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Episode 5 – After So Long

December 16, 2011

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AfterSoLong Timmonsknife

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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 descriptions and scenes of mild violence but nothing too scary this time. 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, Norsebard. Your help is very much appreciated and continues to be most welcome.

This is the next installment in my series, After Montana. I would suggest that, to understand and enjoy the characters and situations fully, you should probably start at the beginning 🙂

Comments and/or opinions can be sent to stagefreakmusic@hotmail.com or left at http://marshallcarson.wordpress.com

Basic edit – Dec 19 2014

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Chapter 1

Special Agent CJ Carson sat at her desk in the Los Angeles field office. With her head buried in her work and a pen clasped between her teeth, she flicked through yet another case waiting to be solved. She looked up to see her colleagues – Agents Jamie Green, Mikey Ryan and Ethan Matthews – all doing exactly the same thing. She smiled as she realized that for the first time in her FBI career, she liked all of her team. It was a nice feeling and it was about to get better.

Assistant Director Mark Mulroney held the tray of coffees and muffins in his outstretched hands as he carefully made his way along the corridor. When he got to the closed door at his destination, he kicked it with his foot since he had no free hand to open it.

CJ glanced up at the other side of the closed door with a frown. She saw Jamie throw her a puzzled look. “Come in,” she shouted. The door didn’t open and…there was that thumping sound again. CJ got up and walked toward it. She soon heard Mark on the other side.

“Open the door, CJ.”

“Sir…?” CJ opened it and found her boss with a sheepish grin on his face. “Are these for us?” she asked, offering to help him with the beverages.

“Indeed they are,” Mark said as he walked into the room. “We have a piece of news to celebrate.”

All four agents raised their eyebrows in question. As CJ went to sit on the edge of Ethan’s desk, Mark set a coffee in front of each person and added a muffin too. He stood in the center of the room facing all of them and made his little announcement.

“Since we’re all so fabulous, I’ve received confirmation this morning that our experimental team is no longer experimental. We’ve been deemed a Specialist Unit. It’s official guys. Well done!” Mark finished with a wide grin on his face. The four faces looking back at him were smiling but nobody spoke. “Well?”

“That’s amazing news, Sir,” CJ said. She was fighting with herself to remain professional when she really just wanted to hug everyone. This was indeed great news. It would mean her permanent position in Los Angeles was even more permanent…unless the Bureau wanted to move the unit. “Uh, Sir?”

“Yes, CJ?”

“We can stay here, right? I mean, they don’t want to move us to Quantico or anything?”

“Heck no…we’re all staying right here. The Section Chief would bolt us to the floor if he could.” His response seemed to relax the tight but smiling faces around him, and a few seconds later they all laughed in relief. Mark sat down with his own coffee and let his team chatter wildly, asking him how he was informed of the news and what was said about their work, and anything else they could get out of him.

CJ was elated and she couldn’t wait to get home and tell her wife. Aww hell, she’d want to know right away. I’ll call her cell. She picked up the phone and dialed Kate’s number.

“Kate Marshall.”

“Well that was very official,” CJ purred into the receiver.

“Oh, hi, honey. That wasn’t your usual number calling.” Kate stated confidently.

“Ah, ya got me. I’m at Ethan’s desk.”

“Trying to catch me out, huh?”

“Nope. Just wanted to hear your sweet voice and tell you the good news,” CJ teased.

“Oh? What’s the news?”

“Our team was confirmed as an official Specialist Unit today!” CJ was a little giddy.

Kate could hear the excitement in her voice and responded in a similar manner. “Oh, wow, CJ. Congratulations to you all! That’s awesome!”

“It sure is. I’m pretty darn happy about it.”

“I can tell. I wish I could give you a proper celebratory hug right now,” Kate purred.

“Oh, my…I’ll hold you to that tonight.”

“Nice. So apart from that fabulous news, how’s your day going?”

“Fine, actually. Lots of paperwork today and a couple of new cases, but nothing too scary. How about you? I didn’t call at a bad time, did I?”

“You sure didn’t, and I told you there’s never a bad time for you to call me. I was just heading to the cafeteria for a ten minute break,” Kate said with a smile.

“Cool. What time are you finishing up today?”

“Not sure. We’ve had a few re-takes already, but worse than that, a large part of the set collapsed so they had to close that section off.”

“Did anyone get hurt?”

“No, thankfully. Nicole was standing near it but no one was injured.”

“OK, good,” CJ said as her suddenly tense shoulders relaxed again. “I should go and get on with all this, Katie, but I’ll leave here as soon as I can.”

“I bet you will, Agent Carson.”

CJ could just imagine Kate’s mischievous face and wiggling eyebrows. She cupped her hand around her mouth and the phone. “You are so getting it when I get home,” she whispered.

Kate giggled. “Oh I’m counting on it, wife of mine.”

“Right. I’m gonna go before I, well, you know.”

“Uh-huh. Bye for now, CJ. I love you so much,” Kate gushed across the conection.

CJ shivered pleasantly. “Bye, baby. I love you too.” She hung up the phone and took a deep breath, trying to calm her racing pulse. Kate just had to speak to her sometimes and she became aroused. My God, we’ve been married for more than two years and I’m still completely in love. So awesome!

It had been a few months since they’d returned from Christmas in Montana and things had been going great since then. Both women were busy at work but made sure they had quality time together too. Valentine’s Day was particularly fresh in CJ’s mind. Kate had swept her off her feet – not literally, of course – by romancing her to the point where her heart almost burst, and then driving her to a state of delirious pleasure later that night on the couch…and on the kitchen table and in bed. CJ’s body tingled at the memory every time she thought of it.

Another piece of news had just come their way. Kate’s brother, Eddie, had been given a transfer to San Francisco. He’d be living much closer to them now, and they were looking forward to spending a little more time together. His impending move brought him closer to a woman in his company he was attracted to, so he was looking forward to so many aspects of his new life on the West Coast.

But by far the biggest piece of news was that Kate had been nominated for an Emmy. The day she had been told, CJ saw a side of her never quite revealed before. A truly child-like joy and excitement had burst out of Kate, and CJ had been thankful the display was saved all for her. Kate had gotten home and bounced all over the house, jumping up and down in CJ’s arms as she told her the news. CJ had thought it was incredibly adorable and she’d even gone so far as to jump up and down with Kate in her merriment. The big night was coming up quite soon, and Kate had begged CJ to be her date. CJ wasn’t one for such publicity but she was honored to be accompanying her beloved partner to this very special event.

* * * * * *

Since the director and the rest of the crew had given up trying to film until the set was cleared up and rebuilt, Kate left the studios early and got home at six PM. She changed into her jeans and a shirt before grabbing a tennis ball from the front porch and heading out for a long walk with Kamali. The big German Shepherd bounced along beside her until she threw the ball, but once he had it in his powerful jaws he never gave it up. Kate was kind of thankful since it was now covered in doggy drool.

When she arrived back at the house she heard the phone ringing and jogged into the hallway to answer it. “Hello?” Her reply was silence…and a sneeze. She tried again. “Hello? Who’s there?”

“CJ?” a tiny voice queried.

Kate knew it was a child and very quickly realized who was calling. “Shannon? Is that you?” Her mind briefly flashed back to CJ’s emotional face when she described her meeting with the girls after their father’s murder. CJ had been so very taken with them and had connected with Shannon immediately.

“Yes. I wanted to talk to CJ. Did I get the wrong number? She gave me three,” Shannon said shyly.

“No, Shannon, this is CJ’s phone too, but she isn’t home from work yet. Would you like me to take a message for her?”

“Who are you?”

Kate smiled. “I’m Kate and I’m very happy to talk to you, Shannon. CJ told me all about you.”

“She did?” Shannon was a little more confident now.

“Yes, she did. She likes you and Lucy very much.”

“Are you CJ’s wife?”

Kate’s eyes popped open wide. “What makes you say that, sweetie?”

“Well, because she told me her wife is called Kate.”

“Oh. Well, that’s me.”

Shannon chuckled. “I remember a girl at my kindergarten had two mommies.”

Kate tried not to laugh at her cheeky voice. “Really? And what did you think about that?”

“It doesn’t matter if you have mommies or daddies. My friend Sarah said her mommies love her very much, so that’s good.”

Kate was astounded at this little girl’s intelligence and in awe of the simplicity in her statement. “I think that’s a great way to think of it, Shannon. You’re very smart.”

“I am?”

“Yes,” Kate said, trying not to laugh at the high-pitched question.

“Lucy isn’t smart yet,” Shannon stated adamantly.

“Well I’m sure she is but she’s younger than you,” Kate explained.

“But she doesn’t talk. She should talk by now.”

Kate was puzzled by the last remark but got distracted by a shuffling noise in the background as someone took the phone from Shannon.

“Hello? Ms. Carson?”

“Yes. My name’s Kate.”

“I’m so sorry, Kate. Shannon called this number without asking me. I’m Helen Ross.”

“Hi, Helen. Are you Shannon’s aunt?”

“Yes. Are you Agent Carson’s wife?”

Kate blinked again. “Yes. She’s not home yet. Would you like to leave a message for her?”

“I’d just like to keep in touch. Shannon talks about her all the time and I think it would help if CJ popped by to see her.”

“I’m sure CJ would love to see the girls,” Kate said cautiously.

“Well perhaps you could both come by. I’m still staying with a friend in Sherman Oaks until things get sorted out.”

“Oh, that’s not too far away from us. I’ll let CJ know, and we’ll arrange a visit. Can I get you on this number?” Kate asked, looking at the caller ID.

“Yes. Would you like to say goodbye to Shannon?”

“Yes please, Helen. Thanks.”

“OK, goodbye.”

“Bye.”

“Hello?”

“Hey, Shannon. I just wanted to say goodbye but I’ll get to meet you soon, OK?”

“You will?” Shannon said excitedly.

“Yes, and I’ll bring CJ. How’s that?”

Shannon squeaked. “That’s great. Bye, Kate.”

“Bye, Shannon.” The line went dead, and Kate held her hand to her chest. “What a sweetheart,” she mumbled to herself. “Just wait ‘til CJ hears this one.”

 * * * * * *

As CJ finished up her work for the night, Mark came into the office and sat in the chair opposite her. He pursed his lips and flicked through a couple of papers in his hand. CJ eyed him while she waited for him to speak. When nothing came forth, she decided a prompt was in order. “You OK, Sir?”

“Hmm, oh yes. Here’s some info for you.”

CJ took the offered sheet of paper and looked at it. “Well,” she said, sighing, “I guess our testimony and the evidence did the job.”

“Yes. Coburn is locked up for life…no chance of parole. Good result.”

“They found him guilty on eight counts of murder. I suppose that’s all we’ll get. He never did give up the location of his father’s body.”

“I know. He still might, but I suppose it was his final act of revenge against the man.”

“Thanks for the information, Sir.”

“There’s more,” Mark said slowly. “Sheila Davenport’s sentencing has been delayed again. Her attorney has gone for every stalling tactic he can find, so she’ll get another court date. They think she’ll appear before the judge again in a month or so.”

“OK. I guess I’d better check on the girls then. I tried to stay away because I didn’t want to confuse them any more than they already are.”

Mark handed the other sheet of paper to her. “I asked social services for Sheila’s sisters contact number. You can keep that.”

CJ gaped at him for a moment. She had only been able to check on the kids through a third party at social services before now. “How did you get that?”

Mark shrugged. “I know someone.”

“Always good to have contacts.” She threw him a knowing grin that he returned faintly.

“Yep. Go home, CJ. I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said as he got up from his chair.

“Goodnight, Sir.”

“Night.”

* * * * * *

CJ brought the truck to a halt outside the house and a wave of giddiness washed over her at seeing the Mercedes already there. Kate was home. She glanced over at the two horses grazing lazily in their field. The sun was low in the sky casting a reddish glow over everything, and she enjoyed the view for a few seconds, feeling so very glad to be here as always. She had one of those flashback moments where she thought of a few years ago when she had nowhere to call home except the cabin, but she had realized after meeting Kate that a place wasn’t home to her anymore. Home was wherever Kate was. Sighing happily and gathering her suit jacket from the passenger seat, she headed inside the building and locked the door behind her. “Honey, I’m home!” she shouted, knowing Kate loved it when she did that.

“I’m in the tub, CJ. Get up here!” Kate’s voice floated down from upstairs.

A mischievous grin spread across CJ’s face, and she was totally naked by the time she got to the door of the en suite. She could smell strawberries and knew Kate was indulging in her favorite scented bubble bath. “Well, hello there,” she drawled in a very smooth, deep voice.

Kate turned her head and gazed at the gloriously nude form. “Oh baby, get in here. That body should be wrapped around mine.”

“I hate to kill the mood but I need to pee first,” CJ said, proceeding to do just that.

Kate barked out a laugh. “So how was your day at the office, dear?”

“Pretty darn good actually. I cleared up some paperwork that needed doing and before I left tonight…” She paused while the toilet flushed. “I got the news that Coburn was put away for life with no chance of parole.”

“Well I should think so too,” Kate said, leaning forward so that CJ could slip in behind her. She felt CJ taking a long, deep breath and relaxing with an audible exhale. When two arms slipped around her under the deep water, she moaned softly and clasped her hands over CJ’s. “Mmm. I missed you today.”

“Right back at ya.”

“You got a phone call earlier.”

“I did? Who was it?”

“A very intelligent female. Is there something you want to tell me, CJ?” Kate teased, leaning her head back on CJ’s shoulder and turning to look at her.

CJ was puzzled for a second until she saw the sparkle in her wife’s eyes. “Spit it out, honey. Who was it?”

Kate chuckled. “It was Shannon.”

“Really?”

“Yep. She wanted to talk to you but she settled for me instead. I also spoke to Helen, her aunt. She wants us to go visit them. They’re staying in Sherman Oaks right now, so I said I’d organize it with you.”

“Great,” CJ said thoughtfully. “It’ll be nice to see how the girls interact with the woman. How did Shannon sound?”

“She sounded OK. She’s a bright spark, that’s for sure.”

“Yeah, she seems to be.”

“She knew I was your wife. She said that it’s fine because her friend Sarah from kindergarten has two mommies and they love Sarah very much…” Kate trailed off into a chuckle.

“Uh-huh. When I told her that I had a wife, she didn’t even bat an eyelid. So simple for kids, huh?”

“Seems like it.”

“So,” CJ said quietly, resting her nose against Kate’s hair, “how was your day at work?”

“It was fine. We had to stop shooting for a while because of that set thing, and Phil eventually sent us home. Oh and I called John…told him I couldn’t do the producing job after all. I’m just too busy.”

“He’s still not started it?”

“Nope. Funding problems, I think, so he has plenty of time to find another producer.”

CJ squeezed a sponge full of water over Kate’s breasts – one of her favorite pastimes in the bath – and inhaled the scent of the woman in front of her, feeling every muscle in her body relax. “I love taking a bath with you,” she murmured.

“I love it too.” Kate grinned. “What are you doing to my nipples?”

CJ continued to rasp the sponge over the tips of her breasts, watching them stand to attention. “Playing with them. Is that OK?” she asked quietly.

Kate’s breathing had gotten a little faster. “Sure…yeah…fine.”

“Can I play with other things too?” CJ purred into the delicate ear at her mouth.

Kate swallowed hard. “What…other things?”

CJ sucked Kate’s earlobe into her warm mouth, and then licked the soft skin just behind it. “Do you want me to tell you…or just do it?”

Kate was losing the ability to speak as her spouse continued to squeeze and rasp her nipples gently. “Do…”

CJ’s slowly sat upright, effectively taking Kate with her. Kate immediately moved her hand behind her and found CJ’s abs. With her arms and body wrapped around Kate, CJ had a great view over her shoulder. She watched her own hand as it massaged Kate’s breasts before tickling its way down to cover the soft thatch of hair between Kate’s legs.

At the same moment, Kate easily sought out her wife’s engorged clit. CJ’s opened legs made it very accessible, and she began to fondle it lightly. She pressed herself back onto CJ, basking in the feeling of the soft, wet skin against hers.

CJ gasped onto Kate’s shoulder when she felt the tender touch of Kate’s fingers increasing their pressure. She watched her own hand again as it sunk into the warm folds of Kate’s sex and stimulated the length of the swollen clit.

Kate lifted her feet out of the water and pushed her knees against the sides of the tub, wanting CJ to have better access as the sensations shot through her entire body. “Oh, Ciara, I love how you touch me…”

CJ could barely form a sentence. “I…love it…too.”

Sensing what CJ needed, Kate’s hand moved quicker and she applied a little more pressure to her strokes, moving up and down and then round in small circles. As CJ nibbled and licked her neck, she slid her fingertip down to her warm opening, teasing it mercilessly before moving back up to manipulate the sensitive tip once more. It had the desired effect, and CJ moaned loudly.

“Oh…baby, please…”

“You’re so ready, Ciara. Come for me…”

CJ whimpered with each breath, knowing that she could never resist that command or Kate’s deep voice when she was aroused. Her whole body began to shake, and Kate knew it was time. But CJ held back and focused on Kate’s center, on the feel of the viscous moisture that enabled her fingers to slide deliciously over her wife’s clit. She watched Kate’s breasts rising and falling faster and faster. She glanced to the side and saw Kate’s eyes were closed and her mouth slightly open, her soft tongue poked out to moisten the dry lips. “Oh, God…” she croaked at the sight.

Kate came loudly, screaming out as she thrust her sex against CJ’s hand, and it was all the tough agent could take. She pushed herself forward, trapping Kate’s fingers between them as she climaxed.

“Katie…yesssss.”

Kate made tiny, blissful sounds as she recovered and leaned back on CJ’s heaving breasts. As she laid her head on CJ’s shoulder, she tilted it to the side knowing that CJ would bite her neck, which she immediately did. A shiver shot through Kate’s body and a smile curled her lips. “Yeah. I love taking a bath with you,” she murmured.

CJ laughed weakly while kissing the skin she had just bitten. “Mm-hmm.” They sat pressed against each other for long moments before washing and getting out of the tub. CJ wrapped Kate in a large, fluffy towel and pulled her against her damp body. “I love you,” she breathed at Kate’s lips.

“Mmm, I love you too.” Kate kissed CJ so passionately that her knees began to buckle before it was over. “Now take me downstairs and feed me.”

CJ laughed. “Sex and food. Your day is complete.”

“Only sex with you, my love.”

“Well I should think so too,” CJ said with a grin.

After a few more playful touches and lavishly drying one another off, they sensually applied some moisturizing lotion – which took a lot longer than was truly necessary – before pulling on their pajamas. Continuing their playful interaction, they trotted downstairs to make something for dinner and enjoy a relaxing evening together.

* * * * * *

Jamie Green sat in the restaurant nervously tapping her fingers on the table. She was sure Sam wouldn’t stand her up. She’s just running late, that’s all, she assured herself. She wondered why she was so worried about it, but what she was feeling for Sam wasn’t her normal lust, or her love ‘em and leave ‘em philosophy. It seemed to go deeper than that, and she didn’t quite know how to handle those feelings. She also wanted Sam to really know her and that meant letting someone close to her heart, which was terrifying. She noticed the drumming of her fingers getting louder and lifted her glass of water to give her something else to do.

Jamie spotted Sam’s head of auburn hair first as it bobbed along above the restaurant signage on the window. When Sam entered the restaurant, Jamie swallowed hard. Taking a deep breath to calm her ridiculous nerves, she stood up and waved Sam over to her. Sam quickly waved back and flashed a dazzling smile as she walked toward Jamie’s table. They hugged briefly, and Sam sat down opposite her date.

“I’m so sorry I’m late,” Sam said, smiling warmly. “There was a whole load of cop cars down on Sixth Street so I had to take a detour. Were you waiting long?”

“Not really. I’m glad you made it,” Jamie replied nervously.

The waiter came over to take the order for their drinks and food. As he was leaving, Sam eyed Jamie as she picked at her fingernails and sipped on the water in front of her.

“Jamie, may I ask you a question?”

Jamie looked up. “Sure.”

“We’ve been talking about…nothing in particular and going for coffee and stuff for weeks now. I just wondered, well, have you changed your mind about us dating?”

Jamie sighed. “I need to apologize to you.” At Sam’s horrified face, Jamie raised a finger. “I need to say sorry for how distant I’ve been. I…this is kinda scary for me, believe it or not.”

“Scary? Why?”

“Because it means something to me. Something real…”

The waiter interrupted to put their drinks on the table. Jamie thanked him then settled her gaze on the surprised face opposite her.

Sam was wide-eyed but she managed to clear her dry throat and speak. “But you must have dated before, Jamie. I mean, have you looked in a mirror lately?”

Jamie half-smiled and glanced down at her fingers again. “I’m not so good at the serious stuff. I’ve never had a relationship before. Maybe you could help me.”

“Serious? You mean…”

“Oh…not that I’m saying we need to be serious, but I feel this is more than just dating, Sam. What do you think?”

Sam swallowed audibly and got up the nerve to say what she really wanted to say. “I would like it to be more. I…but I’m nervous and a little scared too, you know? I mean I’ve never been…” she stopped, not knowing how to say the next part.

“You’ve never been…with a woman?” Jamie said carefully. Sam nodded; her eyebrows curling into a frown as she waited for Jamie’s reaction. Jamie pursed her lips before letting out a slow sigh. “Can I be completely honest here?”

Sam was now just waiting to be dumped and nodded silently.

Jamie thought for a moment about how much she wanted to divulge right now. She spoke in a quiet voice. “Sam, I really like you. I mean, really like you. I care about you and I have feelings for you that I haven’t felt for anyone because I was quite a…um, bitch in the past. I didn’t get into relationships. I just used people and kept my distance. I’ve grown up a lot since then and I came to California to start anew, to find something real. I think, to find you,” Jamie gulped and looked up to see what her date was doing. Sam stared at her with her mouth hanging open, simply unable to respond. “You’d better close that or you’ll catch a fly,” Jamie grinned shyly, lifting her hand and reaching across to Sam’s chin. She pushed upward to gently close the woman’s mouth. “Are you going to say anything?”

Sam was still feeling the touch on her chin that made her skin tingle. They hadn’t even kissed yet, and she’d thought Jamie didn’t want her. “I…I’m not sure I’ll make any sense if I speak now. I thought you had changed your mind…about me, I mean.”

“Oh, God, no. I have some baggage and insecurities that I simply don’t want to have around you. I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to handle that. But I am interested. I really am.”

“OK,” Sam replied, taking a few deep breaths. “We can take it slow then, but I need you to know I’m not experimenting with you or anything. I haven’t felt this way about anyone before. It’s kinda new to me too. That and the whole gender thing…but I know what I want, Jamie.”

The damn waiter came over again, halting their conversation when he put the starters down on the table. Jamie hurriedly thanked him to try and not lose the moment. Once he left, she gazed back at Sam again. “I think what we should do is eat our meal and enjoy our evening. We can make a plan to get together somewhere more private to talk next time. I’ll find it really difficult to open up, and we both seem to have our worries about this, but I want to try, Sam.” Jamie ducked her head. “You’re worth it,” she whispered.

“So are you,” Sam answered, dropping her own eyes to her plate but not really seeing the food.

After a few seconds their eyes met at the same time and a smile spread across both faces.

“Let’s lighten the mood and eat, OK?” Jamie offered warmly.

“OK.”

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Chapter 2

Kate walked across the lot with her new dress on a hanger, a black dust-cover shielding it from prying eyes. She entered her trailer and hung it on the closet door handle. As she unzipped the front of the cover, she shook slightly in excitement. She had chosen a black, subtly patterned dress. It had this lop-sided neckline that had really caught Kate’s eye. A simple little number for my first red carpet appearance. Her stomach flip-flopped at the idea of walking down the red carpet with her wife.

Her thoughts drifted to CJ’s dress. CJ hadn’t wanted anything fancy, worrying that she’d get something too revealing and not really keen to be in the limelight at all on Kate’s big night. Kate had assured CJ that she wanted to show her off and told her to go with whatever dress she felt good in. CJ had come home from her shopping trip and immediately showed Kate the garment for approval. And boy, did Kate approve. The red dress was going to look absolutely drool-worthy on her spouse and she couldn’t wait to be on her arm in front of the cameras.

Hearing a knock at her trailer door, she zipped up the cover and went to answer it, hoping it wasn’t Jack. Since his suspected cruel phone call to CJ, Kate had kept her distance. They couldn’t prove he’d done it of course, and he hadn’t been very communicative since she’d returned to work. It was rumored that he was dating Nicole now, and Kate was glad of the break from his attentions. She sighed and opened the door, glad to see Sam standing on the steps. “Hey, you.”

“Hi. Do you have a minute?” Sam asked.

“Of course, come on in.”

Sam entered and sat on the end of the couch. “I don’t have long. I just wanted to talk to you about last night.”

“Your date?”

“Yeah.”

“How did it go? Did you guys talk?”

“We talked. We both want the same thing but we both have worries. It’s really holding us back, but we’re gonna go somewhere more private next time and discuss some stuff.”

“That’s good…isn’t it?” Kate queried. She knew her two friends had been struggling to communicate.

“Yes, but I’m still scared.”

“What exactly is it that you’re scared of, Sam?”

Sam frowned and ran her hand through her hair while she tried to pinpoint what she was feeling. “I think it’s…it’s because I feel so good around her. I keep thinking it’s not really happening. I want to share everything with her and I haven’t felt this way before so I’m not used to being open about it. And because I haven’t been with a woman, I’m afraid I’ll screw it up.”

Kate crouched down in front of her friend and took her hands. “You won’t screw it up. You guys are taking it slow and you’ve both admitted you have concerns. You’re both open to talking things through, so I can’t see how you’ll screw it up.” Kate thought for a second. “Are you scared that it’ll go wrong…in bed?”

Sam’s face flushed and she looked directly at Kate. “That too.”

“Sam, trust me. When you two get to that point and you feel the way you say you do, it will all fall into place. I’m sure you’ll be fine.”

“I hope you’re right. God, I’ve never been so uncertain or felt so much for anyone in my life! I really want to get close to her but I’m afraid and I feel like she’s resisting,” Sam sighed and shook her head. “OK, I have to go. Thanks, Kate,” she added, squeezing her friend’s hands and getting up.

Kate followed her to the door. “You’ll be all right. Just give it time, and if you need any tips you can ask me anything,” she said with a wink.

Sam rolled her eyes and kissed her friend on the cheek. “Later, Kate.”

* * * * * *

CJ banged her head repeatedly against the desktop. It seemed to be practical joke day in the office, and she had just opened her drawer to find a huge, hairy, fake spider sitting on her spare gun. Jamie rolled around on her chair, holding her stomach as she laughed at the expression that had momentarily crossed her friend’s face. It was difficult to catch CJ out, but for just a second she had jumped out of her skin and held her breath.

“Quit…bangin’ your head…DM.” Jamie chuckled between gasped breaths.

“Maybe I should bang it harder and tell Kate that you created the bruise!” CJ’s response silenced Jamie pretty quickly, but she still barked out a few scattered giggles before she calmed down. CJ watched her with her tongue pinned between her teeth and a devious grin on her face. “You do realize, I owe you now,” she growled.

Jamie sighed. “OK, now I’m really scared,” she added, holding her spread hands next to her face, feigning terror.

CJ laughed silently and looked over at Mikey who was just smirking and shaking his head at the antics. He was starting to settle in now and was pleased to find out he liked his colleagues, although CJ’s brilliance and stunning good looks did feel a little intimidating every now and then.

Jamie got up from her chair. “Anyone for coffee…?”

“You going out, Penfold?”

“No. I mean the crap stuff.”

Mikey waved his hand in the air. “I’ll go out in an hour or so and get the good stuff once Ethan gets back.”

“Yeah,” CJ said, running her tongue round her teeth and pointing at Mikey, “I’ll wait for that.”

“Suit yourselves.” Jamie shrugged and strutted over to the coffee machine.

Seconds later, Mark came in and dumped his butt in a chair between CJ and Mikey. “We have a new case, guys,” he said dejectedly. “CJ, I want you to run over it. It’s been going on now for years…attacks all over the country…but the more recent ones are in California, and there was one last week in Los Angeles. It now seems that someone was murdered last night in an alleyway off Sixth Street.”

Jamie recalled her date last night and remembered Sam saying something about cop cars on Sixth Street. “What time did that happen, Sir?”

“Approximately eight PM. It has the same initial MO as this attacker, but this time a heart shape was cut out of the skin on the man’s chest after stabbing him. They can’t find the piece of flesh either,” Mark answered.

“I wasn’t far from there last night…” Jamie said weakly.

“Well the cops had it under control, but their Chief heard about our little unit and our success rate. He thinks this could turn into a serial killer if it’s not stopped and he wants us to look into it. Now I gotta say, it’s not often the cops give a case to us voluntarily so I want this investigated thoroughly, and hopefully we’ll be the ones to finally capture this woman.”

CJ reached over as Mark handed the file to her. She flipped through the first few pages. “Female perp, both male and female victims.” She paused and read a little further down. “Wow, fifty three reports of attacks over fourteen years?”

“Yes. She moves around the country pretty quickly and leaves a reasonable gap between attacks. She also travels to random States…doesn’t seem to be a pattern there. It seems no one can keep up with this one.”

CJ shook her head. “Why has she never been caught? I mean, look at this description. Six-foot-two,” she raised her dark eyebrow at the fact that the perp was taller than her. “Long, dark hair, pronounced features, piercing dark eyes? I think she’ll stand out in a crowd.”

Mark squashed his bottom lip between his thumb and forefinger. “Yep. Seems she uses her looks to lure her victims away from the crowds and into a dark alleyway or sleazy motel room. She always picks places without any camera surveillance which makes me think she checks the places out before she even goes in for the attack. She’s smart but she only lures them away to attack them. There’s no sexual interaction after her initial flirting and promises. Will you have a good look through it and let me know what you come up with?”

“Sure,” CJ replied, not noticing Jamie’s pale face draining of all blood.

Jamie was still standing at the coffee machine but she very slowly put her cup down on the small counter and left the office. She headed straight to the restrooms, and as soon as she had closed the stall door behind her, she threw up into the toilet bowl.

CJ had heard the door slamming shut when Jamie exited the office but she didn’t know where she had gone. She frowned and turned to Mikey. “What happened there, Mikey?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. I was watching you guys.”

CJ was a little puzzled at Jamie’s abrupt departure during a case briefing, but she couldn’t do anything until Jamie came back so she told Mark she would get on it right away. She sat for a while after the assistant director had left, flipping through the file and scribbling down her thoughts. Jamie finally returned to the office looking slightly ill, and she sat down at her desk not making eye contact with anyone. When Ethan came strolling in, CJ asked both him and Mikey to go and get the decent coffees from the bistro down the street. As soon as they left, she went over to Jamie and stood next to her.

“What just happened?” she asked, looking down at her seated friend.

Jamie did not look up. “What do you mean?”

“Don’t take this as an insult, Penfold, but you look like hell. Talk to me.”

“It’s nothing. I just felt a little sick. Probably too much of that shit coffee,” Jamie said, still avoiding CJ’s gaze at all costs.

“I don’t believe you,” CJ replied, crouching down beside the chair. “Look at me, Jamie.”

Jamie clenched her jaws together. She could feel an irrational anger bubbling up at the intrusion. “I’m fine,” she barked.

“No, you’re not.”

“Christ, CJ! I just don’t feel well, OK?”

“All right. You don’t need to shout at me. I just care about you, that’s all,” CJ said, getting up and walking back to her seat.

Jamie remained silent and tried to hold back her tears. She didn’t want to lash out at CJ but she couldn’t face this right now.

CJ watched her friend from the side of her eye. Something happened when Mulroney told us about the case. That must be it. Let me just see…’ she plotted. “Would you be able to help me with this case Mark gave us?” she asked casually.

Jamie’s face tightened and she didn’t look away from her computer screen. “I can’t. I have too much to do,” was the clipped response.

CJ knew she’d guessed right but she wasn’t going to get anything out of Jamie right now. She could see the barely-contained tension in Jamie’s face and she wondered what it was about the case that had her colleague so worked up. Ethan and Mikey eventually came back into the office and handed out the good coffee. CJ took hers gratefully and inhaled deeply once she’d removed the lid. Jamie barely said thanks for her drink, and her cup sat on the desktop for at least fifteen minutes before she decided to take a sip. CJ had watched her while she continued with her work. She was still very concerned about Jamie whose spark seemed to have been extinguished and her mind preoccupied in some other dimension. In fact, she looked a little like CJ looked when she was in the middle of a particularly gruesome serial killer case. That in itself was worrying. CJ decided to take the case file home and tell Kate what had happened here. She needed to have a good look through it and thrash it through with someone. Who better than her spouse, Civilian-Special-Agent-Extraordinaire, Kate Carson?

* * * * * *

When Kate finally got home after a long, long day at work, she heard the rather loud tones of Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now, billowing through from the kitchen. Following the sound, she searched through the dining area and the kitchen for CJ but didn’t find her anywhere. The music was still as loud as before and when she saw the backdoor lying open, she knew the noise was coming from the gym they had added to the rear of the house. She sneaked through the door and saw CJ working out. She had her hair tied back in a ponytail and wore a black pair of figure-hugging shorts that showed off her firm buttocks a little too well. Kate gulped and her eyes glided over CJ’s supple body as she lifted some free weights. The skin-tight tank top was almost too much for Kate’s libido to cope with. CJ’s muscles rippled and flexed under her smooth, tanned skin that glistened with sweat.

Kate felt the heat gathering between her legs as she watched the delicious display in front of her. Her stomach clenched when CJ put down the weights and stretched her arms straight up above her head. CJ continued to do her stretches – bending her body into some incredibly revealing poses – clearly finishing up her workout, and Kate’s breaths quickened at each movement. The song came to a close, and CJ turned to switch off the stereo.

She saw Kate and the glazed, dreamy look in her green eyes. She instantly felt the desire radiating from her wife as it crackled through the air between them, and she grinned as she stalked toward her. Kate was frozen to the spot, still drinking in the sight of this goddess whom she dazedly realized she was actually married to.

Holy crap. Will I ever stop feeling this way? Kate decided that she never would as CJ stopped immediately in front of her and kissed her deeply, swirling her delicious tongue around in her mouth. Kate’s knees went weak and she felt her heart beating hard in her chest. She slipped her arms around CJ’s athletic body and moaned her acceptance into her mouth. CJ pressed her up against the wall and eventually broke the kiss when they both had to come up for air.

“Mmm, salty…” Kate panted.

“Want me to get you all sweaty too?” CJ offered, curling her signature eyebrow.

“Best offer I’ve had all day.”

As Kate invaded her mouth once more, CJ groped around for the light switch and pulled the door closed behind her as they headed into the house still joined in a lip-lock. They somehow made it inside their bedroom door but that was it. CJ pressed Kate up against the wall again, their passion getting the better of them. She broke the kiss and trailed her lips over Kate’s neck, nipping and sucking the creamy skin there.

“What do you want, baby?”

Kate moaned. “I…you…hard.”

CJ stomach flipped. “You want it hard?” she breathed against her soft, sweet-smelling wife.

“Yes. Want you…inside me. Fuck me.”

“Oh, Katie…” CJ gasped, feeling the wetness pouring from her sex. She instantly lowered herself to remove Kate’s pants and then as she stood back up she pressed her entire body against Kate. The heat coming from both of them intensified the scent of their bodies and it only served to make CJ ravenous. She slipped two long fingers through Kate’s incredibly wet folds and heard her gasp loudly in her ear. She immediately entered Kate and rubbed her body against her as she thrust in and out of the welcoming body.

Kate moaned loudly, knowing that watching CJ’s workout had made her very aroused and she wouldn’t last long at all. CJ’s thrusting quickened, and Kate began to grunt with every breath. The fire spread from her swollen clit as CJ’s thumb stimulated it firmly, and shot through her entire body as her orgasm took hold. Her taut body pushed back against the wall even as she tried to get more of CJ’s hand inside her. It was pure bliss.

CJ held Kate tight as she came, her limp body falling against CJ as she came down from the high. She felt Kate’s arousal coat her whole hand and she moaned at the alluring sensation. She bit Kate’s neck and held her in a firm embrace when her legs seemed to give way completely. “That good, huh?”

Kate nodded but it too her a moment or two to get her feet back. She turned to capture CJ’s lips is a searing kiss, full of passion and love. “Are you OK?” she gasped against CJ’s mouth.

CJ brought her hand up to their lips and watched as Kate’s tongue came out to lick the drenched fingers. CJ’s tongue slid out to meet Kate’s before she took her fingers into her mouth, so completely aroused by her wife’s release. “Yeah. Why?”

“You didn’t come,” Kate whispered to her.

CJ laughed quietly. “Yeah, weird huh?”

Kate laughed and led CJ to their huge bed. She turned to strip CJ’s workout clothes from her body, kissing the exposed skin as she removed each piece. She couldn’t get enough of the taste but when CJ stood naked in front of her, she cupped Kate’s face in her hands to pull her up for a kiss.

CJ was very aware of her sweat-covered body. “I need to wash, baby.”

“Nuh-uh, you taste incredible,” Kate said as she pushed her down on the bed.

CJ was short of breath by this point and wanted to see what her wife had in mind, so she did as she was told. Kate removed the remainder of her own clothing and lay down beside her, pressing her body against CJ’s side. Leaning on her left elbow, head in hand, she trailed her fingers over CJ’s body, lightly teasing her beautiful breasts. She watched her lover react with a small sound of protest as her hand avoided the hardened nipples that begged for her touch. She moved slowly and deliberately. CJ lay with her eyes closed, reveling in the sensations and breathing slow and deep. Kate watched the smooth, tanned skin ripple beneath her fingers as she crossed CJ’s firm abdomen.

When Kate reached the dark patch of pubic hair, she gasped at how wet it was. Gently flattening her hand against her wife’s mound, she slipped the length of her middle finger down into the hot folds, feeling the moisture surround the digit. Her other fingers simply followed, trailing over the soft hair and surrounding skin. CJ moaned as Kate began a slow, lazy rhythm, running her entire hand up and down with a steady pressure. Kate watched her movements, concentrating on the feel of the burning skin beneath her fingertips. It was so tempting to replace her hand with her tongue but she wanted to make this last for CJ and continued her pace, trailing her gaze up to the pert breasts so close to her mouth.

CJ moaned and whimpered but never made a move to urge Kate to quicken, or ask her to do anything differently. In fact she was enjoying this slow, torturous lovemaking. She was rising to her climax so gradually that she could almost feel Kate’s eyes on her, burning through her soul, and every time the fingers slid over her, she felt her body shudder in sheer, delirious pleasure.

As Kate pressed down a little harder but kept her movement exactly the same, CJ gasped aloud and curled her fingers around the blond hair that fell beside her cheek. Kate licked her lips, knowing her wife was getting closer to her goal. She leaned her head down and sucked a velvety-soft nipple into her mouth, feeling it elongate instantly as her tongue swirled around it. CJ‘s breaths suddenly became short and fast, and Kate pressed a tiny bit harder with her hand. CJ audibly exhaled and pushed her legs a little further apart. Kate dragged her hand up CJ’s clit and swollen outer lips, feeling the skin pulling back as CJ began to climax. She sucked harder on her nipple and moved her hand in a circular motion over the frenzied flesh between CJ’s legs. CJ whimpered as her orgasm washed through her entire being, taking her breath away. She arched her back and raised her hips off the bed, pushing into Kate’s hand. She quietly scattered into a million pieces and waited for Kate to collect them up again, which Kate did by wrapping herself around CJ and kissing her senseless.

Once she came back to herself, CJ wrapped both arms around her beloved spouse. “That…wow, Katie. Just wow.”

“I enjoyed it too. You felt so good.”

CJ kissed her delicately, and when they parted Kate’s head came to rest on her shoulder. As Kate’s arm wrapped across CJ’s stomach, she felt the afterglow settling over her but she was still thinking about the whole encounter. That was the second time Kate had desperately needed to be satisfied and used a word she would never normally utter. “Katie?” CJ said quietly.

“Hmm?” said a slurred voice from somewhere near her shoulder.

CJ grinned at the sleepiness in the voice. “I wanted to ask you something. Are you conscious?”

Kate poked her in the ribs. “Yes, smart-ass, I’m conscious. What’s up?”

“I just wondered…that’s the second time you’ve asked me to, uh, fuck you…”

Kate raised her head to look CJ in the eye. “I won’t use it again if you don’t like it, honey. Sometimes you just drive me so wild, I feel like…” She made a growling noise and then blushed.

“Uh-huh. Well I don’t mind you using it. As a matter of fact it turns me on, but only because I know we’re still making love. It’s all about the context with that word, I guess. But I just wondered though…” CJ didn’t know how to say the next part.

“What?” Kate frowned.

“Well do you need…I mean, do you miss being, uh, filled by-” CJ was silenced by two fingers on her lips.

Kate narrowed her eyes. “Don’t say it. I do not miss anything about being with a man. Not a damn thing, OK?”

CJ’s eyes widened at the ferocity in Kate’s voice. “OK. I know we’re amazing together, honey. That’s not what I meant. I just meant the physical feeling of being completely filled. I know I don’t miss it but I’ve never been with a man.” CJ shrugged. “My fingers can only do so much…” she trailed off.

Kate stared at her for a few seconds. “CJ…I have never, ever needed or wanted anyone or anything else since I met you. I am one thousand percent happy and satisfied with our love life, believe me. You’ve given me so much more than anyone has from my past…not that there were many…and not a single encounter from back then comes close to half of what I experience with you. So no, I do not miss a single thing. I’m the luckiest woman in the world and I only want you for the rest of my life. You’re more than enough.” Once her little speech was done, she slid her body on top of CJ’s and looked into the bright-blue eyes beneath her. “Do you want to try something? Is that why you asked?”

CJ grinned. “No, Katie. The thought just crossed my mind and I wanted to ask you about it. We talk about everything but we’ve never discussed using toys. It never came up. No pun intended.”

Kate laughed and gently slapped CJ’s upper chest. “Well if you want to try something for fun, you just let me know, all right?” she said, raising her eyebrow mischievously. “Have you used toys before?”

“No. I’ve never been this open about anything before and I never really thought about us using anything until recently. I just wanted to check with you but I don’t feel the need to try it. Maybe when we’re old and gray and my fingers are all stiff and sore…then I may need some help to mmpphh-” Again CJ was silenced, but this time it was Kate’s lips covering her own. Kate was laughing as she kissed her, and CJ’s body vibrated as she chuckled silently beneath her…until Kate’s tongue slipped into her mouth, and laughing was the last thing on her mind.

* * * * * *

Jamie pulled the car to a stop outside Sam’s home. “2076 Mulholland…I guess this is it,” she said to herself. She stepped out onto the driveway and admired the single-level home. A warm glow emanated from the front windows, and Jamie decided she liked the feel of the place. If only her stomach would settle down and her nervousness would disappear, she’d be fine.

Sam must have heard the car or something because she came to the door and smiled at her visitor. “You’re right on time.”

“I’m glad I got the right place,” Jamie said calmly, her cool exterior betraying how she truly felt as she walked up to the door.

Once they were inside, Sam offered her some wine which she politely declined. As Sam went to check on the food, she paced the large living room, deliberately breathing deeply to calm her pounding heart. I have never been this nervous in my life, she mused.

Sam came back into the room and offered Jamie the tour. Jamie followed her through the house and was surprised to see how many shows Sam had actually worked on. She stopped in front of a cast photograph on the wall in the hallway. “You worked on Teenage Dreamers?” she asked with a grin on her face.

Sam giggled at her expression. “Yes. I produced quite a few episodes. It was a lot of fun.”

Jamie continued to grin as she followed Sam back into the living room. When Sam disappeared into the kitchen to check on the food, she took in the décor and the DVD collection on the shelves. She saw a few of her favorite quirky movies and realized that they might be compatible in more ways than she had thought. Sam came back through the door a moment later. “Come on. It’s ready.”

They sat in the dining room and consumed their meal accompanied by some pleasant but overtly polite conversation. Both of them seemed to be deliberately avoiding any relationship talk, but once they’d enjoyed a small fruit salad and retired to the couch with some coffee, the conversation finally took a turn.

“Are you OK?” Sam asked.

“Yeah. Why?”

“You just seem nervous…uncomfortable even,” Sam said with a worried expression crossing her features.

Jamie sighed deeply. “I’m sorry. I guess this is harder than I thought. The serious talk, I mean. I just don’t know where to start.”

“Can you tell me why it’s so hard for you?”

“I could, but it ain’t pretty,” Jamie replied hesitantly.

“I want to know it all, pretty or not,” Sam said as she covered Jamie’s thigh briefly with her hand.

Jamie closed her eyes at the touch and felt her body warming at its implications. “Uh, where to start,” she said, recovering her senses. “Well I think it’s so hard for me because I’ve never done it before. I was, for lack of a better phrase, a total bitch when I was younger. I used people and never let anyone get close to me…” She faltered, knowing how bad it sounded.

“Go on,” Sam urged.

“I slept around…with men and women. God, I was horrible. Love them and leave them…that was me,” she said with disgust.

“And now…?”

“Oh, Sam, I’m not like that anymore. I haven’t had a partner in two years and I’ve been tested for, well, you know…recently. And I’m clear, if that worries you.”

“I hadn’t even thought about that but thanks for telling me,” Sam whispered. “I’m clear too, just so you know,” she added, blushing slightly.

Jamie smiled. “I want to do this right, Sam. I…I have so many feelings for you but I don’t know how to handle them. I’m hoping we can figure it all out together but I can’t promise it’ll be an easy ride. Oh, that didn’t sound right,” she finished with a frown.

Sam grinned at her. “I’d like to try. I’m feeling a lot too and I have to say I’m not used to having these thoughts about a woman,” she blurted.

Jamie raised her eyebrow. “And what thoughts would those be?”

“Uh…you know.”

“No. You’ll have to tell me.” Jamie leaned forward so that they were mere inches apart.

Sam swallowed hard. “Well, uh, I want to…kiss you right now.”

Jamie felt her stomach flip and leaned further in for their first kiss. Her eyes closed blissfully as their lips met and she heard Sam let out a small moan. She could feel the incredible softness of the lips covering her own. She loved Sam’s lips, so full-bodied and dark, and she would caress them for as long as she was allowed.

Sam was in heaven. Never had she felt such a tender touch. Jamie was soft, gentle, and the smell of jasmine filled her senses. She figured it was Jamie’s hair and she reached up unconsciously to feel the blond strands. She wanted to deepen the kiss but was wary of moving too quickly. She decided to go with her instincts and poked her tongue out hesitantly to taste Jamie’s lips.

Jamie gasped as she felt the hand on her hair and the tongue requesting entry into her mouth. It was so tentative, but she opened her lips slightly to grant access. Sam immediately accepted the invitation, and it was all both women could do to remain upright when their tongues began twisting together in a sensual slow-dance. The thought of letting this go further suddenly terrified Jamie and she realized she was getting drawn too far into Sam. She broke the contact abruptly, and Sam swallowed while trying to catch her breath.

“Jamie? Are…are you OK?”

“I’m sorry. I can’t do this right now,” Jamie said, standing up quickly.

Sam followed and grabbed Jamie’s arm before she turned away. “Where are you going?”

“I’m sorry, Sam. I have to get home.” Jamie tugged her arm free.

“What? Jamie, tell me what I did wrong!”

“You didn’t do anything wrong. It’s me. God, I’m sorry.”

Jamie disappeared in a flash, and Sam stood in the middle of the living room with her heart in shreds. The tears slid down her cheeks at the thought that Jamie didn’t want her after all. She sat back down on the couch and held her head in her hands.

“So much for my damn instincts!” she shouted in frustration.

Jamie hit the gas and her car screeched down the street. She felt so scared, and she felt like a complete shit for leaving like that. I can’t do this, she thought frantically, feeling the pain smother her entire being. I can’t bare my soul to her even though she’s the one I want to show all of myself to. I can’t do it. She tried to stop the tears as she drove home but they just continued to fall, and by the time she stopped in front of her apartment, her shirt was soaked through.

* * * * * *

At breakfast the next morning both Kate and CJ could not stop giggling. Their conversation last night had made for some hilarious jokes in the shower that morning, and they now sat at the dining table trying to recover from the fits of laughter.

“OK, OK…I admit it might be fun to try a toy, but my God, CJ, we’d be laughing so much we wouldn’t be able to use it anyway,” Kate said once she’d calmed.

CJ trapped her tongue between her teeth to try to stifle her giggles. “We can…talk about it…” She coughed as another laugh tried to break free. “Later,” she finished in a croak. A gulp of water helped her to regain her voice and she went on. “Anyway, I have to get to work early.” The thought of work sobered her slightly and her face creased into a stubborn frown.

Kate noted the change and let out a sigh. “Bad case…?”

“Yeah. I meant to talk to you about it last night but I got, uh, sidetracked. It was a series of attacks that now seem to be turning into murders…well, one so far, but I think Mark is right. It may end up being a serial killer if she continues on like this.”

“She?” Kate squeaked.

“Yep. Fifty-three attacks all over the country, and a murder in LA last night.”

“Jeez. Is that why you have the case now…to profile her?”

CJ nodded. “When I get home tonight you can look over it with me if you want. You know I always value your insight.”

“OK,” Kate said, stuffing her last piece of bacon into her mouth. “So many victims, huh? She must be on the move a lot.”

“That’s exactly what I thought. I’m wondering if she lives in her car, maybe in hotel rooms too. She never seems to stay in the same place and has covered huge distances so far. She can’t have a home anywhere. And what’s more baffling is, she’s taller than me and still manages to hide from the cops.”

“Wow. That is tall. What’s her MO?”

CJ grinned at her wife’s FBI mind. “She lures her victims…both men and women…away from bars and such, into quiet alleyways or crappy hotel rooms. It seems she’s quite the seductress. Then she stabs or slashes them, always on the chest.”

Kate winced. “She sounds like a brokenhearted psycho.”

CJ dropped her fork and stared at Kate with her mouth open.

“What?” Kate stopped chewing, mid-mouthful.

“You haven’t even seen the case file and you’re thinking the same as me…again!”

“I am?”

“Yes. After skimming over the basics, I got the impression that this woman was psychotic, yes, but also that she’d had her heart broken badly in the past. I think that’s the trigger. But what amazes me more about your thinking, is that you don’t even know about the heart from the murder.”

Kate placed her fork down on the plate, thanking her lucky stars that she’d finished eating before hearing about the heart. “What about the heart?”

CJ sighed. “On the guy’s body from last night, she carved a piece of skin out of his chest in the shape of a heart. The cops couldn’t find the piece of skin,” CJ said, scrunching up her nose in disgust.

“Trophy?”

CJ laughed humorlessly. “Just join the Bureau, Katie. We need you…and yes, a trophy would be my guess.”

Kate smiled. “I’ve been thinking about that. I’m not going to become an agent, honey. I like my work, and after the Davenport case I think I’d rather be here to support you, not off goodness-knows-where doing the same thing. I mean, I wouldn’t even get to choose where I was posted at first, and I love our life, CJ. I don’t want to change a thing right now.”

“I love it too, and whatever you want is fine with me, Katie. I think Mark has settled down on the whole getting you to join thing anyway. This way he can have you involved in cases without paying you.”

Kate shot her a sideways glance. “Maybe I should charge him a fee for my services then.”

Both women chuckled and finished off their coffee before leaving for work. On her trip along the freeway, CJ’s mind drifted to Jamie, and she wondered if she should just set Kate to work on her disturbed colleague. If anyone could squeeze information out of Agent Green, Kate could.

.

Chapter 3

Reports of serious knife attacks had reached CJ’s desk. They were recent and were just filing in to the FBI office after the respective local police departments were told of the Bureau’s involvement. There were also two more murders. CJ sighed heavily as she looked over the case files.

“I guess we can say for sure now that she’s a serial killer…and her attacks are becoming more frequent.”

Mark nodded but sucked on his teeth for a moment before answering. “Yes, and she’s definitely on the move. Do you see the locations there?” he said, pointing to the files.

“I do. I’m going to need a detailed map of California. In fact,” she added, tapping on her chin, “I’ll need a map of every state she’s been in. I want to mark them with the locations. It might trigger something in my head.”

“I’m not doing anything right now. I’ll get those for you,” Mark said as he rose to leave.

“Thanks, Sir.”

“No problem. I’d like to get her off the streets just as much as you would, CJ. I’ll be back later with those maps,” he said as he walked out the door.

CJ got her head down for a few hours, not completely oblivious to Jamie who had not said a word to the assistant director and was buried in a mountain of paperwork that CJ suspected was already complete. CJ hadn’t yet had a chance to ask Jamie if she’d like to come to the house for dinner and she felt bad at the thought of luring her friend there under false pretenses, but she needed to have it out with Jamie to find out what her problem was and she couldn’t do that here at work.

Tonight, CJ thought, I’ll invite her tonight because I know Sam’s working late so she’s less likely to have an excuse. She nodded in acknowledgement of her plan, knowing she was meddling but also realizing that if she let this go it would fester into something more serious. She began to read through the reports in front of her, stopping again when the phone rang. “Special Agent Carson…”

“Hello, Special Agent Carson. It’s me.”

Kate’s voice still made CJ’s heart skip a beat after all this time. “Hey, you. What’s happening?”

“Not much. Phil sent everyone home again. We had one of the lighting rigs explode at the studios. Power’s out now. It’s not going well this week.”

CJ frowned. “I think they need to up their maintenance budget, Katie.”

Kate laughed a little. “Yeah, you could be right. Anyway,” she said, sighing audibly. “That wasn’t the main reason I called you. You left a pile of files here at home. It looks like previous victim information.”

“Oh.” CJ flicked through her case file. “It’s OK. I must have left them because I have copies here somewhere.”

“OK, but CJ, have you looked through all the photos of the victims?”

“Not yet. Mark wants the profile done first and foremost, and there are a lot of previous victims. I found out today there are a few more we didn’t know about.” When Kate remained silent on the other end of the line, CJ frowned again. “Katie?”

“Yes, sorry. Uh, is Jamie working on this case?”

“No. Why?” CJ asked, narrowing her eyes and sensing some hesitation in her wife’s voice.

“CJ…Jamie is in these files.”

“What?” CJ was aware that the woman in question was sitting close by and she tried to answer Kate without giving away the conversation. “There was nobody by that name,” she said quietly.

“You might want to check it out on your copy. The name on the file is Lisa Jamie Riley. She was attacked twelve years ago. The picture sure does look like Jamie.” Hearing nothing but silence on the other end of the phone, Kate suddenly felt guilty. “CJ, I’m sorry for looking through your files, but you know how curious I get and I-”

“Don’t apologize. I wouldn’t have left them at home if I didn’t think you should see them, and I wanted your opinion anyway. I’m just kinda speechless. I need to go check this out, OK?”

“Sure, OK. I’ll talk to you later then.”

“Thanks, Katie. I love you.”

“Ditto, honey. Bye.”

“Bye.” CJ hung up the phone and opened her top drawer to pull out the victim’s medical files. She flipped through the numerous pages to the older cases and pulled out one for nineteen-year-old Lisa Jamie Riley. And there it was. A very-young-looking Jamie Green looked back at her. CJ couldn’t believe it, but in her mind all the recent stuff started to make sense. When Mark had given the case to CJ, they had discussed the MO and the attacker’s description. After that conversation, Jamie had made a quick exit and had been distant ever since.

CJ closed the file, not wanting to look at the photos of Jamie’s injuries until she was at home and in private. She knew she definitely needed and wanted to help her friend to open up now, and she decided that Jamie was coming to dinner tonight whether she liked it or not. Now all CJ had to do, was figure out how to convince Jamie to accept the invitation.

* * * * * *

Deciding on an afternoon snack since she’d missed lunch, Kate sat at the dining table with a coffee and a toasted bagel topped with cream cheese. She picked up Jamie’s file, feeling slightly guilty about looking at it, but her curiosity knew no bounds sometimes so she opened it anyway. She was starting to figure out why Jamie was having issues with a close relationship. Jamie was hurting in some deep and emotional way, and Kate felt the need to help her resolve her pain.

Opening the case file, she looked again at the picture of Lisa Riley. Jamie was a beautiful woman and it seemed she always had been. At nineteen years old, she was flawless and vibrant. Her creamy-white skin looked like it was painted on and airbrushed to perfection, and Kate smiled at the twinkle in the familiar dark-brown eyes. Kate could appreciate the beauty of the woman although she did know that Jamie had used it blatantly in the past. She had been very promiscuous when it came to sexual partners and had broken a lot of hearts.

“Oh no…I hope this woman isn’t searching for Jamie!” she gasped aloud. She immediately shook her head when she realized that Jamie was the fifth victim of this attacker. “Duh, I’m so silly sometimes.”

Kate turned the page and tears sprung to her eyes. The next photos were of Jamie’s injuries. There were at least eight knife wounds on the tender skin of Jamie’s left breast, all bloody and bruised, and Kate couldn’t look anymore. She closed the file, feeling that she was invading too much of Jamie’s privacy. She pushed the case file away from her and rubbed the tears from her cheeks. With a heave of her shoulders, she got up to rinse out her mug and decided that she would go riding. She shouted for Kamali to join her, and together they headed out to the barn.

* * * * * *

It was late afternoon when Mark returned to the office with an armful of maps rolled into tubes. “I checked the case file and this should cover it,” he said, putting them down on a clear corner of Mikey’s desk.

CJ got to her feet and walked over to him. “Thanks, Sir. I’ll start with California. From what I can tell, she seems to be heading around the state in a circle, but I want to see it on the map to be sure.”

Mark helped her pin the map onto the wall where the pictures from the Davenport murders had been not so long ago. The wall was covered in a felt board specifically designed for displays such as this. CJ lifted the pot of pins, and Mark grabbed the case file from CJ’s desk since he wanted to be involved. He was always curious about CJ’s thought processes and he admired the strange ways her mind worked sometimes. “Want me to read the Californian locations out to you?”

“That would be great. Thanks,” CJ said, nodding at him.

“OK. Here we go. Laguna Beach.” He waited until CJ had pinned the location before going on to the next. “Los Angeles, San Lucas, Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Cloverdale.” He looked up to check CJ was keeping up with him. Seeing her look over her shoulder with her eyebrow raised, he smiled and looked back at the file. “Sacramento, Beckwourth, and Bridgeport. That’s it so far.”

CJ looked at the map before taking a few paces back to look at it again. Shaking her head, she turned to Mark. “Let me think about this a bit more. Once I pin a couple more states, I’ll have something for you. I’m sure of it. I’m almost finished with the profile too.”

“Sounds good, CJ. Keep on it.”

Ethan looked up from his desk after the boss left. “You need any help with this, CJ?”

She smiled at him. She knew his workload was huge right now, and even though he had Mikey helping him he was buried in case work. “Not yet, but I’ll keep you in mind. Thanks, Ethan.”

CJ sat down to complete the profile. This killer wasn’t getting to her as such…apart from the fact that she had hurt Jamie in the past, but it was puzzling her off just a little. This woman had started out attacking people due to what CJ suspected was a broken heart and borderline psychotic tendencies. Or maybe there’s no borderline about it, she mused. Maybe she was just getting warmed up for her first kill.

It seemed the killer had a feel for her weapon of choice now, and her attacks had escalated into killings as her enjoyment rose. CJ also suspected that the first killing might have been accidental, although she couldn’t be sure about that. Either way, it seemed this woman had acquired a taste for it, and CJ wanted to catch her. She knew the car had to be identified somehow. If they could link a specific car to each crime scene, they may have something to go on. That was the next thing for her to focus on.

* * * * * *

Kate grumbled to herself as she walked across the lot. She’d left her cell phone in her trailer and once she’d locked the door after retrieving it, she saw Sam standing near the cafeteria doors with her phone stuck to her ear and a frown on her face. Kate didn’t want to interfere and tell her what she knew about Jamie, but she had to check on her buddy to see how things were going. As she walked toward Sam, Kate could see the hurt look in her eyes as she studied the ground. She ducked down to catch Sam’s attention and waved at her to say hello since she didn’t want to disturb the call.

“I’m calling you,” Sam said, relaxing her tense shoulders.

“Sorry. I left my cell in the trailer and the battery’s dead. You OK?” While Sam shook her head, Kate noticed she was trying not to cry. She herded her friend into the cafeteria and found a quiet table in the corner. Sitting across from Sam, she grabbed both her hands and looked at her seriously. There was never really any messing around between the two of them. “Tell me what’s wrong,” Kate said firmly.

“Why do you think anything’s wrong?”

“Sam, you’re about to burst into tears. Tell me…”

Sam’s eyes shifted around the space until they settled on Kate again. “I think it’s over…between me and Jamie, I mean.”

Kate sighed. She knew it must have been about Jamie. Sam was generally an upbeat person and not many things could make her this sad. It must be love…or something close to it. “Why do you think it’s over, Sam?”

“We had a date last night…at my place. Had a nice enough dinner, and when we started talking afterwards I thought it was going OK.” Sam paused and dropped her eyes to the tabletop. “We kissed, but something changed in her during that kiss and she suddenly left. I don’t know what I did wrong.”

“Did you ask her?”

Sam nodded. “She said it wasn’t me, it was her.” She looked up at Kate’s caring, green eyes. “But isn’t that a line, Kate? It’s not you, it’s me…that’s just something people say when they realize they don’t actually want you, right?”

Kate pursed her lips to curb her initial response. “Not in this case, Sam.”

Sam saw something in Kate’s expression. “What do you know?”

“It’s not for me to say. I just have my suspicions about Jamie’s fears.”

“Fears? Kate, if you know something that will help, please tell me.”

“I can’t. I’m just speculating anyway. I wouldn’t keep something from you intentionally, Sam. Let me check a few things out, OK? And don’t give up on Jamie.”

“Well I wasn’t going to but I can’t make her want me, Kate.”

“She does want you, Sam. Can you give it a little time?”

Sam’s sad expression was killing Kate and she wanted to tell her all about Jamie’s past, but she just couldn’t. It wasn’t her place to do so. Jamie had to tell Sam on her own.

Sam eventually nodded, but her reluctance to let it alone was very clear. While they drank some hot coffee, Kate engaged her in some random talk about the state of the Deadline studio. She managed to cheer Sam up a little, but as she left her and headed for home, she decided that a little more friendly meddling was in order.

* * * * * *

CJ was about to leave work for the night, but she had just come off the phone to Kate with a tiny smile on her face. “Jamie?”

“Yes?” Jamie responded but didn’t look up.

“Kate has invited you over for something to eat. She has a huge dinner cooking and hoped you could join us,” CJ said, praying that the invitation would be accepted.

“I don’t really think I’d be very good company.”

“That’s OK. We’ll just eat dinner and watch a movie. It would be a shame if all that food went to waste. What d’ya say?” CJ quipped, trying to keep her tone light.

Jamie thought about it for a moment before she begrudgingly gave in. “OK. I was going to ask you for a ride home anyway.”

“What’s wrong with your car?”

“I…I, uh, was drinking last night and couldn’t drive in this morning. Took a cab,” Jamie muttered, still staring at her desk.

CJ nodded knowingly. She realized that what Kate had just told her about the date with Sam was affecting Jamie too. She sighed but stood up eagerly. “You ready to go now?”

“Gimme two minutes to close this up,” Jamie replied, pointing to her screen.

After a silent ride down in the elevator, they left the underground parking garage in CJ’s truck. On the very quiet drive home, CJ thought of how she could get Jamie to let out all the pain that was eating her up inside. Once they arrived at the house, Kate greeted them warmly and quickly served up the meal she had prepared. Jamie ate silently but answered the occasional question with a single word here and there. CJ thought back to the other day when Jamie was playing practical jokes on her. She had been laughing and fooling around in good spirits until the case reared its ugly head and stole that away from her. CJ wanted her Penfold back; the happy, confident, smiling special agent who rarely frowned even when she had to work with a moody, unpredictable CJ on a daily basis. That thought made CJ smirk to herself.

When they all left the dining table and headed to the couch with their after-dinner drinks, CJ sat on the end with Kate slipping in next to her. Jamie sat stiffly beside Kate, and CJ decided it was now or never.

“So how’s it going with Sam?”

Jamie’s face instantly tensed. “OK.”

“Be honest with me,” CJ stated.

“I am.”

“Jamie, it’s not going OK and you know why.”

Jamie suddenly looked up and her sharp gaze pierced CJ’s. “What do you mean by that?” She had been waiting for CJ to find out about her connection to the case and call her on it, but she’d hoped that if she shut up and ignored it, it might magically disappear.

“You know what I mean. Tell me what’s wrong…why you’re so unhappy?”

“I’m fine.”

“No. No, you’re not. Tell me about the attack,” CJ said, pushing for the inevitable fight.

Kate sat between them, sipping her wine and calmly waiting to mediate the battle that was about to be fought.

Jamie stood up abruptly. “I have to go,” she said, walking around the coffee table to leave the room.

CJ got up and blocked her path. “We’re going to talk about this.”

“No! We are not!” Jamie was furious, her face tight and jaws clenched as she stood face to face with her challenger.

“I won’t let you push Sam away…push me away because of something that happened in an alley twelve years ago.”

“How dare you!” Jamie shouted, swinging her hand up in anger to strike CJ.

CJ caught the hand in an iron grip and held the wrist only a few inches from her cheek. She stood nose to nose with Jamie and spoke calmly and slowly. “Don’t ever raise your hand to me again, Jamie. I’m not doing this to hurt you.”

“But you are!” Jamie growled, her nostrils flaring and her jaws still clenching so hard CJ thought she might break a tooth.

“It needs to come out, Penfold. Let me help you. Tell me what happened,” CJ requested, still holding the wrist but seeing tears threaten to sting Jamie’s eyes. Jamie was still angry, but she was breaking which was just what CJ had hoped for – not to hurt Jamie, but to help her.

Kate sat on the edge of the couch, her awareness heightened by the attempted punch. She had put her glass down and composed herself even though she was ready to pounce should it be required. She hoped with all her heart that Jamie would relent before they truly came to blows.

Jamie jerked her ensnared wrist slightly and frowned when CJ’s grip didn’t loosen. “I…I can’t.”

CJ maintained her calm, steady breaths. “You can. She took you out of the bar. You went with her into the alley. What happened? Did she kiss you? Did she promise you a good time?”

A tear ran down Jamie’s smooth cheek. “Let me go!” she blurted in a final, weak attempt to avoid this conversation. Her strength was draining away and she knew CJ was going to win this one.

“I saw the file. She stabbed you many times. At least eight,” CJ said quietly. “Tell me…”

Jamie looked to Kate for backup, knowing that she would be supportive of them both but realizing too that she wouldn’t stop CJ either. However Jamie felt safe with them and couldn’t argue the fact that she had to face this eventually. She looked dazedly at the blank surface of the coffee table and let the words fall from her mouth. “She danced with me…she…I went with her into the alley. She pushed me up against the wall.” The tears were coming fast now. “She kissed me, but while she did that she must have pulled the knife out. When she…when she started stabbing me, all I could think was that we were hidden by a dumpster and I would soon be in it. Oh, God…” She looked at CJ, finally making eye contact with her, and that’s when she fell apart. She slumped into CJ’s arms and cried her heart out. The loud, powerful sobs flooded through her body as her colleague held her up.

CJ supported her as much as possible and rubbed her hand over her hair while she whispered comforting words into her ear. Kate stood and walked over to them, looking at CJ with a sad smile on her face. She wrapped her arms around the two women and held on until she felt Jamie stop convulsing in pain. She left them both standing there and went to grab some tissues from the downstairs bathroom. When she returned, she saw CJ guiding Jamie’s crumpled form to the couch.

Jamie wiped her face and sat fumbling with the tissue in her hand. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Just tell us what happened,” Kate suggested.

“I already did,” Jamie snapped. She turned to Kate. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to…” She sighed heavily. “I was in the bar dancing with anybody and everybody. This tall, seductive woman came up behind me, pressed her body against my back, and started dancing with me. She had her hands on my hips and she spoke right in my ear. Back then I was…I was so easy,” Jamie said, wincing at the memory. “She asked me my name and she told me how hot I looked. She said she wanted to have sex with me right then, and I…I went with her willingly.”

CJ watched the vast array of emotions washing across Jamie’s tired features as she spoke. Her heart ached for her, and she took Jamie’s hand in an attempt to encourage her to continue, which she did.

“We went into the alleyway and she pushed me up against the wall next to the dumpster. I was so turned on by her aggression. I was usually the aggressor so I was enjoying the control she had over me. God, I sound like some kind of deviant.”

“Not at all,” Kate croaked with a voice full of emotion. She couldn’t stop a memory of CJ doing that to her recently as it swept through her mind before she focused back on the conversation.

“She kissed me…a really good, deep kiss. I was lost in it and didn’t see or feel her movements until it was too late. She…she…the knife. She stabbed me many times. Slashes and sometimes…she would try and push the knife into me, but it was like she was afraid to go too deep. I tried to scream and fight her off but I couldn’t. All I could think was that someone was going to find my body in the dumpster the next morning. I looked down at all the blood and I think I passed out or something. I don’t know what happened after that…” she trailed off, feeling her throat constrict at the memory of her fear.

“You told her your name. That’s why you changed it?” CJ asked, receiving a nod in response. “But you didn’t get her name, right?”

“I never thought to ask her. I just wanted what she was offering. God, I was so horrible.” Jamie’s tears came again.

“It’s OK, Penfold. You’re safe now, and if you help me with this case we can put her away for a long, long time. And you’re not horrible,” CJ said while squeezing Jamie’s hand in her own.

Jamie looked at her with such love that CJ had to look away momentarily. When she returned her gaze to Jamie brown eyes, she saw the love of a friend. There was no hint of anything else, and CJ smiled, feeling a shift in their relationship and knowing that she had helped somehow.

Jamie confirmed it. “Thank you, DM.” She turned to Kate. “And you too. I’ve never had friends who cared so much before.”

“Well you have us, but you also have a passionate redhead who, I hate to tell you, is completely crazy about you,” Kate said as she sniffed away the sadness.

Jamie sighed. “I really screwed up there. Last night-”

“Uh, Jamie, I know about last night. She’s my best friend at work, remember?”

“What…what did she say?”

“She’s hurt, but,” Kate said holding up a finger to forestall Jamie’s response. “I told her to give it a little time and you’d come back to her.”

“You were so sure-”

“I was so sure that between me and my wife here, we’d meddle enough to help you through whatever was going on in there,” Kate said with authority, poking gently at Jamie’s forehead.

The expression on Kate’s face made Jamie burst out laughing. “Cocky little thing, aren’t you?”

Kate smiled. “Yes.”

CJ was watching all this and had to let out a grin of her own, but she also knew they had to get back on topic. “Jamie?”

“Yeah?”

“I need to ask you about one more thing. I saw the photos from back then. You had some really nasty injuries. Did they need stitches?”

Jamie’s brow had furrowed again. “A few of the slashes did.”

“They looked pretty bad. How are they now?” CJ said, knowing she had guessed something else right when Jamie let a few more tears fall.

“I have…scars.”

“Is that why you’re scared to get close to Sam?”

Jamie nodded sadly. “I don’t let anyone see them.”

CJ was a little horrified. “You don’t let anyone see them?” she repeated, seeing Jamie nod again. “But what about the partners you’ve had? You haven’t-”

“I always wear a shirt. I…I don’t let anyone touch me there,” Jamie mumbled, looking down at her hand that was still joined with CJ’s. “People who just want a one-night stand don’t tend to care too much if they can touch you or not.”

CJ let out a gasp and heard Kate make a similar sound beside her. When Kate’s hand came down on CJ’s thigh, she covered it with her own before she focused back on Jamie. “So, you’ve never…I mean, no one’s touched your breasts in twelve years?”

Jamie looked up at CJ, brought out of her pensive stare at the floor by the direct words. She shook her head mutely and tried to maintain the eye contact.

CJ’s heart was aching for her friend. “Oh, Jamie, I’m so…God, I don’t know what to say.”

“You don’t need to say anything. I guess I just got used to it.”

“Well don’t! Honey, you need to talk to Sam. If you’re really serious about her, you need to overcome this with her help.”

Jamie’s face broke out in a smile at the endearment since this side of CJ was quite new to her. “You’re kinda sweet sometimes, huh?” she teased before a rakish grin split her face wide open.

CJ laughed in sync with Kate beside her. “There’s my Penfold,” she said with a smile. She leaned in and kissed Jamie on the cheek. “It’s time to start really living, and I want to help you get over your fear of showing your scars,” CJ added, forming an idea in her head to lighten the mood and help Jamie at the same time.

Jamie cirled her dark-blond eyebrow. “What are you up to?”

“Show us your boobies,” CJ said smugly.

“Get lost, CJ.”

“I’m serious.”

Kate let out a snort. “Oh, this is getting interesting.”

“You show me yours and I’ll show you mine,” Jamie scoffed.

CJ glared at her. “Uh…”

It seemed the mood had shifted, and Kate decided to leave them with something to think about before she had to go pee. She stood up and lifted her shirt to reveal her breasts to the completely astounded gaze of the two women, and walked out of the room leaving an image of pert, full mounds in Jamie’s mind.

“Well,” she said, slightly breathless. “Those were nice.”

CJ burst out laughing at her friend’s goofy expression and her wife’s sense of humor. “Uh, yes, yes, they’re very nice,” she said, smacking her lips. “But seriously, Jamie…perhaps if you let me look at the scars, you’ll feel more confident about revealing yourself to Sam. I’ll be very honest with you about them. I promise.”

Jamie thought about it. It was painful to think of anyone seeing them. She had hidden them for so long and was only confident around others if she was covered up. The thought of revealing herself made her feel incredibly vulnerable. But how am I ever going to conquer that feeling if I continue to hide? I feel safe here, and CJ’s my best friend. I have to do something…so maybe this is it.’

She slowly put her hands up her back under her clothing to unclasp her bra. Then she unbuttoned the blue shirt that covered her scars. CJ’s gaze fell upon Jamie’s cleavage where she saw the whitened, rough skin starting to appear. Jamie revealed her left breast and kept a hold of the shirt over her right, still feeling a little apprehensive. She had about nine slight scars and one that was quite pronounced, all crossing over one another like hash markings. The worst one was about two inches long with the raised flesh running over the soft swell of her breast. She shed a few nervous and painful tears again, but waited to hear the response. She did not expect the words CJ would utter next.

For some reason, CJ needed to make contact with her friend and raised her eyebrow in question as she moved her hand towards Jamie’s skin. Jamie nervously swallowed but nodded her permission. CJ ran her fingertip down the main scar. She had the overwhelming urge to try to make Jamie feel more like the precious woman she was.

“They’re beautiful. Just like you, Jamie. And if I love you as a friend and feel that, just imagine how someone who is crazy about you will feel,” CJ said quietly, reaching over to close the shirt.

Jamie’s tears trickled down her face and her watery eyes were wide with astonishment. She turned to see Kate standing by the door watching the tender exchange. “Did you hear what your wife said to me?”

“Yes.” Kate said, walking towards them. “And I agree with her. They don’t detract from your beauty in the slightest, and it just shows me how incredible you are that you had the courage to show them to us. Please don’t hide anymore, Jamie, not from the people who love you.”

“I…” Jamie was speechless.

Kate sat down on the couch and tugged on Jamie’s hand to make her sit too. “You know what happened to me just before I met CJ, right?” At Jamie’s nod, she continued. “I have a pretty large, deep scar on my inner thigh from those attacks. It will never go away. CJ kisses it all the time, just like she kisses everywhere else because she loves all of me. These aren’t ugly,” she said, pointing to the skin peeking out of Jamie’s shirt. “They’re a part of who you are, and I know Sam will love them because of that.”

Jamie still had tears running down her cheeks but her eyes were twinkling now. “Seems we all have our war wounds, huh? I know CJ has a scar too.”

Kate looked at her curiously. “Uh-huh, she has three. Which one are you talking about?”

Jamie pointed to CJ’s breast. “That little one…”

“You saw that, did ya?”

“Well yeah, but only because she was wearing that low-cut blouse,” Jamie said guiltily. “It’s a nice blouse.”

Kate laughed but had to admit to herself that she knew exactly what blouse Jamie was talking about. She really liked that one too.

CJ slid her tongue around her teeth when she saw the far off look in Kate’s eyes. She had to nip this line of conversation in the bud immediately. “Yeah, yeah, OK. That’s nothing. The point is we don’t want you to hide your scars around us. Even if you don’t feel you want to show them to anyone else, please feel free to walk around in your underwear in our presence.” CJ gave Jamie a wink. “And then when you go to Sam and finally make love without your shirt on, it’ll free something inside you. I’d even place a bet on that…it’s sure to make me some easy money,” she finished smugly, crossing her arms over her chest and sticking her chin out.

There was silence for a second before all three began to laugh. Jamie rolled back on the couch, pointing at CJ’s ridiculous expression and howling when she feigned hurt at being ridiculed. When Jamie really let go and didn’t even hold her shirt closed, Kate leaned over to pull the shirt back over Jamie’s breasts.

“OK, Missy. No need to throw them in our faces.”

That set them all off again and they spent the next couple of hours talking easily and teasing one another mercilessly. CJ suggested Jamie stay in the guestroom for the night, and Jamie accepted readily. Later on in the upper hallway, CJ handed a couple of clean towels to her colleague and was pulled into a bear hug.

“Thank you for tonight. You’re an amazing friend and I love you,” Jamie said as she released her.

CJ stared at her for a few seconds before finding her voice. “I love you too.” Her face took on a teasing grin again. “Now don’t screw up this thing with Sam or I’ll have to kick your ass.”

Jamie smirked, deciding she enjoyed being teased by this particular woman. “I won’t. Goodnight, DM.”

“Night, Penfold.”

Jamie lay awake and thought long and hard about the entire evening. She found it quite unbelievable that anyone would care for her so much. They had truly cheered her up, and CJ was right, she did feel so much freer already. She knew now she had to open her heart and let Sam in. She really liked her, and she knew that they could be something special if only she’d give them the chance.

* * * * * *

CJ lay in bed waiting for Kate to finish up in the bathroom. When Kate finally came through the door, she turned off the bedside light and crawled into CJ’s arms.

“Mmm, you were so great tonight, honey,” she murmured as she pushed her nose against CJ’s neck.

“So were you. Do you know how much I love you love us?” CJ replied, taking in the scent of the soft hair near her cheek.

“We do make a pretty good team, don’t we?”

“We sure do.”

“You know what I find amazing about that whole night?”

“What?” CJ smiled as she brushed a few strands of hair from Kate’s face.

“That there were some really intimate moments between you and Jamie…so beautiful…and I never felt anything but complete love and trust in you. You’re so incredible, CJ.”

CJ’s eyes had suddenly moistened, and she gulped back the sudden emotion. “See, to me you are incredible for being that way, Katie. I’m not sure I could always be so understanding…”

“Ah, but you were. And you are. You trust me, don’t you?” Kate asked.

“No question there. Yes, I do.”

“Exactly, and there was that phone call not so long ago accusing me of having an affair but you knew in your heart that I wasn’t, right?”

“Yes.”

“So there you go. We trust each other completely, and I know what you feel for Jamie is love but it’s a friend kind of love, like the way I feel about Sam. It’s a beautiful thing, and I’m so glad that Jamie’s starting to feel comfortable around us now.”

CJ pulled Kate closer still. “I love you, baby.”

Kate rose up on her elbow. “Baby? Want me to show you how much I love you back?” she purred, wiggling her eyebrows suggestively.

CJ made her oh-go-on-and-force-me face, and Kate laughed before leaning down to kiss her deeply. CJ whimpered at the intensity of it as Kate took her breath away, but she had to break the delicious contact to gulp down some much-needed air.

“We need to be quiet, Katie.”

“Uh-huh. You’ll have to bite down on your arm then…baby,” Kate breathed in CJ’s ear before beginning a trail down her long body with her lips and tongue.

“Oh, God…”

* * * * * *

At six thirty the next morning, CJ wandered into the kitchen and found Jamie making breakfast for everyone. She blinked at the unusual sight. “What are you doing, Penfold?”

“Oh, hey. I spotted fresh fruit in the fridge and thought you guys might like waffles…maybe some syrup and other delicious things.” Jamie smiled and spread her hand out to the table which was set with all kinds of toppings. “Is that OK?”

“Hell, yes. Watch out though. Kate might want you to move in.”

“Oh, I doubt that, DM. You guys couldn’t even be quiet for one night,” Jamie teased.

CJ blushed furiously. “You heard us?”

“Uh, yeah. The pillow over my head didn’t help either.”

“Oh, jeez, I’ll never live it down,” CJ muttered.

“Don’t worry about it, CJ…as long as you enjoyed yourselves.”

CJ bit her lips and busied herself at the coffee machine which made Jamie giggle to herself. Kate walked in the door with a sleepy, dreamy look on her face and her blond hair in disarray. CJ’s robe trailed on the floor behind her feet.

Jamie pointed at her with a big grin on her face. “See? She’s all happy and satisfied.”

CJ barked out a laugh at her wife’s expression, and she had to admit that Kate did look like the cat that had already consumed the canary, so to speak. Kate rubbed at her face and pulled out a chair at the dining table before dumping her cute butt into it heavily.

Her sleepy, green eyes blinked a few times to focus on the two women. “What’s she going on about, honey?”

CJ grinned. “It seems Jamie heard us last night, Katie, but don’t worry, I’m throwing her out in about five minutes.”

Kate pouted in Jamie’s general direction. “Sorry. Was I that loud?”

Jamie and CJ burst into hysterics. Kate was slightly oblivious due to her not-quite-awake state, and she leaned back in her chair to wait for the ridiculous noise to subside.

Once CJ had gotten a hold of herself, she leaned down to kiss Kate’s cheek. “I believe you were that loud,” she whispered into Kate’s ear, making her shudder at the ticklish feeling.

“Sorry, Jamie. I couldn’t really help it. She’s that good,” Kate responded absently. And anyway, it was all that flesh flying around last night that got me going too.”

“Um, I believe it was you who flashed your boobies first,” Jamie pointed out.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Kate muttered, waving her hand about in the air.

CJ continued to smile as she brought Kate’s coffee to the table and say down. They ate breakfast together, but the two agents ate quicker than Kate did since they had to stop by Jamie’s apartment on the way to work for a change of clothes. Kate was still half asleep when they left, but she kissed CJ and hugged Jamie before she shuffled back upstairs. She dragged herself into the shower and eventually got ready for work. She really hoped that nothing at the studios would fall apart today.

.

Chapter 4

When CJ arrived at her desk there was a message from Agent Neeson waiting for her. She hoped it was good news, having given him the tedious task of looking through surveillance camera footage for a whole load of streets branching out from the locations of the previous California attacks and killings. He’d been on nightshift and had gone through a ton of them last night. She picked up the phone and dialed his internal extension number.

“Neeson,” said a slightly tired-sounding voice.

“Hey, Stewart, its CJ. You got anything for me?”

“Oh, yes. I’m starting to see a car in quite a few of the recordings. It’s always parked about two streets away from the bar or club the victims are lured from,” he said, thankful that he had information for the esteemed Agent Carson.

“That sounds promising. Did you check out the vehicle?”

“I’m still working on getting the images enhanced to read the license plate. I’ll get the stills up to you within the hour.”

“Great job, Neeson. Thanks. I’ll see you then,” CJ said before hanging up the phone. She looked up and smiled as Jamie walked through the door. “Hey, where’d you go?”

“I went to see Mark. I told him about my, uh, involvement with this case and asked him to put me on it with you. I hope you don’t mind.”

“God, no, of course I don’t mind. Are you sure you want to do this, though?”

“Yes, CJ. It’ll help with the whole facing up to myself thing.”

“Did Mark allow it?”

Jamie sat down at her desk. “Yes, but I asked him to keep it between the three of us here in the office.”

CJ nodded her agreement. “I’m happy to have your help and I’m proud of you, Penfold,” she added, trying not to sound corny or condescending.

Jamie felt a smile creep across her face. It surprisingly meant a lot to her to hear that but she took a deep breath and decided to push past it. “So what do you want me to do first?”

“Well,” CJ said, standing up, “look at this map. These are the locations of all the attacks and killings so far in California. I’m seeing a pattern but I can’t really believe it’s this simple, and I still can’t comprehend why no one ever caught up with her before. Tell me what you think.”

Jamie got up and stood shoulder to shoulder with her friend in front of the map. She looked at each pin and location name. Then she took a step back and cocked her head to the side to look again. She walked to her desk in silence and opened the drawer, bringing out a small ball of string. CJ watched her, feeling that sense of advancement surging through her when a case started coming together. She knew what Jamie was about to do.

Jamie wrapped the end of the string around the lowest pin on the board and proceeded to trail it round the outside of the other pins. And there it was: the left side and top of a heart shape. “She’s kinda obvious, huh?” she said as she crossed her arms over her chest.

“Seems like it. But why haven’t the cops caught this? I bet it’s similar in every state.”

“Maybe they did…but she moves on so quickly. Even if they’d figured this out, they couldn’t keep up with her, and she left random time gaps between the old attacks. And anyway, they may not have gone this far into it. The murders only started recently. When I was attacked, the cops weren’t all that interested.”

CJ raised both eyebrows. “They weren’t?”

“Not really. Remember, CJ, she targets crummy bars or nightclubs and lures her victims away to even crummier places to attack them. I guess the cops figured the victims had it coming. I don’t know,” Jamie said as her eyes glazed over.

“Hey, stay with me. Are you sure you want to help with this?”

“Yes, sorry. I’m OK,” Jamie assured while patting CJ’s arm. “Really.”

“OK. Let’s get to work.”

They both settled down around CJ’s desk and started going over everything. The medical files and photographs were left closed for now, but when Neeson walked into the office they had much more information to work with anyway. CJ began checking out the license plate of the car that seemed to be near the area of every attack in the past few months. Jamie caught herself up with the details of the case and was just about to look at her own file when Ethan and Mikey arrived with coffee…the good stuff. She put the papers back into the drawer and greeted her colleagues.

A short time later, they had a possible name for the killer. Alison Timmons was the last known owner of the suspect car, and she fitted the description of the attacker down to the last detail – almost. But CJ suspected she wore a few different wigs and so could explain the quick changes in hair color and length over the years. Now she needed to get a photo of the suspect so that Jamie could identify her. The problem was that Timmons wasn’t on file.

CJ had been puzzled by the lack of DNA at the scenes, but after looking over the reports more carefully she noticed that the attacker didn’t even touch her victims after the first ten or so – apart from the knife into their flesh. She had used her charm and seductive promises, and they seemed to go with her like lambs to the slaughter.

This woman must have that certain something that makes people drool over her, CJ had thought to herself. Either that or she picks her victims well and can see that they’re easy targets.

CJ just couldn’t imagine how this attacker had been able to commit so many crimes without there at least being a sighting of her. Surely if a description had been put out on the national news, the public would have been wary. Of course her victims were no doubt full of drink or drugs, considering the chosen locations, so maybe they hadn’t been too bothered by warnings on the news. CJ inhaled deeply and stretched her shoulders. She was going to catch Timmons. She had to. And as she got her head down to continue with her work, she told herself that she’d send the killer away for a very long time.

* * * * * *

Kate breathed a sigh of relief at two PM. They had gotten a lot of work done so far and nothing had collapsed or blown up. She was absolutely desperate for a cold soda and headed out into the lot, keeping her eyes peeled for a sighting of Sam. In the cafeteria, she approached the register with her chosen drink and handed over the cash. As she turned to walk away she felt nimble fingers pinching the sides of her waist and jumped before she heard Sam’s voice in her ear.

“Lookin’ good, sexy.”

Kate turned to see her friend grinning at her. “What did you do that for?”

“I have no idea. You just look so good in those pants.”

“Hey, keep your eyes off. This belongs to a certain tough FBI agent,” Kate said, splaying her hands over her body.

“Oh, I know. I just seem to have a new appreciation of the female form. May I join you?”

“Of course…”

They sat down at a nearby table, and Kate watched Sam as she got settled in her seat.

Kate opened her soda. “Want some?”

“Nah. I just wanted to see if you were all ready for the awards.”

Kate smiled as she swallowed the sweet, fizzy drink. “Yes. We both have our dresses. God, wait ‘til you see my wife. I don’t know how I’m gonna keep the drool from running down my chin all night.”

Sam laughed. “I don’t want to see that on the front page, that’s for sure.”

“Yeah, I think I could do without that kind of publicity for my first big night.”

“I bet you win.”

“Don’t make me think about it. But to be honest, I’m more excited about attending it with CJ than anything else. If I win, it would just be a bonus.”

Sam shook her head in disbelief. “You really aren’t like any actress I’ve ever met before, Kate…and that’s a good thing.”

“What do you mean?”

“You know Hollywood. Everyone’s out to win, to make more money, or to be in the limelight as much as possible no matter what it costs anyone who gets in their way. But you’re different and that’s probably why we became friends, among other things,” Sam replied honestly.

“Thank you for saying that, Sam. I guess you’re right. I mean, when I was young I did want to be rich and famous, but now that I’m all grown up it’s more about the parts I would enjoy playing, not how much I’m paid or how popular I’ll be. And anyway, I’ve found something that’s worth more than any money in the world. It certainly puts things into perspective.”

Sam knew she was talking about CJ and while it warmed her heart that Kate was so happy, it reminded her of her problems with Jamie. Her face fell, and Kate noticed it.

“It’ll happen,” Kate assured as she reached over to pat Sam’s hand.

Sam threw her a half-smile and snagged the soda, deciding to steal a gulp or two after all.

* * * * * *

CJ walked along the corridor to her office. Once inside, she dropped into her chair and kicked off her shoes. Scratching her fingers gently over her scalp to alleviate the tense feeling in her head, she looked over at Jamie who sat behind her computer screen as usual. No matter how hard she’d tried not to think about her buddy while she was at the morgue, Jamie still popped into her head when she was looking at the bodies – one man and two women – from the last few murders. They had been stabbed and slashed the same way Jamie had, but just below those marks the fatal stab wound was inflicted and the heart shape cut out of the covering skin. The thought of this killer touching Jamie with a blade made CJ sick.

“You OK, DM?” Jamie queried since she had been watching CJ since just after she’d sat down silently.

“Yeah…I just don’t like morgues much.”

“Who does?” Jamie asked rhetorically.

“Did Mark stop by?”

Jamie searched for a piece of paper among the debris on her desk. “Yep, he left you a note but I can’t…oh, here it is.”

CJ got up and perched on the corner of Jamie’s desk to read the note. “Great. He put out the APB on Timmons. If her car is spotted in any of the places we think she’s headed to, we’ll know about it. Then…then we need to be ready to move.”

“Are we going up to Bakersfield?”

“I think we should but I’m worried my hunch will be wrong and she’s actually in another town.”

“I want to be the one to go undercover with you, CJ.”

CJ shook her head vehemently. “No way, Jamie. I’m going in with Mark. I don’t want you going through anything else this week.”

“I’m a big girl, DM. No need to worry,” Jamie said, patting CJ’s thigh.

“Well you’ll forgive me if I do anyway. Besides, I think you’re leading the standby team. As soon as we know where she is, you’ll be in a van heading to the scene. We need you to eyeball her since we couldn’t get a picture,” CJ stated plainly.

“OK. I’m not gonna fight you on this. It’s your deal, but be careful, please.”

CJ smiled. “I will.”

At that moment Mark came in with Ethan and Mikey in tow. Everyone sat down for a briefing, and Mark looked at each member of his team before he began.

“As you’ve all no doubt guessed, we’re going to Bakersfield. In order to cover the main drag, I’ll need everyone I can get my hands on, but here’s the deal for our team. We have a lot of ground to cover, but if CJ’s right the killer will target the not-so-cool places. Still, we can’t afford to miss anything.” He handed out a sheet of paper to each agent. “Early on in the night, I want the clubs on Eighteenth and Nineteenth Streets checked…also Baker Street and Union Avenue since they seem to be the busiest. There are more, but we’ll take it in waves. The local PD is cooperating with us and has allocated a group of undercover officers to assist us in the search. We’ll take a team of twelve from here.” He paused when he glanced up and saw CJ’s worried expression. “CJ?”

“I’m just concerned that this is all being done on my gut feeling about where she’ll strike next, Sir. That’s a lot of officers and a lot of agents.”

“Hmm, how do I say this without embarrassing you?” Mark said with a shrug. “I’m willing to go with your gut feeling. Considering the way you bring cases to a satisfactory conclusion very quickly, especially the Davenport case, I’ll take any educated guess you have to offer. I think I’ve known you long enough and I agree with your gut feeling. You let me worry about the budget, OK?”

CJ blushed slightly. “Yes, Sir.”

“All right. Jamie, I need you in the backup van. If we get a hit I want you to get to the location and ID her as quickly as possible. CJ, you’re with me. We’re going to check the, uh, less popular clubs, if you know what I mean. If our search is fruitless, we’ll wait in the car for a sighting. Once that happens we need to move in. Mikey, Ethan…I want you two on the main streets. I want you to keep your eyes and ears open and check all alleyways that are easily accessible. Every pairing will have access to a car. If we need to move to another area, I want everyone there as quickly as possible. Her last attacks in California have been at weekends. Let’s hope she doesn’t change that now. If we don’t get anything tonight we’ll have to stay and try on Saturday too.”

“If we see her are we going in to bait her, Sir?” Mikey asked.

“That’s the plan, but I’m not sure yet. I’ll brief you again when we get over there. If we find her, CJ and I will make ourselves blatantly noticeable to her and hopefully she’ll take the bait.”

CJ winced a little. “What do I have to wear?”

Mark scrunched up his face. “Something nightclub-ish…?”

“You mean something revealing and hideous. I get it. Yes, Sir.”

“Don’t worry, CJ. I’ll wear a shirt I once got for a Halloween party, and we’ll both look like…well, you know. So, any more questions?”

All four agents shook their heads, and Mark gave them some final instructions before he left the room. CJ decided she had to phone Kate to give her the bad news. She wasn’t going to get back until tomorrow at the earliest so she had to jump home for fresh clothes now, and she wasn’t going to see Kate until she got back. They were leaving for Bakersfield in an hour.

* * * * * *

“So do you think if we got you and Jamie together, you could talk this through?” Kate asked, picking at a fudge brownie she’d decided she just had to have.

Sam bit her lip. “I want to, Kate, but remember when I told you I was scared before? Well I’m ten times more scared now.”

Kate nodded while trying to think of a way to help the potential couple to sort things out. “How about you come over for dinner? I’ll get CJ to invite Jamie too. Once we’ve eaten you’ll hopefully be more relaxed after our scintillating conversation, and CJ and I will go out for a ride while you two talk.”

“You’re quite the meddler,” Sam commented as she sent Kate a mock glare.

“I’m not meddling. OK, I am, but you guys need help.”

“God, Kate, you make us sound like two idiots in love.”

“Close enough,” Kate said, earning her a kick under the table. “Ouch!” she barked, but she knew Sam could see the amusement in her eyes as she stifled a grin. Her cell phone vibrated and she fished it out of her pocket. “Hello?”

“Hi, Katie.”

“Hey, honey. How are you?”

“Fine…and you?”

“I’m OK. I’m just here chatting with Sam actually…trying to plan a dinner, if you know what I mean.”

“That sounds great, but I have to be away overnight, maybe tomorrow too,” CJ said, massaging her temples with two fingers.

“Aww, why?”

“We have to go up to Bakersfield to try to catch this killer. We want to be in the area if the cops spot her. The evidence we have so far is only speculative, and we need to catch her in the act.”

“Hasn’t she left DNA on anyone?”

“She hasn’t touched any victims for a long time, Katie, but I can’t really talk about this right now, you know?”

“Of course, I know.”

“How’s your day going? Taking a break?”

“Yeah.”

“No more catastrophes today I hope?”

Kate sighed. “No…thankfully.”

“Good. I love you, honey. I have to go.”

“Ditto, CJ. Please be careful, OK?”

“Always, Katie. Bye,” CJ said quietly.

“Bye.” Kate hung up the phone and turned to Sam. “Well tonight’s no use. We could shoot for tomorrow instead?”

“For what?” Sam blinked.

“Dinner at our place. Sheesh, Sam, keep up.”

Sam rolled her eyes at the teasing. “Yeah, tomorrow sounds fine, but I may call Jamie tonight if I get up the nerve.”

“She might be away with CJ. Want me to check?”

“Oh yeah, please.”

Kate sent a text message to her wife and received one back a few moments later. “Yep. Jamie’s going too. So we’ll try for tomorrow then.”

“You just love it when a plan comes together, don’t you?” Sam chuckled.

“Just call me Hannibal,” Kate said as she pretended to smoke a cigar.

“Huh?”

“Oh for goodness sake, Sam, the A-Team…?”

Sam laughed at her friend’s frustrated face, making Kate realize she was being teased. She grinned and picked a few more pieces from her brownie, narrowing her eyes and flicking them at Sam as punishment.

* * * * * *

CJ smirked through the car window at the guys in the Bureau van that had just passed them on the freeway. As Mark drove, she thought about how they were going to capture Timmons since she seemed to be pretty good at avoiding the authorities. Of course she’d never been up against the Specialist Serial Homicide Unit of the FBI. CJ snarled at the thought of catching her. This particular killer had not only physically harmed her friend, but she had caused a whole load of emotional and mental grief to Jamie for the past twelve years as well. Not to mention the numerous other victims she had affected or killed. It made CJ’s blood boil. She tried to squash the anger she felt rising, knowing that it wouldn’t do her any good anyway.

“What was that for?” Mark asked, breaking her train of thought.

“What?”

“That growling sound you just made.”

“I did not.”

“You did. What were you thinking about? Or do I not want to know?” Mark said as he kept his eyes on the road.

CJ sighed. “I was just trying to control my anger toward this killer, Sir…but don’t worry, I’m fine.”

“Oh, I know you’re fine, CJ, but I also know she hurt your friend. I see how close you and Jamie have gotten, and while that’s a great thing, I need you to focus just like you would with any other killer.”

“I will, Sir.”

Mark glanced over to her. “CJ…call me Mark when we’re alone.”

She turned to him and once again saw the sincerity in his dark eyes. “OK, Mark.”

Mark focused on the road again, and they made the rest of the trip in a comfortable silence, save for some random country song playing quietly on the radio. The Bureau van and a few fleet sedans were up ahead of them on the freeway. When the vehicles eventually took the exit toward Bakersfield, Mark signaled and followed them to the local police department to pick up their troops and get as much info as they could on the lay of the land.

* * * * * *

Kate stood next to her Mercedes wondering where Tony had gone. She called him, and a few moments later he appeared doing up his belt as he walked quickly towards the car.

Kate curled her eyebrow and narrowed her eyes at the driver. “Please tell me you were just in the bathroom,” she deadpanned.

Tony took a few seconds to realize what she meant. “Oh, Kate, I wouldn’t do such a thing. I just had to pee, I swear!”

Kate barely held back her laugh, and Tony felt a little foolish when he realized that his boss was teasing him. He opened the car door for Kate who shook her head at his nervous behavior. Once he’d sat in the driver’s seat, she leaned forward to catch his attention in the rear view mirror.

“Tony, I know you’re not the kinda guy to have a quickie with your girlfriend while you’re working, but I also know you two are getting pretty serious.”

“Kate, I wouldn’t ever do anything like that. I can control myself…” He craned his neck to look at her and once again saw the mischief in her eyes. He slapped his forehead and let out a huge sigh. “You’re pulling my leg again, aren’t you?”

Kate laughed and nodded. “Sorry, Tony. I was talking to Cyn earlier and she said you guys had a quick kiss in the trailer while I was on set,” she said, holding up her finger at his resultant worried expression. “She told me because she knows I don’t mind. It’s your relationship, and as long as it doesn’t affect my schedule, I want you to know I think it’s cool. OK?”

Tony sighed again, this time in relief. “OK. Thank you, Kate. It will never affect my job. I promise you.”

“I know. Now take me home, man.”

He grinned and shifted in his seat to start the car. During the drive home, Kate decided to see what Sam was up to later this evening. With both CJ and Jamie away, they could take the opportunity to get together for dinner. Hanging up the phone a few minutes later, she sighed happily because Sam was coming over, and they were ordering take-out from her favorite restaurant. Sam was also bringing a blooper reel from Rise of the Phoenix. Since it was Kate’s old show, she’d be quite happy to see them make asses of themselves and she giggled silently at the thought as Tony drove the car onto the freeway.

* * * * * *

“Shit! That is her,” Jamie said with certainty. She pressed the button for her earpiece and mic, activating them to AD Mulroney. “Sir, sighting confirmed. Timmons is just entering La Movida nightclub.”

Mark flicked a switch linking the wires each agent wore. “All units, we have a confirmed sighting. I want everyone in the vicinity of La Movida nightclub as soon as possible. Keep radio traffic down to a minimum. This channel will remain open. Agent Carson and I are going in. Over.”

Jamie ended up alone in her van as her team filed out in their pairings. This vehicle had the secured area in the back, and she was to remain in it, ready to jump to any location as transport for the prisoner. She positioned herself across the busy street from the club, giving her a good view of the crowds of people. Her stomach had churned slightly at the sight of Timmons, and she wanted this part of her life to end now. Please get her, CJ.

* * * * * *

After a delicious Chinese meal, Kate and Sam had watched the blooper reel twice. It was hilarious, and Kate was still chuckling whenever she thought about it. “Can I keep this to show CJ?” she asked Sam.

“Sure. It’s a good ‘un, huh?”

“Yeah. I’m sure she’ll need a good laugh when she gets back.”

Sam nodded thoughtfully. “It’s such a dangerous job they do. How do you cope with that aspect, Kate?”

“I just do. It’s a big part of CJ’s life, and she’s really good at her job. I thought about joining the Bureau too, you know.”

“Yeah?”

“Yep, but I decided recently after that horrid case a few months back that I’d rather be here to support her, not off trying to start a new career.”

“Sounds pretty sensible to me…I mean I know you could do it no problem but it’s a tough career to get into. I don’t know how they do it every day,” Sam said as her mind began to wander.

Kate watched Sam’s eyes glazing over. “Where did you go?”

“Um.” Sam stumbled out of her thoughts and blushed as she turned to Kate. “I was just thinking about…you know.”

“Yes, I do know. So have you figured out what you’re going to say to her when you see her?”

“Not really. I was thinking I should just drag her away when she walks in the door and kiss her senseless. What do you think?”

Kate laughed. “Sounds fine to me. I doubt she’d object.”

“God, Kate, I’ve never thought about kissing someone so much in my life. That short kiss we had was incredible. What am I gonna be like when she touches me?”

“Well if you guys are anything like CJ and I, you’ll melt into a little pool of utter bliss every single time,” Kate said, sighing dreamily.

Sam laughed and slapped her on the shoulder. It was now well after midnight, but they were enjoying having some time to chill out and talk. Their comfortable conversation continued until two o’clock when Sam decided it was time to head home since she had work the next morning. Kate was a little luckier and had the day off tomorrow. They said their good-byes, hugging at the front door before Kate locked up the house. She shuffled through the living room clearing up the glasses and shutting off the lights.

“That was a good night,” she said to herself as she climbed the stairs to go to her lonely bed. She suddenly wondered what CJ was doing right now and shuddered at the array of thoughts that flashed through her mind. Damn it, I miss her.

* * * * * *

Inside La Movida nightclub, CJ and Mark moved separately and scanned the dance floor and bar area respectively. Timmons should be easy to spot, but the guys who had come in with them were not, so CJ kept looking for the suspect or a recognizable sign from one of the officers assisting them. The music was loud and the lights were flashing around the darkened room. She passed the restroom door and quickly checked inside. While she was in there away from the loud music, she heard Mark talking to someone on the receiver in her ear. He was talking to a woman.

“Shit!” CJ muttered as she left the restroom and headed to the bar.

She looked frantically at each surrounding table. She couldn’t see Mark anywhere and felt a panic course through her body. She scanned every area for him and then headed outside where she could communicate more easily with her colleagues. She couldn’t hear a damn thing in here.

Mark walked out the door with the woman he suspected to be Alison Timmons who had offered to buy him a drink at the bar. He’d suggested to her that he wasn’t here to drink, but was looking for a good time. When she didn’t slap him and walk away, he guessed from her reaction and appearance that she was the killer. She had whispered in his ear that she wanted him to fuck her outside right now, and he had left with her knowing that as soon as she took him into the alleyway and produced the knife, he would say the code words to call for his agents.

What he hadn’t known was that Alison had pepper spray – or something similar – in her pocket, and as soon as they were off the main street she turned quickly and sprayed Mark’s eyes and mouth with a large dose of the contaminant. Mark was tall and quite burly so it seemed that Alison wasn’t taking any chances. He growled in pain and couldn’t see the woman clearly as she pulled a large knife from her black cowboy boot and held the blade across his throat. He lashed out and tried to turn back onto the main thoroughfare which forced Alison to touch him. She pulled his arm up behind his back and moved him deeper into the alleyway. Mark tensed, thinking she would feel his gun and figure out that he was an officer of the law. He was glad that she had touched him though. If she somehow got away, they would hopefully have DNA from the contact. She’s not getting away this time, he thought angrily. His eyes stung so badly he had no way of opening them, and his throat felt like it was on fire. His tongue felt almost numb it was burning so bad. The pain was becoming intolerable.

While all of this was happening, Jamie – who had seen Alison as she walked down the street with Mark – was driving round to the other end of the alleyway to head them off. Not seeing anyone emerge, she was now creeping along against the darkened wall with her gun drawn. She heard the noises of a struggle and tried to control her pounding heart. She wasn’t afraid but she wasn’t looking forward to facing this woman again either.

Peeking out from behind a dumpster – the sight of which had made her wince – she saw Mark being held by the throat and knew she didn’t have any time left. When she noticed Alison moving into a shadowy spot under a fire escape, she cocked her gun and moved into the center of the alleyway. “FBI! Drop it!” she shouted.

Alison Timmons looked over at her but made no move to do what the agent had instructed. “Or what…you’ll shoot him?” she sneered, pointing at Mark who was shielding her body.

Jamie’s finger pressed against the trigger.

* * * * * *

CJ ran as fast as her long legs would carry her, hearing all sorts of directions being barked over the radio on her ear. She wished she had the breath left in her to tell them to shut up. All she wanted to hear were Mark’s words. She had asked a few people on the sidewalk where the tall dude with the sparkly, purple shirt had gone, and one of them pointed to the alleyway which was more than a block from the club. She kept running while she pulled her gun from its holster.

When she entered the alleyway, the sight that greeted her made her heart leap into her mouth. Jamie was standing pointing her gun at Alison Timmons who was up against the wall with Mark in her grasp and a large knife pressing into his jugular. CJ aimed her gun at Alison and could see Mark’s face covered in tears. His eyes were swollen and red. What the hell?

Jamie warred within herself. Anger and horror at seeing her attacker again made the blood pulse through her veins at the speed of light. Meanwhile, Alison just glared at her.

“Drop the gun, sexy, or I swear to God I’ll stick this right through to his spine,” Alison spat.

“There’s no way I’m dropping this gun, Alison. And if you hurt him in any way, I’ll make sure my bullet goes through your brain the next second,” Jamie snarled back, raising her aim to the killer’s head.

“So you know my name? Hmm, but still, I don’t think you’ve got the balls to shoot me.”

Jamie breathed steadily, fighting with her adrenaline-filled body. “Try me.”

“All right.” Timmons shifted her gaze, glancing at CJ before looking at Mark’s profile. “Nighty-night, handsome.”

In the blink of an eye, Jamie adjusted her aim again, knowing she had no other options left. She blew a hole in Alison’s elbow causing her to drop the knife from a hand devoid of any feeling. Alison screamed in agony and tried to drop to the ground to grapple for her weapon. Mark scampered away, bumping into a couple of things due to his blindness.

Jamie stepped forward and pressed the barrel of her gun against Alison’s forehead. “You touch that knife, and I swear I will kill you. You’re not hurting me again.”

CJ ran to Mark. “Don’t touch your eyes, Sir. Stay still,” she said, sitting him in a safe spot against the wall.

Alison looked up at Jamie, which effectively placed the barrel of the gun between her eyes. “Again…?”

Jamie furrowed her eyebrows. “It’s a shame you don’t recognize me, because I’ll be the last thing you see before you die. It’s time for you to pay for your crimes,” she replied icily, her finger tensing on the trigger once more.

CJ stood rigidly next to Jamie as she watched the look on Alison’s face turn from cocky to fear. She spoke quietly to her colleague. “She’s injured now, and we can handle her.” She glanced round to see a few more agents arrive. “Lower your weapon, Agent Green.”

Jamie stood stock-still, her finger still poised to pull the trigger. Every muscle on her face and neck was taut to the extreme. She showed no sign that she was listening to CJ as she stared coldly into Alison’s eyes.

CJ tried again. “She’s not worth it. You need to lower your weapon. She won’t get away, and there are three other guns trained on her now. Let it go.”

“I can’t. She deserves…” Jamie couldn’t finish the sentence.

CJ took a step closer to Jamie’s shoulder. She spoke in a whisper into her friend’s ear, making sure Alison wouldn’t hear these words. “I love you, Jamie. Don’t fuck this up now. Please lower your weapon.”

Jamie swallowed hard. Holding her aim, she turned to see the three guns – two of which belonged to Ethan and Mikey – that were pointed directly at Alison. Ethan nodded briefly at Jamie, and she lowered her weapon to let the other agents quickly move in. As she let CJ lead her away, she heard someone calling for an ambulance. She crouched beside Mark who was wearily leaning on the wall, and put her arm around his shoulders.

“Are you OK, Sir?”

“Yes, Agent. Are you?” he croaked against his burning throat as he tried to open his eyes.

CJ watched over them and kept her eye on the others. The alleyway was now swarming with police officers and agents, and she noted with satisfaction that someone was snapping on gloves to retrieve the knife which had a little of her boss’s blood on the tip. She grimaced and focused back on Jamie and Mark.

The AD clumsily patted Jamie’s knee. “You did good. I know that musta been hard for you.”

“It’s over now,” Jamie said with a sigh while looking up to meet CJ’s eyes. She smile sadly, and CJ nodded once to acknowledge the thank-you for what it was.

The next fifty minutes or so seemed to fly by and included a paramedic treating the hole in Alison’s elbow before bandaging her up. When CJ had slowed down again, she realized she was in the sedan with Mark and Ethan. Jamie and Mikey had gone in the van with a few other agents to accompany Alison on her journey back to Los Angeles.

It would be a long night of paperwork, and CJ knew they wouldn’t finish it until tomorrow. It would take hours just to get back to the city. She sent a text message to Kate to let her know she would get home as soon as possible, but it would no doubt be after work the next day. Kate had a couple of days off, and CJ couldn’t wait to spend some time with her. Now that the adrenaline had left her system, she was missing the comfort of her wife’s arms very much. She sighed and began jotting details down in her notebook for reference later.

Mark watched from the back seat as Ethan turned on the radio, keeping the volume low as they headed down the highway behind the convoy of Bureau vehicles. Once again, he was proud of his agents, and he was glad that this incident had ended successfully with the killer captured alive and nobody else getting hurt – well, apart from him, but his eyes were feeling much better and the stinging had gone after the paramedics had flushed them. That pepper spray sure had been unexpected. There were no reports of it being used on any other attack, and Mark shook his head, thinking he should always expect the unexpected. There’s never a dull day in the FBI, he said to himself.

.

Chapter 5

CJ arrived home at four thirty the next day, having been awake for…well, she’d lost count of the hours. She went through the house looking for Kate. She’d missed her like crazy while she was away. Even though her mind was on the case and the capture, the little ache in her heart always remained when she was apart from her. After changing out of her work clothes in the bedroom, she headed to the kitchen to grab a drink but got distracted by the sounds coming from the gym. Thinking about how Kate had reacted to her working out recently, she grinned to herself and crept towards the noises.

The door was ajar, and CJ looked through the gap. She saw Kate sparring with her Iron Man freestanding punching-figure. She watched intently as Kate battered the crap out of the dummy, jabbing and swiping with her staff and occasionally throwing in a roundhouse kick. CJ’s nostrils flared at the impressive display, and her body temperature soared.

She listened to the grunts of exertion and profanity as Kate ran through her routine. CJ loved this side of Kate just as much as she loved every other facet of her being. She relished in her strength. Kate had so much of it, and it showed in so many different ways.

Aww hell, I just love all of her. I’m so damn lucky.

When Kate stopped for a break, CJ hummed long and low to get her attention. Kate turned to see the look in her cobalt eyes.

She smirked and waved her finger in front of her. “Don’t you dare. If you want to spar then come ahead, otherwise you need to wait ‘til I’m done,” she said as she swiped a drop of sweat from the end of her nose.

“By spar, do you mean make love?” CJ purred, raising her usual sultry eyebrow.

“Hey!” Kate said, backing away from CJ’s stealthy approach but secretly enjoying the sight. “I’m not done working out. You can either spar with me or go away.”

CJ knew she wasn’t being completely serious. “By spar, do you mean kiss or lick?”

“CJ, I swear…” Kate warned as she took another step back to avoid the grasp of the long arms. She tried to block CJ’s advance with her staff.

CJ just wiggled her outstretched fingers and narrowed her eyes. “By spar, do you mean take all this arousal between my legs and join it with yours?” she asked, licking her lips seductively.

Kate swallowed hard, feeling her body respond to the words and the imagery they created in her mind. “CJ…” she tried weakly. She felt the wall blocking her retreat, and her resolve was disappearing fast.

CJ now stood with her abs pressed against the end of the staff. Her eyes were the darkest Kate had ever seen them. She narrowed them a little and spoke in a low, husky voice. “By spar, do you mean come all over you again and again and again?”

Kate couldn’t breathe. “No…fair,” she squeaked.

CJ grabbed the end of the staff and moved it aside to press her body against Kate’s. Kate groaned in surrender and dropped the weapon on the floor. CJ swept her up in her arms and immediately slipped her tongue into Kate’s irresistible mouth.

Kate sucked on the muscle, feeling the fire burn throughout her body. The touch of CJ’s lips and her hands running over her skin-tight clothing was enough to make Kate very, very wet. The anticipation overwhelmed her and she broke the contact, breathing heavily against CJ’s soft, moist lips. “God, I missed you, Ciara…”

“I missed you too. You have no idea…” CJ whispered. They kissed again, and CJ slipped her hands into Kate’s pants to grasp her firm buttocks. She squeezed the smooth flesh and pulled Kate closer to her. They kissed long and slow, savoring every movement and taste. Kate’s hands moved across CJ’s back, scratching and massaging the muscled flesh. CJ was on fire now, and she thought she might come simply from kissing her beautiful wife.

Kate suddenly broke the contact and pushed CJ back gently. They held their intense gaze for a few seconds while CJ tried to work out what was going on, but then Kate grinned.

“Come get me…” she challenged before running quickly out of the gym.

Not wasting another second, CJ laughed and followed her spouse eagerly. She caught up to Kate at the bottom of the staircase and admired her delicious butt cheeks as she ascended in a run. CJ smiled widely and licked her lips as she took the stairs two at a time. When they got into the bedroom, Kate turned to face her wife at the foot of their bed, but CJ didn’t stop and tackled her, throwing her backwards onto the soft mattress. Pinning Kate’s wrists above her head, CJ straddled her compact body.

“You’re not getting away this time, my dear.”

“Oh, I don’t wanna go anywhere. Make love to me, baby.”

CJ purred deep in her throat and lowered herself to kiss her eager lover. Still holding Kate’s wrists, she ground her crotch onto her and let the weight of her breasts press down onto Kate’s. She heard Kate moan as she pushed herself up against the rhythmic action.

CJ slipped her hands upward to link their fingers and broke the kiss to look deeply into the sensual, dark-green eyes below her. “I love you, Katie,” she murmured, her breaths coming fast and shallow.

“I…love you, Ciara.” Kate was so aroused and needed to feel her wife’s skin on hers. “Too…many clothes.”

CJ nodded and quickly removed the T-shirt and pants she had pulled on earlier. She rose up on her knees to strip Kate’s body of its coverings. “Oh, that’s better,” she whispered, kissing her way across the firm and very naked abdomen making Kate shiver and push upward again. CJ reached her target and buried the tip of her nose in Kate’s pubic hair, taking a deep breath and moaning out her need. “Oh, Katie…oh, you smell great,” she panted before the urge to poke her tongue out to taste Kate became too strong.

Kate cried out at the heavenly touch. She was so incredibly ready and she couldn’t believe how much CJ could do to her before she even touched her sex. As CJ pushed her tongue between the warm skin to lap at the swelling clit, Kate lost all coherent thought and felt her climax take hold. She couldn’t help it, and CJ didn’t seem to be stopping any time soon. As her body writhed during the powerful aftershocks, CJ slid down a little further and positioned herself between Kate’s thighs causing her shoulders to push Kate’s legs open wide.

CJ admired the sight of Kate’s sated center while feeling her own empathetic orgasm subside as she tried to control her breathing. She couldn’t imagine anything better in life than making love to Kate. She’d never felt so passionate about anyone before, and she knew she never would again. Kate was all she’d ever want. This woman was everything to her and she leaned forward, wanting to taste her wife’s essence over and over again. Before she let her tongue touch Kate’s sensitive clit, she used her fingers to spread the surrounding skin even wider. Hearing a strangled gasp erupting from Kate’s throat, CJ wrapped her lips around the well-lubricated clit and teased Kate relentlessly with her tongue. She had to reach up with her other hand to hold Kate’s squirming hips in place as the rapturous feelings intensified.

Kate couldn’t think, couldn’t do anything other than feel. What CJ was doing to her was so totally incredible that she saw bright spots dancing across the inside of her eyelids. Those eyes popped open as another orgasm swept over her, making every nerve ending in her body burn intensely. CJ was sucking gently on her clit and she just couldn’t calm down. She felt another climax rising and reached down to grasp CJ’s head to stop her. “Ciara, I want you to come with me…please.”

CJ’s fevered body moved quickly, and in one smooth movement she was straddling Kate’s mound. Her breathing labored, she kept eye contact with Kate as she reached down between them. Kate licked her lips, knowing that CJ was about to open them both up. She looked down as her own hand met with CJ’s, both of them fondling the soft folds of their sexes. They spread their own engorged skin and removed their hands as CJ lowered herself onto Kate.

Kate let out a blissful cry, and CJ gasped aloud. CJ’s blue eyes bore into Kate’s soul as they thrust against each other. They were both so wet that CJ glided across Kate’s clit with ease. It was too good.

“Oh, Katie…I…”

“Yes. Now, Ciara. Come for me.”

CJ moaned loudly, and Kate felt the thrusts become frantic as her wife climaxed. She whimpered when she felt CJ’s wetness running over her skin and inside her.

“Oh!” she shouted as another orgasm swept through her. “Yes!”

CJ slowed her movements while they both tried to recover, finally stopping but keeping her body tightly connected to Kate’s. She looked down at her and grinned, her nostrils flaring as her breaths continued to come hard and fast. “You…what you do to me,” she gasped, lowering her body to cover Kate fully.

Kate simply kissed her since she was unable to speak just yet. She ran her hands through CJ’s dark hair and felt her wife curl her arms under her shoulders. She licked her lips to lubricate them. “I…honestly never knew there was…so much passion inside of me,” she whispered.

“I knew. I see it all the time, honey. You’re so…so…oh damn, there are no words good enough to describe you,” CJ said, grinning slyly.

“You know the other day when you were working out, and I, uh…”

CJ licked her teeth, pretending to think. “Ravished me? Uh-huh.”

Kate nibbled the tip of CJ’s nose. “Well, when I watched you I thought exactly the same thing. Do you realize how perfect you are to me?”

“Perfect?”

“Yes. For me, you are.”

“Ditto, Katie. Just about every day, I wonder how I got so lucky.”

Kate pouted. “Not every day?”

CJ laughed and rolled them over. Kate looked down at her, and a sultry look crossed her features.

“Again?” CJ asked, feigning surprise.

“Well, you only came once. I’m sure I could do better than that.”

“Uh, Katie, I came when you did…that first time. You know me,” CJ said sheepishly, shrugging her shoulders.

That sent Kate into fits of giggles and she slumped down onto CJ’s chest, resting her cheek on the smooth skin as her laughter faded away. They lay quietly smiling to themselves for a few precious moments until someone’s stomach growled. CJ tried not to laugh but her vibrating body gave her away.

Kate lifted her head. “See? Sex and food. I’m really easy to keep, don’t you think?”

CJ chuckled as they dragged themselves back out of bed. After kissing Kate languidly for a few more moments, she headed to the bathroom to grab their robes. She threw Kate’s to her before they descended the stairs for a late dinner. While they ate, CJ filled Kate in with the details of her trip to Bakersfield.

* * * * * *

“So Jamie caught the woman who stabbed her all those years ago. I’d say that’s true justice.”

Kate nodded profusely. “I’d have to agree. Wow. Do you think if you hadn’t been there, Jamie would’ve shot her though?”

CJ shook her head and poked at her last piece of potato with her fork. “No, I don’t think so. If she was really gonna shoot her, she would’ve done it before I got there.”

“When you told me on the phone that you were going to Bakersfield to try to capture this killer, I tried not to think about any danger you’d be in. It drives me nuts sometimes.” Kate shuffled her remaining food around her plate as she spoke. “I’m glad you’re home, CJ.”

Reaching across the table, CJ touched Kate’s chin to get her to look up. “I’m always very careful, Katie. I’ll never leave you.”

“Well, we both have to leave someday, CJ, but hopefully it won’t be until we’re old and gray.”

CJ pursed her lips and shook her head slowly. “I don’t think we’ll be apart even then.”

“You’re just an old romantic, aren’t you?” Kate teased.

CJ grinned and blew her a kiss before they continued with the meal discussing lighter topics like Jamie and Sam and their plans for tomorrow night.

* * * * * *

The next day the Carsons enjoyed a lazy morning at home, catching up with one another in more ways than one. They also did those normal things that other couples do: reading the newspaper, playing with the dog, taking out the garbage, and any other odd jobs that required attention. They had also cleaned the house together which made for some hilarious moments as CJ danced around the living room while vacuuming the rug, mouthing the lyrics to the song that played loudly on the stereo. Kate had stood with a dust-cloth in her hand watching her wife in disbelief before bursting out laughing. CJ just shrugged and continued her work. She was enjoying herself too much to stop and pretend to be offended, and she was even more pleased when Kate began to dance too.

It was mid-afternoon before they went out riding. After blazing a vigorous trail for an hour, Nevada and Idaho walked slowly back toward home, their riders silently enjoying the time together.

With the horses now at a lazy, walking pace, Kate looked over at CJ. “What you thinkin’ right now?”

CJ turned to her and grinned. “What? Apart from how delicious you look in that Stetson?”

Kate smiled and blushed a little, making CJ grin even more. “Yeah, apart from that,” she said, sticking her tongue out.

“Well, I was thinking I’d call Mark when we get back just to see how he’s feeling. That stuff Timmons sprayed on him needed to be flushed out of his eyes a couple of times. It was potent, that’s for sure.”

Kate nodded. “Good idea to call him. He’s really a great guy. It’s unusual to have a boss like that.”

“Sure is.”

Kamali trotted along next to the horses as they neared the barn, and Kate had one of those moments where she just couldn’t believe how her life had changed. From leaving Brooklyn and coming to LA, to going through the Hollywood “you-must-change-who-you-are-to-be-successful” thing, she was glad she had finally found her happiness. And this was it. Of course, none of the other stuff would make her happy without CJ now. She sighed and smiled again as she dismounted, seeing CJ look at her and frown a little in question.

“I was just thinking about you,” Kate said.

“Ah. That explains the dreamy look on your face then.” CJ giggled and entered the barn with Nevada in tow before she got a response.

Kate just bit her lip childishly and followed. “She knows me so well.”

* * * * * *

Once Kate had finished grooming Idaho, she strolled toward the house knowing CJ had headed indoors to call Mark twenty minutes earlier. As she closed the back door behind her, she shed her dusty clothes and threw them in the laundry. Snagging one of CJ’s cotton shirts from the hook, she went in search of her elusive wife.

“Ooh, you look good in that,” CJ said, wiggling her eyebrows.

Kate spun around and spotted her sitting on the window seat in the kitchen. “Well it is your shirt.”

“It looks better on you than it does on me. Of course it always helps when you’re not wearing anything else with it,” CJ purred seductively before she got up and deposited her cell phone on the counter.

“Don’t even think about it…”

“I’m always thinking about it,” CJ said, slipping her arms around Kate’s waist. “You’re just too damn sexy.”

“Hold that thought, CJ. We’re running out of time before our visitors get here,” Kate chastised mildly with a slap to CJ wandering hand.

CJ formed the cutest pout she could muster. “That could prove kinda difficult since I’ve drawn us a nice, deep bubble-bath…and we do have some time.”

Kate rolled her eyes. “To bathe or not to bathe, that is the question.”

CJ didn’t answer and scooped her indecisive partner into her arms, heading for the staircase. Kate laughed and proceeded to nibble on CJ’s neck which made her wobble slightly as she crossed the hallway.

Once in the frothy water, Kate sat behind CJ looking over her shoulder. “Sometimes I wish I was taller,” she murmured.

“Why?”

“Because then this position would be much easier, and you wouldn’t have to bend your knees up so high. I bet they’re getting chilly up there.”

CJ laughed out loud. “Oh, you’re funny. I think I can put up with dry knees once in a while. I love you exactly…exactly the way you are,” she said, taking a handful of bubbles and placing some on each knee.

Kate snickered quietly. She also took a handful of bubbles and put some on each of CJ’s breasts causing CJ’s usual questioning eyebrow curl impressively. The silent teasing continued as CJ leaned back against Kate’s chest.

Kate was enjoying the view since she very rarely sat behind CJ in the tub. She played with CJ’s beautiful breasts, and kissed and bit down on the strong shoulder in front of her until CJ’s sex throbbed so much she stood up with an all-too-familiar look on her face.

As they were quickly drying one another off, CJ decided she couldn’t wait and backed Kate against the wall. “Is it…is it bad that after a couple of days apart from you I want to consume you constantly?” she asked while nibbling along Kate’s shoulder.

“I…I…no, it’s not.”

“Oh,” CJ muttered as she lapped at the soft skin. “Good.” She brought her thigh up between Kate’s legs and felt her thrust against it automatically.

Kate grabbed her CJ’s breasts, squeezing and twisting the nipples to make her whimper with need.

As Kate continued to thrust her now-engorged clit over CJ’s muscled thigh, she brought her hand down to touch her wife. “Oh, baby, you’re so wet again.”

CJ shuddered when she felt Kate’s delicate fingers slide through her sensitive folds. She had no idea how Kate did it but she was pretty much permanently aroused right now. Kate entered her, and she tried her best to remain standing, falling against Kate a little as the digits sunk deeper inside her.

“Oh! Katie…oh, yeah.”

Kate kept her hand thrusting deep and slow which served to drive CJ crazy. She slowed her own thrusts on CJ’s thigh since she felt her climax start to burn but wanted to wait for her wife. She pressed her thumb gently against CJ’s clit. CJ moaned out her pleasure as Kate whispered tantalizingly into her ear.

“Come…now.”

CJ complied, not able to stop her orgasm anyway, and Kate felt the silky, inner walls clamp tightly around her fingers She pushed her sex harder onto CJ’s leg, and they both cried out in unison when they came hard holding onto one another for support as their bodies grew weak. A few precious moments later, Kate slid her fingers out carefully and sucked the juices off them, humming happily as she did so. CJ watched her but couldn’t even form any words to tell Kate how much she loved it when she did that. She just stared at Kate with glazed, blue eyes. Kate waved her hand in front of CJ which made her grin goofily.

“I may need a break now,” she mumbled even though her eyes were still out of focus.

Kate chuckled. “OK. You can have a break until bedtime tonight.”

CJ pretended to groan in protest, and as much as she wanted to go for a nap right now, she knew they had to get dressed before Jamie and Sam arrived. Kate dragged her to the bathroom and washed CJ’s thigh and her own hand – much to CJ’s amusement – and after some pouting and grumbling, Kate finally managed to drag her wife downstairs where they set to work on dinner.

* * * * * *

Kate pulled the front door open and was greeted by a rather sleepy-looking federal agent. “Hey, you. Come on in,” she said, pulling Jamie down for a hug.

“Hi, Kate.” Jamie returned the hug before handing Kate a bottle of wine. “Something smells great.”

“Yeah, joint effort tonight. CJ helped.” Kate laughed when Jamie gave her a panicked look.

CJ eyed them suspiciously when they came into the kitchen laughing. “I have a strange feeling that I am the butt of the joke you’re laughing at,” she said with a fake scowl.

Kate approached her swiftly and kissed her, finishing the contact with a bite to CJ’s lower lip. “Would I ever joke about your ability to cook?” She covered her mouth as if she had said too much. “Oh, I mean…eh…”

CJ pursed her lips as she gawked at Kate. “No one would ever guess you were an actress.” She waved Kate off dramatically before looking at Jamie who was trying to hold her tongue…and her laughter. “What say you, Penfold?”

“Me?” Jamie replied innocently, holding her hand to her chest. “I would never joke about you. I swear I never said a word.”

“Yeah, you just looked horrified when I said CJ helped cook dinner,” Kate revealed as she backed away from Jamie and hid behind the island counter.

While CJ stood very proud of her accomplishment with her arms crossed over her chest, Jamie and Kate launched into a jibing match to decide who had actually insulted CJ’s cooking abilities. CJ poured herself a glass of grape juice and sipped on it merrily as the banter continued. When the scene playing out before her started to sound like a bad episode of a daytime soap-opera, she knew the time had come to intervene. “OK, OK…enough already. Man, you two can go at it.”

That – and the fact that CJ’s long-suffering expression was priceless – sent Kate into fits of laughter. “So sorry, darling. Let’s grab some drinks and talk before Sam gets here.” She gently poked CJ in the stomach on her way to get glasses.

“I already have my drink,” CJ said as she strolled lazily into the living room.

Jamie and Kate looked at one another, then watched CJ departing before they got with the program and followed her. They finally settled down with a glass of wine – CJ, with her substitute of sparkling, white grape juice – and the conversation turned to the apprehension of Timmons. CJ could tell that Jamie was slightly nervous about this evening since she was babbling about the case and picking at her nails. Her hands were constantly on the go, and CJ slowly covered her fidgeting fingers.

“You wanna talk about things before Sam gets here?”

Jamie shook her head. “Not much to talk about. I need to apologize for the other night and beg for her forgiveness.”

Kate swallowed her sip of wine in order to respond. “I’m sure she’ll be fine about it. And we’ve set up the guest room at the opposite end of the hall from us…you know, just in case you need it?”

“God, Kate. No pressure, huh?” Jamie said, and puffed out her cheeks in a big sigh.

Kate just snickered menacingly. “Well, we’ll have a fun, relaxing evening, and when it’s time for bed you two can just stagger up the stairs together.”

“Stagger? Are you gonna get us drunk?”

“No, no. Just a couple of drinks, and at least then you’ll both be chilled out. I won’t let you drink a lot.” Kate showed all her teeth in a cheesy grin. “And anyway, laughter is the best thing for breaking the ice and getting you to relax. CJ and I have some fun and games planned.”

When Jamie turned her head looking for some backup from her colleague, CJ bit her lips and pretended to zip her mouth shut. Jamie picked up a nearby cushion and threw it at her. “Some agent you are,” she said with a disgruntled pout.

CJ just grinned and escaped the room under the guise of checking on the meal. On her way through to the kitchen, she heard the doorbell ringing and shouted over her shoulder to Jamie. “Better go answer that, Penfold.”

Jamie followed Kate who had already shot up to answer the door, and after the usual greetings, Jamie decided she had to deal with her apology now. When Sam turned to her after hugging Kate, she smiled. “Can I talk to you for a few minutes, Sam?”

Sam nodded, and Jamie took her arm to lead her into the study before she closed the door behind them. Sam watched her closely, trying to decipher what was coming next. When Jamie nervously cleared her throat, Sam’s belly flipped. She really didn’t know what was coming, but she knew how she wanted this night to end.

“I’m so, so sorry for running off like that the other night-” Jamie stopped abruptly as two of Sam’s fingers covered her lips.

The apology was all Sam needed to hear. “Do you want me, Jamie? I mean, really want me?” Jamie’s vigorous nod was her response. “Then no more apologies. We can talk it through later. Let’s have dinner and some laughs tonight because I know we’ll make this work if it’s what we both want.” She stepped forward and kissed Jamie, slowly and tentatively at first, but then the passion got the better of her and she brought her hands up to hold Jamie’s hips.

Jamie needed no further encouragement and wrapped herself around Sam, returning the passion easily. When they eventually parted a few moments later they were breathless. Sam gazed at Jamie while she absorbed the tingling sensation that lingered on her lips. She was feeling surprisingly bold this evening and figured continuing with her straight-forward approach would be best.

“Are you staying here tonight?”

Jamie was still running her tongue around her lips to taste Sam’s sweet flavor. “Um, yes, I think so. Those two are on a mission now, you know.”

Sam smiled. “So am I.”

“What…staying here or on a mission?”

“Both,” Sam answered. Her voice purred with arousal and her hands rubbed back and forth as she held onto Jamie’s waist. Jamie’s heart beat harder in her chest at the look she was receiving. She just stood there like an idiot until Sam took her hand and guided her through to the living room.

“Well this looks promising,” Kate said when she noticed their joined hands.

CJ nodded casually from the couch. “Sure does. I’m guessing it went OK?” she prodded.

“Indeed,” Jamie replied coyly.

“We’ll figure it out,” Sam assured as she lifted her glass from the table. With a grin, she perched on the arm of the couch to wait for the onslaught of questions. The interrogation never came as CJ and Kate seemed content to let things progress naturally. Yeah, right, Sam thought to herself. I dread to think what they have planned for later. She grinned again when Kate gave her a sideways glance. “What? Isn’t it time to eat?”

Kate sat up taller and looked to CJ. “I don’t know. CJ, is it time to eat?”

“Uh, sure. Shall we adjourn to the dining table?”

Jamie hauled CJ up from her seat. “Let’s go, DM.”

“Aw hey, watch it, Penfold. Ya nearly spilled my juice.”

“Jeez. Quit whinin’ and come with me so these two ladies can have a chat. I know the two of you are dying for some gossip.” Jamie looked over her shoulder. “Sam, make something up to keep Kate quiet for a while. I’ll do the same for this one.”

Sam laughed out loud but nodded conspiratorially before she shuffled along the couch to get comfy. With both agents out of the room, she swirled her drink around in its glass and turned to Kate. “So…what can I say that will make you blush?”

Kate rolled her eyes and crossed her legs to wait for what she knew would be a total fabrication. But she didn’t care. She was just glad her two friends were talking to one another and ready to have a fun night.

* * * * * *

A few hours after dinner – and a few more drinks – the women were enjoying each other’s company immensely. There was much laughter and talk about both FBI work and showbiz. CJ disappeared into the kitchen and emerged with a bottle of champagne and four flutes.

“What we celebrating?” Jamie asked with a merry half-smile.

“We’re celebrating good friends and good company,” CJ replied. “But we are also celebrating the successful conclusion of a rather important case.” She looked at Jamie with a goofy expression on her face.

Kate knelt beside the coffee table. “Absolutely! Fill these up, CJ,” she said, holding her glass out.

When the four glasses were filled and handed out, CJ raised hers. “To finally getting Timmons off the streets, and to my FBI partner who captured her.”

Jamie held her emotion back and raised her glass. “Cheers!” They all shouted a reply and threw back a few sips of the bubbly liquid before Jamie realized CJ was drinking alcohol. “You actually gonna drink that, DM?”

“Yep. I’ll have a couple in celebration of the fact that she’s behind bars. It’s a big deal, Penfold.”

Sam was slightly in the dark as she didn’t understand the significance of the case, and Jamie seemed to sense it. She turned to Sam and took her hand momentarily.

“I think you should know why we’re celebrating the end of this particular case. Do you want me to explain?”

Sam looked at each of them before she nodded. “Of course…if you want to, I mean,” she said, seeing Jamie swallow hard and get up the nerve to tell her.

“Uh, Jamie, do you want us to leave for a while?” CJ asked quietly.

“No, CJ. I want to do this now with you all here, if that’s OK with you, Sam?” When Sam smiled sadly and nodded once more, Jamie cleared her throat. “This case was important to me…to us,” she said, pointing between her and CJ, “because I was one of this attacker’s early victims.” Sam’s gasp was the reaction Jamie was expecting. She held onto Sam’s hand tightly. “She stabbed me twelve years ago, and I still have the…the scars,” she finished quietly. Before Jamie knew it, Sam had thrown her arms around her neck and was squeezing the living daylights out of her.

When Sam pulled back she was crying, and she sniffed vigorously in an effort to stop. “I’m glad you caught her,” she said, looking down at their joined hands.

“Me too.” Jamie lifted Sam’s chin and smiled reassuringly. “I’m all right now. Really. We can talk about it more later, OK?” At Sam’s nod, Jamie took a deep breath and brought her attention back to their friends.

CJ gave her a little wink and got a shy grin in return. “OK, I’m glad we’re all up to speed on the Timmons case. Now, no more shop talk and let’s play Twister,” she quipped to try and lighten the mood She got to her feet and smiled widely.

“Oh, no,” Kate groaned. “She only likes Twister because she has ridiculously long limbs and wins so damn easily.”

CJ returned promptly with the box and looked at her suddenly-giggling opponents. “I win because I have great coordination and skill,” she growled.

“Yeah, yeah,” Kate goaded.

“I do! Total skill!” CJ screeched. She began to lay out the game on the floor, ignoring the occasional jibe from Kate, and when she was ready, she turned to them all with a challenging look on her face. With a steely gaze and a curled lip, she asked. “Are you all ready to lose?”

Sam pretended to be scared. “Wow, she really gets serious about this, huh?”

After a second of silence, laughter filled the room. CJ simply stuck her chin out and waited impatiently until they calmed down.  Finally, everyone was ready to play the game which had to occasionally pause due to copious amounts of laughter at each player’s position. At one point, Jamie ended up spooned over the top of Kate’s backside, and CJ glared at her colleague with narrowed eyes which sent Jamie into more fits of laughter and lost her the game. CJ smugly finished up winning that round and was very pleased with her intimidation tactics.

With CJ winning five out of seven rounds, they gave up on Twister and sat on the rug with their backs against the base of the two couches that had been moved to make space for the game. CJ and Kate sat opposite Sam and Jamie with everyone’s feet intermingled in a central bundle. They sipped from their glasses, and Kate suddenly came up with a new game.

“Let’s play Truth or Dare,” she stated with authority.

Sam’s eyes widened. Jamie looked slightly concerned. CJ looked positively devious.

“All right,” CJ snarled, once again ready to win at something.

“Oh crap,” Jamie muttered.

Kate giggled, and Sam pursed her lips when she looked at her. She was slowly coming round to the idea.

“Since it was my suggestion, I’ll start,” Kate decided, sitting up a little straighter to prepare for battle. “CJ, truth or dare?”

CJ pretended to think about it, scratching the back of her head before tapping her fingertip on her chin. “Truth.”

“What do you like best about me?”

Once again, CJ deliberated long and hard over her answer making Kate glare at her. “Well, that would be everything.”

“Cop out,” Jamie shouted.

“It is not,” CJ calmly replied. “I like everything about her.” She stuck her tongue out at Jamie when Kate leaned her head on her shoulder. “Now it’s my turn. Penfold, truth or dare?”

Jamie had to think about this one. What would CJ ask her? Would a dare being preferable? “Dare.”

CJ smirked. “Kiss Sam…”

“Oh, that’s too easy, DM,” Jamie replied, leaning to her side and kissing Sam who was very ready to accept her soft lips. It lasted for a few glorious seconds until Jamie sat back with a glazed look in her eyes. “Kate, truth or dare?”

“Dare,” Kate replied boldly before taking another sip of champagne.

“Kiss CJ…like you would if we weren’t here,” Jamie challenged.

“Oh, my. Are you sure you want to see that?” After receiving two exaggerated nods, Kate turned to her wife who had a rather sultry look on her face. Kate realized that CJ was enjoying this game a great deal so she knelt up a little higher and wrapped her arms around CJ’s neck to take her in a searing kiss. She was grabbed by CJ grabbed, and pulled closer so that their tongues could merge deeply in each other’s mouths. They got lost in the contact and began breathing faster, breasts heaving together as their bodies got slightly carried away. Kate suddenly remembered they were being watched and broke the kiss, licking CJ’s lips as she backed off.

CJ’s eyes remained closed as she reveled in the memory of Kate’s delicious tongue. When her pulse finally stopped racing, she opened her eyes. She found the two people opposite her with flushed faces, both of them staring with their mouths hanging open. “What? You dared her,” CJ said smugly.

“Phew, I sure did,” Jamie replied, pulling at her collar in an effort to cool down.

Kate tapped at her chin in thought. “Sam, truth or dare?”

“Truth.”

“Do you intend to sleep in the guest room we prepared for the two of you…with Jamie?” Kate said, raising her eyebrows in an attempt to keep her bleary eyes open.

Sam blushed slightly but jutted her chin out confidently. “Yes.” Her answer caused Jamie’s chuckle, and CJ and Kate followed suit. Sam decided to ask Kate something she’d always wanted to know. “Kate, truth or dare?”

“Hmm, truth.”

“Have you and CJ ever used sex toys?”

CJ barked out a laugh, thankful that she didn’t have a mouthful of champagne. As much as they were very private about their personal lives, they also loved and trusted these two friends, and so she was curious to hear what Kate’s response would be.

With a grin, Kate formulated her answer carefully. Well, as carefully as her jolly state would allow. “No. In fact we only just talked about it recently.”

Sam forgot the game and wanted to know more. “Do tell…”

Kate laughed at the recollection of her conversation with CJ. “We only just talked about it for the first time, like I said. It had never come up before, and we think we might be too busy laughing to actually do anything with them.”

“Wow. More than three years and you never talked about them? I guess you didn’t need them then,” Sam said in amazement.

“CJ has many skills,” Kate said before breaking into giggles.

CJ snickered. “Yes, and so does Kate. We certainly never needed them and still don’t.”

Jamie shook off a vision of CJ using toys, but when the vision of Sam using one on her came into her head it was all she could do to stop the red-hot blush that crawled up her cheeks. CJ noticed it and her eyes widened. She nudged Kate and pointed to Jamie.

Kate picked up on the unspoken request immediately. “Jamie, truth or dare?”

“Uh, dare. No, truth!”

“What thought caused you to blush just then?” Kate asked.

“Oh, damn. Can I change to dare?”

“No!” CJ shouted, crossing her arms triumphantly.

“Shit. Uh…”

Sam turned her body slightly to stare at Jamie. “Come on, tell the truth now, Agent Green,” she said, poking Jamie in the ribs.

“You sure you want to hear it?”

“Oh, yes.”

“I was imagining you wearing…uh, I mean using a toy on me,” Jamie stuttered, coughing to try to cover the fact that she was blushing again.

A resounding chorus of laughter filled the air as they all fell into a heap on the floor. After a few more ridiculous dares – one of which had Kate flashing her breasts just like she had previously to CJ and Jamie, and Sam having to figure out which one of the three women she was touching while wearing a blindfold – they gave up on games for the night. CJ and Kate shuffled up to bed, and Jamie took Sam’s hand to lead her up the stairs.

* * * * * *

As Jamie gently closed the guestroom door, she turned to find Sam standing mere inches from her body. Her breath caught as she gazed into those sparkling eyes. Her nerves suddenly returned, and she bit her lips while wondering why she had no idea what to do next.

Sam could see the uncertainty in Jamie’s eyes and closed the distance between them. She didn’t know where she was getting her confidence from but she did know that one of them had to start leading this first encounter. She reached up and caressed Jamie’s cheek with her knuckles.

Jamie gasped as the hand cupped her face and Sam tenderly kissed her lips. “Oh…” she whispered, knowing this was it.

“Hey,” Sam said quietly, her lips only a few millimeters from Jamie’s. “Relax. Will you let me…” she whispered as she touched the buttons on Jamie’s shirt.

Jamie felt her breath coming in short, fast bursts, a combination of arousal and fear. She nodded since she was absolutely certain she wanted this to happen, but good heavens, her nerves were getting the better of her. She felt like she had to flee but pulled strength from the loving look on Sam’s face as the deft fingers unfastened her shirt. Once every button was opened, Sam pushed both sides of the material apart.

Jamie watched Sam’s expression intently as the marked flesh was revealed, searching for any sign of disgust or repulsion. She didn’t find a hint of anything remotely negative, and when Sam lowered her head to press her lips against the scars just above Jamie’s bra, she cried silently. But as the tears trickled down her face, she smiled, feeling Sam’s lips cover every piece of skin around her cleavage. She raised her hands to wrap them around Sam’s shoulders and hold her close to her.

Sam had gotten lost in the smell, feel, and taste of the flesh under her lips. She had known she wanted Jamie since that night at the party, but she never realized how very hungry she would feel when they began a physical relationship. She suddenly remembered what she was doing and looked up to see Jamie’s tear-stained cheeks.

“Oh, Jamie, are you OK?”

“Yes. It’s just the first time…”

“First time?”

Jamie held Sam closer, kissing her forehead before getting up the courage to tell her about always covering up. She took a deep, slow breath. “This is the first time I’ve let anyone see them…well, except for CJ and Kate. It’s the first time I’ve let a…a lover look at me.”

Sam pushed back a little to look into Jamie’s eyes. “But I thought you were…uh, had a lot of lovers?”

“None of them ever saw these scars, Sam. I always wore a shirt.” Jamie’s voice drifted off as she looked away from Sam’s penetrating gaze.

Sam grasped her chin gently to turn her back. Once Jamie looked at her, she spoke softly. “I can’t believe you covered them for so long, but it’s over now. I don’t ever want to see you hide from me. You’re so beautiful, Jamie, and I can’t believe how much I want you. All of you. I’m so nervous. Will you?” she asked as she pointed to her own shirt.

Jamie saw the sincerity in the dark-hazel eyes and felt her fear dissipate. “After so long, I never thought I’d find…” She couldn’t finish the thought and dipped her head, kissing Sam passionately. Both bodies instantly curled around one another, knowing that this was what they both wanted and that there was nothing to worry about any longer. As they shuffled over to the bed – bodies still wrapped together and mouths exploring one another – Jamie knew it would be OK. She might have been crying, but they were tears of relief now, and she sunk into the bed with her new lover’s soft body covering her own.

.

Chapter 6

The next morning Kate woke up early and headed into the bathroom rubbing her sleepy eyes as she went. She recalled last night and wondered briefly if Jamie and Sam were all right. The thought was drowned out by the memories of CJ holding her securely while they talked about all kinds of things. Kate had laid her entire body on top of her wife; her breasts fitted neatly just below CJ’s and her head supported on her strong shoulder. They seemed to be content to hold onto one another and chatted sleepily for two hours about past relationships and experiences, coming to the conclusion that they were so damn lucky to have found one another even if it was written in the stars. It was a wonderfully blissful feeling, and Kate had fallen asleep mid-sentence.

CJ had awakened her during the night when she’d needed to shift position, and when CJ moved to spoon her body around Kate’s back, she had contentedly drifted off once more.

Kate walked out of the bathroom now and saw her gloriously nude spouse sprawled across their large bed in a starfish formation. The sheet only covered up to CJ’s knees, and Kate drank in the sight as her mind began to form an interesting idea. CJ was lying in the perfect position – one arm above her head on the pillow and one stretched out to the side, both legs splayed apart – to provide fantastic access to Kate.

Could I? I wonder. It’s always her who gives me a wake-up call, but hmm…

Kate stealthily approached the bed and crawled carefully up from the bottom, taking her time since CJ was a lighter sleeper than she was. Satisfied that CJ hadn’t stirred, Kate licked her lips as she looked at the soft inner thighs and the thatch of dark hair covering her target. She licked her lips again since her mouth had filled with saliva. She was unable to stop herself now, and she lowered her body to inhale deeply when her lips met CJ’s mound. She poked her tongue deeper to tenderly nudge the warm skin aside and seek out CJ’s hidden clit. Finding it with the tip of her tongue and not feeling CJ stir at all, she brought a hand up to spread the covering skin wider to provide her easier access. She wrapped her mouth around CJ’s clit when it was fully exposed. She began to play with it, lightly sucking and teasing between gentle strokes, making the flesh swell under her insistent touch.

CJ was gradually waking to the most amazing feeling. In her mind she was dreaming of Kate, and she moaned softly because she knew the fire shooting through her body could only be ignited by her wife. As her eyes drifted open, she realized she wasn’t dreaming at all. It was so much better than a dream. Kate really was making love to her. “Oh, Jesus…Katie” she gasped. The sensations were intense, and now that she could focus completely on them, her heart began to hammer at high speed and every stroke of Kate’s tongue made her cry out. She felt her orgasm take hold and wasn’t sure she would survive this one. It was burning through her like fire, but she was still hovering on the brink.

Kate slipped her tongue down to CJ’s opening and thrust it inside her. CJ cried out, and when Kate repeated the strokes to her clit, her climax ripped through her entire body making her hips buck and her back arch off the bed.

Kate whipped her arm up from under her body to hold CJ down. She didn’t want to lose the sweet oral contact and gentled the stimulation as CJ tried to recover from her orgasm. CJ was attempting to speak, but Kate didn’t want to stop yet. She knew CJ would touch her head if she really needed her to stop, and so she continued to suckle on the alluring skin beneath her lips. Kate moaned, enjoying everything about making love to this stunning woman. It was such an incredible feeling, and she was always amazed at how CJ responded to her touch. Kate could hear her panting hard, and she knew CJ would come again…soon.

CJ’s body was experiencing a state of complete bliss. She was in that zone where she was so totally aroused, and Kate knew exactly how to keep her there. Every part of her body ached with arousal…an unbelievable sensation that always caught her by surprise. She had never felt this level of connection before and she was aware that Kate would easily know and dictate when her climax would come by simply altering her strokes or adding her fingers to the stimulation. CJ loved the control Kate had over her. She also loved that Kate accepted that control as the exquisite gift it was and would never abuse it. She’d never given complete control, never submitted totally to a lover before, but being with Kate was unique. There was nothing that could come close to this feeling.

Feeling CJ’s body with her mouth and hands, and listening to the depth of breaths coming from her mouth, Kate sensed CJ was eagerly waiting for her next move. She began to manipulate CJ’s clit again, still feeling the occasional pulsing from the last orgasm. She instinctively decided that it was time to escalate the encounter once more. CJ’s hands were gripping under her own thighs in anticipation, and Kate brought her free hand up under her chin to touch CJ’s opening with three fingertips, hearing a corresponding burst of breath from her spouse’s lungs. Kate then took her tongue on a long, slow trail from the base of CJ’s clit to the top making her cry out once more. She began flicking her tongue across the overly-sensitive tip and carefully thrust her three fingers inside. CJ suddenly grabbed fistfuls of the sheets beneath her. Kate’s thrusts became quicker and she intensified the movements of her tongue to match the speed, feeling the smooth muscles begin to grasp at her penetrating fingers.

“Katie!” CJ screamed. Her climax was intense and so incredibly pleasurable that she ripped through the sheet with her right hand. Every nerve ending in her body felt like it had been touched by a burning flame, and her insides felt like molten lava. She writhed around as the waves began to subside and was unable to do anything but feel Kate driving her though it. CJ’s taut body finally collapsed onto the bed, and Kate lapped up everything on offer before she kissed the sated skin and looked up at CJ’s face. She noted the very hard nipples that she hadn’t even gotten around to, and CJ’s sweat-covered bangs that she tried to blink away from her eyes.

Kate grinned smugly to herself before she crawled up CJ’s body and she saw the torn sheet. She stifled a giggle, and once she’d kissed the neglected breasts lovingly, she licked her way up to CJ’s face. “Good morning, wife of mine.”

“It…sure is.”

“You ripped the bedding, baby.”

CJ laughed weakly. “I don’t care. It was so worth it.”

“Was I that good?”

“Holy crap, Katie. Good is an understatement. You’re the best.”

“Well, now you know how I feel when you give me one of your wake-up calls,” Kate teased.

“I’ll do it much more often if that’s what you feel. I wasn’t sure I’d survive that. It was incredible,” CJ said, wrapping her arms around the body on top of her.

“It’s always incredible for us. Lucky, lucky us.” Kate kissed CJ’s nose and looked lovingly into her eyes. “Actually, I can’t remember us ever having a bad experience in the bedroom…or the kitchen or the gym or-”

CJ laughed out loud, halting Kate’s list of places they’d made love. She decided to continue for her. “Or the truck or the barn or the couch or the cabin or-”

“Yeah, yeah,” Kate muttered, slapping her shoulder playfully. “Wanna get up now?”

“Only if you let me make love to you in the shower before breakfast.”

Kate pretended to need a moment to decide, and CJ rolled them over to tickle her senseless until she was laughing so hard she could barely breathe. They finally made it into the shower where CJ made good on her promise, leaving Kate more than satisfied and not a little weak in the knees.

* * * * * *

They silently descended the stairs to see if their house-guests were up yet. That early morning quiet lingered around the hallway, and only the sound of Kamali taking a drink from his water bowl emanated from the kitchen.

“Why are we being quiet now?” Kate asked as she entered the empty kitchen with CJ in tow.

“I don’t know. I’m pretty sure they would’ve heard me scream this morning,” CJ replied sheepishly.

Kate chuckled as she started up the coffee machine. “Well I certainly heard it…”

CJ gave her a mock-offended look before they discussed what to make for breakfast. After a few ideas were thrown out, they decided to prepare a cooked, buffet-style spread for all four of them, assuming at least Jamie would get up in time for work and that both women would need some replenishment. On hearing a loud yawn from the direction of the living room, CJ turned from her position at the stove to see Jamie coming through the door dragging her feet under the long robe she’d borrowed.

Jamie stopped mid-eye-rub to stare at the two mischievous faces looking back at her. “Good morning,” she said as she slid her buttocks onto the stool at the counter.

“Is it?” CJ prodded.

“I’m completely exhausted and happy, DM, so yes it’s a good morning.”

CJ laughed quietly, and Kate bit her lips as she continued to set the table. Jamie propped her head up on her hand since she felt rather drowsy, and watched her two friends restraining their inquisitiveness. Only a few moments of silence passed until Kate couldn’t help but comment.

She grinned when Jamie yawned again. “Seems us showbiz types are pretty wild in bed.”

Jamie let out a snort before she replied appropriately. “Yeah, seems like it. I’m pretty sure I heard CJ this morning. I’m getting to know her screams now.”

CJ just about melted into the floor in embarrassment. If she could’ve chosen a super-power at that moment, it would’ve been invisibility. Instead, she blushed furiously and focused on her cooking.

Kate held back her laugh at the response. “Morning, Sam,” she said, distracted by her friend coming into the room fully dressed for work.

“Hello, all.” Sam walked straight over to Jamie and kissed her on the lips. “Good morning.”

Kate and CJ watched as Jamie smiled shyly and returned the greeting, looking at Sam from under her eyelashes.

“Oh, come on, you two. We need details…like, now,” CJ said, turning fully away from the stove and serving up the food.

“Not a chance, DM. You know more than enough about us. It’s time to stop meddling.”

“Aww, I wasn’t meddling. I was just interested in how your night went,” CJ said with a pout.

“That lip only works with Kate. All you need to know is that Sam and I are doing fine now. Right?” Jamie added, looking to her lover who was still standing next to her.

“Indeed we are,” Sam confirmed.

Kate intervened before CJ argued the point. “OK, we won’t push you for details. You’re right. We have meddled enough.”

“Ah, but we want to thank you both for that. We, uh…we were struggling a little,” Jamie said, waving her finger in the air, “and if CJ hadn’t stood up to me, I may never have faced things. Thank you,” she added sincerely.

“You’re welcome. I’m glad you’re both happy,” CJ said, nodding at her colleague.

Jamie’s expression turned very serious. “DM, I…I want to apologize for the other night…when I almost-”

“Don’t,” CJ interrupted. “It’s forgotten,” she added with a smile.

“Still, I’m sorry.”

“Apology accepted. You’d never have got me anyway. I’m too quick.”

Jamie smirked. “Yeah, that’s what I heard.”

Kate barked out a laugh as CJ glared at her. She held her hands up in surrender. “I never said a word!”

“Uh-huh. Shall we eat?” CJ tried to snarl which made Kate laugh again.

“Food, yeah,” Jamie said with a saucy wink.

“God, the innuendos are gonna kill me,” CJ drawled, feigning a faint.

While they finished setting the table, jokes and resultant chuckles broke up yet more innuendo until they settled down to a hearty breakfast. Everyone was working today except Kate, and once the others had all left, she sneaked back into bed to continue her lazy morning. She wrapped herself around CJ’s pillow and had fallen asleep before her wife had even arrived at her office.

* * * * * *

CJ looked at the mountain of paperwork on her desk. Along with the report on the Timmons case, she had a ton of other work still to be done. Most of it was cases sent in from other departments to be cleared up while her team had the time. As much as they were a specialist group dealing with serial murder and other high profile cases, they did tend to have gaps between major incidents. Most of the time, CJ was glad of those gaps because it usually meant no one was being killed.

She sighed and got up to grab a coffee, passing Jamie’s desk just as she let out another wide yawn. CJ unsuccessfully held back a laugh but stifled further outbursts when she saw Jamie give her the evil eye…even if it was accompanied by a grin.

CJ wasn’t looking forward to the next few hours. She was going with Mark and Ethan to interview Alison Timmons. As much as CJ was one of the best for that particular job, Mark was still concerned about her close friendship with Jamie and the fact that she had been one of Alison’s victims. He told CJ in no uncertain terms that if he felt during the interrogation that she was losing her impartiality, he’d remove her from the room and get someone else. CJ had been slightly taken aback by his words but understood why he’d said them.

As she sat down at her desk with her bitter coffee, she glanced over her list of questions. She had jotted a few notes of the things she wanted to ask Timmons to confirm if she had figured out the killer’s profile correctly. She always liked to keep a file on where she went wrong in every case. It didn’t happen very often and even when it did it was usually a minor error. After about an hour of gathering her thoughts, she looked up to see Mark appear in the doorway.

“Ready?” he asked as he leaned on the doorjamb.

“Yes. More than ready,” CJ said as she got up and took a gulp of cold coffee. She grimaced at the flavor before she nodded at Mark and walked out the door to head for the interrogation room.

* * * * * *

They had dragged some basic information out of their prisoner, but CJ and Ethan were getting nowhere fast. Apart from finding out that Alison did indeed live in her car for the most part – unless she could afford a hotel room – the woman was being very evasive. CJ was aware that Mark was watching from the observation room, choosing not to be present after being attacked by Timmons. She had agreed with the decision and was happy to have Ethan in the interrogation with her.

Alison turned to stare at Ethan, the smirk on her face a prelude to her baiting question. “So, Rookie, do you think you would’ve had the balls to shoot me?”

“Alison,” CJ intervened. “I asked you a question.”

Alison smirked again and focused back on CJ. “I forgot what it was,” she drawled, slouching back in her chair like everything was just too boring for her. She crossed her arms loosely over her stomach and watched CJ from her dark, emotionless eyes.

“How did you make a living if you were always on the move?”

Alison trailed her tongue slowly round her teeth while making the effort to shrug. “I make my money.”

“How?” CJ was getting impatient.

“Honey, if I hang around on a street corner, I’m the one who stands out. They always pick me.”

“So you’re a hooker but you don’t sleep with your victims?”

“Why would I sleep with my victims?”

“I’m just curious because you carve the hearts in their skin.”

“What I do with my clients has nothing to do with the heart, Agent,” Alison drawled. “I only fuck them for money.”

“Clearly. So why did the attacks start?” CJ asked calmly.

Alison winced, clearly reminded of a past she didn’t want to think about. She shrugged again as if it was no big deal. “I was young, stupid, and in love. She left me. She looked kind of like you actually,” Alison said, slowly raising her eyes to look at CJ.

The gaze was so empty it gave CJ chills. This woman could devour people with her eyes, and CJ appreciated how she would be able to lure her victims away, especially if they were under the influence of drink or drugs. “Why did she leave?”

“She didn’t love me. Left a note.”

“And you were heartbroken,” CJ stated. It wasn’t a question, and Alison nodded once, her lips tightening in anger. CJ continued carefully. “So the first time you attacked someone, what happened?”

Silence descended for a few moments, and behind the mirror Mark repeated the question to himself as if to urge Alison to answer. Mark, CJ and Ethan all waited patiently until Alison finally looked up at CJ.

“I went to a bar for some quick release one night. A woman took me to her apartment nearby, and she fucked me on the kitchen table. When she was done she told me to get the hell out, like I was a piece of trash. I…” Alison paused and frowned like she was trying to remember what had happened. “I got mad and picked up the knife from the counter. When I saw the bloody marks on her, it made it hurt less.”

“Why attack men and women if it was a woman who hurt you?”

“If they wanted me and came with me when I asked…” Alison left the sentence hanging and half-shrugged.

CJ pushed a little further. “Did you do it because you felt you had control over them?”

“Not really. It became a release of its own for me. To see the blood and how they hurt instead of me.” Alison dropped her eyes again, but not in regret. It just didn’t seem to mean much to her that she’d hurt people.

“You mean a sexual release?” CJ asked, surprised.

“No. A release of the pain.”

“Ah.” CJ looked down at her papers and nodded slightly in understanding. “Why did you begin to kill?”

Alison sighed before she spoke. She was getting tired of talking about it, and yet she couldn’t seem to stop herself. “First one was a mistake. He fought back. Wasn’t drunk enough, I guess. I began to like the effect I could have on someone. I wasn’t the poor soul anymore.”

“And now that you’ve been stopped?”

“It was becoming a compulsion, like I needed it. I suppose that compulsion won’t be fulfilled anymore,” Alison said blandly. She fleetingly looked remorseful, but CJ wasn’t convinced and thought it was all an act.

CJ knew from experience that a killer who took trophies didn’t usually feel remorse. They took the items from the deceased as a reminder of their triumph. A killer who was sorry for what they’d done wouldn’t want a reminder. “Where are the hearts, Alison? They weren’t in your car,” she asked, hoping to find the trophies for evidence. But Alison stayed quiet, so she asked again. “Alison? Where are they?”

“There’s a small key in my bag. It goes to a locker.”

“Where is the locker?”

“Airport,” Alison stated abruptly.

CJ sensed that she was getting tired of the questions now. She decided to finish up the interview for the day. She knew she had to come back and speak further with Alison. She wanted to try and get her to admit to all the cases for the past fourteen years, but even if Alison didn’t, she’d put them in her report along with the profile and evidence and let the judge decide.

Now CJ had to collect the hearts and enter them into evidence. That would put Alison away for a long, long time. With any luck, she’d never get out.

* * * * * *

Walking around in a downtown store, Kate heard her cell phone ringing in her bag and rummaged around blindly with her hand in search of it. Tony – who always followed her dutifully around town when he got the chance – grinned as Kate stuck her tongue between her teeth in concentration before she smiled to herself in triumph when she found it. As much as Tony wasn’t one for shopping, he still liked to accompany Kate, explaining it away by saying it was part of his job. He never let her know that he just preferred to look out for her when she was out in public alone. And anyway, it was better than sitting waiting in the car.

“Hello?” Kate said into the phone.

“Hi, Kate. What you up to?” came Sam’s chirpy tones over the line.

“I’m shopping. How about you?”

“At the studios…where else, right? Fancy a coffee today at some point?”

Kate’s eyes lit up. She desperately wanted a rundown on Sam’s first night with a woman, but she tried to sound nonchalant. “Uh, yeah, sure. What time?”

“How far away are you? Can you make it in an hour?”

“Sure I can. See you then, Sam.”

“Great. Bye Kate.”

“Bye, hon.”

Kate hung up the call and turned to Tony. “Well it seems you have a reprieve today, Tony.” She grinned at him while trying to seem sympathetic.

“Hey, I told you I don’t mind coming shopping with you.”

“Uh-huh,” Kate said while stifling her laugh. “Let’s go then. We’re off to the studios.”

“Do you want to go get those shoes first?” Tony asked helpfully.

Kate tapped a finger on her chin. “No. I don’t want to spend that much on shoes. I’d rather give you a donation for your next charity skydive.”

Tony smiled at her as they began to work their way back to the Mercedes. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and he was glad they were taking an impromptu trip to the studios. Cyn was at work, so maybe he would see her while he was there. His relationship with Cyn was so easy, and Tony wondered if everyone else had such a relaxed attitude to being happy together. He wanted to ask Kate about it since he knew she and CJ were closer than anyone he had ever known, but he felt that wouldn’t be appropriate. She was his boss after all.

* * * * * *

Fifty minutes later, Kate strolled through the lot towards stage twelve where she knew Sam would be working. As she walked through the door, Sam was coming through at exactly the same time, and they literally bumped into one another which resulted in a giggle-fit that rendered them unable to utter a proper greeting. Finally, they recovered and went into the cafeteria. With two coffees purchased, they found a table and settled in for a chat. At first Kate just stared at Sam with a little smile on her face, waiting for the in-depth description of her friend’s passionate night with Jamie.

Sam knew Kate was desperate for information and sipped her coffee deliberately slowly, feeling Kate almost vibrating with anticipation. She knew how incredibly curious Kate was and she loved to play with her this way. She took a long, deep breath and another sip of coffee, making a sound of approval as she looked nonchalantly around the cafeteria. She continued to smile pleasantly, but it only lasted a few more seconds.

Kate couldn’t take any more. “Argh! Tell me how it went, woman!” she blurted out as she threw her hands in the air and slapped them down on the tabletop.

Sam burst out laughing and fell back in her chair at the predictability of Kate’s actions. “Sorry…I knew you wouldn’t want to wait…and I knew you’d do exactly what you just did.” At Kate’s hurt look – which Sam knew was totally false – she relented and sat up straighter again. “It went very well, thank you for asking.”

“Oh, no, I need more than that. Who took the lead? What did you do exactly? I want to know how you felt…I mean, it was all new to you. Did you go…you know?” Kate pointed below the table and made a nudging gesture with her elbow while she winked at Sam.

Sam could barely hold back her laugh. “Kate, I’m not going into detail here in the cafeteria, but I will say that Jamie and I were talking during the night, and according to her, we did just about every position imaginable. And it was good…very good,” said finished dreamily as she remembered her night of passionate lovemaking. She blushed slightly at one particular memory, and Kate’s eyes widened at her sudden loss of eye contact.

“Aww, at least tell me what made you blush?” Kate begged.

Sam leaned forward to whisper her answer. “I, uh, love how she tastes.”

Kate leaned back to look at Sam’s face. “Thank the Gods for that, huh?” she said with chuckle.

“Heck, yes. I never knew…doing that to her could make me so aroused,” Sam said, fanning herself with her hand.

Kate nodded, knowing exactly what she meant. “I take it Jamie, um, you know…when you were doing that?”

“Since when did you get so prim and proper when it comes to talking about sex? Yes, she climaxed…many times actually…as did I. I’m surprised you never heard us.”

“OK, OK. Maybe this is not the place to talk about this. You need to come over for dinner or drinks soon. I want to hear about it all but I may light up like a beacon a few times, so you’re right. Talking here is not good,” Kate said, spreading her hand out to the large eatery.

Sam nodded and promised to make a date for dinner before they began sipping on their coffees and indulging in some showbiz gossip. As they talked, Kate couldn’t help but smile at the new sparkle in Sam’s eyes and the giddy nature of her body language. She was glad her friends had finally figured out their problems. She smiled and listened to Sam telling her about some of her former colleagues from Rise of the Phoenix. As she laughed at Sam’s jokes and added some of her own, she decided she liked this job…and there was nothing wrong with a little gossip now and then.

* * * * * *

Jamie seemed to be shifting from foot to foot when CJ arrived back in the office. She had wanted to go with Mark to watch the interview, but he wouldn’t allow it. The fact that Jamie had to face her attacker in the alleyway was enough, and he’d decided she was too close to the case to be involved further.

“Well? How did it go?” Jamie asked, her hands fidgeting with the pen she held between her fingers.

“Sit down and relax, Penfold. It went OK,” CJ replied as she perched on the edge of Jamie’s desk. “She said pretty much what I expected her to say but she’s a cool customer, that’s for sure.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean she’s not remorseful in any way, shape or form. I can see why her victims go with her, though. She’s quite hypnotic.”

Jamie nodded sadly. “I guess she is.”

“Hey,” CJ said, tapping the desktop to get Jamie’s attention, “You were nineteen, honey. Don’t let her affect you anymore. Please?”

“I love it when you do that.”

“Do what?”

“Call me honey. It reminds me that you’re human under all that super-agent,” Jamie said while patting CJ’s hand.

CJ waved it off and puffed out a breath of air that slightly resembled a laugh. “Just don’t let it get around.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Jamie saluted to her just as Ethan walked in the door.

“Ready to get on with this?” he asked.

“Yep. Let’s get typing.” CJ resigned herself to the huge amount of paperwork ahead of her and was very happy to see Mikey arrive with the good coffee. Once she had taken numerous sips and satisfied her thirst, she started tapping away on her keyboard, hearing the other two agents do the same. She was really looking forward to her half-day tomorrow. She’d taken the afternoon off because she wanted to be at home with Kate on the lead-up to her big night at the Emmy’s. CJ paused her typing to raise her eyebrow at the thought that she was looking forward to it…a little. She knew the only part she was looking forward to was being on Kate’s arm, and she realized the cameras, the noise, and the irritating reporters would all fade away in her mind when she looked at her glorious wife walking the red carpet. She shook her head at how her day would change from murder and gore to fame and sparkle in a pretty short space of time. Blinking away the thoughts, she concentrated on her report. The sooner it was done, the sooner she could go home.

.

Chapter 7

Kate walked out of the bathroom and stopped in her tracks as CJ just gaped at her in full makeup, her new dress and…there was something missing. CJ grinned as she reached under the duvet on the bed to pull out the earrings she’d bought for her wife.

Kate’s puzzled expression deepened when CJ pushed the little box into her hand. “You got me a gift?”

“The first of two on this special night. You look beautiful, Katie.”

“Thank you.” Kate opened the box and saw two of the most beautiful diamond earrings ever. “Oh, CJ! They’re exquisite,” she gasped, taking one from the box. “I was wondering what to wear with this dress.”

CJ carefully put the small, silver post through Kate’s ear before adding the fastening on the back. She did the same with the other earring and stood back to admire the view. “Wow. Simply stunning.”

“Thank you, honey,” Kate said, her face showing the first signs of a blush. “And now for your gift…”

“Nope, not yet. I have another for you first,” CJ said, getting on all fours to find a larger box under the bed.

Kate raised a curious eyebrow and crossed her arms over her chest as she watched CJ’s underwear-clad backside wiggling around as she stretched for the gift.

CJ stood up and put a bag on the bed. She gently grabbed Kate’s shoulders and pushed her to sit down. In a dramatic display, she pulled the box from the bag and presented it on her flat, outstretched palms while lowering herself on one knee. “For you, m’lady,” she purred.

Kate’s smile said it all. “Thank you,” she said bashfully. She lifted the lid and squealed. “Oh my god, you didn’t?”

“Of course I did. I love that you’d rather give your money to others than buy yourself a treat, but I thought we could manage both,” CJ replied.

Kate lifted one of the Manolo shoes she had admired a few days ago. She’d even gone so far as to try them on, but had told CJ on her return that she couldn’t spend that much money on shoes. CJ had quickly decided that they could buy the occasional treat since Kate was always so conscientious the rest of the time. And it was her big Emmy’s debut after all.

CJ took the shoes in her hands and slipped them onto Kate’s feet. “Perfect.”

“Yes. You are,” Kate murmured, giving CJ a loving kiss on the cheek. “Go get ready. I want to see you in that dress.” She gave CJ a sultry wink and blew her a kiss.

“Now, you know we can’t get all worked up before we go. This is the biggest night of your career so far,” CJ warned.

“Uh-huh,” Kate said, pretending to be suitably chastised. “Go get dressed.”

While CJ finished her makeup – much more than she’d ever worn before, but Kate had told her it would be better for the cameras and flashing lights – Kate opened the drawer on the nightstand and pulled out the long, red, velvet box. She drew her finger along the length of it, liking how the texture felt under her skin. She turned to see CJ sliding into her red, silken dress. It was so beautiful and it hung on the end of CJ’s broad shoulders with ease.

Gradually becoming aware of the scrutiny, CJ slipped on her shoes and looked at her admirer. “What ya got there?” she asked, raising her eyebrow when she saw Kate’s glazed look.

Words. She said words. Kate snapped herself out of her stare and shook her head. “Oh, it’s your gift.”

CJ crossed the room looking like she’d just stepped off the catwalk, her hair swept up the back of her head and her makeup perfectly applied. “You’re not supposed to get me a gift. This is your night, honey.”

“CJ, it doesn’t matter whether I win an award tonight or not. I’m still the winner because I have you, so please let me give you a gift too,” Kate offered, her voice husky with the emotion she was feeling at the truth in the words.

“Hey. Don’t start crying,” CJ teased gently. “Your eyeliner will run.” She took the box from Kate’s hands, and as she opened the lid her heart missed a beat and her stomach flipped. She wasn’t one for jewelry, but the necklace and matching earrings were stunningly beautiful. “Oh, wow. Those are incredible, Katie.”

Kate was pleased at the reaction. “So are you. I saw them a while back, and when you showed me your dress, they popped right back into my mind.”

CJ touched the diamond-encrusted necklace with her fingertip, moving down to the ruby on one of the teardrops on the end of it. “I’ve never had anything like this before.”

“You don’t tend to dress like that too often, CJ, but you’re married to an actress now…an actress who wants you on her arm every second and who might be lucky enough to get nominated again.” Kate raised her eyebrows hopefully. “And I simply must see you wear that dress at least ten times more. Is that OK?”

CJ observed the uncertain expression on her wife’s face for a few seconds. “Are you worried that I don’t like getting all dressed up?”

“Maybe a little. I don’t want you to feel like you have to do these events out of duty-” She was silenced by CJ’s long fingers covering her lips gently.

“There’s no sense of duty here, Katie. I’m honored to be by your side anytime, night or day, no matter where we are…and I’m so happy that you want me to go with you.” When Kate kissed her fingers, she frowned and pointed at Kate’s lips. “See, now you’ve got to re-apply your lipstick.”

“Your fault,” Kate said, sticking out her tongue and heading into the master bathroom. When she came back out, she saw CJ putting her earrings and necklace on while looking in the large mirror on the wall. “Here,” she said as she crossed the distance between them. “Let me help with that.”

CJ grinned and bent her knees slightly when Kate came up behind her to take the ends of the necklace and close it around her neck. CJ was wearing her glossy, dark hair up tonight, and Kate kissed the soft skin at the back of her neck making her shudder. Once they were both completely ready, they stood together in front of the mirror.

“I’d say we’re good to go, baby,” CJ said, her eyes glistening with love and admiration for the woman by her side. “The car will be here in five minutes. You ready?”

Kate nodded but her stomach was doing constant flip-flops. “Let’s do it.”

* * * * * *

As the long, black limo arrived outside the Nokia Theatre, CJ looked nervously through the darkened privacy glass. “Whoa, this is scary.”

Kate looked past her wife at the crowds of people and the flashing cameras that surrounded the car. “Honey, you’re a federal agent. I can think of scarier things in your life.”

“This is different scary, Katie. These people are all here to see you, and I don’t wanna let you down.”

Kate tapped on CJ’s shoulder to get her to turn around. “Listen to me carefully, wife of mine, because I’m only going to say this once. You could never let me down. I love you more than anything.”

CJ nodded minutely, hearing the restrained ferocity in Kate’s voice. “I love you too, Katie…so much.” She’d barely gotten the words out when the chauffeur opened the door and the overwhelming noise penetrated the vehicle.

CJ shifted slightly to let Kate get past her and out the door first since she wanted to hide for a long as possible. Hearing the screams and shouts and whistles getting louder as Kate emerged and waved to the crowds, CJ closed her eyes momentarily to try to prepare in some way. When she eventually uncurled her six-foot frame from the car and stepped onto the red carpet, her heart was doing its best to batter its way out through her ribcage. She’d thought she would have to catch up to Kate, but she found her standing right there with a huge smile on her face. The photographers focused their attention on Kate when she wrapped her arm around CJ’s waist and mouthed the word ‘relax’. CJ took a deep breath and smiled with a confidence she did not feel, but as they both stood there together, the cameras went wild, and CJ suddenly felt even prouder to be on Kate’s arm for this important moment in her wife’s career.

They walked up the red carpet together, and Kate shook hands with lots of fans and threw a dazzling smile at others. CJ tried to stay slightly behind her, but Kate was having none of that. She had CJ’s waist in an iron grip most of the time and wouldn’t let her linger in the shadows. CJ had finally relented and slipped her arm over Kate’s shoulders as they walked. She began to relax even more and smiled for the crowd who were shouting things like, “You two look fabulous!” and “Oh-my-God-oh-my-God! Kate, Kate!”

CJ Kate 200

It was going be a fun and interesting night. CJ knew that for sure. She actually laughed out loud when she saw Kate pointing to a large banner flapping around above the crowd that said Kate Marshall for President. While they were both still laughing and looking as happy as ever, CJ realized the camera flashes had become blinding and she wondered fleetingly what pictures would end up in the papers the next morning. As much as she was going to enjoy this event, she was glad it didn’t happen every day.

As they entered the large hall, Kate had a firm grip of CJ’s hand. She was trying to keep the nausea at bay as nerves and excitement warred within her. She took a deep, cleansing breath and glanced at her stunning partner. CJ smiled, and Kate released her breath in a gust as if the smile was needed to ground her emotionally.

Kate pointed across the room and tugged on CJ’s hand. “There’s Phil. We must be sitting over here.”

CJ followed her over to a long table and waited while Kate greeted her director and a few other members of the crew from Deadline. After Kate finished the introductions, CJ pulled out her chair and received a loving smile as thanks. She sat down beside Kate and spotted Jack glancing nervously in her direction. He was sitting with his latest conquest, and CJ sneered discreetly at him. He smiled nervously before he hurriedly looked away which made CJ smirk to herself. She forgot about him easily and focused back on Kate who was chattering wildly with Phil Romaine.

When Kate finished her conversation, she turned to her gorgeous date. “You OK?”

CJ smiled at the buzz of excitement that emanated from her wife. “Yes, honey. You?”

“Oh, yes, as long as you’re with me.”

CJ gave her a chaste kiss just as the lights went out to indicate the beginning of the ceremony.

“Wish me good luck,” Kate whispered.

“You definitely don’t need it…but good luck, Katie.”

* * * * * *

Sometime later

“And the winner is…”

As the announcer paused for effect, Kate’s heart was hammering its way up her throat. She gripped CJ’s hand and held her breath.

“Kate Marshall for Mischa Barratt in Deadline!”

The crowd roared, and Kate almost fainted. CJ helped her to stand on shaky legs as a huge smile crossed the winning actress’s features. Kate turned to kiss CJ before she hesitantly let go of her hand. After a few hugs from crew and fellow cast members, she began her walk to the stage and hoped with all her heart that she wouldn’t trip up the steps.

CJ was beaming. She clapped her hands above her head and whistled, watching proudly as her beautiful spouse accepted the award and stood at the podium waving. Kate smiled the sparkling smile that CJ loved so much, and she knew Kate would be totally thrilled. CJ’s own stomach did flip-flops as she listened to Kate speak to the audience. They made regular eye contact which seemed to give Kate strength and make her feel calm in the midst of all the excitement. CJ continued to smile lovingly and tried desperately to hold back the tears as Kate thanked her publicly and blew a kiss in her direction. CJ bit her lips and blushed when just about everyone in the vast room turned to see who Kate was married to. It was certainly a new experience for CJ. She’d never felt so exposed but she put on her best smile for the curious onlookers. Thankfully, they didn’t stare for too long, and she took a deep breath to relax herself. She saw Phil grinning at her and she laughed quietly, deciding she was tough enough to cope with these events…but only just.

* * * * * *

Kate was buzzing in the limo on the way home. She held her Emmy in her hands, her fingers running in and out of the lines of the atom held by the winged figure that formed the famous statue. “I still can’t believe it,” she whispered as she leaned her head on CJ’s shoulder.

“I can. You’re a fantastic actress, Katie. And I’m not just saying that because I’m completely in love with you.”

Kate looked up at her and saw nothing but pure honesty in her cobalt eyes. “Thank you. It’s easier to be focused at work and concentrate on acting the part when I am so incredibly happy at home. I love you so much, CJ.”

CJ kissed her briefly before her face took on a poor-soul look. “So…can I have a turn now?” she asked, holding her hands out for the statue.

Kate laughed and sat upright on the plush, leather seat. She cleared her throat and presented the Emmy. “For her exceptional role as the tough, unbreakable federal agent in…” She paused and tried to think of a good title for a cop series. “Oh…tough, unbreakable federal agent in After Montana… I give you our winner, CJ Carson!”

CJ couldn’t even take the award in her hands because she was laughing so much. With tears in her eyes, she held her stomach and tried to recover her breath. “I…I wasn’t so tough earlier when I…didn’t even want to get out the car and face the photographers!” She shook her head and finally took the statue from Kate. “I like the name of the series though. It’s the story of our lives, huh?”

“Yeah,” Kate replied quietly, the smile on her face full of love and happiness even as the fleeting memory of their meeting in Montana swept through her mind. She snuggled against CJ’s body and as the car continued along the freeway, they both looked at the shiny Emmy and remembered how far they had come.

* * * * * *

After dinner the next day, CJ sat on the couch in front of a pile of newspapers. Kate was perched on the arm of the couch with her feet wriggling around in the soft cushions. She was listening to CJ reading some reports on the award ceremony the previous night. Tony had just left after delivering the papers to the house and picking up Kamali who was going with him on a visit to his young nephew.

CJ flapped her hand to get Kate’s attention. “This one’s good. Kate Marshall and wife gracefully floated down the red carpet last night looking like an angel and her goddess on their approach to the Nokia Theatre. Fans of Kate will be pleased to hear that she won the Emmy for Best Actress in a Dramatic Role for her portrayal of Mischa Barratt, the genius forensic scientist in Deadline. The show picked up three other awards…” CJ continued to read from the newspaper. “More description about the show…yadda-yadda-yadda. Oh, here. Kate’s acceptance speech was utterly heartfelt as she thanked the people involved in the show. But the main topic of reports today is the thanks she gave to her wife, and those few words totally enthralled and no doubt extended her huge gay and lesbian fan base. Kate told the attendees, I might not have gotten this far and I certainly wouldn’t have been the person I am today without the love and support of my best friend and wife.” CJ’s voice trailed off and she looked up at Kate with complete and utter love and devotion.

“Well, I like that one,” Kate said shyly.

CJ grinned. “I do too.”

“They always call you a goddess.”

“It’s only because of my height, honey. If I was your height, I’d be an angel like you,” CJ said with a wink.

“Are you telling me I’m a short-ass?”

CJ laughed at the mock hurt on Kate’s face. “You know damn well I love everything about you, including your compact nature.”

Kate flew at her and pinned her to the couch, sending the newspaper flying to the floor. “Compact nature?” she asked as she held CJ’s arms above her head and licked her chin and lips.

CJ felt an unbelievably fast surge of heat shoot through her body. “Be careful. I may have to take your compact form and ravish it until you can’t walk.”

Kate bit her bottom lip. “That’s not really a threat, CJ. Maybe I’ll take your gigantic body and ravish you until you can’t close your legs.”

CJ feigned a shocked face before she let out a laugh. “Do what you will, Angel,” she said mischievously. She was silent a mere second later when Kate’s questing tongue filled her mouth.

* * * * * *

After a very hot and heavy hour of lovemaking, CJ stretched her tall body as she headed for the en suite. Kate watched her go, laughing as CJ scratched her right buttock where Kate had just kissed it. At the sound of the shower, Kate jumped up and joined her sexy partner which led to another brief session under the steaming jets before they got dressed and headed downstairs.

“You ready to go, Katie?”

“Yep. Just let me grab the gifts,” Kate said, picking up a bag from the floor in the hallway.

“Do you really think we should give them these? I wasn’t sure what to get for kids,” CJ grumbled as she pointed to the contents.

“I think Lucy will love the little jacket you got for Barney, and Shannon will adore her FBI hat. I bet she wants to wear it all the time,” Kate reassured before she kissed CJ on the nose.

Once outside, CJ started the truck and turned on the stereo. Kate selected the music she wanted to hear, and with a nod of approval at the choice, CJ began the drive to Sherman Oaks.

* * * * * *

When CJ pulled up outside the house it was dark, and she wondered if the girls would be in bed already. They had taken a detour due to some major work being done on the highway, and she thought she’d be too late to see them now. That thought was short-lived as a little head popped up at the window. Shannon’s huge eyes were visible even at this distance.

“Come on, honey. Let’s go say hello,” Kate said, nudging her spouse.

As CJ walked up the path, Shannon burst from the front door, and her aunt Helen watched as the little girl ran straight into CJ’s outstretched arms. CJ lifted Shannon and twirled her around as she greeted her.

“You came!” Shannon squealed at CJ’s face, almost going cross-eyed just to look at her.

“Of course I did. But I’m sorry we’re late. We had to take a different route,” CJ replied as she tweaked Shannon’s tiny nose.

Shannon hugged her tightly before she looked over to Kate. “Hi, Kate,” she said shyly.

“Hello, Shannon. It’s good to meet you.” Kate was very impressed with Shannon’s memory and she tried to restrain her emotion at seeing CJ holding the little girl who looked like a mini version of her. Kate turned to see Helen waiting at the door. “We should go inside. We have a little gift for you and Lucy.”

Shannon’s eyes opened wide. “You do?”

“Sure do.”

Since Shannon seemed to be permanently attached to CJ, she walked up the path with the small body wrapped around her and greeted Helen pleasantly. Once they had all said their hellos, Kate sat on the couch and watched CJ playing with the Shannon while Helen made the coffees.

Since Lucy was sitting by herself at the other end of the couch, Kate patted her hand on her lap. “Want to come sit here?” she asked while smiling at the infant.

Lucy seemed to think about it quite seriously. She clearly understood the question, but Shannon was right. Lucy was very quiet for a two and a half-year old. The little brown-haired girl clutched at Barney the bear as she crawled over to Kate on her three available appendages. She settled onto Kate’s lap with her legs swung around over Kate’s knees so that she was facing away from her and able to watch Shannon. Lucy leaned back against Kate’s chest and hugged her bear to her own belly.

Kate slipped both hands under Lucy’s calves and supported her while she spoke. “Is this Barney?”

Lucy nodded.

“Does Barney have any clothes?” Kate asked, getting a negative head-shake which made Lucy’s curls bob around at the side of her face. “Would he like a new coat?” she offered gently.

Lucy turned her head and looked up at the kind, green eyes above her. She nodded again, and Kate could see a little excitement peeking through the silence in the gaze.

Kate pulled the little bomber jacket from the bag and held it in front of Lucy. The girl’s face lit up making Kate smile. “What do you think? Will he like it?”

Lucy nodded again, and she and Kate seemed to go on to engage in a silent discussion regarding the jacket. CJ was watching this with rapt fascination, but Shannon noticed her lack of attention and tugged on her sleeve to get her to focus.

“Sorry, Shannon. I was just watching Lucy getting her gift. Do you want yours?”

“Yes, please.”

CJ took the bag from the couch and proceeded to give Shannon her new hat. “This is a real FBI cap, and I know how brave you are so what do you think? Could you be a special agent?”

“Ooh. Do you wear these?” Shannon asked excitedly.

“Sometimes we do. I have one just like this back at my office,” CJ said, pleased that her gift seemed to go down well.

“Thank you, CJ,” Shannon said, putting the cap on her head backwards which made CJ chuckle.

Not long after that, Helen came back in with the drinks, and they talked for a while. It seemed to be quite a pleasant conversation until the girls were put to bed – Shannon’s FBI cap still on her head.

When Helen returned to the room she was still polite although the way she spoke to both women had changed somewhat. “I don’t know how long my sister will be locked up, but I have no concerns about their future. They have trust funds set up for them so their college fees are taken care of. I never spoke with my sister, so I have no idea why I was given custody,” she said. She seemed very disconnected from what the girls would need, but at the same time she seemed to be taking care of them and had given them toys and treats since they had been in her care.

But CJ was confused as to why she was telling them about the trust funds. “I don’t know that you’ll have them that long, Helen, but it’s…good you’re thinking of their future.”

“My sister is a murderer. I mean, really, she’ll be locked up for life.”

“She was an accessory to murder. She didn’t actually commit them herself. I’m not sure what her sentence will be,” CJ explained amicably.

“Well, once they sort out Charles’s will I won’t be worried about how long I’ll have to keep them.”

CJ was horrified at her attitude, but there wasn’t a damn thing she could do about it, and she didn’t really know what was in Davenport’s will. He may have left the girls some money, but CJ doubted it, especially after he had found out about his wife’s affairs. But why the hell was Helen talking about money? Surely she should be more concerned with the fact that Lucy still didn’t speak, or that Shannon seemed to love an FBI agent more than her own aunt. Didn’t the children’s happiness come into her concerns at all?

Kate seemed to sense CJ’s mood and straightened up in her seat. “Helen, would it be OK if I took Barney through to Lucy before we go?”

Lucy had given Barney to Kate before she went to bed, and when Kate had tried to return the bear to his owner, she had insisted that Kate take him for a while.

“Of course. It’s the third door on the right,” Helen said, collecting up the mugs before she disappeared into the kitchen.

“Thanks.” Kate turned to CJ. “Want to come with me?”

“What? Oh, sure.”

Once in the spare room, Kate placed Barney under Lucy’s limp arm and covered her up with the duvet. She went to CJ who was just standing staring at Shannon. “Hey,” she whispered. “They’ll be fine.”

“Uh-huh,” CJ replied just as quietly. “It just feels so off, but there’s nothing I can do right now. What a mess.”

“I know,” Kate said, guiding her out of the room. “Let’s go home, CJ.”

After they left, Kate took the keys to the truck since she sensed CJ was a little distracted. It had been an emotional night. Kate loved the kids and was overwhelmed at the way CJ interacted with them. Both girls were so incredibly sweet, and Lucy had sat with Kate for most of their visit.

Kate thought about it all as she drove down the highway. At one point, she glanced over at CJ and saw that her eyes were shut before turning her attention back on the road. Kate wondered what exactly would happen after Sheila was sentenced. She couldn’t understand how a mother could put her children through something like that, never mind have her husband killed. She shook her head and tried to think of more pleasant things until she had time to talk with CJ about it later.

* * * * * *

CJ dragged her ass into work the next morning. Since she’d met Kate she had experienced something new: not wanting to constantly live her job. It was something she did in the past without even thinking about it. Kate had changed her in so many ways, including waking her up to the fact that there was so much more to life than a career. She still enjoyed her job, but she’d never work herself into the ground again.

She entered the office to find Jamie with her head in her hands, and Ethan standing next to her looking over a very thick case file.

CJ walked toward them, putting her keys on her desk and her jacket on the chair. “Need some help, guys?”

Jamie uncovered her face. “If you’re not too busy…?”

“Never too busy to help my colleagues,” CJ replied. “What you got?”

Jamie sighed and scratched though her blond hair. “It’s a serial killer case I was almost given just before I left Washington. A guy I worked with, Paul MacGuire, has been leading the case ever since, and he can’t seem to get a break. He called me yesterday to ask for some fresh insight.”

CJ took the offered file and flipped through the pages. “Eww. This killer’s leaving pieces of people in various locations?”

“Yes, and I know you had a case like that in the past, so could you give it a read-through and tell me what you get from it?”

“Sure,” CJ said as she sat at her desk. Her internal phone line buzzed and she picked it up. “Carson.”

“CJ, its Mark. Could you come see me in my office, please?”

“I’ll be right up, Sir.”

“Thanks,” he said, cutting the line abruptly.

CJ looked puzzled for a moment as she stared at the handset, but she soon shook it off and got up to leave. She told Jamie and Ethan she’d be right back, and as she headed to the AD’s office she wondered what he could want. He didn’t sound angry, so she couldn’t have pissed him off, but his words were uncharacteristically sharp. She was still pondering it when she knocked on his door.

“Come in.”

CJ walked into the office and sat on the chair opposite her boss. “You wanted to see me, Sir?”

“We’re alone, CJ.”

“Sorry. You wanted to see me, Mark?”

He smiled briefly. “Yes. I have some news.”

“Bad news…?”

“Well, it’s not exactly good news. I got a call today. Sheila Davenport has committed suicide in jail.” He stopped talking when CJ’s face showed some shock.

“When? How?” she asked.

“Seems she took the cord from her pants and hung herself. It’s being investigated since she had bruising on her stomach, but the warden said she had been beaten a few times previous to that. I guess some of the inmates didn’t take kindly to her having her husband and kids killed,” Mark said, his head shaking in disbelief at the situation.

“God, that’s’ awful,” CJ almost whispered as her mind began to drift.

Mark watched her and figured he knew exactly what she was thinking about. “I made a call to Social Services after I found out.”

“Oh?”

“CJ, Helen Ross had temporary custody, and she would only get to keep the girls if she went to court to apply for full custody. Apparently she’s not doing that since Charles Davenport excluded the girls from his fortune after finding out they weren’t his. However, he did leave them with trust funds and lifetime medical cover, but that’s not enough for Helen and she doesn’t want to keep them.”

“Oh,” CJ said, unable to think clearly as the anger surged within her.

“CJ, I’m not sure if I’m reading you right, but I can help you get them if that’s what you want. I already asked my contact what the procedure might be.”

“Oh…uh. I’d need to talk to Kate. I don’t know…”

“I think you should take the rest of the day off and-”

“No, Sir. Kate’s at work. I’ll talk to her tonight. When do I need to let you know?”

“There’s no time limit, CJ, but Helen is leaving town soon. The girls will be placed in temporary foster care, so the sooner the better I’d say.”

“We only saw her last night. When did they inform her?”

“This morning. Apparently, it happened late last night.”

CJ pinched the bridge of her nose. “I’ll talk to Kate and get back to you first thing tomorrow, Mark,” she said, her mind distracted by the possibilities.

“Right, right. Good,” Mark answered with a nod.

CJ walked back toward her own office with her mind spinning. Could she and Kate take on two kids with their busy jobs? Would Kate even be open to it? Of course she would. “Oh shit. Am ready for two kids?” she gasped, feeling slightly nauseous.

The rest of CJ’s day was a blur. As she drove up to the house that night, she saw the Mercedes outside and the lights on in the living room. She passed through the hallway and dumped her jacket and keys in their usual place before finding Kate at the dining table reading a magazine. A delicious smell emanated from the stove, and CJ inhaled it deeply.

“Hi, Katie,” she said as she approached her partner.

“Hey, honey. You came in awfully quietly,” Kate replied, getting up and slipping her arms around CJ’s waist.

“Yeah. Lots on my mind. We need to talk, Katie,” CJ said quietly as she pushed a soft strand of hair from Kate’s forehead.

“You OK?”

“Yes.” CJ tightened her hold. “Katie, Sheila Davenport is dead.”

“What? What happened?”

“It seems she committed suicide in jail. Hung herself.”

“Oh, CJ, that’s awful.”

“That’s what I said…” CJ trailed off, not knowing how to broach the subject of the kids. She should have known Kate would read her mind.

“What about the girls?”

“I…well, that’s what we need to talk about. Helen doesn’t want them, and they’re being placed in temporary foster care.”

“Do you want them, CJ?” Kate asked seriously.

“I…we need to…”

“CJ, I know you, remember? I knew if this situation arose, we would have this discussion. When I saw you with Shannon last night so many feelings flowed through me. I think we should go see them and find out what the procedure might be,” Kate suggested as she kissed a bewildered CJ tenderly.

“You’d be OK with fostering them?” CJ asked, excitement gradually threading through her voice.

“Fostering? No, honey. I mean let’s see what the procedure is for adopting them. They don’t seem to have anyone else, and you and I love them.”

CJ was dumbstruck. Kate waved her hand in front of her eyes, effectively snapping her out of it. She blinked and replayed what Kate had just said in her mind. “Adopt? Just like that? I didn’t want to overwhelm you.”

“Oh, CJ, I’ve been thinking about it for a while now. It’s what you want, isn’t it?” At CJ’s tentative nod, Kate continued. “It’s what I want too, so let’s figure it out together and see what happens, OK?”

CJ nodded. “OK. You’re incredible, Katie. I don’t know why I’m surprised. God, I love you.”

“I love you too, baby,” Kate retorted with a smile. She kissed CJ on the chin, but it seemed that wasn’t quite satisfactory.

“Oh, no, gimme one on the lips. I think I need to make love to you,” CJ whispered as she kissed Kate’s mouth. “Right…now.”

Kate still had her eyes closed when she grinned and said, “Dinner first, then I’ll have you for dessert.”

“I don’t know if I can wait,” CJ said as she begrudgingly let her spouse go.

Kate walked over to the stove to serve up their meal. “I’ll make it worth your while,” she promised, looking over her shoulder and raising a sultry eyebrow.

CJ growled quietly and decided they could have dinner first. They really needed to talk a little more anyway. As she set the table her mind whirled around at the possibility of their family getting bigger in the very near future. Their lives would change so dramatically, but for some reason, CJ couldn’t stop smiling.

.

Epilogue

Elizabeth Meredith Emerson – previously Marshall – looked at the newspaper with utter disgust. She hadn’t spoken to her daughter in almost four years, apart from a very abrupt conversation on the phone when her Katherine had been returned after her abduction. And now she could see why. Her daughter was an abomination, sprawled all over the front page of the national press with her wife. Elizabeth’s face contorted as she read of the Hollywood actress’s success, and she smacked her lips together as if tasting something very bitter. It was most likely the taste of her own envy at the happiness that was clearly evident on Kate’s face as she smiled brilliantly for the cameras. The fact that the wife had her arm around Kate’s shoulder just made it worse.

Elizabeth got up from her chair and threw the newspaper down on the hideously ornate, glass coffee table, wondering how she could ever face her friends and neighbors again after this public humiliation. Where she lived in Connecticut, they seemed to be very closed-minded about certain things, but what Elizabeth couldn’t see was that there were only a select few of her Stepford-Wives friends who would oppose homosexuality…and maybe her husband of six years. Of course, she never really knew what he thought since she didn’t pay much attention to him anyway. She’d only married him for his money.

But this nonsense would never do. Katherine could not embarrass her like this. And she’d married that woman? Surely not. Was that even allowed in this day and age? Elizabeth paced the floor, the bile rising from her spiteful belly and cold heart. It was time for her to pay her daughter a visit and sort this wife of hers out for good.

That woman must have poisoned my Katherine’s mind. That’s it. That will be what I’ll tell my friends, and I’ll sort it all out forthwith! And with that, she stomped off to make arrangements for her flight to Los Angeles.

.

The End…

©2016 StageFreak Productions

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11 comments

  1. Another triumph Wendy! You just keep reeling us in! What a great story…always leaves you wanting more. Lucky for us, we’ll hear more from CJ and Kate….Thank you for the girls and their
    friends.

    Kathy


    • Thank you, Kathy 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it. Warms my little heart 😉 xo


  2. Fabulous, Wendy. I just love your style of writing; such real and intimate dialogue focusing on the development of the relationships between the characters. Characters that are easy to like with some angst thrown in to shake things up a bit from time to time. Look forward to the continuation.

    ianic.


    • Doh! Just realised your description of Kate and CJ attending the awards ceremony exactly mirrors the photo of Renee and Lucy. Nice one!

      Observant as usual!!


      • Lol. Well done, ianic 😉
        Thanks for your comments. Always appreciated. Next one is in the works xo


  3. loved it of course, heading straight to the next one


    • Glad you are enjoying them, Robbie.
      Thanks for your comments 🙂


  4. These stories just get better and better with each installment!


    • Thank you, Jasper. Glad you are enjoying them 🙂


  5. Oh my God im totally obsessed with your stories…i have sleepless nights reading it though ..you are such a great writer .i judt finished reading the after so long and will definitely move to another one.


    • So glad you are enjoying them, Rowena. And it’s great to see new readers finding CJ and Kate for the first time! Make sure to get some sleep too, though!



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