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Episode 3 – After Vermont

November 18, 2011

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AfterVermont Arlington1

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DISCLAIMERS:

This romantic drama is an original story and all characters are created by me.

All characters depicted, names used, and incidents portrayed in this story are fictitious. No identification with actual persons is intended nor should be inferred. Any resemblance of the characters portrayed to actual persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.

The registered trademarks mentioned in this story are © of their respective owners. No infringement of their rights is intended, and no profit is gained.

This story contains scenes of violence, some of which are directed at women. Readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of depiction may wish to read something other than this story.

This story depicts a sexual relationship between consenting adult women. If such a story frightens you, you better click on the X in the top right corner of your screen right away.

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Many, many thanks to my beta-reader. Your help is very much appreciated.

This is the next installment in a series of stories (After the Storm & After the Honeymoon). While you don’t need to read the previous episodes to enjoy this story, it will help with some character connections and references.

Comments and/or opinions can be left here or sent to stagefreakmusic@hotmail.com

Basic edit – Oct 29 2017

 

Chapter 1

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Special Agent CJ Carson stepped out of the rental car to stretch her six-foot, athletic frame. Putting her hands on her hips and rotating slowly on her heels, she took in the stunning scenery around her. With her hand against her forehead to shield her eyes from the sun, she whistled in appreciation. The Inn was huge, a bright, white mansion with tall pillars proudly guarding the front door. Two rows of large windows gracefully flanked the entrance, maintaining an eye-pleasing balance on each side. The expansive gardens were bright with summer foliage. Pink, purple, and yellow flowers were prominent and had been primped and trimmed to within an inch of their lives. It was flamboyant, regal, and slightly over the top.

The perfect place for Eddie and Jeffrey to get married.

CJ and Kate had driven up from New York – having picked up a car full of items Eddie had deemed necessary for the wedding – and finally arrived in Arlington, Vermont. Kate’s father and his partner had chosen to have their ceremony the day after tomorrow. They had wanted to make it a kind of double celebration and had picked the same day as Kate and CJ’s first wedding anniversary.

Eddie and Jeffrey had also booked the two women a luxury suite as a gift, and they would arrive tomorrow after they’d organized the staff at their restaurant back in Manhattan.

Turning back to the car, CJ’s heart skipped a beat as she watched Kate flipping her cell phone shut. Kate was a beautiful, petite but powerful woman. Her hair was currently a fiery strawberry-blonde due to the actress’s current TV role, but CJ thought she would look beautiful with any color of hair. It didn’t matter. Kate was her wife, her best friend, and her partner in every sense of the word, and CJ practically drooled with love as she went to open the car door for her spouse.

“What d’ya think? Isn’t it beautiful?” she asked as she took Kate’s hand and pulled her from the seat.

Kate blinked as if she hadn’t really noticed. “Wow, it really is,” she gasped, finally scanning their surroundings. “This must have cost them a fortune.”

CJ wrapped her arms around her from behind. “Well, it’s not every day Dad and Jeffrey celebrate their daughter’s first anniversary.”

“That’s true. And there’s the small matter of their wedding day too,” Kate said with a smile. “Come on. Let’s unload the car and get checked in.”

They headed to the reception desk, and a few moments later, an over-eager bellboy came trotting out to the car with them to scoop up all the wedding paraphernalia and put it on a cart. Telling them he would take care of it and flashing a very big smile at Kate, he disappeared back inside. Kate was still occasionally caught off-guard by the attention she got from strangers.

With only their bags left to carry, CJ and Kate went in search of their room. Walking through the grand house, they gaped at the décor. It certainly wasn’t to their taste, but it was incredibly beautiful and almost as ostentatious as the outside. Brightly colored walls seemed to both clash and match with the furnishings. It was Victorian England with a bit of a kick.

A few minutes later, CJ opened the door to their suite. Her eyes widened at the size of the room and the stunning view of the balcony, gardens, and gazebo from the large window. Then she saw the bed. It was huge, and she raised aher eyebrow at the thought of what she would be doing on it very soon.

“Not yet,” Kate said, eyeing CJ’s lustful expression and smirking.

CJ just grinned menacingly and went to join her mischievous partner at the door of what she assumed was the en-suite bathroom.

Kate pointed to the large jacuzzi bathtub. “I’ll be taking you in there first,” she drawled as she slipped her arms around CJ and tickled her nails across CJ’s bare collarbone.

CJ shuddered and licked her lips a few times. “Yeah.” She rested her chin on Kate’s hair and held her for a few minutes, simply basking in the feeling of having her in her arms. “You looked a little distracted when you came off the phone earlier. Anything wrong?”

Kate sighed pleasantly against CJ’s chest. “No, honey. I was just talking to Tony. His car broke down, so I told him to keep the Mercedes until he could get it fixed. He’s taking care of Kamali and everything else for us, so I thought it was the least we could do.”

CJ looked down into Kate’s eyes and ducked her head slightly to capture her soft lips in a kiss. Once they had parted, they grinned at one another like two goofy teenagers and began to unpack their belongings. With everything put away to their satisfaction, they decided to take a look around the grounds of the hotel. They strolled leisurely through the gardens, hand in hand, before taking a seat on a love swing hanging from a large oak tree.

As CJ and Kate leaned against one another enjoying the gentle movement of the swing, they watched a small team of decorators who were busy sprucing up the interior of the large, wooden gazebo.

“That must be where Dad and Jeffrey are going to get married. They mentioned a gazebo, didn’t they?” CJ said, pushing her foot off the ground to keep the momentum going.

Kate snuggled further into CJ’s side and yawned. “Yeah. It’s so pretty. I hope you remembered the camera?”

“Of course I did. I want plenty of pictures of you in that dress,” CJ teased.

Kate poked her thumb into CJ’s ribs. “You won’t be in control of the camera the whole time. I want some taken of you too. I’m drooling at the thought of your dress.”

“Ooh, hold that drooling thought until we get back to our room.”

* * * * * *

Once back indoors, a loud growl from Kate’s stomach reminded them that they hadn’t eaten since morning. Kneeling on the bed and flipping through the room service menu, Kate pursed her lips in thought.

“I’ll have the Arlington Special,” she said, licking her lips in anticipation.

“What the hell is that?” CJ shouted from the bathroom.

“It’s their house special. Roast chicken, potatoes, veggies, and gravy…and everything else it seems. Sounds like a hearty meal. I guess it’s supposed to be Old English type food”.

“Well, considering the décor, I can see why that would be the special,” CJ replied as she bounced onto the bed on her knees.

“They do it for two. Want to join me?”

“Sounds great. You want wine or something?” CJ said, lifting the phone from the nightstand.

“Actually, no. I’ll just have grape juice or something like that.”

CJ gave a small nod and proceeded to order their meal. While they waited, they teased one another with a taste of what would come later. Kate laid her body on top of CJ’s and nibbled her lips and nose seductively. CJ growled a little as she groped Kate’s butt in response. After lots of heated kisses and touches, they separated and sat up, trying to calm down before the meal arrived.

A short while later and with her face slightly flushed, Kate got up to answer the door and tip their waiter. With the tray now displayed in front of her, CJ lifted the lids off the food and inhaled deeply before releasing it in a moan of appreciation. The sound made Kate’s stomach flip, and she could feel the blood rushing to one particularly sensitive point between her legs. Holding onto their restraint for just a little longer, they both feasted on their meal, feeding themselves and each other, and sharing the single dessert they had ordered. Some of it ended up being eaten off various body parts, and by the time they drew their bath, they were practically ripping the remaining clothes off one another.

Once in the bubbling water, they seemed to slow the pace, but the intensity was just the same. The wide tub made it possible for them to sit facing one another, CJ’s long legs wrapped over Kate’s thighs and around the outside of her body, her heels resting on Kate’s firm buttocks. Kate was trailing both hands down over CJ’s chest, the touch so feather-light that CJ thought it might be possible to die of anticipation.

Green eyes bore into blue as CJ sensually tickled up and down Kate’s thighs and around her waist. She dragged her nails up her back, then down, leaving a trail of very prominent goose bumps on the creamy, smooth skin. CJ gasped when her nipples were gripped gently and the sensation shot straight to her center. They seemed lost in one another as the jets roughly churned the water around them. Their hands became more frantic, and their heartrates increased as the caresses became more specific, more intent in driving each other crazy.

CJ cupped Kate’s beautiful breast with one hand and reached up to brush a wet strand of hair away from Kate’s eyes. She could see the lust in those eyes and wanted Kate more than she had ever wanted anyone. Leaning forward, CJ kissed her, sliding her tongue into her warm, welcoming mouth. Kate licked and tasted CJ in return, devouring her until they both had to come up for air. She pulled at CJ’s lower lip with her teeth, opening her eyes to watch CJ’s expression as she entered her. Kate’s hand slowly penetrated her, drawing a whimper of sheer pleasure from CJ’s mouth. She kissed Kate hungrily, wrapping one arm around her back and using the other to run her long fingers across Kate’s sex.

Kate could barely breathe and gasped out her command. “In. Now, Ciara…”

CJ gladly obliged and pressed her thumb against Kate’s clit at the same time. Both inside one another, they found a slow, sensual rhythm that they managed to maintain for the most part, until it simply became too much to bear. Their gasps and moans of pleasure filled the scented air around them, and the occasional breathless instruction was heard between kisses. They quickened their pace, both simultaneously resting their foreheads on the other’s shoulder to watch their hands as they made love.

Kate climaxed first, whispering CJ’s name through clenched teeth since she was unable to make much sound as the air left her lungs. CJ felt the silky muscles grip her fingers, and she couldn’t hold back anymore.

Her orgasm washed over her as she continued to drive Kate through hers. She thrust herself against Kate’s hand, milking every ounce of pleasure from her fingers. CJ couldn’t feel anything but the sensations flowing through her and her love for Kate surrounding them. They were one being when this perfect moment arrived, and CJ would never truly understand their bond. But she didn’t have to. It was enough that Kate felt it too, and they would never be apart.

As they both recovered, still intimately connected, CJ looked up at Kate and smiled dazedly as if intoxicated. She kissed tiny, delicate kisses all over her face.

“I love you,” Kate whispered as she slowly withdrew her fingers.

CJ smiled again, punctuating each word with a kiss. “I…love…you too.” She removed her hand and brought her fingers to her mouth, frowning when she tasted them. “Aww. The water washed them clean,” she grumbled.

Kate laughed and stood up in front of CJ with her hands on her hips, giving her a fantastic view of her inner thighs. The water trickled in droplets down the smooth skin, and CJ gasped before running her fingers up the inside of Kate’s leg to gently slip inside her. Kate swallowed hard and used all her strength to remain standing. After swirling her fingers around so very carefully, CJ withdrew them and popped them in her mouth. She closed her eyes and hummed happily.

Kate looked down at her. “Better?”

“Oh, much,” CJ nodded happily as she wiggled her dark eyebrows. “Now get back down here, and I’ll wash you.”

* * * * * *

Once they were tucked up in bed, Kate lay on her back with CJ’s head on her shoulder. She loved it when her taller wife would scoot down so that she could hold her for a change. It didn’t happen often. It was just more comfortable for Kate to wrap herself around CJ’s larger frame. They seemed to fit perfectly that way, like they had been holding one another like that for centuries. After a few minutes, CJ mumbled sleepily from her warm resting-place, breaking Kate’s train of thought.

“What was that, honey?”

“I was just thinking,” CJ said, lifting her head to be heard. “It’s been a year since our wedding, and every day I love and want you more. Do you think I’ll survive the rest of our lives?”

Kate snorted out a laugh. “I’m sure you’re tough enough, my love, but I know what you mean. I can’t seem to get enough of you. Do you think we’ll ever get bored of one another?”

“Nope.”

“Me neither.”

Kate ran her hand through CJ’s dark hair, which was CJ’s cue to turn for a kiss goodnight. It wasn’t long before they drifted off to sleep early. It would be a long, and no doubt, over-dramatic day tomorrow once Dad and Jeffrey arrived.

* * * * * *

CJ leaned her hands on the window ledge and caught a whiff of the fragrant flowers in the garden below. She watched the hustle and bustle of people building a marquee and realized that this venue took care of the entire wedding package. CJ knew Eddie would have left exacting instructions with the staff too. It would be a lovely wedding. She sighed and turned to see Kate standing by the bed, dressed in shorts and a striped T-shirt. She held a tiny box in her hand, and CJ knew it was the ring Jeffrey would give to Eddie tomorrow.

“What are you thinking, Katie?”

“I…I’m just so glad that Dad has finally found his own happiness,” Kate said as she shed a single tear.

CJ crossed the room and gathered Kate in her arms. “Yeah. It’s been a long time coming, huh? You okay?”

“Yes, honey. I’m just being emotional.”

“Well, that’s all right. It is a wedding after all,” CJ said. “And remember, I cried at the last wedding we went to…”

Kate laughed. “Yeah. You could hardly get your vows out you were shaking so bad. I think those were tears of fear.”

“No, definitely not fear. I just couldn’t believe you were mine. Never thought I’d be so lucky,” CJ murmured as she kissed Kate’s nose.

“You are such a sweet talker.”

CJ shook her head. “It’s the absolute truth.”

* * * * * *

Later that afternoon, Eddie and Jeffrey arrived seeming a little too calm. CJ eyed them suspiciously as Kate hugged her father. She was waiting for the emotional outbursts to start, but there were only a few tears of joy as they all greeted one another.

As they walked to the hotel, CJ threw her arm over Eddie’s shoulder. “This place is beautiful, Dad. I take it you guys stayed here before?”

“Oh, yes, CJ. We came here on our first anniversary as a couple. It was a wild weekend. Oh! You don’t want to hear about that. But yes, it’s so beautiful, and I just love the Victorian feel of the place. Oh, it’s so me,” he babbled.

By the time they had settled the two men into their suite and checked on all the preparations, it was time for dinner. Eddie and Jeffrey joined CJ and Kate in the dining hall. They enjoyed a delicious main course and sat sipping on wine until the desserts came.

“How many guests are coming, Jeffrey?” Kate asked.

“Just thirty or so. Your brother will be here tomorrow morning, and it’s just close friends and family and a few of the staff from the restaurant. We couldn’t invite them all, or we’d have to shut it down. Can you imagine? Oh!” Jeffrey laughed as he rolled his eyes.

“Nice and intimate. I prefer that…like our wedding.” Kate turned to CJ and covered her hand on top of the table.

“Aww, you two are so friggin’ sweet. Isn’t it just beautiful? And I love that we all have this special day to share. I hope you didn’t mind us choosing it?”

“No, don’t be silly. We love that you did this. And thank you for the wonderful room!” Kate said, hugging Jeffrey.

“Oh, you’re so welcome, Babycakes. We wanted you two to have a romantic weekend as well. Love…is a many splendored thing,” he finished in a melodious voice.

CJ shook her head as they all laughed at Jeffrey wafting his napkin around his head as he sang. The easy conversation continued until the desserts arrived. Kate raised an eyebrow at hers. She had ordered the same thing as last night, and she blushed furiously as an image of her, eating it off CJ’s abs, flashed thought her mind.

“Oh, my! What’s that all about?” Eddie said, wiggling his finger in front of his daughter’s face.

“She’s just remembering last night,” CJ said smugly.

Kate didn’t know whom to chastise first. She glared at CJ, and then at her father. Both culprits laughed simultaneously, and she flushed even hotter, thinking her head just might explode this time.

“Oh, honey, it’s not like you can’t have fun with your wife. I think it’s great. Fantastic, even,” Eddie gushed.

CJ nudged Kate with her elbow. “See?”

“Co-conspirators,” Kate growled at them and began to eat, ignoring the giggling all around her. When she looked up again, they were all smiling angelically at her, and she gave in, snickering quietly as CJ kissed the side of her head. The rest of the evening passed pleasantly, and it was a very well-fed Kate who stumbled into their room at ten o’clock.

“We should exchange gifts tonight, CJ. It’ll be a busy day tomorrow, and we might not get a chance,” Kate suggested.

“Good idea, yeah. Come here,” CJ said, sitting on the edge of the bed and patting the duvet with her hand.

They had agreed that anniversaries were going to be a small affair, gift-wise. With a simple Forever C and Forever K inscribed on the inside of each, the solid silver bracelets were exchanged accompanied by a loving embrace and a few tears of joy.

When Kate finally crawled into bed, she was lost in thoughts of how perfect life was right now, but when CJ leaned against her and whispered in her ear, telling her exactly what was going to happen next, she decided it could get better than perfect.

* * * * * *

The next morning, Kate leaned out of the open window and watched as a well-coordinated group of caterers and staff put the final touches to the venue. CJ walked out of the bathroom, freshly showered and dressed, only in her underwear. Seeing the perfect backside of her wife just begging to be touched, she smirked to herself and narrowed her eyes. She stealthily walked over to Kate and ground her crotch into the irresistible buttocks. Kate gasped, and CJ felt two questing hands come around to grip the back of her thighs making her inhale a long, deep breath.

“Oh, yeah…”

“Don’t get all worked up,” Kate warned as she tried to avoid succumbing to the delicious jolts of arousal flowing through her.

CJ stopped grinding but didn’t remove her body. She leaned over Kate’s back to see outside and spotted Eddie finally flailing his arms around and chattering wildly at some guy who was carrying a stack of boxed wedding gifts. She chuckled and wrapped her arms around Kate’s waist. “I just knew he couldn’t stay calm.”

“Not much chance of that with Dad at the best of times, never mind his own wedding day. Come on, horny woman. We need to help him so he can go get ready.” Kate moved away from window with a special agent still attached to her back.

CJ didn’t want to give up the warm contact she had, so she followed Kate into the bathroom. Kate spotted her semi-naked wife in the mirror and almost had a heart attack. CJ never really wore makeup, so when Kate saw her with it on, she usually stared slack-jawed at the difference it made. CJ was stunningly beautiful every day, but the makeup accentuated her blue eyes, framing them and making them seem even bigger and bluer.

“Like what you see?” CJ asked, raising her dark eyebrow seductively.

“Uh, yeah. God, honey, we don’t have time,” Kate moaned as CJ’s hand slid between her legs.

“You sure?”

“Unngg…”

“I’m sorry, what was that?” CJ panted into Kate’s ear, tracing her fingertips over the soft material of Kate’s pajama pants.

“No time,” Kate tried to say, but it came out more like an unconvincing groan of protest.

CJ flicked her tongue into Kate’s delicate ear. “Oh, but you haven’t showered yet. Let me see how quick I can be.” She turned them both so that they were facing the large mirror above the sink. She saw Kate watching their reflection and couldn’t see any resistance in the darkened, hooded eyes. She slipped her hand inside her pants and lightly scratched over the thatch of dark-blond hair, feeling how dampened is had become. “You’re so wet already.”

“Your…fault,” Kate whimpered, her words heavy with need.

CJ lifted her tank top and held her full breast in the palm of her hand. The other hand was driving Kate insane as it slid lower, touching the burning flesh between her legs so lightly it almost didn’t register.

“Ciara. Don’t tease me. Please…”

Hearing the name Kate only used when they made love, CJ complied and pressed her finger onto the sensitive flesh, manipulating Kate’s clit with familiar skill until she was gasping audibly with every breath. Continuing her caress on Kate’s breast and keeping her eyes on their reflection, CJ bit down on her shoulder, and Kate’s eyes popped open as her orgasm swallowed her in response. She held her eyes on CJ as she let the waves of pleasure crash over her. CJ’s blue orbs were smoldering and glazed, and Kate knew she had been riding that wave with her. She felt herself get weak as CJ guided her through the rippling aftershocks. The hand left her breast and firmly wrapped around her waist at the exact moment her legs gave way.

Swallowing hard and licking her lips to moisten her dry mouth, Kate turned around in CJ’s strong embrace. “That…was incredible.”

“I’m glad you enjoyed it. I sure did,” CJ drawled.

“Did you come?” Kate teased.

“A little bit, yeah.”

They both let out a weak laugh as they held onto one another for a few moments longer until Kate finally sighed and pulled away.

“You want to shower with me since you, uh, made a mess again?”

CJ laughed again. “Maybe I should. But no fooling around in the shower,” she replied sternly.

It was Kate’s turn to laugh as she dragged a smiling CJ into the shower. They managed to wash each other without too much teasing, and CJ wondered when the honeymoon period of this relationship would end. She hoped it never would. Once they’d thrown on some comfortable clothes that would do until they had to put their dresses on, they headed downstairs to make sure Eddie got ready for his wedding on time.

* * * * * *

CJ casually strode over to her wildly-gesticulating father-in-law and gently grasped his hands. “Relax. Go get ready. Katie will help you, and I’ll take care of this,” she said, giving him her best calm-down look.

“Oh! Thanks, CJ. Did they send you from the heavens? Oh! But wait! Those flowers should go over there and-”

CJ’s long arm around his shoulders silenced him, and she guided him gently him toward the hotel lobby. Kate followed them, and once they were at the door, CJ leaned forward and kissed Eddie on the cheek. “Dad, this is your day. I’ll make sure everything looks perfect. Now take your daughter and go upstairs.”

Eddie’s eyes had filled with tears. “Oh, CJ. I love you so much. Both of you. Katie, you have no idea what you mean to me and how happy I am that you found someone like her,” he gushed, pointing to CJ’s bashful face. “Oh! Okay, let’s go beautify me, sweetheart,” he bawled, hooking Kate’s arm with his own.

CJ grinned at his manner before she went back to the hordes of people bustling around the gazebo. It was time for some good old FBI organization.

* * * * * *

Somehow, Kate managed to get her dad ready in record time. Leaving him in the care of her brother, she went to check on Jeffrey who seemed to have far too much help already. His sisters bustled around him like swarming bees, and Kate gave him a quick wave and thumbs-up from the door before retreating to a safe distance.

She went back to her room and was surprised to find CJ already there. “Everything all fixed up down there?”

CJ grinned. “Yes, dear.”

Kate laughed and gave CJ a hug before disappearing into the bathroom to put the finishing touches to her makeup and pull her dress on. When she emerged from the bathroom, her stunning wife wearing only her underwear greeted her. CJ’s mouth was hanging open, her eyes almost bulging from their sockets and her hands stilled mid-motion.

“You okay, CJ?” Kate asked shyly as she twirled around on the spot making the dress fly feather-light around her hips.

CJ couldn’t speak, and she was sure her heart must be somewhere in her throat. Yeah, that’s why I’m speechless, she thought sarcastically. Kate was unbelievably beautiful – and looked way too sexy – wearing her subtly floral, emerald dress. The above-the-knee skirt flowed freely, but the bodice was so fitted that CJ wondered if it was painted on. It gathered into a halter-neck, accentuating Kate’s firm shoulders and graceful collarbone. CJ’s eyes darkened as she ran her gaze over the suddenly voluptuous breasts that were pushed up to a perfect height…not too much cleavage, just the right amount. A warm, molten heat spread through her body and settled in her groin. Wow. She was going to have a hard time keeping her hands off her wife all day. At this point, Kate had started to giggle and was walking toward CJ swaying her hips.

“No!” CJ blurted. “Don’t come near me. You look…I…I need to get ready now.”

Kate watched with astonishment and amusement as CJ deliberately looked down at the floor and headed for the bathroom, closing the door firmly behind her. Kate bit her lips to stop herself from laughing out loud. She knew that the speechless, bewildered look was a better response than she could have hoped for.

“And don’t think I didn’t notice what necklace you’re wearing,” shouted a shaky voice from behind the bathroom door.

“Are you okay, baby?”

“Don’t call me baby. I’m having a hard enough time calming down.”

Kate bit her lips together and fiddled with the necklace. It was the one CJ had given her for her birthday. CJ’s mother had given it to her at a young age, only a couple of years before Alyssa had been killed, and it meant so much to Kate that CJ wanted her to have it now. She decided to squash those sad thoughts before she became too emotional, and she sat down on the bed to put her shoes on. The bathroom door opened, and a familiar federal agent emerged fully-dressed. But she didn’t look like a federal agent today.

Kate looked up from her task, one shoe on and the other in her hand. Her breath caught in her throat, and she felt tears sting the back of her eyes. This is my wife. Wow.

“Paybacks are a bitch, huh,” CJ said with a smirk.

Kate stood up and held her hand up to CJ, silencing her. She then slowly studied every part of the beautiful woman. CJ’s dress was fitted snugly around her hips…and her waist and her breasts. It was strapless, but a band of material hung gently around the top of her arms leaving her broad shoulders completely uncovered save for the shiny, black hair tumbling over her tanned skin. And those legs – those longer than long legs – were covered from the knee up, but Kate knew exactly what the material hid. The vivid, deep-blue wrapped around CJ like a glove, and Kate had to swallow hard when she met the gaze of almost the same color. “You are so beautiful,” she gasped.

CJ’s expression immediately changed from smug to one of pure love and gratitude. She walked over to stand in front of Kate, pushing her carefully back into her sitting position. She took the shoe from her hand and knelt somewhat awkwardly in front of her. “Katie, I hope you know why I couldn’t speak when I saw you. Too many emotions ran through me. I couldn’t describe how stunning you look. I mean, I love you every second of every day, but it just took my breath away.”

“Ditto.” Kate sat quietly while CJ finished placing the shoe on her foot, before she took CJ’s chin in her hand so that their eyes met. “Thank you for loving me.”

“Oh, crap. Don’t make me cry. We have a whole wedding day to get through.” CJ took Kate’s hand from her chin and kissed the knuckles tenderly. “Thank you for loving me too.” She paused to gather herself. “Okay, deep breath and let’s go.”

* * * * * *

The little ceremony went off without a hitch, but not without a bucket-load of tears. CJ, Kate, and Eddie Junior stood together behind Eddie and Jeffrey as they said their vows. Kate noted her brother’s very sharp, black tuxedo and nodded admiringly. Jeffrey wore a rich-blue tuxedo, and her dad had on a black one with a green waistcoat peeking out of his jacket. When they all got together later for family photos, they looked like a rainbow of sorts, but that’s just the way Eddie had wanted it – bright and happy.

As the party got underway after dinner, CJ and Kate were standing by the bar inside the giant marquee when Eddie walked over to them.

He stopped about ten feet away and spread his arms in front of him. “I don’t think I could imagine a more beautiful sight,” he said, covering his mouth with a hand and waving the other one in front of his teary eyes. “You two are stunning!”

Both women smiled at him, and Kate waved her father over. “Come here.” She enveloped him in a powerful hug and whispered in his ear. “I love you, Dad. I’m glad you’re happy.”

“Oh, Katie! And the same to you…both of you,” he blubbered, grabbing CJ and pulling her toward him.

Jeffrey – seeing this and not one to miss out on a hug – came rushing over. “I don’t know why you’re hugging, but I want in!”

They stood in a huddle, group-hugging until Eddie stopped sobbing. “Oh! Oh my! I’ll need to re-apply my makeup,” he fussed, dabbing his cheeks with a tissue.

“You look great, Dad,” Kate reassured him.

“Yep. Very handsome,” said Eddie Junior who had snuck up behind his father.

Suddenly sobering, Eddie reached out to his son. “You know, I can’t believe how lucky I am. I have two, no, three children…” He looked to CJ and almost started crying again. “…who accept me for what and who I am. Sometimes it just pounces on me, and I pinch myself to make sure I’m awake. Oh, here I go again.”

As Eddie let his tears fall, his son put an arm around his shoulder. “Come on, Dad, Jeffrey…let’s get you two a drink. Stop crying and let’s celebrate your wedding.” He linked arms with Jeffrey and led them away.

CJ turned to Kate. “He’s not the only lucky one.”

Kate melted into the unconditional love she saw in CJ’s eyes. She kissed her so sweetly, but didn’t escalate the encounter since she knew where that would lead. Instead, she took her hand, and they walked out into the early evening sunshine to enjoy the rest of the party.

* * * * * *

By the time CJ and Kate got into bed that night, they were completely exhausted. They had danced with everyone, it seemed, and finally fell into each other’s arms for the last few songs. They had done their duty, keeping Eddie and Jeffrey on a relatively even keel emotionally until the men had left to go to the honeymoon suite.

And now the normally-tough, enduring special agent and the usually-unstoppable, energetic actress lay on the bed on their stomachs barely able to talk. Kate’s arm was flopped limply around CJ’s back, and CJ’s hand kept a lazy contact with Kate’s thigh as it rested on the mattress.

“CJ?”

“Yes, Katie?”

“Do you want to make love?”

“Yes, Katie.”

CJ wiggled her finger weakly against Kate’s skin.

Kate sighed. “Was it good for you, honey?”

“Yes, Katie.”

They both giggled quietly, and since CJ’s shoulder was conveniently placed, meaning Kate barely had to move to kiss it, she did so before they were lured into an irresistible sleep.

 

Chapter 2

.

The next day after some tearful but happy goodbyes, CJ and Kate left for the airport. Eddie and Jeffrey were staying at the inn for a few more days, for a honeymoon of sorts before they returned to New York to run their business.

As CJ drove to the airport humming along to a tune on the radio, Kate checked her cell phone. She had a voicemail message that had been left during the night, and she frowned as she reached forward to turn the music down. “Hold on, honey. I have a message.”

“Okie dokie.” CJ stopped her humming and waited while Kate listened to the message. She glanced at her partner and saw her face contort as if she’d tasted something incredibly disgusting. “What’s up, Katie?”

“It’s a message from Jack. I think he was a little drunk. But what I want to know is how the hell he got my cell number? I sure didn’t give it to him,” Kate grumbled.

“I’m pretty sure it’s easy to get. I mean he is your co-star, after all.”

Jack Bannerman had been a real pain in Kate’s ass since he’d joined her TV show, Deadline, seven months ago. He was an over-grown, egotistical, muscle-bound slime-ball who had women practically falling at his feet with a twitch of his perfectly groomed goatee. Kate had rejected all his advances, but he never gave up trying. And boy, was he trying.

Kate tapped a couple of instructions onto the keypad and pressed the phone against CJ’s ear. She watched as a myriad of expressions crossed CJ’s strong features, finally ending with a noticeable clenching of her jaws. Jack had basically described in some detail what he would like to do to Kate after they went to dinner together, and ended his lewd conversation slurring the phrase, “Once you’ve had Jack, you always come back.”

It made CJ’s skin crawl, and quite frankly, she wanted to punch his lights out. “I think it’s time for me to meet this Jack Bannerman,” she said angrily, glowering at the road ahead.

“I don’t think we need to kill him just yet. I mean, I’ve told you everything that’s happened with him so far, including the tongue thing during that screen kiss.” Kate shivered in horror at the memory. “And I’ve managed to deflect his horrid advances without causing a scene…so far.”

“I know, Katie, but what he said in that message was just…eww!”

“I agree.”

“Okay, here’s what I propose. I’ll come with you to the studio tomorrow, and I’ll meet him. You’re not working until the next day, so he’ll have time to, uh, process my words,” CJ said calmly, if unconvincingly.

“I’ll get back to you on that,” Kate replied, glancing at CJ while she thought about it for a few moments. “You won’t hurt him?” she asked finally.

“No.” Then CJ whispered, “Not permanently.”

“Oh, crap.”

“Honey, I won’t hurt him. I just want to show him who you’re married to. He still doesn’t know you’re married to a woman, does he?”

“No. He assumed I was married to a guy. I never want to prolong any conversation with him, so I didn’t correct it.”

“Okay, so it’s time for him to find out. Maybe he’ll back off.”

Kate pursed her lips. “Okay, but I’m trusting you not to inflict pain.” She forced a small cough as she covered her mouth with her hand. “Too much.” She coughed again.

CJ laughed. “Tomorrow it is then.”

* * * * * *

It was late when they got home that night, and Kate decided to ask Tony to bring Kamali back the next day. After hanging up the call to her driver, she crawled into bed and into CJ’s arms.

CJ tightened her hold and rested her nose against Kate’s hair. “Hey, you. How’s our dog doing?”

“He’s fine. Probably won’t want to come home. Tony says his five-year-old nephew was over to visit, and Kamali has been perfect with him. Very respectful,” Kate murmured.

“Well, that’s good. Should mean he’ll be good with our kids too.”

Kate lifted her head. “You keep surprising me with how much you want kids.”

“Why?” CJ frowned.

“I don’t mean to sound negative. That didn’t come out right. I just didn’t expect you to want kids. I don’t know why, exactly.”

CJ gently placed her hand on the back of Kate’s head and pulled her down for a soft kiss. “I didn’t really want kids. In fact, I never thought about them at all. But then I was never in love before, was I? And since I’m very much in love now, it’s definitely something I want to share with you. Only you…”

“You’re perfect, you know that? You’re actually perfect,” Kate said in wonder.

“Not perfect, Katie. Maybe we’re just perfect for one another?” CJ asked hopefully.

Kate smiled the most beautiful smile. “That must be it.”

She spent some time kissing and caressing CJ before they fell into a warm, tangled heap of arms and legs in the middle of the bed, too tired from travelling for anything more.

* * * * * *

After picking up some messages from the studio’s office, Kate asked around to find out where Jack was. On her fifth inquiry, she finally got a break and strolled across the lot to where CJ was standing admiring a huge poster.

CJ saw her approach and nodded toward the billboard. “She’s really hot,” she said with a wink.

“Oh, yeah?” Kate played along, looking up at the giant picture of herself.

“Yeah. Maybe I should marry her, huh?”

“Nah, she’s seeing this horrible hunk of a guy. Not your type, honey.”

CJ groaned and rolled her eyes as they started walking. “So, where is he?”

“In here,” Kate replied, motioning toward the cafeteria doors.

They walked inside the large eatery, and Kate spotted Jack at a table in the corner with his arm flung casually over the back of his chair and one ankle resting on a supporting knee. He had a smugger than smug look on his face.

Nothing new there, she thought. He wore gray sweat pants and a ridiculously tight tank top that did nothing to cover his dark, hairy, bulging chest. Clearly he had just finished working out. Or was he just posing? Kate could never be sure.

As they approached him, Jack’s eyes fell upon Kate, and he got to his feet, extending his arms with a slimy grin on his face. “Couldn’t keep away from me, could ya, bab-” He faltered as his gaze landed on CJ, and his arms flopped to his sides limply. He gaped at the statuesque beauty with very wide eyes, and he seemed to have lost the ability to speak.

Kate studied him for a second and thought if he’d been a cartoon character, his eyes would have just popped completely out of his head and swirled around in mid-air, while his tongue would have rolled out of his mouth like an unraveling red carpet, and hit the floor. She came back from her weirdly imaginative thoughts when Jack snapped back to his old self.

He composed himself quickly, squaring his shoulders and puffing out his chest, but was he breathing a little too quickly? “Well, what do I have here?” he drawled.

Kate put on her best polite face. “Oh, I’m sorry. Jack. This is CJ Carson. CJ, Jack Bannerman.”

“Oh, the pleasure is all yours,” Jack said, wiggling his bushy eyebrow. “And maybe a little mine. You are just a sight for my sore eyes. What say we have dinner tonight, a few drinks? Then I’ll show you my head shots?”

CJ barely hid her growl. “I don’t think so, but thanks for the tempting offer.”

“No? Really? But look at us…same height, almost. Same stunningly-dark good looks, and those eyes! Oh, baby, those eyes were made for me to get lost in. Not to mention that tall, powerful, slim body just begging for me to fu-” He was silenced by CJ’s abrupt step forward.

They were practically nose to nose now, and Kate watched with fiery eyes. She knew what was coming next, but she’d never really seen CJ in action before. Well, not in this way.

Jack wet his lips, thinking CJ was about to submit to his irresistible charms, but the irritated agent’s eyes had turned a dangerously dark gray-blue, and she suddenly grabbed a large handful of Jack’s crotch through his sweat pants, her actions hidden from public view by her body – and Kate’s. The grip was strong and not at all what Jack was expecting. His whole body tensed, his eyes widened in fear of more pain, and the muscles on his neck visibly strained.

CJ stood a whisper away from him and spoke in a deliberate, menacingly low voice, clipping every over-enunciated word with utter disdain and a very definite warning. “Don’t talk like that in front of Kate…my wife!”

At her words, Jack’s eyes opened even wider, and he squeaked. It gave CJ a comforting sense of satisfaction.

“Oh, yes, Jack. She’s my wife,” she sneered as she tightened her grip a little more for emphasis. “She tells me everything, you know. The inappropriate touches on set, the lewd diatribe you subject her to every day, the sticking your tongue down her throat during a scene just to get a taste of what you can’t have. I also listened to that message you left on her cell phone.”

CJ’s voice got even deeper and huskier, but not in a good way. “I suggest you treat her with a little more respect and consideration from now on. Oh, I know she can take care of herself. I’ve seen her do that. But this job is important to her, and that makes it very important to me. So here I am, talking to you. And I don’t like you, Jack. So take my advice and be a good little boy, or the next time I come see you, I won’t just grab this pathetic brain between your legs. I’ll rip it off and hit you over the head with it,” she concluded with a sickly smile. Another slight twist to his crotch – another strangled squeak from Jack. “Do I make myself clear?” she hissed so close to him that he could feel her breath on his face.

“Crystal,” he croaked.

“Good. I’m so glad we understand each other. Now Kate and I are going to leave, and you can go back to your meal. Have a nice day, Jack.” CJ let him go and stepped back, curling her mouth into a snarling grimace as she swiped her hands together as if getting rid of something dirty. She turned to Kate to find an unreadable expression on her face. She took Kate’s hand while Jack just stared at them, slowly feeling the blood start to pump around his veins again. CJ turned her back on him and waved over her shoulder.

“It was a pleasure, Mr. Bannerman,” she said as she walked away.

“Bye, Jack. See you tomorrow,” Kate added as an afterthought.

“Uh, yes. Tomorrow, Kate. Heh…” Jack cleared his throat and sat down very carefully, rubbing his brow in confusion. He’d never experienced anything like that before. Women fell at his feet all the time. They didn’t reject him, and they certainly didn’t do…whatever that six-foot stunner had just done. “Yeah, lesbians. I knew there had to be a reason Kate didn’t want me,” he muttered to himself.

And with that, his cocky, self-loving ego was back, but he’d be a lot more careful around Kate Marshall in the future. In fact, maybe he should try to make amends. Maybe then he’d have better chance of seeing her goddess of a wife again. Rubbing his chin and narrowing his eyes thoughtfully, he went back to his meal with many, many images of CJ dancing across his mind.

* * * * * *

On the car ride home, CJ drove silently, wondering what was going through Kate’s mind. Had she disappointed her? Had she made Kate angry? Did she do good? She wasn’t sure because Kate hadn’t said a word since they had left the studios.

They arrived home, and CJ dropped the car keys onto the coffee table. She was suddenly thrown full force onto the couch and found a tight little fireball of an actress straddling her hips, green eyes bursting with…something. CJ raised her hands in surrender, not sure what was coming next, but Kate leaned her body down to push her breasts against CJ’s. She wrapped both arms over CJ’s head to frame her face, and then bent down to kiss her hotly.

CJ could tell Kate was hungry, and they kissed until she thought she might pass out. Their tongues twisted and explored around one another, their lips and teeth mashed together in a desperate attempt to taste everything at once, and faint gasps and moans filled the air between them. Finally, Kate rose up to hover above CJ, and she looked down with a gaze of such intense fire, CJ thought she was going to burn a hole right through to the couch cushions.

“I…I take it you’re not angry with me?” CJ ventured, trying to catch her breath.

“Angry? Are you crazy? Honey, you were incredible,” Kate said as she fell back down onto her. “You truly got your point across without doing anything that he could complain about.”

“What do you mean?” CJ asked while depositing little kisses on Kate’s chin and lips.

“Jack has groped my ass and made sure to rub up against me when nobody was around. Those inappropriate touches you talked about. He did them all, and you managed to scare the crap out of him by doing the exact same thing. It was genius!”

“Well, I’m glad you think so. I didn’t really like doing it, but I hated the way he was treating you.”

“You didn’t like doing it? Really?” Kate raised a disbelieving eyebrow.

“Hmm. Maybe a little.” CJ tried not to grin.

“There’s my tough special agent,” Kate husked. “And now for your reward…”

CJ didn’t get a chance to reply as Kate stripped the clothes from her body. She found herself very naked, very quickly, and she really didn’t mind at all. It seemed she did good after all. Very good.

* * * * * *

Later that day, Tony arrived at the house and reluctantly gave Kamali back to his humans. Kate told him to keep the Mercedes since he was still car-less, and come back to pick her up the next morning to go to the studios. Meanwhile, CJ called her office and got some news she didn’t like much. She was deep in thought when she walked out onto the rear deck.

Kate was playing with the dog and looked up from her position on the steps. “You okay, honey?”

“Hmm? Oh, yeah. I called work. Seems I have to go to San Francisco this week to give a lecture,” CJ said pensively.

Kate got up and joined CJ on the bench. “You don’t want to do it?” she asked, trying to read CJ’s expression.

“Hell, I don’t know. I guess it’s something different, but I’ve never taught anyone before, never mind a bunch of cadets.”

“What’s the topic for your lecture?”

“An intro to psychological profiling…”

“Sounds like its right up your street. You’ll do great,” Kate said firmly.

“Ya think?”

“Absolutely. And remember, it doesn’t have to be a boring slide-show lecture. Use what you know, and use your unbelievable charm and wit. They’ll remember more if they remember you. And boy, will they remember you,” Kate said with a smirk.

“Oh, god. I don’t think I want them to remember me too much…just the material…but you’re right. I’ll find a way to make it interesting.”

Kate leaned into her and sighed. “When do you have to go?”

“Thursday. I guess that gives me a couple of days to prepare something,” CJ said, stroking the reddish-blond head at her shoulder.

“Hmm, that’s nice,” Kate murmured when she felt the caress. They sat there in peaceful conversation for a half-hour before Kate’s stomach – regular as clockwork – rumbled that it was time for dinner. Once they’d checked on the horses and threw the ball for Kamali a few times, they headed indoors to feed themselves.

* * * * * *

Kate chewed on her food as she thought about the conversation she’d had with Tony earlier. They had discussed the fact that Tony had taken care of things when she and CJ were away. He wanted to learn more about caring for the horses, and Kate decided they should give him a raise. He was definitely more than just her driver. He was a personal assistant of sorts, and since Kate and CJ employed him and not the studios, it was their decision.

“CJ?”

“Yes, Katie?”

“I was talking to Tony earlier. He wasn’t too sure about caring for the horses. He said Nevada threw a shoe, and she seemed a little lame, but he didn’t know who to call. I told him it wasn’t an urgent thing, but he wants to learn more. I was thinking I’d teach him all he needs to know. Do you think we should give him a raise?”

“Yeah. I always thought he deserved one,” CJ mumbled around her bread.

“He really does. I mean, he’s my driver, but he also takes care of our dog, our house, our horses, and just about everything else when we’re not here. He picks up my messages, keeps a frickin’ diary for me, and reminds me of every appointment. And he’s never late to pick me up. He really is a treasure, isn’t he?”

“I’m not disagreeing with you, Katie. I think he’s a diamond. And what’s more, we trust him. That’s very important to me. Makes me feel better when the famous actress I have for a wife is away from me,” CJ said and then stuffed another piece of potato into her mouth while she waited for the response.

Kate threw a napkin at her. “Yeah, okay. I’ll tell him tomorrow.”

“How much of a raise were you thinking?”

“Good question. How about three hundred dollars a month for now? He’s on a pretty good wage for a driver, but he does a ton more than that.”

“Sounds fine to me. We can afford that, so go for it. I’m sure it can only help since he’s romancing his new girlfriend.” CJ winked and went back to her meal.

“Great. I’ll draw up a new contract for him.” Kate shoveled some food into her mouth, and then paused when she realized what the wink was for. “New girlfriend…?”

“Yeah. Someone from the studios, apparently.”

“Ooh, I must find out who it is.”

CJ laughed. “I’m sure you will, Katie.”

* * * * * *

After CJ and Kate finished their meal, they took Kamali for a long walk around their land. It was about an hour later when their tired dog padded in the backdoor and slurped his water before falling into his bed. Both women headed upstairs to get organized for the next day. While Kate chose an outfit to wear, CJ headed into the bathroom and began disrobing to take a shower. She looked into the mirror above their twin sinks.

“We need a bigger mirror in here,” she said to Kate who was coming through the door.

Kate grinned teasingly. “Whatever for, my darling?”

“Uh…”

Kate slipped her arms around CJ’s waist and bit the back of her shoulder. “I think it’s my turn.”

“I may not survive it. And you can’t hold me up when my legs give way, which they’re pretty much guaranteed to do,” CJ pointed out as she tried to keep her breathing steady, but Kate was now tracing a line down her arm with her teeth, driving her beyond crazy. “I, uh, Katie…”

“Wait here. I have an idea.”

CJ did as she was told, curious to see what Kate was going to do. When Kate disappeared into the bedroom, she frowned at her reflection, but she did have an amused glint in her eye. A few moments later she heard a quiet “come here” from the bedroom, and she slowly walked through the door to be greeted by the sight of her ridiculously-cute – and very naked – wife sitting on the bed, facing the full-height mirror that hung on the bedroom wall. Kate had lit a few candles and put on the mood lighting throughout the room. She curled her finger in front of her mischievous face, calling CJ to her. CJ didn’t hesitate for a second. She immediately crossed the bedroom to stand directly in front of her.

Kate breathed deeply. “Undress for me.”

CJ began to slip out of her bra, moving painfully slowly so that Kate got what she wanted. She knew Kate loved to watch the play of muscles as her arms moved, loved to cast a burning glance over every piece of uncovered skin as it came into view. It made CJ shiver, and her nipples stood hard to attention as Kate licked her lips and leaned back with her hands on the bed to watch CJ remove her pants. A bare foot came up and rested on the mattress between Kate’s thighs. CJ nodded toward it in a silent instruction. Kate grabbed the bottom of her pant leg and pulled. She did the same with the second offered leg, and CJ soon stood before her in nothing but black, lacy panties.

Kate growled and leaned forward to inhale the scent of her lover. She moaned her exhale and grabbed CJ’s buttocks to pull her close and kiss the dark material. Feeling it already wet beneath her lips, she wrapped her fingers around the two little straps that held the panties and pulled them down slowly, keeping her lips in contact with the delicious thatch of hair that was revealed. She felt CJ shudder and weaken as she continued to kiss the mound before trailing her mouth over each hip bone and sliding her tongue into CJ’s navel. CJ’s legs buckled a little, and Kate could hear her breaths coming short and fast. She grabbed CJ’s buttocks again and thrust her tongue through the dark hair into the warm flesh beneath. CJ leaned her knees on the edge of the mattress, unable to stay completely upright.

“Katie! Oh, my…Katie…”

After teasing her to a state of delirious madness, Kate eventually stopped her sweet, oral torture and turned a very aroused CJ to face the mirror. She scooted back on the bed to pull CJ into a sitting position between her widely-spread legs. CJ leaned her back against Kate’s breasts and curved her hips to slide down a little and give Kate a better view.

Kate’s fingernails scratched gently around CJ’s waist and swirled around her twitching abdomen. CJ’s blue eyes met hers in the mirror, and CJ almost climaxed at the sheer intensity of her desire. Kate sensed it. She felt it too, and decided not to tease anymore. CJ’s thighs were at the edge of the bed, and Kate could see exactly what she was doing, which meant CJ could too.

Kate slid round a little so that her sex rested against CJ’s side, giving her a much better angle for what came next. She grazed her fingertips down her lover’s inner thighs which prompted CJ to open her legs wide, inviting Kate in. Kate then brushed over her clit and immediately began slow, languid strokes to build toward the impending climax.

“Yes…” CJ’s eyes rolled shut as she threw her head back.

“Watch me,” Kate demanded.

Those words were enough to bring CJ to the edge of reason, and she forced her eyes open to look at their arousing reflection. She swallowed hard, trying to moisten her very dry mouth and lips. It didn’t work. She was panting too hard and too fast. “Katie. I’m gonna…”

“I know. Come for me, Ciara,” Kate purred as she thrust two fingers inside CJ, keeping a delicious pressure on her hardened clit with the heel of her hand.

CJ’s body tightened, her muscles fully taut with the pleasure she was experiencing. Her orgasm exploded within her, and every piece of skin touching Kate felt like flames burning her nerve endings. She had to close her eyes now, as a host of bright colors seemed to dance across her field of vision.

Kate watched her: watched her pert, heaving breasts, and CJ’s face, so beautiful in her release. She watched her own hand as it gently carried CJ through her orgasm. She watched her coming back from the high, her goddess-like features relaxing in the aftermath. Kate slowly withdrew and raised her hand to her mouth. CJ seemed to sense what she was going to do and opened her eyes to see Kate sucking on her fingers.

Suddenly, CJ growled deep in her throat and flipped herself onto her knees on the floor. She grabbed Kate’s ass and slid her forward roughly, sinking her mouth between her thighs. Kate squeaked, but quickly offered herself freely to CJ who feasted on her, flicking her tongue back and forth quickly over Kate’s incredibly sensitive clit while she suckled on the surrounding skin.

Literally twenty seconds later, Kate climaxed so hard that she felt herself scatter into a million pieces. The orgasm tore through her like liquid fire, searing every molecule of her being. “Ciara!” she screamed over and over until it faded into nothing.

But CJ wouldn’t stop, and Kate opened her eyes in disbelief as she came again…and again and again. She barely had time to recover before the next wave of release crashed over her. She could see CJ in the mirror, devouring her. It was incredible. She’d never experienced anything like this before. The pleasure was endless, and she wondered if she would manage to survive it.

Finally…finally, she just couldn’t respond anymore, and she slumped back on the bed, flat out in her exhaustion. CJ rose up from her heavenly feast and looked up the length of Kate’s sweat-covered body, glancing past the glistening breasts to seek out her wife’s face. She curled her dark eyebrow and assumed a smug half-grin as she crawled up Kate’s sated body.

“You okay?” CJ whispered.

Kate was unable to speak and slapped her playfully on the shoulder as her reply.

CJ slid over on the bed and wrapped her body around Kate’s side. She kissed her on the cheek and sighed happily. “That was beyond amazing, baby.”

“Completely,” Kate murmured. “What you did to me…I lost count.”

CJ smiled and nuzzled her face under Kate’s chin. They lay together for long moments before CJ remembered that they had been headed for the shower, but she just didn’t want to move, so she wrapped herself tighter around the compact, firm body that was somehow so soft at the same time.

After twitching a few times as her body tried to force her to sleep, Kate stirred. “Mmm, let’s shower and get into bed.”

“I don’t wanna move,” CJ muttered.

“Come on. If you get up now, I’ll wash you,” Kate said, knowing that it would tempt CJ into the bathroom.

“Aww, now you’ve gone and done it,” CJ whined while trying to hide her smile.

After a lengthy and somewhat arousing shower, two incredibly sated women crawled into bed. Lying there in the dark, CJ fleetingly thought about how she didn’t sleep separately from Kate, wanting her own space like she’d done with others in the past. She always wanted to be enveloped around her as they fell asleep, and that surprised her sometimes. It had surprised Kate too, but they’d discussed it, and thankfully Kate had wanted the same thing.

True love, CJ thought drowsily as she fell blissfully into sleep.

 

Chapter 3

.

The next couple of days passed quickly. Kate went back to work to find a rather polite Jack being all gentlemanly in her presence. He held doors open, complimented her on her scenes, and even bought her a coffee. It was all so fake and uncomfortable, but Kate figured she would just have to grin and bear it. She supposed it was better than his lewd remarks and sexually explicit gestures. But this way he could still pay attention to her, and if she got all irritated about it, she’d look like a bitch.

Gawd, you want to kill him, dontcha? her inner voice goaded.

Kate sighed heavily as she sat down in her trailer on Thursday morning to wait for Cyn. CJ had left for San Francisco the night before, and Kate was missing her already.

How pathetic am I?

Just then, a cheerful, whistling makeup artist came through the door and stood behind Kate, tilting her head to observe the long face. “What’s up with you, Kate? Missing that supermodel of a wife already? Or trying to figure out what the hell Jack is up to? Actually, now that I think about it, he’s only being polite to you. Did you threaten to castrate him or something?”

Kate looked thoughtful for a moment before answering. She knew Cyn wouldn’t go spreading any gossip since they had already established a decent friendship. “All of the above, I’d say.”

Cyn laughed. “Elaborate while I apply the fake pretty onto the natural pretty.”

“Aww, you are such a sweetie,” Kate drawled sarcastically.

“Yeah, I know. Come on, spill.”

“Well…yes, I am missing my supermodel of a wife. That can’t be helped. And I know what Jack’s up to…or at least I know why he’s being polite. CJ met him a few days ago.”

“Oh?” Cyn’s interest peaked. “And?”

“He seemed floored by her, but then she grabbed and twisted his crotch so hard and told him to play nice with me or else, so I guess he’s taking the threat pretty seriously.”

Cyn stood static for a moment and stared in the mirror at Kate. “She really did that?”

“Yep. It was amazing to watch.”

“Go, CJ! Go, CJ!” Cyn sang out, pretending to be a cheerleader.

Kate laughed and continued her easy banter with her friend until it was time to go act. At least she only had two scenes with Jack today. Hopefully they would be over quickly, and she could head up to San Francisco to surprise CJ for a pre-birthday treat. Kate had decided they could enjoy a nice dinner down at the Wharf, and have a trawl through the seasonal bohemian-style market stalls. It was the only place she had ever seen CJ enjoy shopping, and she was looking forward to picking up a few bargains too.

* * * * * *

When CJ walked into the large classroom, silence descended quickly. Only a few low whispers hesitantly broke the quiet, and she strolled confidently to the desk in front of a white projector screen. She turned calmly to face her group of about fifty rookies and cadets. It seemed to be a mixed class, and after having talked with SAC Douglas, CJ found out that these people had shown special aptitude in psychological studies and had been brought in for a more focused lecture.

“Hello, everyone. I’m Special Agent CJ Carson from the FBI’s Los Angeles field office. I’m one of a small, experimental group of agents who deal with specific violent crimes, serial killer profiling, and some high profile kidnappings. We deal with a lot of other stuff too, but that’s our specialty so…” When a cadet in the audience raised his hand, CJ assessed him before acknowledging him. “A question already? Go ahead,” she said, smiling at the young man who seemed very nervous.

“Hi. I’m Agent Garrison. Could you tell me what CJ stands for?”

CJ held back her laugh, but the others did not. The room erupted, and the nervous cadet laughed in embarrassment. As his cheeks roasted to a ruby red, CJ waited for the room to calm. When it finally did, she gave a little shrug to her audience.

“Well, Agent Garrison, you certainly broke the ice. And here I thought you had an FBI-related question for me. My name is Ciara Jane, but CJ will do for the duration of the class.”

The rookie nodded sheepishly before CJ grinned and moved to rest her buttocks on the desk to address her attentive audience once again.

“OK. Here’s what we’ll do. I’m gonna give you some information, and each time I’m done, I want hands in the air. I want sensible questions, and I want to hear your opinion on what I’ve told you. Ready?”

After many nodding heads and murmurs in the affirmative, CJ began. “There have been many debates about psychological profiling and serial killers, most of them in my office,” she said, raising her eyebrow at the few resulting giggles in the audience. “There have also been many theories formed and databases compiled full of statistics and opinions on these theories. So, first of all I’ll tell you that, according to criminologist Eric Hickey who has assembled the most extensive database on demography of serial murder, that eighty eight percent of serial killers are male, eighty five percent are Caucasian, and the average age when they claim their first victim is usually around twenty-eight and a half years. In terms of victim selection, sixty two percent of the killers target strangers exclusively, and another twenty two percent kill at least one stranger. Finally, seventy one percent of the killers operate in a specific location or area, rather than traveling wide distances to commit their crimes.”

CJ raised her finger in front of her to stop the cadets who were shooting their hands in the air already. She slid back until she was fully sitting on the desk, and pursed her lips in thought before nodding to herself. “Another thing I want you to think about is, the FBI claims that to be classified as a serial killer, the person must first complete three separate murders that are spaced by a duration they call the cooling off period, which can vary from a few days to years.”

A sudden seriousness had fallen on the room, and CJ was more satisfied that they had calmed down and she could now enjoy taking this class. She spread her hands to show she was finished for the moment, and a barrage of arms flailed about in front of her. She smiled at their exuberance and began picking rookies to answer, finally feeling quite comfortable in her teaching style. Kate was right. She could do it.

* * * * * *

The day was passing so slowly for Kate. All they had achieved this morning were multiple re-takes and a few classic moments for a blooper reel. They’d finally got the scene, but Jack was certainly off his game, and Kate was surprised to find she was missing the confident asshole who was so full of himself that he never really needed a re-take. She was sitting in her trailer pondering that dilemma when Cyn bounced in and leaned her hip against the counter. Cyn was the only person who never knocked on the door, but for some reason it never bothered Kate.

“I was just over beautifying Jack. He’s not quite right today, huh?” Cyn prodded, looking for some insight.

Kate broke from her musings. “I was just thinking about that. He looks like he’s constantly being punched in the gut.”

“Is your wife here?” Cyn joked as she pretended to search under the desk.

Kate snickered. “No.”

“Well, he hasn’t been the same since CJ, uh, had a chat with him,” Cyn pointed out.

“I don’t think Jack is easily intimidated. Unless…oh, god, you don’t think he likes her, do you?”

“You mean likes her likes her? Well, who wouldn’t? Your wife’s a goddess, remember?”

Kate narrowed her eyes playfully at Cyn. “Hmm…”

“Oh, my god. He doesn’t know she’s a federal agent either, does he? Can you imagine?” Cyn turned her back to the mirror and groped and hugged herself. “Oh, CJ, yeah, cuff me baby. Whatever you want. Oh, yeah.”

Kate slapped Cyn’s arm as she turned back around. “I can say for certain that CJ would rather kick the crap out of him. She’d use the cuffs as a weapon instead.”

“He might enjoy that,” Cyn replied, wiggling her eyebrow ring and sticking her tongue out.

They both burst into hysterics at how accurate that actually was. The image of Jack pleading for CJ to hurt him was too much to take, and once they had calmed themselves, Cyn grumped and complained that Kate had now messed up her eye makeup. They finally got back to business, but not without a few random comments about what CJ could do to Jack given the correct motivation.

Back out on set, Kate had one more scene to complete, and she silently thanked the powers that be that Jack wasn’t in it. Two hours later, she was running to her car where Tony was waiting patiently to take her to the airport.

* * * * * *

They had gone over all the basics of profiling before lunch, including the most common personality and background traits of most serial killers. The afternoon had consisted of answering more targeted questions, and CJ was impressed with her class full of new agents.

She took a sip of her water and turned back to the students to finish up the lesson. “We’ve gone over everything I can think of for this particular class. We covered pre-crime stressers, so I wanted to finish with a specific example. David Berkowitz is a typical example of an average serial killer…although the word average is debatable at any time when referring to a serial killer. Berkowitz was quite normal in comparison to his counterparts, some of whom have been known to eat their victims. During the years 1976 and 1977, he set out on his reign of terror in New York City, shooting more than ten lovers who were parked in secluded areas. After Berkowitz was caught, Special Agent John Douglas, one of the first ever criminal profilers, interviewed him at Attica State Prison. He discovered that Berkowitz came from an adopted home, and upon discovering his real mother, was told by her that he wasn’t wanted.”

CJ walked back and forth, gesticulating with her hands to emphasize various points. “Originally being shy, insecure, and angry, he blossomed into a potential killer. He found himself a large and powerful weapon, which in turn made him feel bigger and more powerful, and he set about unknowingly trying to obtain revenge for what his mother had done to him.”

CJ paused briefly and put her hand to her chin. “On a special note, I’d advise you to read up on John Douglas if you are thinking of heading down the profiler route. I learned a lot from researching his work, and he was the subject of a paper I once wrote. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything he has said, but he did a great amount of work on these killers, so I’d say definitely give it a look. And for all you movie buffs, he was the person Jack Crawford was modeled on in Manhunter and The Silence of the Lambs,” she said with a nod.

After a few smiles and murmurs from the audience, she decided to take a couple of questions to complete her day. A few hands shot up, and she picked out Agent Garrison to see what he was going to ask this time.

“CJ, what about female serial killers? I mean, I know you covered that briefly earlier, but I wanted to know if the profiling elements change when trying to figure out a female killer’s motives. Do you have to come at it from a completely different angle?”

CJ nodded approvingly. “Good question. I’ll pre-empt my answer by saying that psychologically, the thrill-motivated killer tends to be a sociopath, someone with a disorder of character rather than the mind. He lacks a conscience, feels no remorse, and cares exclusively for his own pleasures in life. Taking a specific example, I don’t believe this applied completely to Aileen Wuornos, perhaps one of the most well-known female serial killers. Her mother abandoned her as an infant, and her father, a convicted child molester, committed suicide in prison. She got pregnant at fourteen…the result of a rape…and was forced to give up the child. She dropped out of high school in the ninth grade and became a prostitute at fifteen. Alcohol and drug abuse followed. She was arrested a few times for DUIs and weapons offenses in Colorado. Her first murder victim was found in 1989. She pled guilty to six charges.”

CJ took a deep breath as the various cases she had dealt with in her career flew through her mind. She shook her head briefly. “So what I’m saying is that I don’t think Wournos killed for the thrill, and she didn’t kill for sexual gratification. Most male serial killers to date have killed to carry out some sexual agenda, be it gratification or venting frustration. I believe Wuornos developed into a psychotic individual through her upbringing.”

“Or lack thereof,” Agent Garrison added.

“Exactly,” CJ agreed, finally seeing some confidence in the rookie’s eyes. “So, to answer your question, in some ways you have to look at every serial killer from the same basic angle. It all begins with a wrongful death. Wuornos’s case could easily have applied to a male killer, but from experience I’d say that most males follow the power and sexual gratification or frustration theory. Just remember to always keep an open mind, and to look very closely at the evidence too. I was recently involved in the case of a killer who murdered three women just because they happened to look like a female from his past, a female for whom he’d developed a deep and unwarranted hatred. He wanted revenge. He was also sexually frustrated and laid the blame on this woman who had left him years earlier.”

CJ faltered and suddenly wished she hadn’t started thinking about that particular case. Kate’s battered face and body flashed across her mind, and she shook her head to delete the image. “It was found later that he was borderline psychotic, but the behavior never really came to light until he began to abuse hard drugs.” She paused to take a breath, wishing she could just erase Jason Burns from her memory. “But we have run over time, so that’s all for today…and thank you all for participating.”

A raucous round of applause followed, and CJ turned to pick up her papers from the desk, quickly brushing the tears away from her eyes. 

Where the hell did they come from? she thought angrily. She felt overcome with strange emotions, and all she wanted now was to see Kate and hold her in her arms. She thought about canceling her hotel for the night and telling the boss that she couldn’t take the morning class tomorrow, but she knew she shouldn’t do that. She was just reacting to an emotional flashback and the fact that she wanted to be home.

As she was about to turn and head out the door, she heard a murmured conversation from a few agents who were packing up their bags, which included the phrase “Nah, she’s wearing a ring. She’s married, you idiot.”

She couldn’t help but smirk through her sadness.

* * * * * *

CJ walked through the hotel lobby feeling slightly drained. She had enjoyed her day of teaching but was still thankful it was only a half-day class tomorrow. She picked up her key at reception, and the young man behind the desk smiled as he handed her a bundle of messages, most likely from her work. She sighed deeply as she entered her room. Dumping her black suit jacket on the bed and kicking off her shoes, she pulled her cell phone from her belt clip. She flopped down flat out on the bed and hit the speed dial for Kate, pinching the bridge of her nose while she waited for her wife to answer. Feeling somewhat uncomfortable, she reached around and removed her gun, placing it on the bed beside her.

CJ really hoped Kate could answer, but maybe she would be too busy working late. She may not even have her phone with her. God, I’m like a love-struck teenager. She also wondered why she couldn’t go twenty-four hours without missing Kate so much it hurt.

“Hey, you,” said Kate’s beautiful voice on the line.

“I’m so happy you answered. I’m missing you so much, Katie.”

“I miss you too. Hard day, honey?”

“Not really. I actually enjoyed teaching. I just miss you like crazy.” There was a knock on CJ’s door, and she slowly got to her feet to answer it. “So, how was your day? Did you survive Jack?” she asked as she turned the handle with a frown on her face. When the door opened, CJ was greeted by a smiling actress standing in the hallway like a mirage with her cell phone pressed to her ear.

“Jack was very polite, but I don’t want to talk about him right now. It looks like my wife needs me,” Kate said, hanging up the call and closing the distance between them.

CJ was stunned, surprised, and overcome with love and relief. She awkwardly wept as she took Kate into her arms.

Kate kicked the door closed with her foot and wrapped her arms around CJ, but she was a little concerned about the tears. She pushed back and brought her hand up to brush the errant droplets away. “What’s wrong, CJ?”

“Absolutely nothing. I don’t know why I’m crying. I was missing you so much, and then you were here. I guess wishes do come true sometimes,” CJ said, smiling wanly.

“Well, I just thought I’d make the best of my last days off for a while. I have a pretty tough schedule coming up.” Kate ran her hand through CJ’s dark bangs. “I really missed you too, and you’ve only been gone a day. Isn’t that pathetic?”

“No. It’s not. I can’t describe how glad I am that you came.”

“Seriously, CJ, what’s wrong? Tell me…”

Still holding onto her, CJ moved them over to sit on the bed. “At the end of class today, I started talking about this killer I’d dealt with recently, like it was just another case at work. I almost choked halfway through because it wasn’t just another case at work…”

Kate picked up what CJ meant immediately. “Do you need to talk about anything from back then?”

“Not unless you do, Katie. You were the one who almost died. I just needed to hold you, and on the way back to the hotel, I guess I just got myself a little worked up because I thought I couldn’t. Maybe I’m hormonal.”

“It’s just as well I couldn’t stand to be away from you and decided to come visit then, isn’t it? And I’m flying home with you tomorrow night,” Kate said, giving CJ one of her most dazzling smiles.

“I love you.”

Kate leaned in to kiss her. “I love you too.”

CJ initiated another, longer kiss, and before they knew it, they were lying across the bed facing one another. When they parted, they were slightly out of breath, and CJ looked at every part of Kate’s face, memorizing it as she had done so many times before.

The moment was broken by Kate’s stomach, which gurgled to remind her she was in need of nourishment. “Have you had dinner?” she asked.

CJ chuckled. “No. I only just got here. Wait…where were you before you came up here? Your timing was impeccable.”

“Um, I asked the guy at the desk to let me know when you came in. I was sitting having coffee downstairs. I was only here for forty-five minutes or so.”

“Well, thank you for surprising me. You made my day. So, let’s get some room service and fill your tummy.”

“Sounds perfect. Hey! Are you hormonal? I mean, is it that wonderful time of the month yet?” Kate said, sarcastically.

“Not quite yet…I don’t think,” CJ replied while trying to do the math. “Why? Do you have plans for me?”

“Maybe.”

“It never stopped you before.”

“Yeah, I know, but if you have cramps I’d rather pamper you instead of…” Kate trailed off.

“Katie, I want you pretty bad right now. I promise I have no cramps,” CJ husked.

“Good. After dinner, I’m going to make love to you, and then we’ll have a nice long soak in the tub before I ravish you for the rest of the evening,” Kate said, winking as she got up to look at the menu.

CJ didn’t speak. She just eyed Kate with a goofy grin on her face, very glad that her wish had come true.

 

Chapter 4

.

It was a beautiful, sunny day when Kate stepped out of the hotel to go and meet CJ after class. She’d had a lazy morning and planned to take CJ for a nice lunch at an old-style bistro on the waterfront, then on to the market for a little shopping.

She jumped out of her cab and into the building where CJ’s class should be wrapping up for the day. She walked along the corridor and peeked through the small, glass windows on each passing door. She eventually found CJ in the fourth room, and she could hear CJ’s voice as she spoke to the new recruits. Kate tilted her head and decided to watch for a while, since she was unable to take her eyes off the formidable and beautiful agent anyway.

Kate’s mind wandered as she gazed at her, standing confidently in front of a room full of students. She noticed CJ used her hands a lot to emphasize various points, and she was momentarily mesmerized by her elegant fingers.

CJ was mid-sentence when she noticed the face peering through the door. A broad smile briefly crossed her face as she finished up her presentation. Noticing their lecturer’s expression, a few heads turned to the classroom door, and Kate disappeared from view with a hot flush rising up her neck.

* * * * * *

“How long were you watching me?” CJ asked as they strolled down the street.

“Not long,” Kate replied bashfully. “I can’t help it. You’re so darn beautiful, honey.”

“Aww, shucks. You’ll make me blush.”

“I’ll make you blush later…and it won’t be from embarrassment,” Kate promised.

CJ grinned and slipped her hand into Kate’s as they continued to walk. They eventually managed to jump on a tram to head toward the Wharf. As Kate took her seat, she had to laugh at CJ who was hanging off the side of the tram like the proverbial tourist. The good humor continued throughout the journey, with CJ offering a greeting to a few new passengers, and eagerly assisting an elderly gentleman onto the tram in a rather flamboyant manner. Kate knew the overacting was all for her benefit, but she also knew that CJ would help everyone if she could.

A mere twenty minutes later, CJ checked in her wallet when they got off the tram a few streets away from their destination. “Do you have any cash on you, Katie?”

Kate checked in the bag that she wore crossed diagonally from shoulder to hip. “Nope. ATM?”

They walked a block or so and found a bank. It was a beautiful, old and very grand building, and Kate nodded with approval while CJ got her card out. She was about to put it in the ATM when she noticed the sign.

“Damn. It’s out of service.”

Kate sighed. “I guess we could go in then. I don’t know where the other banks are in the area.”

Once through the doors, Kate gasped at the interior. It really was an old building. The inside was just as impressive as the outside with its ornately-painted ceilings and giant windows high on the wall that let the sun stream in. The chunky, wooden, continuous counter had obviously been added to for security reasons, but Kate appreciated that they hadn’t ripped it out. She stopped her architectural musings when she heard CJ grumble at how busy it was.

“Probably because the ATM’s broken, honey,” Kate said. “There’s no rush. We’ll wait.”

“Do we really need cash?”

Kate tried not to smirk at her impatience. “We need cash for the market stalls. Here. Why don’t you lean on me while we wait in line?” She lifted one of CJ’s arms and put it around her own shoulder.

CJ’s expression brightened perceptibly. “I love this shirt on you,” she said, tugging gently at Kate’s black, sleeveless halter-neck.

“Thanks. I know you like it. That’s why I wear it so often,” Kate said, sending CJ an angel-faced smile.

“You’re so good to me.”

“I know.”

While they stood waiting in the very slow line, Kate decided to people-watch to pass some time. The woman in front of them had a little dandruff sprinkled on the shoulders of her black T-shirt. The man in front of her typed away on his cell phone with such speed that Kate wondered how many typos he was sending in his message. She glanced over at the counter. One woman was trying to talk with the clerk while her tiny son pulled on her skirt. Kate giggled when he stomped his little feet in protest of his mother’s lack of attention. A few other customers were being served at the other tellers, and she sighed deeply as she turned back toward the front of the line.

Kate frowned and tilted her head when she noticed a man a few places in front of them, just about to go to the next free teller. She couldn’t figure out why he stood out at first. Narrowing her eyes and looking him up and down, she realized that it was because of his clothing. Everyone else in the bank was dressed for the hot, sunny weather. Nobody wore a jacket except for this guy, who had on a padded winter coat. He was very over-dressed.

A strange and unwelcome feeling crept across Kate’s gut, and she turned to CJ. As their eyes met, CJ immediately noticed the change in Kate’s demeanor. Kate signaled with a frown towards the man and wondered if she was being paranoid. She looked back at CJ who had to lean forward to see the man, and she watched carefully as CJ assessed him.

It only took a few seconds for the perceptive agent to understand what Kate suspected, but they were too late to do anything else as the man walked to the teller and pulled a handgun from inside the coat to rest it quietly on the counter.

CJ watched wide-eyed as the teller took a step back and opened the cash drawer. It happened so silently that nobody else had panicked yet. She gripped Kate’s shoulder to get her attention again. She put her finger to her lips to let Kate know that they should remain quiet.

As the teller continued to stuff bills into the bag, the minutes seemed to tick by in slow motion. CJ scanned the premises, trying to get a full inventory of people and possible escape routes, or places of protection if this went bad. A very young-looking girl walked up to the robber. CJ thought she couldn’t be much more than sixteen years old. The girl took the first filled moneybag from the gunman and held it rigidly in her hand. He had an accomplice.

* * * * * *

CJ closed her eyes in total disbelief when she heard the first sirens approaching their location. Someone had tripped the silent alarm, no doubt at foot level because the robber hadn’t noticed. As the sirens came closer, she heard screeching tires as the vehicles came to a ridiculously dramatic halt, surrounding the building.

Jesus! Haven’t they ever heard of a silent approach? CJ growled internally.

The young criminal panicked a little and swung around to send a warning shot through the glass on the bank’s front windows. “You! Go and lock those doors! Now!” he shouted at one of the bank clerks.

The African-American woman seemed very calm – no doubt from her staff training – as she went to the doors and secured the bolts at the top and bottom.

It had gone bad. The now-agitated robber was swinging his gun-wielding hand around in front of him.

“Nobody tries anything, or I swear I’ll fucking shoot you all. I’ve got nothing to lose now. Everyone up against the counter and sit with your backs to it. No fucking funny business! You do something I don’t like, and somebody will die. Now move!”

The customers did as they were told, including CJ and Kate who made sure to sit down beside one another. CJ’s eyes were scanning the surroundings and analyzing the gunman who was beginning to sweat in all the right stress points. She took a quick look at the girl who looked just as shell-shocked as most of the customers.

“I said everybody! Get out here and sit the fuck down!” he shouted at the staff behind the counter.

The clerks came out the security door and sat down. CJ briefly wondered why they complied before she saw that the robber had the pistol aimed through the gap in the bulletproof glass. He held two of them at gunpoint at the door and instructed them to activate the time delayed opening of the safe. He figured it was all or nothing now.

CJ looked round to check everyone was complying with his demands. She heard whimpers and soft cries as some of the customers took stock of what was happening. She also noticed that there were two children in the bank. This was turning out to be a very bad day, and she cursed under her breath as her mind whizzed around at the possibilities.

Kate slowly leaned into CJ and whispered. “The girl keeps looking at me. Do you think she recognizes me?”

CJ’s heart thumped unpleasantly, and her eyes widened in fear. She didn’t answer as she tried to keep her worst nightmare from resurfacing. If something happened to Kate now, CJ didn’t think life would be worth living. It would be her hell on earth.

The phone began to ring. CJ looked at the robber. He was distracted while he barked instructions to the two employees as they pointed out the manager who could activate the safe. The young girl had suddenly produced a gun and was holding it aimed in the direction of the customers. She seemed to do whatever the robber told her to do.

Kate nudged CJ’s leg almost imperceptibly. CJ’s nostrils flared, and she didn’t respond. Kate turned her head slowly to look at her and noticed that CJ looked angry, her jaws clenched together and eyes set like steel.

“Shh,” CJ whispered to her.

Kate felt her own anger rise but had to keep a neutral expression because the young girl was looking at her again. Her stomach flipped over. If this girl did recognize her, she might point out to her criminal boyfriend that they had an actress in their midst who’d be able to provide them with a good ransom. On the other hand, Kate might be able to appeal to the girl in some way if she was a fan. It was too risky to think of things like that for now, but Kate filed it away for later.

Kate turned and noticed a father holding his baby, who thankfully slept in his arms, oblivious to the mayhem. She smiled at the little boy sitting a little further along as he cowered next to his mother. All the other hostages were adults. She scanned the rest of the people slowly. The woman who had locked the doors earlier looked very calm and seemed to be constantly assessing the situation. Kate wondered if she was an ex-cop before she had become a bank employee. As she focused again, she turned back to CJ, wondering why she seemed so angry. They had to communicate, to put their heads together to somehow resolve this. But Kate didn’t have experience in hostage situations. CJ did.

Kate scowled at herself. Let her do her thing. This is what she’s good at.

CJ sat completely still. She was absorbing everything that was going on, still sizing up the robber and monitoring the bank staff and customers. She could tell that the robber was not experienced. He was turning his back on people, not answering the phone which was clearly going to be the cops who wanted to negotiate, and he wasn’t keeping his cool when things went wrong. He hadn’t checked for alternate escape routes and was so busy stuffing money into his bags that he didn’t notice his girlfriend putting her gun down on a nearby counter and leaning her face on her hand as if bored.

Total stupidity, CJ mused.

The phone began to ring for the hundredth time, and CJ really wanted this guy to answer it before a SWAT team came bursting in – not aware of how many innocent hostages there were – and blew holes in everything. She stood up slowly making the girl pick up her gun to point it at her. Kate drew a sharp intake of breath.

“Carl!” the girl shouted.

The robber spun around on his heels, moneybag in hand. “Don’t use my fucking name, you idiot!” Then he saw CJ standing very still with her hands up in a surrender of sorts. “Sit back down or I’ll fucking kill you,” he shouted as he walked over towards her.

Kate’s face had turned incredibly pale when CJ stood up, and she was now holding the breath she took earlier, wondering when her heart would start beating again. She was just about to jump up and shield her beloved wife from the gun when CJ spoke calmly to the man.

“I just wanted to tell you that you should answer the phone. Give them your demands.”

Carl was in her face now, the gun pressed directly between CJ’s breasts. “You’ve got some balls on you. What the fuck are you talking about?” he snarled.

“If they don’t know how many hostages you have, they might come barging in here and blow your whole deal.”

“How the hell would you know that? You a fucking cop?”

“No,” the brave agent replied steadily as she tried to get inside his head, “I just watch a lot of cop shows, I guess. Just wanted you to get as much money as you can…and I really don’t want these people to get hurt.”

Carl seemed to frown a little and think about what she said. Definitely not an experienced robber, CJ thought to herself.  He didn’t even think about ransom money. She just needed to keep everyone alive and keep this guy calm somehow. If the cops barged in, he would start shooting, and that would not be good.

He removed the gun from her chest and stepped back. His voice was low and eerie. “Sit back down. Don’t move again or somebody gets it.”

CJ moved slowly and sat down next to Kate, all the while maintaining eye contact with the gunman. Kate kept her face still, looking down at the floor so as not to draw any attention to them both, although CJ seemed to be putting herself directly in the line of fire already. Kate tried not to feel anger and fear, but even the thought of a slightly-increased chance of CJ getting hurt was killing her.

Carl walked back behind the counter to finish taking the cash from the registers, and the young girl leaned on the counter again but did not put her gun down this time. She wasn’t really paying attention, though, as she repeatedly pulled her bubble gum from her mouth with her free hand.

“What a fucking mess,” CJ whispered.

“They don’t do this very often, do they? He hasn’t taken anyone’s cell phone, for starters,” Kate said almost silently, keeping her head down.

“I know. And I don’t like it…means they’re too unpredictable.”

“My cell is on silent from this morning. What about yours?”

CJ slowly turned to Kate, her eyes wide in surprise at Kate’s thought processes once again. “Mine too.”

“Please don’t do that again.”

CJ frowned.

“Please don’t draw attention to yourself,” Kate said seriously.

“Don’t interfere. I know what I’m doing,” CJ said with a scowl contorting her face.

Kate’s eyes were on fire with rage now, but she forced it down and turned abruptly to stare at her legs that were stretched out in front of her. She wanted to throttle CJ for not understanding what she was feeling.

CJ was unaware of it since she had transformed into her federal agent persona, and her eyes were constantly checking on the two robbers while she figured out the best way to appeal to the naïve but dangerous individuals. The girl was really not paying attention, meaning she could be easily startled, and Carl was…well, she couldn’t see where he was now, but he hadn’t come out from behind the counters yet. Greedy bastard.

At least the phone had stopped ringing for now, so she figured he had taken her advice and spoken to the cops.

* * * * * *

Carl finally reappeared and dumped a few more bags over next to his girlfriend. He spoke in a low voice to her before approaching the hostages, gun in hand. “Listen up. All of you are going to get up when I tell you, and go through that door in single file.” He waved the gun toward the door leading behind the counters. “You’re all gonna keep your mouths shut…that includes you, Stretch,” he said, growling at CJ. “I want all cell phones on the desk, then you’re all gonna have a seat in the office. Every time one of you pisses me off, one of you dies.”

CJ was getting another very bad feeling in her gut when Carl kept looking her way. When he went to the security door, and people started moving slowly to their feet, she shoved her FBI identification behind a nearby trashcan. She then slipped her wallet back into her pants pocket as she slowly stood up.

At Carl’s command, everyone filed slowly through the door under the watchful eyes of both robbers. The girl checked that every adult hostage produced their phones and placed them on the table. CJ made sure she was at the end of the line and was the last to give up her contact with the outside world, but she cursed the inexperienced gunman for finally catching on about cell phones.

Once everyone was inside the office, the girl stood at the door with her gun aimed into the room while Carl ripped the phone from its wall socket and threw it out the door. Smirking to himself, he also smashed up the fax machine.

“Watch them,” he barked at the girl. She looked so out of her depth, but she still did as he commanded. His voice boomed across the room a few seconds later. “You! Out here with me. Now!” he shouted, pointing at CJ.

Kate jumped up and grabbed CJ’s arm. “No! Please don’t take her!”

“Shut up, Red,” Carl sneered, shoving the gun under Kate’s eye so hard the pain caused her to fall backwards and slam her head against the wall.

Kate got back up and was about to say something else when CJ gave her a pleading look and an almost invisible shake of her head before leaving with Carl. CJ’s heart was pounding at what she’d just witnessed. She couldn’t deal with Kate getting hurt, and that fact alone scared her to death.

Kate tried to control the tremble in her bottom lip and the racing of her heart as she saw her wife disappear out the door with a gun digging into the small of her back.

* * * * * *

In the large outer office, CJ knelt before the sweaty, little man who now had the gun pressed against her face just under her eye. It seemed to be his preferred location, and she fleetingly wondered if he’d watched too many Mafia movies.

“Are you a cop?” he repeated.

“No.”

“Where’s your ID?”

“I only have my driver’s license.”

He began to trail his free hand over her ass, searching the back pockets of her pants. She prayed he wouldn’t search down her legs as the only gun she had on today was strapped to her lower calf, resting neatly in the crook above her ankle. She only wore it there when the weather was warm and she wasn’t wearing a jacket to hide her usual upper body harness.

CJ hadn’t had an opportunity to draw her weapon yet. She needed the two of them away from the hostages to guarantee that no innocents would be harmed, but that opportunity hadn’t arisen so far. Now, she wondered if she should try to overpower Carl while she had the chance. The girl did have a gun, but would she use it if her boyfriend was incapacitated? CJ didn’t know for certain and couldn’t risk it…yet. She tried not to grimace as he came to rest on her wallet and slipped it out with two fingers. Flipping it open, he read from her driver’s license.

“Well, Stretch, you’re from LA. What you doin’ in San Francisco?”

“Giving a lecture,” CJ replied calmly, wanting to punch the guy for calling her Stretch, never mind anything else.

“A teacher, huh? Well, I guess you would know a thing or two.”

CJ certainly wasn’t going to correct his assumption about her job. She just wondered why he wanted her out here. It became apparent pretty quickly. He lifted the gun from her face and brought it down hard against her cheek, slicing the skin with the impact. The blood dripped onto her blouse, leaving a stark, red blotch against the crisp, white material. She guessed he was trying to assert some authority, but she had barely flinched and hoped it didn’t anger him further.

“You listen to me, and listen good. Next time the idiot cops call me, you’re gonna talk to them. They said they won’t give me what I want, and they don’t believe I’m holdin’ people, so you’re gonna tell them the situation in here. And if you try anything stupid, I’ll kill a hostage. Their blood will be on your hands, not mine. Got it?”

CJ nodded, feeling the stinging on her cheek and the pressure of the gun which was pressed against her head once again. The only thing that told her she was under extreme pressure was the trickle of sweat that ran slowly down her spine.

* * * * * *

Kate tried to swallow again, her dry mouth and throat making it almost impossible to get any saliva. She was terrified for CJ, and furious with her at the same time. When does the job become more than her life? She knew CJ would want to get all the hostages out of this unharmed, and that she was always trying to redeem herself for losing hostages in the past…especially Sandy, her ex-girlfriend.

Kate shook her head in self-deprecation. She realized CJ must be reliving past incidents, but at the same time, it couldn’t go on like this for the rest of CJ’s life. Kate felt her anger rise again, but she knew it was just being intensified due to her fear of what might happen next. She flicked her eyes up and spotted the young girl watching her again. She dropped her gaze quickly to the floor, but her avoidance tactic didn’t work this time, and the girl approached.

“What’s your name?” she said with narrowed eyes.

Kate looked up. “Katherine Carson.” It wasn’t a lie. Her name was Katherine Carson. The only reason she still used Marshall was for her career.

“Oh,” the girl mumbled, dropping her shoulders and turning away.

Oh, my god. Maybe she does recognize me a little, Kate thought as she watched the girl lean against the doorframe again. She didn’t want to chance talking to this young woman while she had no idea what was happening to CJ, so she linked her hands together in her lap and tried to stay calm, listening intently for any signs of a struggle outside…or a gunshot.

* * * * * *

When the phone rang, CJ glanced at the desk and saw the white light flashing to indicate an outside line. Carl leaned over and picked up the receiver. Still on her knees on the floor, CJ listened carefully to the one-sided conversation.

“No, you listen to me. I call the shots. I have a hostage here you can talk to. No funny business ‘cause I’ll be listening.” He put the phone near CJ’s face and leaned down to make sure he could hear the conversation.

CJ had to get a Bureau-related message out there somehow. “Hello,” she prompted.

“This is Lieutenant Chapman with the San Francisco PD. Are you all right?”

“Yes…so far.”

“Are you a hostage? Can you tell me your name?”

CJ really hoped this lieutenant was sharp enough to pick up her clue. “I’m CJ Carson from the CNU…”

Carl whipped the phone from her ear. “What the fuck was that? What’s the CNU?”

“The California National Union of Teachers,” the savvy agent replied.

“That would be the CNUT,” Carl growled, not really any the wiser.

“Yeah, the CNU…T,” CJ said loudly enough so that the lieutenant caught her mistake.

Carl spoke on the phone. “Are you still there?”

“Yes,” Chapman said. “I need to speak to the hostage a little longer. Then you and I can make a deal.”

The phone was thrust back into CJ’s face. “This is CJ.”

“CJ, you’re a…teacher?”

“Yes, a teacher. I gave a lecture today.”

“Okay.” Chapman paused for a moment, and CJ heard a quiet “confirmed” coming from someone beside Chapman. She prayed they had run her details through the computer. When Chapman came back on the line, his tone had changed, but it was almost imperceptible.  “All right, CJ. Can you tell me how many hostages he has?”

“Around twenty, I think, including myself.”

“Is anyone injured?”

“No, not seriously,” she replied.

“Just one robber…?”

Carl grabbed the phone again. “Enough! Now listen up. It’s time for you to get me what I want. You know what that is, so get to it before I start shooting hostages. You’ve got fifteen minutes.”

“That’s not long enough to-”

Carl slammed down the phone and grabbed CJ by the hair. “Okay, Stretch. Move!”

He dragged her to her feet, placing the gun in the small of her back as he shoved her through the door into the office where Kate looked up and gasped at the state of her wife’s face and blouse. Carl walked out again, pulling a member of staff with him and muttering under his breath about opening the safe.

CJ sat down in a space between Kate and the door, her back to Kate’s side but within touching distance. She could feel the silence from Kate seemingly penetrating her very soul, and a green-eyed glare piercing the back of her head. “I’m okay,” she whispered over her shoulder. “Please just stay quiet.”

Kate bit her lips hard, caught between crippling concern and utter frustration. She brushed her hand up CJ’s back in a response of sorts, and CJ turned to face forward again, keeping a close eye on the young accomplice standing in the doorway. She wanted to negotiate with them somehow, but so far they had shown no signs of being open to discussion. It was easier on the phone, when they had to talk about it to get what they wanted. That’s what CJ was used to. She sighed and dropped her head to stretch out her tense neck muscles and think about her next move.

* * * * * *

A few minutes later, Carl could be heard shouting at the cops on the phone. At least, that’s what CJ thought it must be from the few words she could make out. Something had gone wrong somehow. That couldn’t have been fifteen minutes already, could it?

A gunshot made her jump, and a few screams could be heard around the office. The young accomplice also jumped and spun around, leaving her back open to the hostages. CJ knew this was it and leapt silently to her feet. In one smooth motion, she pulled the gun from her ankle strap and maneuvered quickly behind the girl, aiming the gun to her head.

“Don’t move and stay quiet.”

The girl was shaking from the sound of the gunshot still ringing in her ears and the agent’s sudden appearance. She moved into the office at CJ’s instruction and laid the gun down on a desk when she was told. CJ knew she had sized the girl up accurately when she put her hands on top of her head without any protest. It seemed she was involved against her will, and she gave up her position very easily. CJ could hear the robber still shouting on the phone, but she knew she didn’t have much time, and she now knew from his words that he had shot the staff member.

Kate had gotten to her feet along with one of the male customers, and they were now restraining the girl against a nearby wall. CJ blinked when she realized that it had all happened without her saying a word. Focusing her attention again, she headed for the door while signaling to the hostages to stay quiet and remain down on the floor. Just before she left, she pointed to a few vulnerable hostages.

“You three,” she whispered. “Move away from the door. Get behind that desk.”

The people did as she said, and she left the office knowing that everyone was safe from straying bullets. Kate didn’t want to be stuck here holding the girl when CJ might need her, so she got the attention of a member of the bank staff, and the African-American woman eagerly came to her assistance.

“Keep her against this wall. Don’t let anyone touch the gun,” Kate whispered to the woman whom she could now see wore a shirt with the name Fay embroidered to the lapel.

Fay grabbed Kate’s arm briefly. “You be careful out there.”

Kate nodded and went to the door of the office, keeping her body low and out of sight.

* * * * * *

CJ crouched down and, knowing something of the layout outside the office, sneaked along the side of the cubicle partition toward the more open area beyond. She spotted Carl smashing the phone handset against the tabletop. Below him, she could see a pair of feet sticking out from behind the table. The female staff member he had taken with him was lying on the ground. CJ closed her eyes momentarily in a silent prayer that the woman was not dead.

Carl was now tapping the gun barrel against the side of his temple in thought. His eyes seemed somewhat frantic and scared, and CJ suspected he hadn’t shot anyone before.

What a mess, she mused, thinking of the situation and this guy’s life choices.

He suddenly turned and took a step toward CJ before he saw her. She aimed for his shoulder and fired, but he had leapt for cover before the bullet could do any damage. He fired back, his rounds echoing out into the bank and surrounding rooms, smashing glass and puncturing a metal filing cabinet. If CJ had assessed his weapon correctly, he had a Smith and Wesson Sigma. An educated guess told her he’d have a seventeen-shot magazine, and she’d counted eight shots fired already. She hoped she could draw his fire until he had spent the last bullet, knowing that from there he couldn’t harm any hostages. What she didn’t know was that Kate had followed her.

Kate was crouched not far from her position and was ready to put herself in danger at the very second CJ needed her. But it didn’t matter. Before CJ had a chance to think much longer, she heard a scuffling sound and peeked out from her hiding place to see Carl getting up and running toward a corridor leading to a fire exit. Adjusting her aim quickly, CJ shot him in the thigh. He fell to the floor with a wail and dragged himself behind another desk.

CJ got up into a half-standing position and quickly crossed the distance between them, keeping her head low and her gun raised in front of her.

Kate was watching this from her secreted vantage point, and she went to help the woman lying on the floor while the other two were distracted. She lowered her ear to the woman’s mouth to find she was still breathing. Kate quietly told her to hold on while putting pressure on the gunshot wound on her stomach.

On CJ’s approach to Carl’s position, she heard him groaning. With both hands on her Glock, she aimed it precisely at the man’s chest and moved carefully around the desk to see his face. He was slumped against the drawers with his gun hand lying on the floor, but he still had a good grip on it. His other hand held the thigh where blood was gushing through his spread fingers.

“It’s over, man,” CJ said calmly. “Slide the gun away from you. Now!”

Carl didn’t reply. He just looked at the unrelenting hostage with a hopeless expression crossing his features. His eyes looked so empty, and it made CJ frown. She’d seen that look before. He raised the gun, and before CJ had a chance to stop him, he put it in his mouth.

“No!” she shouted. But it was too late. The bullet blew a hole out the back of his head, and his limp body slid completely to the floor. CJ almost cried at the senselessness of it all.

Kate’s head flew up at the sound of the shot, but when she saw CJ still standing there, she turned her attention back to the woman. Pulling her bag from her body, she ripped the long strap from it with brute strength and proceeded to wrap it around the woman’s torso, tying it tightly over a makeshift pad on the wound to try to stop the bleeding.

CJ walked over to her but only stared blankly at the injured woman. The agent didn’t say a word to Kate. Rubbing her forehead, CJ went to the nearest phone to dial nine-one-one.

 

Chapter 5

.

Once she got a human reply, CJ spoke wearily to the call handler. “This is Special Agent CJ Carson with the FBI. I’m inside the bank near Fisherman’s Wharf. I don’t know the street. The robbery in progress…” CJ felt exhausted as she listened to the woman on the line trying to find the right information. “Yes, that’s the one,” she replied calmly. “The hostages are safe, but we have one injured female, gunshot wound to the abdomen. I need the police to enter the building calmly and hold their fire. I’m going to open the front doors after you assure me that they know I’m not hostile.”

“Where is the robber now, Ma’am?”

“He’s dead. He shot himself. His accomplice has been detained,” CJ replied, getting a little irritated, although she wasn’t sure why.

“I need your badge number, Agent Carson. I hope you understand,” the woman said.

“Of course I do. Badge number XAG zero six five one six one three. Los Angeles Field Office,” CJ stated confidently as she pinched the bridge of her nose. After what felt like forever, the woman told her it was safe to open the front doors. CJ hung up the phone and went to the door, keeping to the side until two cops appeared in her line of vision. She raised one hand in front of the glass and made the okay sign before reaching over and releasing the locks.

As the cops filed in, she directed them to the office where the girl was being held. Paramedics rushed over to the injured woman and took over her care while receiving a brief update from Kate. When she had told them all she knew, Kate got to her feet to seek out her wife. CJ didn’t look her way as she headed over to what looked like the lieutenant.

When CJ approached the gray-haired man, he reached his hand out to shake hers. “Agent Carson, I presume?”

“Yes. Lieutenant Chapman?”

“That’s me. Well done, Agent.”

CJ sighed. “Not really, Lieutenant. He killed himself after I shot him in the leg. We also have one civilian down.”

“It could have been a lot worse, and it could have taken a lot longer to bring to a conclusion,” Chapman said with certainty.

“Well, you’ll forgive me if I don’t go celebrating. Did you get my message earlier? The Crisis Negotiation Unit…?”

Chapman nodded. “Good thinking, too. Knowing you were in here made sure the SWAT guys didn’t get too twitchy,” he said, raising his silvery eyebrow.

“I hear ya.” CJ turned around as another cop approached her and handed over her FBI identification which had been found lying on the floor.

At the same moment, the girl was brought out by the police with her hands cuffed behind her back. She looked at CJ and mouthed the word ‘sorry’ as she passed by the injured woman who was now on a stretcher. CJ just watched with tired eyes as the girl grimaced and began to cry when she saw that her boyfriend was on the floor in a large pool of blood, a blanket covering what was left of his head.

* * * * * *

Kate stood leaning on the desk once the paramedics had taken the injured woman away. She watched CJ’s cool work attitude as she spoke to the other law enforcers. CJ still didn’t look Kate’s way or check on her, and Kate felt a sharp pain in her heart. She looked down at her hands and saw the woman’s blood smeared up to her elbows.

Spotting a paramedic loitering next to CJ, waiting to look at the agent’s cheek, Kate walked over and asked him for a medi-wipe. He obliged and happily cleaned her arms for her, smiling and talking quietly to her as he did so. He also checked her head for swelling when she told him about being pushed into the wall. Apart from a slight bruise under her eye where the barrel of the gun had been pressed hard against the bone, he said she seemed fine, but if she had any headaches she should attend her local ER for a check-up. Kate thanked him and sat down wearily on a nearby chair.

After that, it took an hour or so to get out of the bank. CJ gave a brief statement to the lieutenant and assured him he would receive her full report as soon as she got back to Los Angeles. She just wanted to go home. She’d had enough of San Francisco for now. At the lieutenant’s instruction, two of his officers took both of the Carsons back to their hotel to collect their belongings.

CJ and Kate barely spoke on the plane, with only the occasional clipped but polite statement passing between them. Both tried to dampen their mental anxiety and physical tension as they sat side by side for the short flight. CJ hadn’t even come back to herself enough to realize Kate’s feelings, and Kate couldn’t begin to comprehend CJ’s way of handling the situation they had found themselves in earlier. All in all, it had turned into a really shitty day.

* * * * * *

Very late that night, CJ and Kate were silent in the car all the way home from the airport. Tony seemed quite concerned, not saying a word, but occasionally glancing worriedly in the rearview mirror. He noticed their unusual body language. They would always be at least sitting close to one another in the car, and more often than not, Kate would practically be on CJ’s lap – but not today. They sat stiffly apart, Kate leaning on the door ledge looking out the window, and CJ sitting rigid and straight, staring at her knees. It was very unsettling for Tony, who had come to care for his employers.

The overwhelming stress from the day was invading CJ’s body like a poison. It was too much. She could usually cope with everything at work, but when it came to the woman she loved more than life itself being in danger, she couldn’t deal with it. She had dealt with it before when she’d first met Kate – not well – but still she had managed. Was there such a thing as being too in love, of someone being too important to you? She shook her head disapprovingly.

When they arrived home, they both tried to settle, but as they went about their business not speaking to one another – CJ too freaked-out, and Kate too worried about saying the wrong thing – the atmosphere became so thick with tension you could have sliced it with a sword. It was like a volcano about to erupt, bubbling up from deep inside both of them.

CJ dumped her gun and holster down on the island counter in the kitchen, thinking she would sit and clean it to keep her busy. She went to get a glass of water to feed her parched throat. While she stood at the sink, she heard a forced sigh from Kate, and it was enough to make her clench her teeth in anger. “I was just about to move it. I just needed some damn water first!” she barked.

“I never even said anything, CJ.”

“No.” CJ pinned her with a piercing blue stare. “You didn’t, did you?”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing,” CJ said, realizing that Kate hadn’t been bothered by the gun’s location.

But Kate wasn’t ready to stand down. Their volatile emotions caused them to explode, hitting out at each other in a venting of high-octane emotion. Kate was unrelenting, and CJ just stood there and took the verbal outpouring until she felt she had to fight back. Her eyes widened in anger as Kate called her out on her professional actions.

“How could you do that? Just put yourself right in the line of fire like that? You didn’t even think about how that felt to me!”

“You? You? You think that whole fucking robbery was all about your feelings? What the hell, Katie?” CJ said in exasperation.

“You don’t get it-”

“No. It’s you who don’t get it. That kind of situation is not about one individual. It’s about every single person in that bank!”

“That’s not what I’m saying-”

“I hear what you’re saying loud and clear. You expected me to ignore my training, ignore my job just so you wouldn’t have to worry about losing anything! Well excuse me for trying to do my fucking best!”

“I didn’t ask you to ignore-”

“No! You didn’t ask me anything. You just expected me to sit there and hide from the damn robber!” CJ was shouting now.

Kate had never seen her like this, and it worried her. Her emotions were getting the better of her, and she couldn’t hold back her cries anymore. She burst into a flood of frustrated tears, but CJ just ran her hands roughly through her dark hair and turned her back.

“Happy fucking birthday to me,” she shouted as she stormed out the back door.

“Don’t you walk away from me! Damn it, CJ!” Kate’s head fell into her hands in despair, her face soaked from her tears. This was such unfamiliar territory for them both. Their first real fight had turned into a big one, and Kate slumped onto the kitchen floor to cry until her tension was released. Afterwards, she crossed her legs and focused her breathing to try to clear her mind, if just for a moment.

A short time later, she looked up to the clock and realized it was indeed after midnight. It was CJ’s birthday.

* * * * * *

CJ stood rigidly on the porch with her fists balled tightly at her sides. She hadn’t felt like this for a long time, and she’d never felt this way since being with Kate. Why had it made her so incredibly wound up? She paced back and forth as she thought it through.

She supposed it was because when she was on the outside of a hostage situation, she could concentrate on negotiating with the criminal. All there was for her to deal with was his psyche and his demands. He was disconnected from her, and she had to figure it all out blind. But being there inside the bank when it was all happening around her, not able to just pop the guy to take him down, in case innocent lives were risked, frustrated the hell out of her. Not to mention the fact that Kate had also been there and anything could have happened to her. The image of Kate pleading with the robber not to take CJ away sprang into her mind. She almost threw up at the idea of her beloved wife being hurt.

God, he could’ve just shot her in the face right there in front of me.

CJ’s stomach churned unpleasantly, and she headed for the gym at the rear of the house. Throwing off her pants and bloody blouse, she began to kick the crap out of the punch bag. Once she got the rage out of her system, she started a workout to release the other pent-up emotions that were making her feel so self-destructive. Kate didn’t deserve her fucked-up spouse shouting at her in the middle of the kitchen. She didn’t deserve to take the brunt of the agent’s anger.

Oh, fuck! I didn’t even let her speak. I’m such a shit!

CJ released the weight machine she was working on and realized that she was crying. What made her feel even worse was that she and Kate usually helped one another after a stressful day, but they had been in this one together and experienced the same thing. It had been new and difficult.

“Aww, crap,” CJ gasped aloud. “She was feeling the same as me. Why didn’t I see that? I’m a horrible wife.” The tears were streaming over her cheekbones, and she reached round to wrap her arms over her bare ribs as the sobs racked through her weary body, bringing her to her knees.

“You’re not a horrible wife,” said a gentle voice from the doorway.

CJ collapsed on the floor when she saw Kate. Her green eyes were swollen and reddened, her beautiful face strained and tight. She held a tissue in her hand, and as she crossed the distance to get to CJ, she pulled another one from her pocket.

CJ began to shiver as her fears were suddenly released to the surface and the sweat from the workout cooled rapidly on her skin. The fact that she was only partially dressed was now having an effect too. She couldn’t stop crying and tried to speak as Kate knelt before her and took her into her arms, but no words came out. The two women clung to one another while kneeling on the floor, each of them leaning on the solidity of the other body for support. No words were spoken. CJ was too busy crying, and Kate was drained after the speeding rollercoaster they had been on.

Sometime later, CJ pushed back to shift position. “I’m so sorry, Katie,” she croaked, not able to look her partner in the eye.

“Don’t, CJ-”

“No. I owe you an apology. I didn’t mean the things I said, and I never gave you a chance to talk. I’m such a jerk.”

“Hey!” Kate snapped, taking CJ’s chin in her hand to lift her head. “Look at me!” Kate’s voice was sharp, causing CJ to look up quickly, feeling weaker than she had ever felt before. Kate saw her pain-filled eyes and softened her tone. “We need to talk about this, but we are so exhausted. Let’s go to bed, huh?”

CJ nodded mutely and got to her feet. She silently pulled Kate behind her as they ascended the stairs, putting lights out as they headed to the bedroom.

* * * * * *

They had been lying in bed for about half an hour, neither of them able to get close to falling asleep, when CJ turned slightly and ran her hand over Kate’s reddish-blond hair that sprawled over her shoulder. “I guess we do need to talk now,” she whispered, feeling Kate’s body still tense in her arms. “I’m sorry I got so mad, Katie.”

“Can I say something without you interrupting me?” Kate asked quietly.

“Yes.”

“I need you to understand something, CJ. Even though you are the tough, experienced federal agent who deals with this kind of thing all the time, you are still my wife, the woman I love more than anyone else in this world, and the woman I do not want to live without. So when you stand up and put yourself in danger, drawing the attention of a gunman to you and only you, I feel the overwhelming need to protect you whether you like it or not. I know it’s your job to diffuse situations like that if you can and to protect civilians, but you treated me like a kid sometimes in there, and it got to me. I know it shouldn’t have because inside, I knew that you would know best, and you wanted to protect me and everyone else, but CJ…turn that around. That need you have to save me, to take care of me is strong. But don’t you realize that I feel exactly the same way about you?” Kate said as she looked up at her in the near darkness.

“I do realize. I promise. It just didn’t sink in at first. I’ve been so stressed out by this, and I guess the fact that it got to me…well, got to me. I might have looked calm in that bank, but on the inside I was scared. I’m not really sure why, because like you said, I’ve done this type of thing tons of times,” CJ replied, feeling her emotions getting the better of her again.

Kate squeezed her arms even tighter around CJ’s waist. “It was different. You were in the bank, not on the phone. And I was there too, probably distracting you.”

“No. Well, not really. Of course I’m going to be concerned that you’re in danger, but the way I acted in there seemed so cold to you because I went into agent mode. When I do that, I have to detach myself from the civilians to try and do my job to the best of my ability. I’m sorry if it felt like I treated you like a kid, Katie. That was never my intention. You just have no idea how scared I am of losing you…”

“But that’s just what I was saying, CJ. I do have an idea, because I feel the same way. I wanted to help you, to protect you. When you came back into that office with your face busted and blood all down your shirt, my heart stopped. I hate seeing you hurting…in any way.”

CJ wrapped herself around Kate’s body. “I’m so sorry. I guess I’m not used to people looking out for me that way. Please forgive me.”

“There’s nothing to forgive, honey. We just need to talk about these things like we’re doing now,” Kate said, burying her face into CJ’s chest. “And I’m sorry it had to end with you having to kill the guy too.”

“What?”

“The robber.”

“I didn’t kill him,” CJ said, now understanding that Kate hadn’t seen her shoot Carl or heard her talking on the phone afterwards.

“You didn’t? What happened then?”

“I shot him in the thigh. I think he realized it was over, and he…he put his gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger…” CJ’s voice trailed into silence.

Kate looked horrified. “Right in front of you?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, god. I’m sorry,” Kate said, kissing her face in between words. “So…so…very…sorry.”

“I’m okay, Katie. Just hold me, please.”

They lay in silence for a few moments, simply breathing one another in. Kate held CJ as tightly as she could, feeling reassured by the arms that wrapped securely around her back to return the embrace. More quiet moments of thought passed until CJ started comfortingly rubbing Kate’s back.

Kate suddenly had an unbearable urge to make love to her wife. She needed to be closer to her than she was right now, if that was possible. “CJ, I need…”

CJ’s heart rate increased perceptibly, as if she had sensed the need and felt it simultaneously. “I know. I would crawl inside you right now if I could,” she murmured.

Kate was suddenly on top of CJ. She covered her face with hungry kisses, tasting her then biting her and nipping the skin on her neck. CJ’s hands were all over Kate’s back, her buttocks, and then up to her shoulders, her fingers tangling through Kate’s long hair. They were rough with one another – nails digging in, teeth gripping skin – then they would smooth over those hurts with tender touches and hungry licks. It was frantic and desperate, filling a need to feel alive, to feel something other than anxiety or fear.

CJ rolled them over and covered Kate’s body with her own. She took her mouth harshly in a kiss, their lips and teeth coming together as if starved of the connection. It got too intense, and Kate yelped as CJ bit down a little too hard.

CJ drew back when she tasted the blood. “Oh god, Katie…I’m…”

“It’s okay,” Kate said with some urgency as she gasped for air. “Take me, CJ. Please. Take me now.” She pulled CJ down onto her again, and when CJ’s thigh came up between her own, she couldn’t stop her hips from thrusting forward.

CJ could feel Kate copious arousal on her skin, and it inflamed her desire. She covered Kate’s mouth once again, licking her lips carefully and tasting the metallic tinge of blood before slipping her tongue fully into her mouth.

Kate couldn’t get enough. She needed release. It was boiling up inside her, but she wouldn’t reach her goal like this. She sucked on CJ’s tongue and pushed herself harder onto her thigh, but it was futile. “Ciara. I need…I…need you to fuck me.”

“Oh…” CJ growled, feeling her stomach clench at the words.

Kate had never asked her that before. It sounded strange, but unbelievably arousing. She immediately raised herself up and reached her hand between them. She knew what Kate needed and entered her immediately with three fingers. Kate screamed out and pushed herself hard onto CJ’s hand as it thrust in and out of her. It was definitely what Kate had needed, and as she began to climax, CJ pressed her thumb down hard on her aching clit.

Kate screamed loudly in CJ’s ear. “Ciara! Yes. Yes!”

CJ was overcome by Kate’s passion and felt herself come very close to her own orgasm, but it eluded her, much to her surprise. As Kate lay shuddering and covered in sweat beneath her, CJ had to voice her demands before she exploded. “Damn it. Katie, I need you. Now.”

Kate didn’t miss a beat and pushed CJ up and away from her. Looking down, she grabbed her by her buttocks and dragged her up so that CJ was straddling her face. She thrust her tongue as deep inside CJ as she could, making her strong thighs shake uncontrollably. Letting her nose rub against CJ’s clit, Kate continued to lick and swirl her tongue around inside her until she felt CJ push onto her face. Kate groaned in ecstasy, the vibration causing CJ to cry out in pleasure. CJ climaxed hard, flooding Kate’s face with her essence. Kate lapped it up and completely succumbed to her hunger, taking CJ quickly to another orgasm.

CJ was shaking so much now that she had to move away, effectively removing her hungry wife’s tongue from her body. Kate tried to catch her breath, licking her lips and tasting CJ on them. CJ slid down and rested her very wet thatch of curly hair on top of Kate’s mound.

“Oh,” Kate moaned as her pelvis thrust forward involuntarily.

“Gimme a minute…” CJ panted close to her ear.

“S’okay, honey. I need a minute too.”

Both of them were covered in sweat and other bodily fluids, and as CJ moved to Kate’s side, she planted a gentle kiss on her shoulder. “Let’s slow it down a little.”

“Agreed…but I really needed that.” Kate paused to take a breath. “We were like animals, huh?”

CJ laughed, and then stopped suddenly as Kate sprung up on her elbow. “What?” she asked, curling her eyebrow.

“I just wanted to watch you laughing.”

“Aww. I know it was a rough day, but were you really so worried you’d never see it again?”

Kate slapped her shoulder. “No, silly. I just needed to see it. It’s so beautiful.”

CJ reached over and pulled Kate to her for another soft kiss. “You are so beautiful,” she said, brushing a sweat-covered strand of hair from Kate’s forehead.

Kate wiggled her eyebrows seductively. “We were like animals…”

“Yes, we were. It felt right, though. We seemed to really need it.”

“Yeah,” Kate said as she rested her head on CJ’s breast.

“Sorry about your lip, Katie.”

Kate looked up and blushed slightly. “I, um…it actually spurred me on.” At CJ’s surprised look, she hastily continued. “Not that I’d want that all the time, but in the moment, it was a turn on.”

“Ah. Well, I’m not going to be drawing blood on a regular basis, but as long as you enjoyed it…”

Kate grinned at CJ’s teasing and licked her nose before laying her head down again. CJ’s breast was so warm and soft, and Kate inhaled the scent of sweat and their lovemaking as it tickled past her nostrils. It was inevitable that she would start to nibble on that breast, and CJ was soon feeling it throughout her entire body.

“Katie,” she gasped as Kate took her sensitive nipple into her mouth. “We…oh…we haven’t showered…since…”

“I don’t care,” Kate said around her delicious mouthful of flesh.

“Oh, good. Me neither.” CJ couldn’t think, and her ability to speak was quickly dissolving, but she managed to switch their positions. “Let me make love to you, Katie.”

She began a trail of kisses over Kate’s very sweaty body, but it all tasted amazing to her. Her tongue lavished Kate’s breasts and her firm abdomen before trailing down her curving thigh and coming back up to take a journey down the other one.

Kate was making little moaning sounds with each breath that got louder when CJ went near the juncture of her legs. CJ reached her hand up to palm Kate’s breast, and she felt Kate’s hand cover her own to hold it in place. She dipped her tongue into Kate’s dark-blond pubic hair, and Kate raised her hips to meet the touch. CJ pulled back in an effort to slow this encounter just a little. She could feel her own sex aching and reached down with her free hand to touch herself, but Kate caught the move and stopped her.

“No,” Kate purred as she sat up and pushed CJ down on the bed. She straddled CJ’s thighs and slipped her hand sensually between them. Placing her fingers between her clit and CJ’s, she leaned down to press against CJ’s breasts with her own. She kissed her and moaned into her mouth as they both began a slow rhythm thrusting against Kate’s hand. Kate licked CJ’s lips and spoke huskily into her open mouth.

“You’re so wet, Ciara.”

“Anghh…” CJ tried to speak, but she had to regroup and take a moment to form the words in her head. “I…baby…take your hand away,” she finally said, pushing Kate up into a sitting position. “I want to watch you come.”

Kate growled as CJ tilted her hips until she felt their soft, warm clits brush against each other. It felt like heaven. “Oh,” she whimpered as she threw her head back to bask in the sensation.

CJ watched her beautiful partner as she headed for that pinnacle of pleasure. There wouldn’t be anything more perfect to her than Kate’s release. To watch it, stimulated her more than she ever thought was possible without physical contact. She brought both hands up to hold Kate’s breasts, massaging them gently.

“Now, Ciara.”

“Yeah…”

They came together just like CJ knew they would. She had been holding her orgasm back for this exact moment, and it was totally worth it. Kate’s head fell forward as she pressed herself hard against CJ. She bit her lips, her nostrils flaring in an attempt to get more oxygen into her lungs. Her piercing eyes were darkened and hooded as they watched CJ follow her to climax. It was beautiful. It was amazing. It was a moment they needed to connect, to bring them back from the separation they had felt the day before. As Kate slumped down beside her on the bed, CJ wrapped her arms around her. They were silent and sated, breathing as one in the afterglow.

In a tiny burst of energy, CJ managed to plant little kisses over Kate’s face, which was conveniently tilted up to receive the gifts. “I love you, Katie.”

“I love you more, CJ.”

A whisper in her ear. “Not possible.”

“I beg to differ.”

“Shall we agree to disagree?” CJ said with a satisfied smile on her face.

“Yeah.”

And with that reaffirmation that they had come back to one another, CJ pulled the covers up around them, and they fell into a dreamless sleep.

 

Chapter 6

.

The next morning was a flurry of activity in the Carson household. Since they had gotten home after midnight, had a horrible argument, made up, and then made love for quite some time after that, it had left little time to catch a few hours sleep. The alarm had rudely awakened them at seven AM, and they were now running frantically around the house trying to get ready for work.

Somehow, they managed to help one another shower, find clothes, and organize a quick breakfast. With barely enough time for a birthday kiss, CJ headed out the door to go to work, throwing her hand in the air in a wave of sorts at Tony, who was sitting in the Mercedes waiting for Kate.

CJ got into the Bureau sedan – which she’d be in trouble for, as it had been signed out for way too long – and screeched down the long driveway, noticing on the dashboard clock that she was actually on time. “Wow. How the hell did I manage that?” she asked herself with a smirk. Looking quickly in the mirror, she winced at the tired eyes staring back at her. “Please, whoever is listening, I need a quiet day at work. Then I can go home and sleep for a year or two.”

After exiting the farm gates, she focused fully on the road and headed toward the city.

* * * * * *

Kate came running out of the house with her bag hanging from one hand, shoving things into it with the other. Why did I rip that strap off my favorite bag? It didn’t do any good anyway, she grumbled silently. Or maybe it did. I need to remember to ask CJ if that woman is okay. She shook her head, trying to erase yesterday from her memory for a while.

When he noticed Kate scurrying down the porch steps, Tony jumped out and held the car door open for her. “Morning, Miss Kate.”

She smiled at him briefly. “Hi, Tony.”

“It’s nice to see that smile.” Once she was seated, Tony closed the door and got in the driver’s seat.

“My smile?”

“Yes. I was worried about you two last night.”

“Oh.” Kate thought for a moment. “Thank you, Tony. You’re a good friend. CJ and I are okay now. We had a rough day yesterday.”

“Anything I can help with, Miss Kate?”

“Please, Tony, call me Kate. I feel like I’m in Gone with the Wind or something.” Kate gave him a small grin.

Tony let out a bark of laughter. “Sorry. Kate, is there anything I can do for you, to help?”

“No. You’re already helping. CJ and I were caught up in a, uh…a bank robbery yesterday.”

Tony’s wide eyes glanced quickly in the rear view. “God, are you all right?”

“Yes. We’re fine now. It just got a little tense for a while,” Kate replied, smiling. “Oh, you could help me with something.”

“Anything…”

“Could you go to the bakery and pick up CJ’s cake?”

“Oh, yes. It’s today, isn’t it? I’ll do that this morning. I’ll drop it by the house when I pick Kamali up to go to the vet for his vaccinations. Is it Carey’s City Bakery?”

Kate grinned again since everyone seemed to know that Carey’s was her favorite bakery. “Of course. You’re so awesome, Tony. Thank you.”

“Did you manage to get her gift the other day?”

“Yes, one larger gift and two little ones,” Kate replied, winking.

“Larger?” Tony laughed knowingly. “I’ll say. How on earth did you hide it?”

“It got delivered just before I left for San Francisco…worked out just fine, actually. It’s in the barn with a big bow on it.”

“Excellent.”

They drove the rest of the way in silence. Kate prepared herself mentally for a day of Jack Bannerman, vaguely wondering if she’d survive it on only three hours sleep. She was looking forward to seeing Cyn, though. Some lighthearted chat was just what she needed.

* * * * * *

CJ yawned widely as she entered her office, and the sight that greeted her made her smile. Special Agent Jamie Green was asleep with her head on the desktop, a thin trail of drool coming from her mouth to pool in the wooden surface. CJ stood for a moment and watched Jamie’s smooth cheek as it twitched while she slumbered.

“Someone’s been workin’ too hard,” CJ muttered to herself. She walked over to her colleague’s side and moved her blond hair back from her face before scratching lightly across Jamie’s cheek to wake her. “Hey, Penfold. Wakey, wakey.”

“Huh? Oh, oh…hi,” Jamie mumbled.

As she sat up, CJ thought about how their relationship had progressed since they met. After a somewhat hostile start, they had become a duo of sorts. They had found out that they both had a love of the British cartoon, Dangermouse, and they had nicknamed one another accordingly. It certainly brightened up CJ’s day when she could call Jamie Penfold and watch her narrow those dark eyes in a mock growl. But sometimes in the office, Jamie wore glasses that somehow managed to make her look even sexier, so it seemed right that she should be Penfold.

Jamie rubbed her cheeks and sheepishly wiped the drool from her skin. “Hey, you’re back. We heard what happened.”

“Oh, yeah?” CJ grinned as Jamie tried unsuccessfully to fix her hair.

“Yep. Mark was informed about it when you gave your name to the cops on the phone. They called to double-check you were for real. Mulroney was ready to send us up to kick some ass if it went on any longer.”

CJ nodded thoughtfully and seemed to wander off in her head for a moment.

Jamie eyed her. “You okay there, Dangermouse?”

CJ looked up and smiled. “Yeah. Tough day is all.”

“I guess. Do you need to talk about it?” Jamie asked, sensing CJ was still distracted.

“Maybe later. Thanks.”

“Is Kate all right?”

CJ slumped down in the chair opposite Jamie. “Yeah, I think so. We had a rough time when we got home, but it didn’t last long. I was being an ass and finally realized it.”

“You apologized?” Jamie asked, sounding surprised.

“Of course I did.”

“I thought you were more stubborn than that. You sure are here at work…”

“Damn right. But I prefer…determined.” CJ shook her head. “But when it comes to Katie, and of course, the fact that I was in the wrong…well…”

“A woman in love,” Jamie swooned sarcastically with her hands on her heart.

“Ya got that right. And quit teasin’ me!”

Jamie held her hands up in surrender. “Sorry.”

“So, why were you drooling on the desk?” CJ asked, turning the teasing around.

“Just tired, working a new case. Wanna help me with it?”

“Once I’ve written up my report for yesterday, I’ll take a look, okay?”

“Sure, CJ. I’ll get the coffees, and then we’ll get down to it,” Jamie said, but then blushed hotly. “Uh, get to work, I mean.”

CJ hadn’t thought she meant anything else and caught the unusual look on Jamie’s face. Was Agent Green harboring some unrequited feelings? CJ narrowed her eyes as Jamie busied around her desk with a slight flush remaining on her cheeks. Just as CJ was about to ask Jamie about it, Ethan and Special Agent Michael Ryan from Texas arrived at the office.

Mikey was the new member of the team, coming to them after that fiasco with Powell. He seemed to be a real nice guy. He was only in the job two years, but like Ethan, he was already a great agent. He showed a definite affinity for psychology and profiling, and was learning even more from CJ and the team.

Once everyone was up to speed on the office buzz, it didn’t take long before they all settled down to a long morning of paperwork, but CJ wouldn’t forget that look on Jamie’s face. She’d ask her about it when they had a moment alone later.

* * * * * *

Kate stood on the master bedroom set with her hands on her hips and a bored look on her face. Well, it could have been mistaken for boredom, but she was actually exhausted. Her thick layer of makeup probably hid her sleepy eyes quite well, but she could feel it seeping through her. She was deathly tired, emotionally and physically drained from the events of the previous day. And I have no vacation time for months, she thought sadly. She yawned as Jack complained about the script for the fifth time that day, but what completely confused her was that Jack was arguing that Kate’s character deserved more respect from his. Kate found that very amusing considering what Jack used to be like.

He came back over to her to begin the next take. “Hmm. They won’t change it, Kate. I’m so sorry,” he said, holding her shoulders in both hands as the start of the scene dictated.

“That’s okay, Jack. I really don’t care. Let’s just get the scene, all right?”

“Right. Say, would you like to have coffee with me after we get this? No strings…” he said, raising his hands briefly in surrender.

Kate looked at him for a few seconds. “Not this time. I need to get home as soon as we’re done. Can I take a rain-check?”

“Sure.”

They both turned to look at Phil just as he opened his mouth. “Aaaaand, action!”

* * * * * *

At the end of her day, Kate crawled into her trailer and began the cleansing. “Why the hell does my character need so much damn lipstick? Eww.”

Cyn came skipping through the door. “Hey, Kate. Good day, huh?”

“Hey, you. Yeah, it wasn’t too bad.”

“What ya got planned for the goddess’s birthday?” Cyn quipped.

“Her main gift is in the barn. I think we should christen it…if I can stay awake that long.”

“Christen it? Ooh, back seat?”

“I don’t know. I hadn’t made specific plans, and I hadn’t accounted for us being hostages yesterday either. I bet CJ is as tired as me, if not more so.”

“Well, get home and play it by ear. Just make sure you guys have a good night, and I’ll cover up the tired again tomorrow,” Cyn said, bending down to kiss Kate on the cheek.

“You’re so damn sweet, you know that?”

“Oh, I know. My man thinks so too.”

Kate’s eyes widened. “Oh, yeah, I forgot to ask you about that. Who’s the lucky guy?”

“Uh…”

“Cyn?”

“Um, it’s Tony,” Cyn said hesitantly.

“Why are your eyebrows down so low? You’ll swallow your piercing.” Kate giggled at her own joke and realized just how tired she was. It wasn’t even funny.

“Smart-ass. I just didn’t know if you’d approve. You know? Him being your driver and everything…”

Kate stood up to face Cyn and crossed her arms over her chest, yawning and grasping onto herself. “Why would I have a problem with two of my best friends getting together? I think it’s great. How’s it going?”

“It’s going good. He really is a sweetheart.” Cyn said before she grimaced. “Are you okay?”

“Yes. I’m just so drained, it’s making me shiver. I’m gonna head home. See you tomorrow,” Kate said, reaching out to hug her buddy.

Cyn hugged her warmly then guided her out the door, grabbing Kate’s bag on her way. “Go home to your wife, and I’ll see you tomorrow, Kate.”

Kate nodded sleepily and waved as she left to find Tony. She was soon on her way home, remaining quiet during the drive due to her head lolling to the side as she dozed on and off. Tired was an understatement.

* * * * * *

Once home, Kate jumped in a lukewarm shower to waken herself up a little. Pulling on a pair of black sweatpants and her favorite top – a Foo Fighters T-shirt of CJ’s – she went downstairs to make a small but tasty birthday dinner. After throwing the dish full of Mediterranean vegetables and spiced chicken breasts into the oven, she went to the barn to check on the gift, making sure the ribbon was positioned just right, dead center on the hood. CJ had a picture of her dream truck in the gym at the back of their home, and Kate thought it was about time she had the real thing.

The shiny, ocean-blue truck sat proudly near the horse stalls inside the large building, and Kate nodded toward the vehicle as she spoke to the animals.

“What do you think, girls? Will she like it?”

Nevada threw her head around in what looked like an affirmative, even though Kate knew it was just a response to her voice. The dark mare, Idaho, just stood munching on her hay, not fussed either way.

“I do too. She’s gonna freak at how much I spent. But she built the addition for the gym and bought all the machines, so she can’t complain,” Kate said to the horses, justifying her decision.

After feeding both animals and turning them out in the field, she jogged back over to the house and brought out the two very small gifts to put them in their positions. She set up the plates, candles, a basket of bread, and a small bunch of fresh flowers that Jack had wanted CJ to have for her birthday. Kate had been pretty much stunned silent when he had stopped her earlier in the day and sheepishly asked her to give the lilies to CJ.

Seems my wife has a stalker, she thought to herself before she giggled out loud at the absurdity of it. She checked everything was done to her satisfaction and settled down on the window seat to call CJ’s office to find out how long the birthday girl would be at work.

* * * * * *

“Special Agent Carson,” CJ said, rubbing her forehead. She had the beginnings of a headache, which probably hadn’t been helped by the consumption of many mugs of coffee to help her stay awake.

“Hi, honey. How are you coping?”

“Oh, Katie. I wanna come home,” CJ moaned, Kate’s voice seeming to release something inside her instantly.

“How long will you be?”

“Hopefully, less than an hour. I’m almost done…in more ways than one. I may fall asleep as soon as I get in.”

“I have plans that will keep you awake for a little while. I have dinner slowly roasting in the oven too,” Kate said as she headed for the stove to turn the heat down a little to extend the cooking time.

“Mmm, that sounds so good. I’m gonna finish up and get my butt out of here ASAP, okay?”

“Okay, baby. See you soon.”

CJ covered the handset with her free hand and whispered. “Stop calling me baby when I’m not there to do something about it.”

Kate snickered. “Sorry. But when you get home…”

“Right. I’m leaving now,” CJ decided, smirking at Jamie who was gawking at her from across the room. “Bye.”

“Bye, CJ.”

CJ put down the phone and innocently began to tidy her desk. Jamie was still watching her, and she could feel the dark-brown eyes pinning her with a look.

“What?” CJ said, thumping her bundle of papers on the desk to align the edges.

“Nothing,” Jamie said nonchalantly. “You guys seem to be doing fine. I’m glad the stress didn’t get to you both.”

“Well, it did, but we fixed it pretty quickly. You don’t think she could stay mad at little ol’ me, do ya?” CJ said, batting her eyelashes. She knew she had guessed right about her colleague when Jamie’s cheeks flushed at her teasing. It seemed she did indeed have a little crush on CJ. Interesting. I’d have thought Kate was more her type. Who knew? CJ mused. “You okay, Jamie?”

“Hmm? Yeah, sure. You go home, and I’ll finish up anything you have left to do,” Jamie said as she got up and held out her hand for CJ’s files.

“It’s all right. I’m done. I’ll get back to these tomorrow. You go home and get some sleep too.”

Jamie nodded, wished CJ a happy birthday, and went back to her desk. Ethan and Mikey had already left to do some legwork on a case, so CJ bid Jamie farewell and headed for home.

* * * * * *

CJ’s nostrils were pleasantly assaulted by the most wonderful scent as she walked through the front door. “Oh my god, that smells amazing,” she said to Kamali who had come to greet her. “Hey, boy. Mommy’s been cooking, huh?”

The big black dog bounded through the house to inform Kate of CJ’s arrival. Mere seconds later, a cute – and quite sleepy-looking – actress came through the hallway and enveloped CJ in a hug.

“Hey, you,” she slurred into CJ’s shirt.

CJ didn’t say anything. She was overcome with gratitude for some reason, most likely because she was home in the arms of her beloved, and they were truly okay after yesterday’s nightmare. She held Kate tight and buried her face in her sweet-smelling hair.

After deeply inhaling Kate’s scent for a few moments, CJ pushed back a little to brush some strands from Kate’s tired eyes. “Hi.” She looked down at the T-shirt. “That fits you better than it ever fitted me.”

“Well, you do insist on buying ridiculously tight tees, honey…not that I’m complaining or anything.”

“It was the only style they did, and I liked the gun on the front,” CJ said with a pout.

“Hmm. It’s mine now, but you can still look at it if you want,” Kate said, posing from side to side to showcase the shirt. “Happy birthday, honey. I love you,” she added, cupping CJ’s cheek in her hand.

CJ hummed happily and kissed her. “Thank you. I’ll go get changed, and then I want some of that delicious food I can smell. Oh, and I love you too, just so ya know.”

Kate sent her off with a playful slap to the buttocks. CJ threw off her work clothes in the bathroom and came back downstairs quickly in sweatpants and a T-shirt. Kate eyed the tight material covering CJ’s pert, bra-less breasts.

Later…if I can muster up the energy, she silently told herself.

As they ate the sumptuous meal, they talked about their day. Kate told CJ about Jack, explaining the flowers on the table and telling her she thought the actor had a crush on her.

“He wouldn’t be the only one,” CJ said around a mouthful of vegetables.

“Oh?”

CJ wondered fleetingly if she should even tell Kate about her suspicions. The doubt left her mind as fast as it came, and she swallowed her food in order to speak. “Jamie seems to be acting a little weird around me,” she said, watching Kate’s face carefully for any concern. She didn’t find any.

“Weird? In what way?”

CJ licked her teeth. “Not sure yet. She seems to blush a lot when I joke around with her, and she gets flustered and tries to explain what she actually means when she says something that could be misconstrued. It’s kinda funny, actually. I just hope it doesn’t get out of hand. She knows damned well I’m not interested, and we’ve become good friends, so I hope it doesn’t wreck that.” CJ looked up after loading her fork again, and Kate smiled at her reassuringly.

“I’m not worried, if that’s what you think.”

“I knew you wouldn’t be. That’s why I told you. I only want you, Katie. You know that,” CJ asserted, grinning as she stuffed pieces of chicken into her mouth.

“You have me.”

“Nen my nife is complede…” CJ mumbled.

“CJ, that’s just disgusting and beautiful all at the same time,” Kate said restraining her laugh.

CJ grinned at her and continued to chew on her food. The meal progressed at a steady pace, and before they ate dessert, Kate gave CJ her first little present. It was a yin-yang pendant that CJ had coveted in a store downtown. Kate was suitably thanked with a sloppy kiss with just the right amount of tongue.

* * * * * *

After dinner, they went to the couch with mugs of coffee, though neither of them was under any illusion that it would keep them awake much longer. Kate reached under the cushion behind her and pulled out a tiny box, brightly wrapped in shiny, blue paper. This one was a little clue that led to the actual gift outside.

“Ooh, another present,” CJ said as she picked at the fastening.

“Yep.”

Kate leaned back to watch the expression on her wife’s face when she saw the key. CJ frowned and held the key in her hand, looking more closely at the keychain attached to it. It looked like a large, two-sided coin. On one side, it bore the Native design of the Wolf Track, which CJ knew was a symbol of leadership and authority. She also knew it was the symbol used by her great-grandfather many times in his life. Feeling her throat close up from emotion, she flipped it over to see The Morning Star engraved on the other side. It was the brightest star on the dawn’s horizon, and had been associated with the renewal of tradition and resurrection of past heroes. CJ shook her head slowly, overwhelmed so much by the symbolism of the gift that she almost forgot there was a key attached to it.

Kate watched her holding back her tears until one trickled down CJ’s tanned cheek. Kate lifted her finger to catch it, effectively snapping CJ out of her emotional thoughts.

“Oh, Katie. It’s so beautiful,” CJ said, wiping across her eyes.

“I’m glad you like it. I had it made for you. You’re my protector, and I’m pretty sure we’ve been here before. It seemed fitting.”

CJ nodded. “I love you so much.”

“Ditto.” Kate grasped CJ’s hand to rub her thumb over the knuckles. “Now, what about the key?”

“Oh, yeah. The key. It looks like a…” CJ’s blue eyes widened so much, Kate thought they may just pop right out of their sockets. “You didn’t!” CJ said, still not blinking.

“Maybe I did. Wanna take a walk with me?”

CJ nodded profusely, unable to form a sentence due to astonishment and excitement. She bought me my own car. But I don’t really need one. Oh, but it’s such an awesome gift, CJ pondered as they walked out of the house. She never suspected for a second that her dream truck was in the barn.

In front of the barn doors, Kate slipped her hand into her sweatpants pocket and pulled out a bandanna. “You need to put this round your eyes, honey. No peeking,” Kate warned as she moved behind CJ to tie the bandanna. CJ wiggled slightly like a little kid at Christmas, and Kate burst out laughing.

“What?” CJ asked.

“You were wiggling. Are you excited?”

“Yeah!” the tough federal agent squeaked.

Kate laughed again. “Wait right here. Do not move until I tell you. Agreed?”

“Okay, okay. Just hurry…”

Kate opened the large doors to reveal the brand-new, shiny Dodge Ram. Even she felt excited. She knew CJ was going to just die when she saw it. She ruffled up her strawberry-blond locks and leaned back against the hood of the truck, perched on her elbows in a seductive pose. She licked her lips and suddenly felt a lot more awake. It seemed CJ had a new lease of life too.

“You can look now.”

CJ whipped the bandanna off her face, and when she saw the vision before her, she had to rub her eyes and do a double-take. “Oh my god, what have you done? Oh. Oh, it’s…it’s gorgeous!”

She staggered toward the truck, but to Kate’s complete surprise and delight, CJ swept her up in her arms and kissed her thoroughly. The kiss lasted for quite some time, and Kate felt herself being lifted onto the high hood of the vehicle. CJ sat her on the smooth, blue metal and looked up into her eyes.

“You are unbelievable, do you know that?” she said, gasping for breath.

“No. You are unbelievable, honey. I thought you’d go straight for the truck!”

“No way. You always come first, Katie. But can you sit right here for a minute, so I can go drool over it?”

Kate laughed heartily, and CJ watched her in awe. She was so damn beautiful, especially when she was happy.

“Go drool,” Kate said as she brought her legs up onto the hood and crossed them at the ankles.

cj truck1

CJ gazed at her for a moment longer before she went to take a slow walk around the vehicle. Every now and then, she’d gasp out a comment. “Wow, it’s a quad cab. Ooh…awesome wheels. I love the color…” She got to the back of the truck, and Kate heard a squeak.

“You okay, CJ?”

“You got me the Thunderoad 5.7 liter V8? Seriously?” CJ said, bounding around to the front again.

“Yeah. That’s the right one, isn’t it?”

CJ showed practically every tooth in her mouth. Her smile was so incredibly huge that Kate guessed the answer to her question. CJ got up on her tiptoes, and Kate bent down for the offered kiss. They were both breathless when they eventually parted, and CJ raised her eyebrow curiously.

“You know, you’re at a great height for me to, uh…”

“Don’t you dare.”

“Oh, go on. Make my fantasy come true. Please?” CJ begged with her lips formed into her best pout ever.

“Honey, we’re in the barn…”

“So? The horses are out, Katie. We’re all alone,” CJ said persuasively, her grin covering her entire face.

Kate pursed her lips in thought. “Your fantasy?”

“You on a big, shiny truck? Hell, yeah!”

Kate blushed. It had crossed her mind, but she wasn’t going to admit that…yet. CJ sensed her change of heart and reached up to the waistband of Kate’s sweats. Keeping her eyes locked on her green orbs, she pulled the pants down and was helped by Kate raising her hips off the hood. CJ’s nostrils flared when she saw that Kate had no underwear on, and she inhaled deeply at the sight of the tender flesh before her, releasing her breath with a shudder. Kate’s reflection in the shiny metal did nothing to quell the flame inside CJ, and she carefully slid her toward the edge of the hood.

Kate’s breath was coming in gasps as CJ pressed her body against the sensitive skin at her core. She could feel the underside of CJ’s breasts pressing against her mound, and her stomach clenched in anticipation. They kissed long and hard as CJ massaged the supple skin on Kate’s back and buttocks.

When they parted again, CJ looked down at her T-shirt with a menacing grin on her face. She pulled the dampened material up to her nose to smell the scent. Kate licked her lips, watching CJ doing the same.

CJ leaned down to kiss the soft flesh on Kate’s leg, trailing her mouth up and down her thigh and teasing Kate mercilessly. Kate pushed herself forward a little more, and it was all the encouragement CJ needed. She licked her way up to the very wet juncture of her lover’s legs. She blew gently on the damp curls and heard a moan coming from above her as Kate’s hands came to rest on her hair.

CJ poked her tongue out to taste her. The strokes became more definite when the fingers on her head grabbed at her hair and pushed her harder against Kate’s needy clit. CJ licked and sucked and tried to enter Kate, but she couldn’t reach. She stood up quickly and pushed Kate back so that she was leaning her elbows on the cool, metal surface, her hips tilting with the movement.

She was now completely accessible to CJ, and that was all CJ needed to feast on her with gusto. She thrust her tongue inside Kate and heard her scream out in response. CJ’s eyes opened in surprise as she felt Kate’s muscles start to spasm around her already. Kate’s pose, and her full breasts rising and falling under the Foo’s T-shirt, along with the fact that they were making love on the truck, sent CJ over the edge.

“Ciara! You…oh, yes.”

CJ climaxed as Kate started writhing around on the hood and accidentally slipped forward. CJ’s mouth held her up, but her teeth bumped against Kate’s very sensitive sex. Kate squealed, but then startled CJ as she pushed into her even harder. CJ obliged and sucked vigorously on her clit. Kate had another, milder orgasm, gasping out CJ’s name as she recovered. It took a few moments for them to catch their breath. CJ reached down to adjust her sweats, always amazed at how just the thought of making love to Kate made her climax. She grinned widely as Kate lay down on the hood of the truck, sated and smiling languidly.

“You’re amazing,” Kate hummed once she’d found her voice.

“Thanks,” CJ replied as she busily kissed a delicate trail over Kate’s firm abdomen.

Kate giggled. “I think the truck is christened.”

“Oh, I’d say so.” A few more moments passed as they returned to the world, and CJ took the opportunity to kiss any and all bare skin she could find.

“Wanna…take a quick drive before we go to bed for the rest of the night?” Kate asked, finally finding the energy to sit up.

“Ooh, could we?”

“Of course, honey. Let’s, uh…get me dressed and go.”

CJ laughed and lifted Kate down off the truck. She held the sweatpants open as Kate stepped into them and kissed her on the forehead before they jumped into the vehicle. “Oh, yeah. Full leather. You are so good at gift-giving, Katie,” she said, rubbing over the seat with her hand.

“Glad you like it. Now, take me for a drive, woman. I have to get back and finish off the birthday night before I get too tired.”

“Oh? There’s more?” CJ said, her eyebrows lifted under her dark bangs.

“Oh, yeah.” Kate smirked and licked her full lips in response. “I’m hungry too, ya know.”

CJ groaned and started the engine. The truck left a dusty trail as it growled down the driveway and headed for the highway. CJ couldn’t believe Kate had managed to turn her birthday from nightmare to fantasy in less than twenty-four hours. Kate Marshall-Carson truly was an amazing woman.

.

Epilogue

.

One week later, CJ arrived home to find Kate soaking luxuriously in the tub.

“Jump in,” Kate said drowsily.

CJ didn’t need an invitation. It had been a long day of FBI work and convenience food, and now at ten o’clock at night, she needed to relax. And what better way to relax than to lie with the most beautiful woman in her world in some warm, bubbly water. She slipped in behind Kate and wrapped her arms and legs around the smaller body. She groaned happily as the comforting feeling seemed to surround her like a blanket.

“How was your day, Katie?”

“Oh, it was fine. I did have to pry Jack off me at one point. He was practically begging to come to dinner. He said he wanted to come talk to you about FBI stuff. He’s got it bad, CJ.”

“Did someone tell him I was with the Bureau?”

“Yeah, Cyn and I were, um…playing with him a little. You know? To brighten up our long day,” Kate said, grinning guiltily.

“And?”

“He seemed to melt into the floor. I think it made his obsession worse.” Kate looked at CJ and laughed quietly. “Sorry, honey.”

CJ smirked and bit her lip. “Maybe we should invite him and Jamie over. You never know what might happen.”

Kate turned her head again. “You’re serious?”

“It might be worth a shot. Jamie’s interested in me, but she’d never do anything about it. We’ve been building a good friendship, and I want her to be happy. Jack wants you and me, it seems, but he can’t have either. Couldn’t hurt to introduce them…see if there’s any spark there,” CJ said, idly taking a wet sponge on a trail over Kate’s upper chest.

“Hmm, maybe,” Kate murmured as she enjoyed the soothing caress.

“Oh,” CJ said. “I meant to tell you right away, but the woman you helped at the bank? She recovered. You helped save her, Katie.”

“Me? I didn’t do much, but I’m glad she’s okay. What a horrible day that was,” Kate said, shivering at the memory.

“It was, but just remember. The initial actions at a scene like that are crucial to the victim’s survival. You did the right thing and slowed the bleeding. I’m very proud of you. I’m still sorry I acted like a jerk, though. You were really great in there, you know.”

“You weren’t a jerk, honey, and I was so proud of you too. I just forgot to let you get on with your job. But you know what surprised me?”

CJ dunked the sponge in the water and squeezed it out over Kate’s breast, watching the water as it trickled away. “What?”

“That I wasn’t afraid of the situation. Yes, I was terrified that you or anyone else would get hurt, but I wasn’t afraid of what was happening.”

“That doesn’t surprise me. I keep telling you to join the Bureau. Hell, Mark mentions it at least once a week,” CJ said, snorting out a laugh.

“He does not!”

“Actually, he does. He wasn’t kidding around when he said he wanted you to work for him.”

“My god. I might not even get in,” Kate said, surprising them both.

CJ leaned her head to the side to look at her. “Have you been thinking about it?”

“Well, not specifically, but when I was helping that woman, I felt like I was doing something so worthwhile. I loved that feeling. And from what you’ve told me now, I might have had a small hand in saving her. That feels incredible, CJ.”

When Kate’s green eyes met caring blue ones, CJ smiled. “It is a good feeling, but my job has a lot more of the horrible stuff. I guess you have to take the good with the bad.”

“Yeah, I know, but I find your job interesting, and the danger doesn’t put me off. Anyway, I’m not saying I’m gonna run out and become a federal agent, but I have thought about it a little.”

CJ squeezed the precious person in her arms. “Well, whatever you do, I will love you and support you one hundred percent. I always will.”

“I love you too.”

CJ pondered their discussion well into the night as Kate slept in her arms. Could she cope with the love of her life being in danger every day? She supposed she’d have to if that was what Kate decided to do. And as Kate had pointed out during an after-bath discussion, she was in danger at her current job. The fact that she was a successful actress had already put her in mortal danger.

CJ relaxed into the warmth of Kate’s embrace and decided that whatever happened, she would deal with it. Kate was just full of surprises, and that suited CJ just fine. They would just have to deal with any changes or challenges…together.

.

The End…

 

©2017 StageFreak Productions

2 comments

  1. Wonderful entry into the ongoing life’s journey of Kate and CJ. Thanks for much for sharing!


    • 🙂



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