Chapter 19

When Cami awoke much later, she felt as though she were in a warm, blissful cocoon. Lying on her side, she had six feet of Irish woman wrapped tightly against her. T.J. had possessively wrapped her arm around the blonde’s rib cage, and Cami was now reveling in the feel of full breasts pressed into her back.

She could tell by the even breathing that T.J. was still asleep, but somehow it seemed to her that the dark woman didn’t sleep very soundly, that the slightest noise would have her awake - even in sleep, Cami could feel the barely leased tension bubbling just beneath T.J.’s surface.

She absently stroked the arm that was wrapped around her, and was rewarded with a soft chuckle in her ear. Yep. I was right. I’d give anything to drain that tension from her.

"So, you’re awake." Whispered the husky voice from behind her.

"Yup. Barely." She glanced over at the alarm clock on the nightstand, which read 3:03 p.m. "We slept the day away."

T.J. grunted in response. "Aye. That tends to happen when ya don’t sleep all night."

Camryn rolled over to face T.J., her heart catching in her throat at the sight of T.J.’s gorgeous face mere inches from hers. Her dark hair was disheveled and spilled about her shoulders, and Camryn thought she had never experienced anything as beautiful as waking up in T.J.’s arms.

"Mornin’, darlin’." T.J. whispered. "Thank you." T.J.’s fingers were absently running up and down Cami’s arms.

Cami was still reveling in the beauty of T.J., so she failed to pick up on the meaning. "Huh? Thanks for what?"

T.J. smiled, a gesture that brought a faint pulling on the stitches in her cheek, but not as much pain as was currently throbbing through the back of her head. She tried to ignore it for now. "For being you." She replied simply.

T.J.’s lazy smile sent shivers racing through Cami’s body, and she had to will her arrant hormones to relax. She’s injured, remember? But she smiled in return and blushed furiously. "Oh. Well…uh…you’re welcome." She shrugged ineffectually.

T.J. chuckled. "Well, and I’m sure that ya don’t have many friends who show up at your door in the middle of the night needing medical attention. But ya were the perfect Florence Nightingale." She drew her long fingers down Cami’s soft cheek.

That description brought a stray thought to Cami’s brain and caused her to laugh in return. T.J. cocked a questioning eyebrow, so Cami explained. "That just made me remember something Vicki and Jo said about me once. Someone asked them what kind of friend I was, or something like that. And they said that I was the kind of friend that they would call when they needed to get rid of a dead body — that I’d come with a shovel and ask questions later."

T.J. snorted. "Aye. And it’s damned glad I am that I didn’t show up here dead then, huh? I’d be buried in the backyard." The two women shared a laugh before Cami got serious again.

"Actually, that’s not funny, T.J. You had me damned scared."

"I’m sorry, darlin’. I dinna mean ta scare ya…I just… I knew I’d be safe here with ya." She leaned in and gave Cami a soft kiss, causing the blonde’s bones to feel as though they were melting.

When she broke the kiss, T.J. continued to hold on to Cami’s face, staring deeply into troubled green eyes. Then with a deep breath, she began the inevitable. "Guess ya have some answers coming, huh?"

Cami read the pain in T.J.’s expression and knew that they had a lot of talking to do. "How about you tell me over breakfast? I’m famished, and you need to keep up your strength."

"Me? What about you? You are the one who recently had a concussion." She shot back.

"Yeah, well…I feel much better. So wadda you say…scrambled eggs? Omelets?"

T.J. nodded in agreement and rolled over onto her back. "You can cook omelets? Sure is a fine woman ya are then."

That caused a fresh round of laughter from Cami. "Don’t get too excited, you haven’t tasted them yet."


Downstairs in Cami’s cozy kitchen, the blonde set about starting the coffee and gathering the fixings for ham and cheese omelets, and T.J. sat down at the table to unburden her soul.

The dark haired woman began with the story of what had happened the night before — how she had been jumped from behind walking through the parking lot, and subsequently waking up on the ship. Cami remained silent, placing a steaming mug of coffee in front of T.J. and starting the omelets, still listening intently.

T.J. launched into a narrative about the Reynoso’s — how Frank had started bringing them into the pub and then what Carlos had told her on the ship. But she was very careful to leave out the details of his threat on Cami’s life.

By then Cami had fixed plate with an omelet and some sausage for each of them and seated herself across from T.J. "So, he wants you to launder money for him?" Cami’s face held no malice or fear, just intense curiosity.

"Essentially." T.J. was pleased that so far, Cami seemed to be taking all of this news in stride. But the worst was still to come.

"Well, that’s bullshit, T.J. Just refuse. Call the cops, have him put away." Cami waved a forkful of eggs at her.

"It’s not that simple." T.J. sighed. "If I refuse, things could get ugly."

"Ugly? How? Frank’s a big boy and can take care of himself. Besides, it’s his own damned fault for getting involved with these creeps, not yours."

"Aye. I know. But…but the Reynoso brothers are not known for taking ‘no’ for an answer. They’d just as soon kill me, and then I’ll be out of the way." There. That’s near enough to the truth.

"So, tell the police. T.J., they can’t just come into your bar and start telling you that you have to break the law. This isn’t some lawless place, this is the U.S.A. — we have laws protecting business owners against things like this." Cami finished her breakfast and pushed her plate away at the end of her speech.

T.J., on the other hand, had barely touched her food, as her throat was tight with emotion over what was still to come. "Cami, you don’t understand." She basically dismissed the blonde’s argument.

Cami reached across and grabbed T.J.’s hand. "Then help me understand. What are you saying? I’m a big girl — I can take it."

Cami saw the frightened, helpless look flicker across T.J.’s face and when the barkeep failed to respond, Cami had her answer. "They threatened me, didn’t they?" She clenched her jaw and felt the anger building inside — anger that the bastards would blackmail her friend in that way. "That’s it, isn’t it?"

The response was barely audible. "Aye."

Cami stood, stalked across the kitchen and slammed her plate into the sink with a loud crash. T.J.’s heart sunk. She knew that the blonde would be upset by being dragged into this mess. Cami paced for a moment before stopping in front of T.J. and placing both hands on the dark woman’s shoulders. "Well, fuck that! Dammed if I’m gonna let some cowardly assholes scare you into breaking the law!"

T.J.’s eyes went round with shock. This was not the reaction she expected out of her friend. "Uh…sorry love, but what choice do I have?"

"You tell them to go fuck themselves, and we call the D.E.A. or the C.I.A. or some other damned outfit with initials." Cami was stomping about the kitchen now, in a full-fledged snit.

"Cami, please…listen…" T.J. tried to intervene. "Sweetheart, I won’t have you in danger."

"T.J., did it ever occur to you that you cannot make that choice? I am the one they threatened, so I am the one to decide that something should be done about it…" Her temper began to level off to a simmer. "I just don’t know what yet."

T.J. just sat and blinked at the blonde fury that was currently standing next to the stove. Then she made her decision. "Aye…well…if ya really feel that way…"

"Damned right, I do." Her voice was lower now, calmer but strong and steady.

"Well, then. I suppose ya should know that I’ve already been in contact with the F.B.I." Despite the fact that the agent had asked her to keep his cover silent, T.J. told Cami tbe whole story about Peter Knight and his undercover operation. She knew without question that Cami would keep the secret.

"Ah, well. That explains why he sounded so distressed when I called the pub last night, looking for you."

"Ah, bollocks. I didn’t call him…he’s probably got half the damned agents in San Diego out looking for me." Without a word, Cami handed the portable phone to T.J. and once again seated herself across from the tall woman.

When T.J. finished telling the agent brief details of her abduction, and after agreeing to meet with him later, she hung up the phone with a grim look on her face. "He said my best bet at the moment is to appear to go along with Reynoso. It will keep us all safe for the time being."

Cami nodded. "Sounds like he may be right. Besides, I feel better about you going along with that asshole, knowing that you have the blessing of the F.B.I. and aren’t going to get busted for helping a drug dealer." She offered a half-smile to T.J.

But the dark woman’s face hadn’t really changed.

"There’s more to all of this, isn’t there?" Cami again knew the answer before she asked.

"Aye. But I’d probably better back up the story a bit first." Her dark head bent and for a few moments she stared at the floor. After taking a moment to order her thoughts, T.J. began telling Cami the story of how she married Frank Silva — strictly as a business arrangement so she could become an American citizen.

Cami smiled when the story was finished. "Whew! Why didn’t you tell me that before??" T.J. looked a bit puzzled and the photographer began to giggle.

"Uh… because I dinna want ya ta think any less of me. After all, I manipulated the law and I paid a man ta marry me!" Her tone indicated that she couldn’t believe Cami would need to ask such a question.

Cami merely laughed. "Oh, sweetheart…Of course I don’t think any less of you! In fact, I had thought you were a bit insane for marrying Frank in the first place. But now that I know why you did it, it makes much more sense! Let’s face it T.J…. the man’s a pig!"

T.J. chuckled. "Aye, that he is. But…"

Cami interrupted her. "But nothing! Do you think you are the first person in the history of our country to get their citizenship that way?? Jesus, the law practically begs people to do just that!" Cami smiled at her and reached across the table for her hand again. "I’m just sorry that it had to bring Frank into your life…because of the trouble he’s causing you now."

"Causing us now." T.J. reminded her. "We are in this together now. And I could kill him for bringing this down on ya too. Me? I basically asked for trouble by marrying the sniveling son of a bitch."

"T.J. we are in this together. And we’ll get through this…together." Tears began to shine in T.J.’s eyes. She was touched by Cami’s loyalty, but she knew that it would be short lived. Frank is only the tip of the iceberg, my love.

"So, who’s Jake? I didn’t know you had any family over here." Cami gave the conversation a slight nudge in a different direction, asking her first "prying" question -one she could no longer contain.

T.J. explained the weak family relation, but how in her family blood was blood…no matter how distant. She also explained that Jake was helping her with the Reynoso problem. "And I …uh…I’ve had him put a few bodyguards on you as well." She looked sheepishly at the blue tablecloth.

Cami’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. "For me? But I haven’t seen any…" Then she began to search her brain and it occurred to her that she had seen some rather large men in some rather odd places lately. Then she burst out laughing. "Well. That explains why that giant guy followed me into Victoria’s Secret yesterday…. he did look rather out of place and uncomfortable."

T.J.’s brain derailed. She swallowed hard before responding in a rather thin voice. "You uh…um…you went to Victoria’s Secret?"

A slow, sexy grin spread across Cami’s face. "You betcha."

"And ya…uh…ya were wearing something…uh…something from there last night, weren’t ya?"

Cami noted that when T.J. got flustered her accent got thicker… Damn, she’s adorable. "Yes. Yes I was."

With another hard swallow, T.J.’s eyes took on a devilish glint. "I’ll kill that bastard Reynoso for making me miss that."

Cami’s smile turned down-right seductive and a mischievous twinkle lit her eyes. "Well. I could be persuaded to allow you a rain check…" T.J.’s eyes lit up. "But, it’ll cost you."

"Anything." The Irish woman’s voice was a hoarse whisper.

Cami lowered her voice to a purr. "Promise me that the next time a ruthless drug lord threatens either of our lives, you’ll let me know."

Before T.J. could formulate an answer in her preoccupied brain, the phone rang, causing both of them to jump.

It was Jake, checking up on his "little cousin" — a moniker that Cami found hilarious.


The blonde ambled upstairs to the shower, allowing the cousins a chance to talk in private. And to allow herself to begin to fully digest all that T.J. had told her in the past few hours.

It was a lot to comprehend, but Cami was righteously indignant that her ex-husband had unwillingly dragged T.J. into a drug lord’s world. I knew there was a reason I didn’t like that scumbag Frank.

Cami methodically stripped off her boxers and t-shirt and turned on the shower full-blast, hoping that the refreshing water would clear away the remainder of the cobwebs in her brain.

She was glad that she knew the truth about T.J. and Frank, their relationship made much more sense when put in the proper perspective. But as she thought about the drug dealers and their threats, butterflies began to form in her stomach. Her initial anger had subsided and had been replaced by determination to see them brought down, mixed with a large dose of fear — both for herself and for T.J.

Peter Knight’s presence at the bar was a comforting thought, as were the men that Jake had set to "guard" them. But Cami was not naïve enough to feel perfectly safe under their watchful care. From television, movies and newspapers, she knew that drug dealers were not to be messed around with. They tended to be cruel, ruthless, and have a complete disregard for human life. Great. Perfect. You finally find someone to love and she has a drug dealer pissed at her. It seemed the story of Cami’s relationships — if it wasn’t one thing, it was another. But in the case of T.J…Cami knew that there was nothing that T.J. could tell her, nothing that would keep them apart. This is the real thing, Cam. She grinned foolishly. She came to you when she was hurt and needed help. And after all, her cousin thinks I’m great for her! The thought of Jake blushing furiously in her doorway made her chuckle.

Cami was still smiling when she turned off the water and slid open the frosted shower door. She nearly jumped out of her skin when she looked up and was face to face with T.J. "Yeow!" She started to slip, only to have strong arms wrap around her and set her promptly back on her feet. "Jesus H. Christ! Taylor Jameson, you scared the shit out of me!"

T.J. was smiling, a half smile in deference to the pain in her cheek, but a smile nonetheless. Her startling blue eyes swept appreciatively over Cami’s wet, naked body. "Did I now?" She replied drolly. Reaching out a long arm, she blithely handed Cami a soft peach-colored bath towel.

"Damn right, and you know it too, you big rat." Cami snatched the towel and began drying herself without the faintest hint of modesty. After all, she’s seen every inch of you before…and much more up close and personal than this too. But it did strike Cami as being a bit strange that she didn’t feel the usual blush of embarrassment that she might normally feel if someone where catching her in the nude. Perhaps it is due to the fact that I know she is appreciating what she’s seeing. Cami looked up at T.J. who had made no apologies or any attempt to move, and who was currently smiling enticingly at Camryn. Oh yeah. I have her full attention.

T.J. helpfully handed Camryn a t-shirt, but as the blonde reached for it, T.J. pulled her arm back causing Cami to be pulled in closer to the dark-haired temptress before her. A shock of electricity coursed between them as their lips met, and T.J.’s arms wrapped around Cami’s still slightly damp skin. They both knew that T.J. was in no shape to take the situation any farther, but they spent a few leisurely moments enjoying the taste of each other.

"Mmmm. Ya taste wonderful." T.J. purred when they broke away.

"Yeah? You’re not so bad yourself." Cami leaned her forehead against T.J.’s chin.

After a long moment of reveling in the electric contact of their bodies, T.J. reluctantly let go of her prize. She had not intended to stand and watch Cami like some peeping tom, but when she had come into the bedroom to find the bathroom door open and the sexy silhouette of Cami behind the frosted shower doors, she just couldn’t help herself - it was like bears being drawn to honey. Grrrr.

"Listen, darlin’. I hate to break this up, but I have to get to the pub and meet with Agent Knight." The reluctance in her voice was plainly evident. Not only did she not want to let go of a damp, naked Cami, but also she had not told the blonde all that she had intended. Guess the dark past will have to wait awhile longer.

Cami sighed heavily. "Yeah. I know." She pulled away a minute and dragged her t-shirt over her head. "Would you like some company?"

While the thought was very appealing, T.J. knew that Knight would not take kindly to having Camyrn know about his undercover assignment. "I’m not sure Knight wants me to bring a guest to the meeting…as much I would rather have you with me." She chewed thoughtfully on her bottom lip, blissfully unaware of how sexy the move was.

Cami smiled at her. "That’s okay. I completely understand…" She hesitated a moment, having an internal struggle until her heart won. "Will I see you later?"

T.J. grinned openly now, ignoring the pain in her cheek. "Do you doubt it?" She leaned down and kissed Camryn again. "I’ll call ya later then. Bye, darlin’." And with that, T.J. was gone.

Camryn called out goodbye to the dark retreating back and then turned back to the mirror to tame her unruly hair. She barely even noticed the goofy grin that she had plastered on her face.


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