Sam had left for her. She laid her head back against the cushion of the deck chair and was instantly asleep.

Around 2 AM, Alex awoke to the sounds of the tide coming in, and crashing on the shore out in the darkness. She shivered in the cool breeze and pulled her self up to a standing position. Groaning at the aches her body felt, she slowly made her way into the house, locked up, and went to bed. Falling into a restless sleep filled with dreams of times since past.


Chapter Two

The room was dark. The air conditioning provided the only noise in the house. She rolled towards the middle of the bed and felt its emptiness. How long had it been since she had awakened to find someone there? Lately, the only encounters she had allowed in her life were not even one-nighters. They could be more easily described as half-nighters since once the sex was over she made sure she disappeared into the night and was gone.

She never brought anyone to her lair, but would always accompany her latest conquest to their own apartment, house, or hotel. It was a protective mechanism that allowed her to remain aloof, and alone. She didn't need anyone, and except for the occasional primal need that rose from her soul, she allowed no one to get close.

Conner threw the covers back and felt the cool air flow across her naked body. Wanting to languish in the comfort she sighed, rolled, and sat on the edge of the bed in one graceful motion. Running a hand through her hair, she stood and headed down the hallway, anticipating the smooth full flavor of that first cup of coffee, the only thing she needed at the moment.

" Damn, damn, damn," Conner mumbled to her self, as she looked at the still sleeping automatic coffeemaker. She stumbled to the freezer and retrieved the coffee beans, ground up three scoops, poured in the water, and watched the proverbial pot boil.

"You would think in this age of technology, someone would invent a damn coffeemaker that you could put a pound of beans in, connect it to a source of water, program it, and miraculously have a cup of java each and every morning without this daily ritual of grinding pouring, waiting." Conner complained to the empty kitchen.

Conner trudged back down the hallway to the bathroom, deciding to shower while the coffee brewed. Stepping under the spray, she allowed her muscles to relax and allowed the warm water to wake her. She stretched out her arms toward the wall, tucked her head, and let the spray wash the shampoo from her hair. She was surprised to find not only the warm water from the shower, but tears gliding down her face when she raised her head.

"What the hell is wrong with me this morning?" Conner bellowed, as she stepped out of the shower. Counting the days, she assured her self that it wasn't a bad case of PMS, so what the hell was it. She thought back to the lonely feeling she had had when she woke this morning, now this. Surely she wasn't going to start falling apart like this on a regular basis. She didn't need anyone in her life, she had her job, and there wasn't enough room in her life for both.

Conner looked sideways at her reflection in the mirror, and chastised herself for the emptiness that she saw on her face. "OK, snap out of it, shut it out and get movingŠ this is no time to be losing it, I have to go to work." She dried her body, and pulled on her silk robe, heading once again down the hallway towards the kitchen.

Reaching in the cabinet for a cup, Conner felt a presence in the room, and all of her senses went on full alert. Thinking quickly, she remembered her Sig-Sauer 9mm under her pillow. Not turning she reached into the drawer and instead of removing a spoon, grabbed a knife and spun around facing her attacker.


Conner slumped against the counter, and cursed. "What the fuck do you mean sneaking up on me you little shit? If you weren't the owner of my partner, I would de-fur you right here." The tiny cat just meowed again and stared at Conner.

Conner replaced the knife in the drawer and started once again for the coffee. Throwing her most vile look at the cat, she leaned back and took a sip, trying to ignore the stares of the fur ball at her feet.

" OK, OK, already. Geez, you're just like Seth, always hungry, and always vocal about it too. How did I let him talk me into keeping you for a week while he went traipsing around the country?"

Seth had dropped Magnum and his luggage off last night. Conner had stared unbelievingly at the huge backpack that contained the cat's personal belongings.

"He'll miss me," he had said with an embarrassed look on his face, as he opened the pouch. "I just thought he might get along better having some of his toys and stuff.

"Damn, Seth, what's that smell? Don't even tell me that I have to feed this cat sardines and other rotten shit for the next week."

With an even more embarrassed look on his face Seth pulled out an obviously well worn, seldom washed piece of cloth that he called a T-shirt.

"No, it's not sardines, Conner," he said a little harshly, "It's just a old T-shirt. I thought he might feel better if he had something that had my scent on it while I was away."

"Please put it away," Conner said while pinching her nose, failing in the attempt to hide her teasing smile beneath her hand.

After a few more minutes of playfully arguing over the cats routine, Seth left for his long awaited vacation. Once Seth had gone the cat had cried unmercifully until Conner dug through the backpack and, using only two fingers, brought out Seth's dirty T-shirt, and tossed it in the farthest corner of the room.

"That's fine, Seth, spoil the damn cat, but did you have to bring the dirtiest thing in the hamper?"

Oblivious to the smell, the cat immediately ran over, curled up in the shirt and went to sleep. "Well, I'll be damned," Conner mused, "Who'd have ever believed it?" That was the last time Conner had thought of the cat. She had turned and headed for bed, falling asleep almost as quickly as her head touched the pillow.

She opened a can of cat food and spooned it into the personalized bowl Seth had brought over the night before, along with enough toys to make any kid envious. The cat curled around her legs, rubbing his scent onto her body, marking his territory. "Damn men, you're all alike. Spend one night with a woman and you think you own her. Well, I've got news forŠ. OK, Conner, you are really losing it now. Conversing with a cat, what the hell has my life come to?"

Conner finished her second cup of coffee while reading the morning newspaper and went to the bedroom to dress for work. She pulled on a pair of faded Levi's and a white cotton tank top. She strapped on the shoulder holster, pulled the Sig from under the pillow, tucking it nicely under her right arm. She topped it off with a brown leather jacket, and her Doc Martens. Conner glanced in the mirror, not vainly, but checking for any cracks in the façade, she called her cover. Nodding her head in approval, she headed back down the hallway to the living room.

Magnum had finished his breakfast and was in the midst of contorting himself to better reach parts of his anatomy that shouldn't be reached. The cat continued to wash himself and was oblivious as Conner made her way to the door. She picked up her keys, and walked out into the cool early morning heading for her Jag. The car started with a roar, and she pulled quickly out into the street. This was really her home, the streets.

Feeling the Jag's energy under her she smiled at the power it gave her. For some unknown reason, driving an expensive machine such as this instilled a sense of awe from others. Little did they know that the Jag was hers only because it was part of her cover. A possession of the JPD, courtesy of some busted drug dealer.

It was a thirty-minute drive to downtown. Conner lived on Amelia Island a small island just north of Jacksonville. Living on the island provided Conner with the anonymity she needed to protect her personal life. She didn't converse much with her neighbors, nor did she have any close friends on the island. That didn't mean that she had no close friends--she did. They all lived inland and came over for an occasional weekend of barbecuing, sailing, and beachcombing.

The drive also provided an opportunity to transform herself into the persona that she worked under. Conner was thirty-four years old and had worked under cover for almost two years. Sometimes it was more difficult to make the transformation from her professional to private side. It somehow seemed easier to not feel, not care, nor love. However, there was something in her that screamed to be set free.

Shaking her head to clear her thoughts she drummed her fingernails on the steering wheel. Conner had heard too late over her hand-held scanner that there had been an accident on I-95, the main north-south corridor leading into Jacksonville, so for the moment she was stuck in a traffic jam, impatiently waiting for the lanes to be cleared.

Conner picked up her cell phone and, like a hundred other people in the traffic jam, called work.

"Hey Buet," Conner replied when Mack Buetford answered the phone.

"Got a pile up out on 95 south, and I'm stuck in the aftermath. I'll be in as soon as I can break free."

"Just don't think that snazzy Jag can give you the power to fly, Conner. Get here when you can, and by the usual means, we'll leave a light on for ya," Buet said with a hefty laugh.

"OK, see ya soon Buet." Conner pressed the end button breaking the connection, and started to toss the phone into the passenger seat. On second thought she flipped the tiny phone open and dialed.

"Hey there you sexy thing got any clothes on at the moment." Conner said in a low, sultry voice.

"Yes, and even if I didn't, I don't think I could ever drag your attention away from work long enough to get you to do anything about it. "How the hell are you, Conner? It's been way too long." Sam smiled into the phone.

Conner smiled back and pictured Sam's face on the other end of the line. "Well, I was wondering if you wanted to get together for dinner tonight. It's been a while and we have a lot of catching up to do."

"Oh my god, something terrible has happened, right?" Sam almost screamed into the receiver as she tried hard to suppress the laugh that begged to escape from her chest.

"Ha, Ha, very damn funny, Sam. If you're just going to heckle me, I'll just find someone else to spend my evening with," Conner teasingly said into the cell phone.

"Like hell you will. Meet me at Mikes at 7 sharp, and make sure you're driving that cool machine you call a car. I may just feel the need for a drive up the beach, and I want to feel some power under my body tonight."

"You're insatiable, you know. Always thinking about getting laid. If I were smart I'd take advantage of that by getting you drunk andŠ" Conner was cut off by Sam's teasing voice on the other end of the phone. "Well, Conner, hanging around all those drug heads must have mushed your brain. If I remember correctly you have already been there, done thatŠand walked away. I don't give second chances to just anyone. And anyway Kelly loves you like a sister, but I think she would draw the line at you providing that kind of comfort while she's out of town.

"Well lover, or maybe I should be politically correct and say ex-lover, I'm not just anyone. However you're probably smart by denying me the pleasure, I would only screw it up like the last time," Conner said with more than a little sadness in her voice.

"OK, enough heavy stuff, see you at 7, and don't be late." With that Conner heard the line go dead.

Sam hadn't hung up on Conner; she had just simply hung up, a trait that Conner had grown to know well. Sam never was good in uncomfortable situations and chose to avoid them whenever possible. That in itself had made their pairing difficult. Conner always believed in spilling it all out, and dealing with problems head on. Sam, on the other hand, tended to let everything simmer until it one day exploded.

Sam had a difficult time dealing with Conner's work. Never knowing when or if she was going to come home. Every time she did walk through the door Sam immediately scanned Conner for any injuries. Too many nights she had had to help her to bed, too tired or hurt to get there by her on volition. Somehow, she had always made it home, only to collapse once inside the safety of her lair.

What Sam could not deal with was the thought that one day she wouldn't make it home. Conner loved Sam like no one else she had ever loved before, but she also knew that the same love that kept them together would tear Sam apart one day, so she did the only thing she could do, and that was to walk away. Sam knew what Conner was doing was the only way for them to salvage anything in their relationship, but it hurt nonetheless. Eventually, they had fallen back on the friendship that was the foundation of their love, and had found peace with one another.

The kidding and jesting was, for each woman, a way of letting the other know that the love they had shared still remained, even though neither would ever do anything to rekindle the flame. Sighing sadly, Conner eased the car through the remnants of the accident, and headed into the River City.

Conner walked into the station house, and headed for her desk, but was intercepted by Buet who always had a cheerful word for Conner. Buet was the in-house archive for gossip and politics in the department. At 56 he had come to the hard realization that too many days on the beat had worn out his knees, and decided that the streets were a part of his past. Everyone in the department knew Buet missed the street, so they always included him in their after shift get-togethers at one of the local pubs.

He had known about Conner's alternate lifestyle for several years, and was one of several who never let it come between them. He somehow found out about her breakup with Sam two years ago, and let her know in a subtle way that he was there for her if she ever needed to talk.

Conner had always protected her personal life, by not bringing it into the station. However, cops would be cops, and some investigated Conner after trying their best to get her into bed. She had been with the department about 5 years when her preference for dates was made somewhat public information. Most of the officers that had worked side by side with Conner had accepted the news with a shrug. Some however didn't and she often wondered if those officers would just look the other way and simply fail to cover her back when trouble came. Conner chose not to dwell on the things she couldn't alter. Choosing instead to focus all of her energy on her work, and making sure she never got into a situation that would depend on one of the unfriendly officers covering her back.

Conner was resting her elbows on the counter casually chatting with Buet when she heard a quiet "excuse me" come from just behind her. Conner stood and turned, just as Buet spoke. It was a good thing Buet still had his voice, for Conner's was buried somewhere in her stomach at the moment.

Looking into the bluest eyes she had ever seen, a chill ran up her spine. The only thing she couldn't figure out was if the chill was caused by the beauty of the irises looking back at her, or the danger that lurked just beneath.

"Can I help you" Buet asked the woman.

Holding Conner's eyes, the woman handed her identification to Buet. "Yes, I have an 8 AM appointment with Captain Peterson."

"Sure, if you would like to have a seat, I'll let him know you're here," Buet said while looking at Conner.

"Um, well, see ya later Buet, I've got a ton of paperwork waiting." Conner barely got the words out of her mouth; afraid she would choke on each of them as they came out.

As she walked towards her desk, she could feel the heat of the woman's eyes on her back. As she turned the corner into her cubicle, she dared a glance back, and sure enough the woman had sat so her line of sight was directly down the corridor Conner had just walked.

Conner pulled the first of a stack of papers from her in box, and proceeded to finish off the paperwork she had allowed to overwhelm her desk. Only at the order from Captain Peterson had she been forced to take a desk day and get it done. Conner was the best undercover officer the department had ever had stationed here. With an 80% conviction rate on her collars she was allowed to essentially come and go as she pleased. Until of course, the evidence of her own crimes, that of abandoning her required follow-up paperwork, had grown too strong that even she couldn't escape its sentence.

Conner sat growling, "I hate this damn paperwork shit. I need to be on the street doing what I do best, not in this damn cubby-hell-hole pushing a pencil."

From behind her Conner heard a sultry voice say, "Think of the collar as a great date with the paperwork being a good night kiss. Together they pack quite a punch."

Conner spun around in her chair just in time to see the mystery woman from the front desk walk purposely into Captain Peterson's office and close the door. Conner sat for a moment looking at the closed door wondering why the mystery woman was seeing Cappy. I hope it has nothing to do with anything I'm ever involved in since I just made a complete ass of myself, she thought.

As she sat in front of Captain Peterson's desk, she couldn't help but smile at the reaction from the officer outside. She also couldn't believe that she had allowed herself to relax, and to tease the other woman, it was so against her style. Oh well, I'll never have to see her again, what harm could it possibly do.

Peterson relaxed and rested his elbows on the desk in front of him. "Well, Shadow, you seem to be in a good mood for a change."

The woman's eyes turned a deep blue, showing the danger that such a comment twisted within her. Peterson shifted back slightly in his chair and raised his hands in a gesture of peace. "Ease up. Shadow, just happy to see you are still among the living."

The woman purposely relaxed her shoulders, "Sorry, Jack, I had a long trip and I'm still a little tired. Give me a few days and I'll be back to my old jolly self."

Jack looked at the Shadow, and knew the words were hollow. She would never be back to her old self, not after the hell she had been put through. "If you want a few days, before you jump in the game again, just say so, I've waited a long time to have you back in the city, a few more days won't make me change my mind."

"Really Jack if you don't mind, I would like a few days to get settled. It's been a long time since I've been home and I would really like to get the house in shape and a few good nights rest before I get started. I was thinking of next Monday, if that's OK with you."

"Take all the time you need Shadow, we'll be here waiting." With that said Jack stood and extended his hand across the desk. The woman shook his hand firmly, and when she began to pull her hand away, Jack held it a little tighter. "It really is good to see you again, and I'm glad you decided to come home where you belong." He then released her hand and led her across the room opening the door for her to leave.

Halfway out the door the woman turned and looked Jack Peterson in the eyes. "One more thing, JackŠ the Shadow died the last time she was in town, she's not coming backŠever. If she is what you want, maybe you should do some thinking yourself between now and Monday morning. Give me a call if you change your mind between now and then." The woman turned and started walking away.

From behind her, she heard Jack say "See you Monday, 8 AM, and make it sharp."

As the woman walked past the officer's cubicle, she couldn't help but glance inside. Conner was buried elbow deep in the paperwork before her. The woman stopped turned around and stuck her head in the cubicle in one quick motion startling Conner and making her spill her coffee.

The woman smiled the most blazing smile Conner had ever seen. "Must have been a hell of a date officer." And just as quickly as she appeared, she was gone.


Chapter Three

Damn, why do I let myself get talked into these things? The last thing Alex wanted to do was spend the evening sitting in a bar talking about old times. Most of the old times Alex could remember since the raid were times she would love to forget. She plundered through her closet searching for something to wear. Selecting a pair of tan linen slacks and a white silk shirt, Alex turned to get ready for the evening.

After showering, she almost called and made some excuse not to go, but as the phone was in her hand she placed it back in the cradle deciding that she couldn't put off the inevitable. She had to get out and see people. She at least had to go through the motions of being recovered and ready to face the world again.

Alex pulled on a blue blazer that complimented her eyes, and made them even more alluring. She gave her reflection one last look in the mirror, took a deep breath, and mentally prepared herself for the coming evening. Grabbing her keys, she headed out the door of the house, and got in her jeep. Hesitating only for a moment after putting the key in the ignition, she turned it and started the engine. It came to life with a roar, and only after a few seconds did Alex realize that she had a death grip on the steering wheel.

There was a thin sheen of perspiration on her face, and her hands were damp and clammy. Taking a deep breath, Alex shook off the memories that would forever be frozen in her mind. This driveway. Feryle leaning out the window of her Camaro on a cool Monday morning, smiling and waving goodbye as she left for work, after their weekend together. Then came the blast, the pain, and the knowledge that her life, along with Feryle's body, had just been blown to hell.

Alex sat for a few minutes, letting her heart rate return to a normal pattern. Usually she could control the memories, at least while she was awake. The nights were different. There she had no control, and the ghosts and darkness haunted her on a regular basis. Alex backed out of the drive and headed north into the city.

Alex and Feryle had bought the beach house together for their fifth union anniversary. It was located in a lush area south of Jacksonville on the ocean side of Ponte Vedra Boulevard. It was a gift of love, commitment, and promise. It had also been a contractor's nightmare, most shaking their head in disbelief when they found out that they had paid over $200,000.00 for the house, and were more than willing to throw more money into the vortex.

Several mortgage companies refused to loan them the total funds for the house saying its true value would never come near the asking price. However, they had followed through with the purchase, depleting their savings to make up the difference between the asking price and what they could borrow, and spent countless weekends demolishing, scraping, painting, and hammering, loving every moment they spent together creating their new home. Feryle was an architect and openly drooled over the vaulted ceilings, the sharp angles offset by smooth curves.

Finally, after a year, it was complete, and they had the time to enjoy the home they had created with their blood, sweat, and sometimes tearsŠespecially after bashing a finger with a hammer. It was the happiest times they had spent together. The effort Alex and Feryle had put into the house had not gone unnoticed by the local developers, and soon new homes were appearing on the landscape.

Some of those homes had even been designed by Feryle, and it was almost as if this neighborhood were her creation. They had been fortunate to be one of the first on the scene, for they had managed to purchase the lots on both sides of their home, assuring them the privacy they wanted, a total of three acres of beachfront property. They would spend many nights sitting on the deck, watching the waves, and Feryle would tell Alex about the houses she designed that were visible from where they sat drinking wine and gently caressing each other.

Now those houses only brought an emptiness that Alex knew would never be filled again. Before Alex realized it she was at her exit to JT Boulevard. She was headed to Baymeadows Road, and was running late as it was. Rolling down the window for some fresh air, she focused on the drive to the restaurant. Pulling into the parking lot a few minutes later, Alex spotted the familiar car. A vintage1963 Mustang, that was in mint condition. Smiling at her friend's love for old things, she entered the restaurant.

The bar was dark as she entered, and it took a few seconds for her eyes to adjust to the subdued light. However, it didn't take a lot of light to recognize the voice screaming from across the bar. "Aleeeeeex, over here," the woman yelled as she practically crawled over the table to get out of the booth. Alex looked around rather self-consciously, and began walking in the direction of the screaming woman. Several eyes had found their way to her, and she met those eyes with an apologetic look, stepping a little quicker so as to quickly quiet the woman.

The woman barreled into here and immediately clamped Alex into a bear hug. "My god, you are skinny, woman. If it weren't for all those muscles you'd be nothing but bone." Alex groaned as the woman hugged her again. At the sound of her pain, the woman quickly released Alex. "Oh damn, Alex, I'm sorry, did I hurt you? I'm just so glad to see you I forgot about your injuries."

"I'm fine, really. Just a little stiff still, but I'll get all the kinks worked out soon. Lets go have a seat and quit making a spectacle of ourselves, alright?"

The woman led Alex to the table. Alex stopped dead in her tracks when she spotted the woman sitting in the booth. "Alex, I'd like you to meet a friend of mine. Alex Montgomery, Conner Harris." The two women didn't speak, only stared at one other for what seemed like an eternity, then they both turned to looked at Sam, who was looking very confused at the moment, and once again back at each other.

"Um, hey guys everything OK here? Did I say something wrong?"

Alex was the first to recover, and stretched her hand towards Conner. "Hello, Conner it's nice to meet you."

Sam was watching the exchange with a gaping mouth, totally speechless, and unaware that the two had ever laid eyes on one another before this moment.

"Nice to meet you too Alex," Conner said with a shaky voice and grasped the warm hand that was extended towards her.

Seeing the reaction from Sam, Alex couldn't pass up the chance for one more surprise. As she slid into the booth next to Conner she flashed her brilliant smile and asked, "How did your date turn out, Conner? Did you get all the goodnight kisses you could stand for the day?"

Totally confused now Sam sat back a watched the interaction between the two women. Finally, she shook the confusion out of her head and said, "OK you two, someone has some explaining to do, so who wants to start?"

Alex leaned back and smiled at Conner. "Seems like Mom wants some answers Conner, and since I was the one who bounded into your territory, maybe you would rather explain." Conner knew Alex was giving her an out for the embarrassing moments they had shared that morning, and silently thanked her with a return smile.

"Oh Sam, it's not that mysterious, Alex came into the precinct this morning and we sort of met in passing, but didn't get a chance to make any formal introductions."

Alex hid the smile on her face fairly well, but Sam could see the smile escaping from the blue eyes. Hmm, she thought, there's more to this than they're letting on, but I won't push it for now. "OK, well that explains that. Now to more pressing mattersŠI'm going for refills what are you having Alex?"

"I'll take a Miller draft, with the coldest mug in the house. Looking at Conner, Alex's eyes sparkled. "Conner what are you having?"

"Umm, beer's fine, Sam whatever is easy."

"Well just make it a pitcher, then, and two frozen mugs," Alex called out over her shoulder.

Alex turned back towards Conner, who was visibly nervous. "So Conner, you never did answer my question. How was the good night kiss?"

Conner wanted to crawl under the table, but somehow knew Alex would only drag her back up for an answer. Garnering all her strength and courage, Conner looked Alex in the eye and held her gaze for a moment before responding in a low breathless whisper. "Actually, Alex, it was beyond anything I ever imagined. I couldn't believe how satisfied I was when it was over. All that struggling and sweating can really tire a girl out."

Conner knew she had caught Alex off guard, and was relishing in the satisfaction as she watched Alex's lips part just slightly, and saw her swallow hard. Her eyes turned the deepest blue as she returned Conner's look from under hooded lids, and Conner lifted a brow and smiled at Alex, "Well, Ms. Montgomery, seems you're the speechless one now."

Alex took a deep breath to reply. However, her response was interrupted by Sam's return to the booth with their drinks.

"Well, did you two get acquainted while I was gone? Sorry it took so long but Mike is really backed up at the bar tonight." Sam had always retrieved her own drinks at Mike's. They had been friends since Sam had sold him the bar five years ago. She felt like part of the family here and never allowed Mike or the staff to waste their time catering to her needs.

"Actually, Conner was telling me about her day and how satisfying her work is to her," I can only hope mine will be as fulfilling."

Conner felt the heat rise in her face, and knew if the lights were brighter both women could see the blush creeping into her face. Conner gave Alex a pleading look silently begging for a truce. Alex only smirked, and lifted one of her brows not committing to anything.

The rest of the evening went smoothly with Sam bringing Alex up on all the latest gossip. During the evening, Alex had figured out that Sam and Conner had once been lovers. Neither expanded on the subject and Alex didn't ask any questions. It did surprise her a bit that they had never met. Sam, Feryle, Alex, and Kelly had become friends after Sam had sold them the beach house. They had spent a lot of time together over the last couple of years, but she couldn't remember Sam ever mentioning Conner before.

They talked about Alex's return, but only in a superficial way. Sam didn't know if Alex was ready to talk about what had happened to Feryle, and the raid that had followed, and Alex almost getting killed. Sam decided to let Alex set the pace, and Alex was grateful for her friend's perceptiveness. It was good to see Sam again, but she just wasn't ready to face the demons yet. The conversation drifted to Conner and her work in the JPD. Alex learned that Conner had quiet a reputation as a good undercover cop, and was impressed with her humble attitude about her work.

"I just do my job, and get the collars. Then hopefully if the suits do theirs, we get a solid conviction and get one more piece of dirt is off the street." Conner had quietly responded after Sam had boasted of Conner's conviction percentage. During the conversation, Sam had shone a new light on Conner that Alex hadn't witnessed that morning. She knew what it felt to be out of her usual environment, and dismissed the flighty impression Conner had presented in the precinct.

Sam's pager went off a little after eleven. She returned the page to find out Kelly had returned a few days early and was waiting at home for her. By listening to Sam's end of the conversation, Alex and Conner both knew exactly why Kelly wanted Sam home in such a hurry. Sam's bright red blush was apparent even in the subdued lighting of the bar. Kelly had been out of town for two weeks on business, and Sam couldn't hide her excitement about seeing her again.

"You're making me nauseous, for god's sake go, get out of here," Conner said in a teasing growl. "We're big girls we can take care of ourselves."

To Sam's relief, Alex agreed, and off she went. Looking out the window they watched as the Mustang sped out of the parking lot.

Alex sat back in the booth and sighed heavily. "Well, she still drives like a maniac--some day one of us will have to arrest her just for the hell of it. Maybe that will slow her down a bit"

"I doubt it, It would probably just piss her off and make her drive that much faster," Conner replied.

Smiling, and shaking her head, Alex said, "Well, you do know her better that I do. Maybe you're right, I guess we should leave well enough alone."

"How long were the two of you together?" Alex asked as she refilled their mugs with the last drops of their second pitcher of beer.

"About two years. My work was the reason we broke up. She couldn't deal with what I did on a daily basis, not knowing when or if I would come home, and I was too stubborn to ask for a transfer to something a little less risky."

"Do you really think that would have saved the relationship?" Alex asked cautiously, not knowing if she had over stepped the boundary here.

"No, not really, one of us would have eventually ended up resenting the other and it would have come apart anyway," Conner said sadly. "I love her and I always will, but thankfully our friendship has reached a level that I can be happy for her and Kel. We have a great friendship, all three of us. Kel knows how I feel, but she also knows that I would never do anything to hurt Sam again, and she respects that. I'm really lucky, when you think about it, not many people are fortunate enough to remain in contact with old lovers, much less become best friends. What about you, do you have a partner waiting patiently at home?"

When Alex didn't answer immediately, Conner turned towards her, and saw the pain in Alex's eyes. "Oooookay, Here I go again, putting my foot in my mouth. Sorry if I'm being nosy."

"No, you didn't upset me, it's just thatŠwellŠummŠno, I'm not with anyone," Alex said in a whisper so low, Conner almost couldn't hear her.

"Damn, I always seem to say the wrong things around you," Conner ran a hand through her hair and was openly flustered.

Alex reached out and grabbed Conner's arm. Conner turned and looked into Alex's eyes as she told Conner of Feryle's death, the raid on the drug lab, and her resulting injuries. At some part during the story Conner had reached out and placed her hand on Alex's, gently caressing her hand and fingers as she relived the hell that that had consumed her last year. The pain in Alex's eyes was so raw it hurt Conner to see it, and all she wanted to do at that moment was take the woman in her arms and help soothe the pain away.

When Alex finished the story, there was a moment of uncomfortable silence between the two women. Conner had lost people she had loved in her life, but never had she experienced a loss such as the one Alex had lived. Gently, she squeezed Alex's hand. "I am so sorry for your loss Alex. I can't even imagine how you feel. We have all lost people in our lives that we have loved, but each loss in unique in it's own way, so I won't even pretend to understand what you're going through. But, I will say you have a new friend, and if you ever need to talk, you know where to find me."

Alex listened to Conner, and was amazed at her compassion. For the first few days after Feryle's death, she had been bombarded with friends and colleagues expressing their condolences. They all said the same thing, in somewhat different ways. "I know just how you feel." Alex had heard it so many times she wanted to scream. No one knew how she felt, no one. How could they, not one of them had set the scene that placed their loved one in harm's way, and then had to stand there and watch them die. None of them had been so careless as to allow the darkness into their home.

Alex looked into Conner's eyes, and said, "Thank you Conner. Thank you for not making this just another death. So many people kept telling me that they knew how I felt, but they didn't. You're the first person that has ever recognized that, and I appreciate your thoughtfulness."

Conner gently squeezed Alex's hand once again and then released it. By that time the bar was closing down and both women knew that they were outstaying their welcome.

Conner picked up her wallet, pulled out a few bills, and laid them on the table. "Well, I guess I had better get going, I have quite a drive, but thank goodness tomorrow's my day off and I can sleep in." Alex searched for her wallet to do the same but was stopped by Conner's firm grip on her arm. "No way, lady, tonight's on me. Consider it a welcome back, here's to new friends, evening." Conner said lightly.

Slightly embarrassed, and a little surprised, Alex nodded, and smiled, "OK, Conner, but only on one conditionŠyou allow me to treat next timeŠgot it?"

Conner chuckled at the compromising attitude from Alex, and agreed. "OK, OK, you win. Next time's on you." Sliding from the booth, both women were contemplating the last few comments, and the expectation of the next time.

As they made their way to the parking lot, and their respective cars, neither woman wanted the evening to end just yet, but knew it had to. The evening had turned out to be very entertaining, and uplifting for both women, something unusual for each of them.

On impulse, Alex turned to Conner. "You know, I was just thinking, It's been a while since I've had a good meal, andŠwellŠ ummŠI was wondering if you aren't doing anything Friday nightŠummŠmaybe you would...ummŠlike to get something to eat, andŠahhŠmaybe catch a movie, or something?

Conner's voice was once again swimming around in her stomach, and she could only manage a garbled "Sure, sounds like fun. Follow me to my car and I'll give you my number."

Alex followed Conner to the Jag and looked at it with envious eyes. "Wow, maybe I should apply to the JPD; they sure seem to pay better that the FBI."

Conner only snorted and explained that the Jag was part of her cover, and that it was really an asset of the JPD. Her only privilege was getting to drive it off hours to keep up appearance, and more importantly have it close by in case she had a meeting somewhere during her official off-hours.

She reached in the sleek Jag and pulled out one of her cards. Alex looked at it, and back at Conner, who was smiling. "Another part of my cover, I'm afraid."

The card advertised a personal courier service. Alex smiled and shook her head in acceptance of the double lives they both had to live in order to do their jobs. Welcome home, Alex, she silently said to her self.

Conner wrote her personal cell phone number on the back of the card, just in case Alex needed to get in touch with her when she wasn't at home, she told herself, and handed it back to Alex. Their hands brushed lightly as the exchange was made, and each woman unconsciously jumped as the heat radiated between them. Alex noticed the trembling in Conner's hand, and wondered what it meant.

Alex recovered first, and asked Conner if she was okay to drive. They had consumed two pitchers of beer between them during the evening. Although that wasn't much alcohol for either over the course of the six hours they had been in the bar, neither of the women drank a lot. It concerned Alex that Conner had such a long drive. "Just how far of a drive do you have tonight?" Alex asked in a slightly nervous voice.

"Not that far, maybe 45 minutes. I live on Amelia Island," Conner replied.

"Well if you don't feel like driving all the way home tonight, you're welcome to the spare room at my house. I don't live very far from here, may 20 minutes." Geez, Alex, what are you thinking, asking this woman home. You only met her today, and although she probably isn't a serial killerŠ

Conner interrupted her thoughts, explaining that she was keeping her partner's fur-ball for the week and needed to get home to check on him, or more importantly her house. There was no telling what the little creature had gotten into.

For some reason Alex felt a little disappointed, but hid the feeling well. "OK, then I wouldn't want to be the reason for starving your partners cat, so I guess, I'll see you on Friday." They said their good-byes, and drove off in opposite directions, with small smiles forming on their lips. As they drove into the night each wondered just what to make of the evening and the mysterious women they had met.


Chapter Four

Alex realized she was humming along with the radio as she pulled into the driveway. The contrast of feelings overwhelmed her for a moment, and she sat quietly in the car staring out into the darkness. The house, Alex thought, looked almost as it had that cool October morning, just before the blast.

The trees were bearing new foliage, covering their scorched and scarred limbs. The grass had been replaced, and new green growth filled in the barren spots. The day after the blast, a demolition crew had shown up, completely stripped away the blackened concrete, and replaced it with a freshly paved drive. After two days of endless questioning from Alex, the men had finally agreed, and told Alex that Sam had sent them to do the work. The bill was already paid, and she did not have to worry about anything. A few weeks later, when Sam still had not mentioned the new drive, Alex had quietly questioned her about it.

Sam had looked at Alex, tears running freely down her cheeks, and explained. "Alex, I'm sorry if I overstepped any boundaries, but I just couldn't let you come back to the house and face the carnage that those people inflicted. I knew there was nothing I could do to bring Feryle back home to you, all I could do was what I did."

Alex was openly crying by the end of the explanation, and Sam gently pulled Alex into her arms, and rocked her. Alex's mournful howls and primal moans echoed off the walls as she finally crumbled against the force of her pain. For what seemed like hours, Sam held Alex as she cried, softly speaking her name and encouraging her to feel the pain that was so evident in her heartŠthe pain she had refused to acknowledge lest it weaken her in some way to the evilness that threatened to consume her. "It's OKŠlet it goŠI've got youŠcome back to us, Alex, get it all out, and come back to us." Until that moment Sam had not seen Alex cry, she had been too consumed with the anger to allow any other emotions to be expressed. The darkness that shrouded Alex had eclipsed everything except the anger and the hate that now seemed to consume her heart.

Finally, Alex had slowly calmed down, and her breathing returned to a normal cadence. Sam continued to hold Alex in her arms until finally their bodies screamed for relief from the cramped positions in which they had been sitting.

"Jesus, SamŠI'm sorry" Alex whispered with a look of total exhaustion on her face. "I don't know what happened, butŠIŠI just couldn't hold it together any longerŠI'm really sorry you had to see me like this."

"Like what, AlexŠhuman?" Sam gently asked. "I know you're hurtingŠno dying inside. You don't have to hide the pain from me Alex, I'm your friend, and I was Feryle's too. I'm sure I'll never know the depth in which you loved each other, but I do know how much she meant to you and you too her. She was your worldŠthe only light that could take you away from the darkness you have to face everyday."

As Alex sat in the car and looked across the lawn, she remembered that night, and knew the new, deeper friendship she had formed with Sam that night would last a lifetime. She slowly got out of the car and headed into the house. Alex, too keyed up to go to bed, grabbed a beer from the refrigerator and walked out onto the deck.

Sitting once again in the darkness, she thought about the past few hours, and realized that meeting Sam tonight had been a good idea after all. Maybe she was beginning to heal, not only outside but inside as well. Alex certainly could not remember the last time she had smiled, much less laughed as she had tonight.

Sipping her beer, she thought about Conner, and their surprise meeting at Mike's. Both had been shocked, to say the least. Alex wondered if she would have been as openly playful with Conner, as she had been that morning, had she known they would ever see each other again.

Finishing off the remnants of her beer, Alex wondered what had possessed her to ask Conner out Friday. Well, she hadn't really asked her out on a dateŠjust a meal, and a movie, right? Alex ran her hand through her hair as she always did when frustrated or confused. She stood up quickly, as if trying to escape the question, and felt the muscles in her back scream against the sudden movement. "Damn," Alex muttered as she headed to the kitchen.

She tossed the bottle in the recycling bin and hobbled off to the bedroom, holding her back, feeling like an elderly old lady. She thought about, and then discarded the idea of taking a hot bath to sooth her muscles. "Damn right I'm not taking a hot bathŠnext thing I know I'll be scooping Epsom salts in the water, and knocking back Geritol shooters." She growled as she eased her self into the bed.

For the first time in weeks, sleep came easily to Alex and for the first time in months, the ghosts and demons of the night stayed outside.


Conner had arrived home the night before to find just about everything that was not attached to the walls or floor, scattered throughout the house. "Freaking cat, you're a visitorŠin my homeŠnot out on some adventurous scavenger hunt. Where the hell are you, you little beady-eyed furball?"

Stomping down the hallway and into the bedroom, she stopped short. There, curled up on her pillow, was Magnum. He was obviously awake because she could see his beady little eyes, peering at her expectantly. Conner crossed the room and scooped the cat up in one swift motion. "No one, especially a man, sleeps in my bed without and invitationŠgot it?" Conner dropped the cat gently on the floor, trying her best to stay mad at the creature. She went into the bathroom, removed and tossed her clothes into the hamper, and proceeded to get ready for bed. Walking back towards the bed, she heard a quiet "meow" coming from the hallway. "Damn, now I remember why I don't have any pets, or kids, always wanting something."

Conner trudged back to the kitchen and plopped some food in Magnum's bowl. He immediately started gobbling it down. "Slow down, kid, you're just like you dad, never chews just swallows everything whole," she growled, and headed back down the hallway.

She crawled into bed, turned out the light, and lay in the darkness thinking about the evening. Conner had been stunned, embarrassed and, to her amazement, excited to see Alex tonight. After the initial shock had worn off, they had fallen into a comfortable conversation. Of course, having Sam there as a buffer helped ease things along. One thing you could always count on around Sam was conversation. It seemed Sam never ran out of things to talk about, unless of course it was something serious like their past relationship.

Conner thought the evening would quickly end when Sam left to go home to Kelly, but the easy rapport she and Alex had developed during the evening continued. They had both been surprised to realize that two hours had passed since Sam had left them there.

Conner thought back on the events Alex had shared with her concerning Feryle's death, and was a little surprised that Alex had opened up to her. Alex had not seemed like the kind to quickly trust another person. Maybe it was the beer, maybe it was just time, she didn't know.

Conner's thoughts were interrupted by a soft thud on the bed. Rolling over she saw the fur ball sitting, and staring at her, half ready to bolt at her first move toward him. She could not help but smile. "C'mere, you little shit," Conner whispered as she gently reached for the cat.

"You're a very lucky little guy, because I had a great night," she crooned to the cat as she sat him on her chest. "Just this one time, you can stay, tomorrow it's back to the stinky shirt for youŠgot it?" Magnum just purred, snuggled between Conner's arm and torso, and went fast to sleep.

As Conner listened to the purring cat, she sighed. "Damn, you're getting to be a real softie, Harris." With that, she drifted off to sleep, dreaming of dark blue eyes and warm soft hands.


Alex woke with a start. The sun was shining brightly through the wall of windows, providing an unobstructed view of the pristine ocean. She sat for a moment allowing her mind to catch up with her body. For the first time in almost eight months, she had slept through the night without dreaming. She glanced at the clock only to see it was past 10. With a sigh, she lay back on the pillows and looked out over the ocean. Oh well, half the morning gone, might as well not rush things, she thought, and so decided to languish in the comfort of the cool sheets against her body.

The waves crashing to the shore were hypnotic, and soon had Alex reminiscing of lazy morning like this with Feryle. They seemed to wake up almost at the same moment. Maybe it was the fact that they were so in tune with one another's mind and body. Whatever it was, they always treasured the rare morning that they could lie in bed together, watch the sun rise over the horizon, and make slow, gentle love to one another until a different hunger drove them from the bed.

Alex closed her eyes, trying to remember Feryle's touch. Feryle had been the gentlest lover Alex had ever been with. Often driving Alex to near insanity, with her slow caresses, and feather-light kisses, and only providing the relief she needed when Alex begged for release from the sweet torture. Making love to Alex like this was Feryle's way of pushing the darkness and evil from her life.

Sometimes, though, Feryle could sense a deep primal need within Alex to just release and purge her body of the demons with cold, hard sex. Alex was always surprised that Feryle could tell exactly what she needed, and how she needed it. At those times, their bodies came together with a fierce and powerful need, that only they could understand. A need so strong that, in the end, it left them sweating, exhausted, and gasping for breath.

Alex felt the heat spread through her body. A heat that had been absent since that last lazy Sunday morning. She hugged the pillow against her torso and buried her head. The tears were gentle, not like the ones she had shed so long ago with Sam but slow, tender tears that epitomized the loss of the love of her life. Alex drifted off to sleep, and did not wake again until almost noon.

As she lay waking up for the second time that day, she remembered the dream she had just had. Strong yet gentle hands, caressing her face. Tender, full lips gently kissing her neck. It was only when the woman lifted her head to claim Alex's lips did she realize it wasn't Feryle, she had been dreaming about but the mysterious, and intriguing Conner Harris.

Alex pulled the covers off her body and slowly rose from the bed. She had learned by now that mornings were the worst moments of the day on her body. After lying in bed for hours, her muscles would get cold and stiff, and only gentle persuasion would get them to cooperate.

As she made her way through the house to the kitchen, she thought about the dream. It's only because I was thinking of Feryle, and our making love. Conner was the last person I spoke with, she argued to her self. "It's only a brain thing going onŠit has nothing to do with her holding my hand last night," she mumbled to her self. "Sure, it felt goodŠhell, it felt greatŠbutŠoh hell, woman, pull yourself together. It was a dream, for god sake, just be thankful it wasn't like all the others," she growled as she walked into the empty kitchen.

Alex poured herself a glass of juice and walked out onto the deck. Leaning against the railing, she let the warm breeze wake her up. Just as she was about to step off the deck for a walk down to the water, the phone rang.


"Good morning, sunshine," Sam's voice literally beamed over the line.

"Good morning to you too. I'm surprised you're out of bed this early. It's only noon, and I know you didn't go right home and go to bed," Alex playfully kidded back.

"Yes, hell I did. Didn't get a lot of sleep though, and I'll have you know I've been awake for hours." Sam laughed as she teased Alex, knowing her friend's face had to be bright red at the moment. "Haven't gotten out of bed yet, but I have been slinking about."

"Enough," Alex cried. "God woman, you're a maniac. How's Kelly, did she survive the night?"

"Yeeees, she survived, my dear Alex. But hey, I didn't call to chat about my sex life, good as it is, though," Sam snickered. "I was calling to see how your evening went last night after I left. You and Conner stay for a while and talk?"

Alex could feel the heat rise in her cheeks. "Yeah, we stayed for a little while after you left, and finished off the beer."

Sam could hardly contain the snort she felt, and just could not pass up the opportunity to rib Alex a bit. "Hmmm, well I just got off the phone with Conner. Seems she just drug her lazy ass out of the bed, and told me she didn't get home until almost 2 AM. Must have been quite a party, but I'm not sorry I missed it."

Great, you were just busted, and good, Alex thought to her self.

"OK, OK, maybe, we did stay just a little longer than a little while, butŠhey, don't you have more important things to be doing on a Thursday morning, than ragging on me? Don't you have to go to work or something?" Alex was clearly flustered at this point.

"Settle down, girlfriend. I'm just giving you a hard time," Sam said with a little bit of sincerity.

"OK, now for the real reason I called," Sam snickered.

"Gee, Sammy, I don't know if I can handle any more of your reasons for calling today." Alex laughed into the phone.

"No, really," Sam started. "Kelly and I were thinking about doing a little grilling out on Saturday, and wondered if you were game for a nice fat steak."

"Come on, Alex. I haven't seen you in ages," Alex could hear Kelly pleading.

"Enough already, OK. I'll bring the wine and dessert," Alex said in a surrendering voice. "What time is my presence expected?"

"Come early, say 4-ish. That way you and Kel can get caught up, and then we can concentrate on getting sloshed and going skinny-dipping in the ocean," Sam teased.

"No way, been there, done that, ain't going there again." Alex laughed, remembering the night the beach patrol had them cornered in the surf. It had taken a lot of smooth talking on Alex's part to get them out of an indecent exposure charge.

"OK, well we'll see you on Saturday. Oh and Alex, you'd better make that two bottles of wineŠtwo large bottles."

"Hey, I'll take care of the wine, you take care of the steak. See you Saturday, bye."

Alex could not help smiling to herself. Damn that woman. Always up to something sneaky. I cannot believe I let her trip me up like that. "You're out of practice, Montgomery. Better shape up, and quick."

Suddenly Alex felt a surge of energy and decided to go for a long run on the beach. She quickly changed clothes and was out the door. She hit the sand running, and was at least a half-mile down the beach only moments later, when her phone rang.


Continued in Part 2.

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