Uber Star Trek Voyager, JAG and X-files. No infringement
intended since this is an original story. Among other
things it is about same gender love between consenting adult women and if that is illegal where you are or offensive to
you in any way - please hit your back button!
Rating: Chapters vary between G - NC-17
Revised May 2, 2001
Finding Shelter From The Storm
body tried to tell her she had been driving for far too long.
rain was pouring down and although she had the windshield wipers on at
their highest speed, the visibility was lousy.
took a firmer grip of the steering wheel and navigated through the unknown
streets with a confidence she had obtained from moving around from town to
town so many times in her life.
was not a gypsy or a nomad at heart but since she had decided to quit her
designated career more than five years ago and break free, she had not
stayed in one place more than three or four months at the most.
became restless and a bit paranoid if she tried to stay somewhere for
longer periods than that. She was always moving on; hiding, of course, but
also searching for something she couldn’t identify.
she was on her way to a small motel she had heard about in the circles she
had moved in.
trusted Jared, as much as she would ever trust anyone. He had told her
about this remote little motel that was simple but clean and most
important of all, had no connection to anything she was trying to avoid,
as far as she could judge. She usually didn’t leave a forwarding address,
but as they said goodbye, she had taken the address he had scribbled on a
small piece of paper and shoved it into her pocket.
squinted through the raindrops, trying to make out the name of the street
she was on. It turned out to be the right one and after driving another
two hundred yards she saw the bright yellow sign.
had come up with such an impossible, romantic name for such modest
building? Perhaps it was pure luxury indoors, she mused. But then again,
Jared would never have recommended it unless he thought she would be
reasonably safe there.
pulled into the parking lot and hurried through the rain, wrapping the
open rain jacket closer around her. She reached the door and opened it,
setting off a faint tingling sound from small bells attached to the
be right there!” she heard a voice call from a room behind the desk.
a minute later, a tall blonde came through the door, wiping her hands on a
sorry to keep you waiting. I was drying off Hubert.”
blonde smiled faintly.
I see. Well, I have a reservation. Laura Carter.”
me check.” The blonde logged on to a computer and scrolled down a page.
“Ah, yes, here you are. Do you know how many nights you will be staying?”
shook her head.
but at least for a month if things work out as planned.”
month. That’s fine; just tell me as soon as you know if you need the
room longer or if you have to leave earlier. My name is Sunny Stewart and
I am the owner. If there is anything you need, just let us know. We
don’t have room service but we try to help out when we can. There is a
breakfast room and if you order in advance we can make lunch packs and
killer subs anytime. Just sign here, please. Your credit card?”
signing the register card and handing over her Visa card, Laura had to
smiled, her full lips separating just enough to show a glimpse of perfect
you know, large baguette sandwiches with everything in them. Almost a full
dinner if you ask me.”
tall, lanky blonde sure didn’t look as if she lived on killer subs all
the time, Laura thought, suddenly feeling both tired and every one of her
one of those,” she smiled wearily, unaware that she was leaning at the
counter for support. She had been driving for twelve hours, only resting a
couple of times, and now she was exhausted. “I don’t suppose you have
one left over?”
motel owner pursed her lips.
don’t know, but I’ll go and have a look. Here’s your card and your
key. Your room is the second to the left, number three. I will check out
my fridge and see what I can come up with. Hey, are you all right?” She
came around the counter, frowning worriedly as she regarded Laura who
realised she was swaying, feeling decidedly light headed.
fine,” she managed. “Just tired from driving. I’ll get my things and
if you can find anything for me to eat, I’ll be forever in your debt.”
smiled a little.
sure you won’t faint in my parking lot, then?”
sure.” Laura grabbed her key, tucked her wallet away and headed out into
in the parking lot. She had never fainted in her entire life and a little
fatigue from driving would not make her do so either.
getting her large backpack she located her room two doors down from the
reception. She opened the door and turned on the light as she; grateful to
get out of the icy rain, stumbled inside.
was a fairly large room. There was a queen size bed, a table with two
chairs and a small sofa with a coffee table in front of it. There was a
half open door on the opposite wall, which she guessed led to the bathroom.
She needed to use it but decided to wait for Sunny Stewart and hope she
would bring something edible,
pulled off her wet jacket and hung it on the hook behind the door. With a
sigh she sat down on the edge of her bed; the dizziness swept over her
again. She lied down, her feet still on the floor, and closed her eyes.
for a second, she thought and yawned.
knock on the door woke her up and the unfamiliar voice outside it made her
Carter? Are you all right? I’ve brought you some sandwiches and
right, the motel. Sunny Stewart.
got up and stumbled over her backpack on her way to the door. Regaining
her balance she opened it and let the blonde in.
I think I fell asleep,” she mumbled, regarding the small mountain of
sandwiches on the tray Sunny was carrying.
quickly? You must be exhausted. Well, here’s some food and … oh, dear,
are you all right?”
had felt her knees buckling and she had no way of stopping herself from
staggering a little to the left.
was bristling with impatience. What was wrong with her? Was she coming
down with something or was she just beginning to get to old to be
gallivanting around the country this way?
fine, just tired,” she managed but the motel owner put the tray down on
the table and carefully guided Laura to a chair with a slender arm around
the smaller woman’s shoulders.
pale and trembling,” she said worriedly. “I think you must eat and
then sleep for as long as you can.”
wanted to object but the genuine concern in the blonde’s voice kept her
quiet. Weakly she grabbed a cheese sandwich and took a bite.
are good,” she muttered around the food, shooting Sunny a look.
“I’ll be fine now, thanks.”
blonde didn’t seem satisfied with that.
you mind if I stick around and have a cup of coffee too?” she asked
casually. “I don’t want my newest resident to topple over and injure
herself. Besides, I really could use some coffee.”
stopped chewing and just stared at her.
nerve of this young woman baffled her.
and blonde and with a figure that would sell thousands of magazines, she
just stood there and invaded the privacy of a paying guest. Just like
you needed at the front desk?” Laura asked dryly.
pointed at her belt. There was a small white device clamped there.
I have my pager on. If anyone rings the bell out there, I’ll hear it.
And I have my cell phone. Please allow me to stay, Ms Carter. You really
gave an exasperated sigh. The girl was impossible.
right then. By all means, have some coffee.”
reached into a cabinet Laura had not seen yet and pulled out two mugs. She
poured steaming black coffee from the thermos she had brought and handed
was out of milk but you look like a black coffee kind of person,” she
said, smiling faintly.
older woman nodded.
guess you are a mind reader too, then.”
confident, Laura mused, regarding the blonde over the rim of her mug.
Beautiful in a cool, almost detached sort of way. Either Ms Stewart was
very caring or very curious or did she have coffee in the middle of the
night with all her guests?
if the young woman had indeed read her mind, she put her mug down and
cocked her head a little.
normally don’t invade my guest’s privacy like this. I … well, you
seem sort of familiar and I’d never forgive myself if you were taken ill
all alone in here.”
assure you I’m fine. Just tired and hungry, that’s all. I will be as
good as new after a good nights sleep,” Laura claimed, forcing a smile
to sound sincere.
didn’t seem convinced, on the contrary, she raised an eyebrow in
disbelief but didn’t say anything as she kept Laura company when she
finished her midnight snack.
now I will shower and go to bed. Thank you for being so …thoughtful,”
Laura said firmly.
got up and headed for the door, bringing the tray and empty thermos with
her. Then she turned around, frowning a little.
you sure you will be all right? Do you need a wake up call in the
flinched. Good Lord, what was she thinking of? She had an appointment
tomorrow, or later today really, since it was way past midnight.
please. Wake me at eight in case I don’t hear that thing,” she said
motioning at the radio alarm clock by the bed.
right, I will,” Sunny smiled.
had a special smile, very cautious, like smiling was almost foreign to her.
Laura found it curious that a young, beautiful woman was running a modest
motel all by herself. Although the motel was not quite as run down as the
rest of the neighbourhood, the woman still seemed as if she was out of
night.” The older woman closed the door behind Sunny and exhaled wearily.
She felt better but having driven almost six hundred miles in one day had
taken its toll on her. She needed to sleep. Tomorrow was so important.
had to get that job; otherwise this whole trip would be for nothing.
Everything depended on the outcome of tomorrow; it was her chance to
finally regain her freedom.
had called ahead and set up the interview. She was almost out of money and
the deposit she had filled up her fake Visa card with had made a huge hole
in her meagre budget.
she didn’t land the job tomorrow, another unfortunate consequence would
be that the sandwiches Sunny had made her would be among the last she
would eat in a while.
pulled off her clothes, let them lie where they fell on the floor, and
went into the bathroom. It was small, tiny even, but immaculately clean.
She showered quickly and wrapper herself in a bath towel. Without even
bothering to check herself in the mirror, knowing that she would look her
worst after such a day, her auburn hair tousled, her blue-grey eyes all
grey and not in the least blue and her narrow lips pressed even thinner;
she headed for the bed and slept the moment her head hit the pillow.
gentle hand shook her shoulder and still her clouded mind did not react in
its usual guarded manner.
Carter? Good morning. Ms Carter?” a full, pleasant voice said above her.
reluctantly opened her eyes and peered at the stranger hovering above her.
Before realising where she was and who was in the room with her, she felt
under her pillow for her gun but it wasn’t there.
hey, it’s just me. Remember? Sunny, I own the motel?” the tall blonde
said quickly and rose from the bed where she had been sitting to reach
Laura. “I called you on the phone three times and when you didn’t
answer the door, I had to open with my key. I’m sorry if I scared
Laura briefly closed her eyes.
sorry, Sunny,” she said hoarsely, “I must really have been out of
it.” She rose on one elbow and blushed profusely when the still damp
towel fell off her a little, revealing her right breast before she could
worry. Are you sure you are all right?” the blonde asked carefully.
it’s just that … you were moaning and tossing a little when I came in.
It looked like you were having a nightmare.”
had had the dream again and with her usual luck, this young woman had
witnessed her anguished throws of terror. Great.
get them sometimes,” Laura smiled crookedly, “but I’m okay now.
nodded and stood up. “Okay. I’ll see you at breakfast?”
shot her a look, but the warm expression in the clear blue eyes of the
motel owner was disarming, to say the least. Unless she wanted to really
sound ungrateful …
of course,” she smiled quickly and her throaty voice was even huskier
than usual as the faint memories of the bad dream suddenly flashed before
her like ghosts.
left and Laura hid her face in her hands.
Lord,” she moaned out loud to herself. “What kind of motel is this? I
have been here for one night and already Ms Motel Owner thinks I’m
losing it and that she has to keep an eye on me for my own good. Laura, my
dear, is that ‘lying low’?”
chastised herself into the bathroom where she took another shower and also
washed her hair. She arranged the auburn tresses in a strict hairdo and
pulled out a wrinkle free power suit, that was perfect for its purpose,
from her backpack.
cream coloured silk tank top matched the green jacket that came with a
narrow skirt, ending just above her knee. Pantyhose and black pumps
completed her look. Before putting on her jacket she strapped the special
made gun harness on and found her missing gun at the bottom of her
backpack, checked the ammunition, made sure the safety was on and attached
it to the holster.
buttoned her jacket and regarded herself in the full-length mirror. She
was pleased to see that there were hardly any signs of yesterday’s
fatigue. She tried smiling and even though it was a fake grin, it lit up
her face and masked the deadly look in her eyes.
could do this. She could. Now, breakfast.
was bringing more thermoses of coffee and hot water when Laura Carter
entered the room.
incredible transformation from the wet, weary traveller from yesterday
almost made the blonde drop everything.
cool looking business woman, with perfect clothes and makeup had taken her
place and if Sunny had not actually been sitting on this stunning
woman’s bed forty minutes ago, she would not had thought it possible.
walked up to her and smiled politely.
morning again, Sunny. Is it okay for me to call you that? Or do you prefer
swallowed as the other woman’s discreet perfume reached her and for a
moment she forgot the question. Then she pulled herself together and
managed to answer without stuttering.
is fine, Ms Carter.”
you must call me Laura,” the older woman suggested, her commanding tone
not making it as much a suggestion as an order. “Where do you want me?”
swallowed again, Laura’s choice of words making her a little nervous.
think you will enjoy the table over there, by the window. We don’t have
much of a view, but from there you can look at our small garden, at least.”
She pointed out the table.
will join me, yes?” Laura said as she started filling up a plate with
bread and jam and pouring coffee into a mug, really intended for tea. She
swiftly placed it all on a tray. Her obvious efficiency surprised Sunny;
it was such a contrast from last night and just a moment ago this morning.
… uh, yes, I’m done here. I’ll be happy to.” Sunny felt her cheeks
go warm again.
dipped her head and walked over to the table. There she sat down with her
back to the wall behind her, her eyes locked on the bemused motel owner.
filled a cup with coffee, grabbed a muffin and followed her. She pulled
out a chair across from the other woman and sank down with a sigh.
morning?” Laura asked after sipping her coffee, glancing around the room
at the other guests coming and going.
the motel is pretty full, I think we only have about three more rooms
my staff and I.”
smiled, a slow stretching of lips that ignited into a full, broad smile.
What does he do around here? Make the beds?” she joked.
smiled faintly. “He has his work cut out for him. He keeps guard.”
what does he guard? Your safe?”
he guards me,” Sunny answered and the tiny smile on her lips disappeared.
put her mug down. She looked serious and an unexpected expression of what
could only be true sympathy came and went on her elegant face.
had not realised last night, or this morning, what a beautiful, graceful
woman Laura Carter was. All wet from the rain and hopelessly dishevelled
this morning, she had looked older and dead tired. Now she radiated some
special energy that seemed to reach far beyond her compact form.
need a guard here, Sunny?” she asked in a low, throaty voice. “I
thought this was a pretty calm neighbourhood even though it has seen
neighbourhood is fine. I grew up here. But there are guests that are not
so fine and after learning that the hard way, I found Hubert at the dog
pound. He’s never let me down.”
older woman’s eyes turned from a level blue-grey to a solid, dull grey.
were attacked?” Her voice was not more than a whisper, but the menacing
tone was evident. Sunny wondered again who this chameleon was and if she
really wanted to know.
was,” she confirmed calmly. “I used to have room service here but one
evening … well, let’s just say, there was a man and his friend who
thought they could order just about everything. I was lucky that Jared was
still on duty and within earshot.”
thought she could see Laura flinch but wasn’t sure.
Jared, he helped you?” the older woman asked, her hands clenching around
the coffee mug.
he did. The men both ended up in the hospital and the police took Jared
into custody. He was out on parole and these guys were some businessmen
from some hole somewhere. They knew the Governor and before I could
testify and set things straight, Jared had escaped and I haven’t seen
him since. We keep in touch though.”
eyes narrowed and she set her jaw as she regarded the blonde.
a way. Only that Jared recommended you. I don’t know anything else.”
other woman looked out the window, seemed to pay particular interest to
some birds on the tiny lawn and then looked back at Sunny.
why you came with the sandwiches and paid me the extra courtesy of
watching out for me,” she stated flatly.
her dismay, a fierce crimson red coloured Sunny’s cheeks again. That was
true in part.
… yes,” she admitted and averted her eyes.
Laura demanded gently.
I knew you must mean something to Jared. He’s never sent anyone to my
place like this before. Either he really cares for you or you have helped
him and he’s returning a favour. He must trust you and since he does -
so do I. You also looked … very tired and vulnerable.”
description of herself apparently did not suit Laura Carter in the least.
She pressed her lips thin together and after finishing her sandwiches in
silence she wiped her mouth on the napkin next to her. Putting it down on
her tray, she looked at Sunny with a determined expression on her face.
I think if Jared trusts us both we probably can do so as well,” she said
carefully. “But you don’t have any obligation what so ever to take
care of me. I’m perfectly capable of handling things myself. Yesterday
was a hard day; I drove most of the day and in bad weather at that. Please
don’t feel you have to do anything for me that you wouldn’t do for any
other guest here,” she gestured towards the other guests.
couldn’t put her finger on why she knew for a fact that this woman was
not as self-confident as she tried to sound, Obviously Laura put on a good
performance, but there was something, perhaps the mere fact that she had
seen this woman completely vulnerable gave her away.
promise not to smother you with unwanted attention,” Sunny smiled
innocently, which rendered her a stern glare from Laura. “I will only do
things for you that I want to.” That remark made the other woman frown
warningly and Sunny applied her most angelic look.
I have to get going. I’ll be away all day but if you could sign me up
for a huge killer sub with everything, please,” Laura said a little
it done,” Sunny replied happily and watched the other woman rise and
remove her tray and putting it in the tray rack by the door. To the
blonde’s surprise she stopped just outside the glass door and looked
back at her breakfast companion.
wondered if Laura knew what a sweet smile was playing on her red lips
glancing at her watch, Joan clenched her teeth and sighed.
how many occasions had she wasted her time like this, waiting for that
damn physician? She leaned over the railing, trying to get a view of the
myriad of people down there, to see if Dawn were one of them. There were
several redheads but her assigned partner was nowhere in sight.
Morrison had a certain kind of style, both in personality, clothes and the
way she walked. Her appearance breathed style and elegance as well as a
strong determination. Joan didn’t think she had ever seen the woman
hesitate even once. She was capable, strong and very feminine which
confused and threw a lot of people off balance.
had not liked her at all when they were first teamed up together, but now
she appreciated the other woman’s experience and inner drive, admired
Hi, sorry I’m late. Headquarters delayed me. Here, they pulled this out
of the computer as I was hovering above them.”
diminutive redhead sudden appearance at Joan’s elbow did not startle her
in the least; she was used to Dawn’s way of appearing out of the blue.
yes you’re late. I’ve been getting dirty looks from the security
people around here for the last twenty minutes.
what do you expect when you stand around here looking like that?”
was obviously referring to the brunette’s long, black trench coat and
cowboy boots. She wore her short, dark brown hair brushed back from her
face in soft large curls. This seemed to contradict the strength she
Joan asked innocently.
know what,” Dawn grinned. “You look like an accident waiting to happen
if someone gets too close.”
shall we?” Dawn said, indicating towards the suitcase at her feet. “If
I drive the first couple of hours, you can catch up on your reading.
Unless you get motion sickness?” She looked overly concerned and Joan
shot her a look.
you say motion sickness?”
never get motion sickness and you know it.”
just trying to be nice.”
glared at her.
Hand me the folders,” she said testily, reaching out for the thick
folders Dawn carried under her arm while hoisting a backpack on to her
smiled angelically and took the lead out of the large building.
were just out of the inner city and driving down the freeway when Joan
lifted her gaze from the papers she had browsed through.
you think it’s her?” she asked.
I do. I have every reason to think it actually is. Grant it, we have been
close before but this time we have more than one source confirming it.
This could be it, Joan.”
brunette shook her head, more in astonishment than disbelief for once.
after three years, we might actually get close enough.”
enough to secure her, I hope. We can’t afford to miss this time. Our
unit’s on its way down there and I hope nobody jumps the gun on this one.”
women recalled just a little over a year ago when they had been so close
and a local policeman had been too cocky and indeed jumped the gun. They
had lost months of work and missed their target.
did you eat last?” Dana asked her passenger.
just an hour ago. Why? Are you hungry?”
I’d rather just drive for as long as I can before we pull over. If you
take over driving after lunch that will be fine with me.” She glanced at
Joan and smiled.
is unless your endless thirst for diet coke is not catching up with you
before then,” she teased.
accusations about motion sickness and then you belittle my favourite
beverage,” Joan groaned. “This is going to be a long trip.”
think? No, I’ll be good. I promise,” the redhead smiled innocently.
was once again driving down that street, only this time she knew the way
well. This was fortunate since she was in too much pain to be able to
concentrate on any notes with written directions.
felt inside her tailor made jacket and frowned at the dampness on her tank
had spread all over her left side.
threatened to overcome her.
washing over her as she made out the sign at the motel was not surprising,
only its strength. She was happy to be there and once she was safe in her
room, she’d take a look at the wound.
into the parking lot she stopped the engine.
she reached for her purse and tried to open the door but that proved to be
too hard since it was on her left. Fumbling with her right hand stretched
across her chest to reach the door handle, she moaned when a stabbing pain
added to the dull, throbbing ache.
loud bark and a huge furry face next to her car almost scared her to
God …” she groaned. “Hubert, you took five years from my life there,
boy.” She peered through the window.
big dog was standing there, his head tilted and looking like he was trying
to make up his mind if she was friend or foe.
quietly she forced her stiff left arm to work and managed to open the door.
A gush of wind and rain made her shiver and then Hubert was close to her,
sniffing at her hand.
am a friend of you mom’s,” Laura whispered hoarsely. “Just let me
get out of the car and I’ll clear out of your parking lot.”
dog didn’t move much, just backed off a couple of steps.
inhaled sharply and then got up from her seat.
pain surged through her. Then a flash followed by complete darkness
suddenly blinded her. She could still hear the panting dog but understood
that she was on the verge of passing out since the rest of her senses were
no … Hubert, this isn’t good. Fetch your mommy, fetch Sunny?” She
started slipping down the side of her car and heard the sound of his large
paws disappearing between the cars.
had no idea how long she had clung to the car when Sunny’s voice was
close to her ear and a long, slender arm circled her waist, pulling her up
a little. Laura moaned and tried to pull back. Sunny’s arm brushed
against the wound and the pain almost took what was left of her
How long have you been out here? What happened to you?”
need a little help … going to my room …” Laura managed between
so cold. Here, lean on me.”
older woman’s legs were stiff and uncooperative, Sunny had to almost
drag her to her room. It was only about ten yards but it felt like a
hundred. Her side burned and she was so dizzy.
Hubert automatically sat down just inside the door. Laura sank down on a
chair and slumped sideways at the table.
she said, “now I can manage on my own.”
wiped the rain from her face and watched her calmly.
don’t think so. You are pale and obviously in pain. What happened …
blonde quickly took a step forward and yanked Laura’s jacket open. Blood
had soaked her most of the front of her tank top and spread onto her
skirt. “You’re hurt!”
is worse than it looks. I just have to clean it. It is superficial, really.”
simply stared her down; Laura blamed it on the blood loss. Nobody could
stare her down if she was at her usual clearheaded state of mind.
me to help you,” the younger woman said. “I’ll go over to the
reception and get the first aid box. I hope it isn’t something I can’t
rolled her eyes but nodded. Since a hospitals and doctors were out of the
question, perhaps it was a good idea.
right,” she whispered.
got up and hurried out the door.
her,” she ordered Hubert who barked and then hummed deep in his throat.
Not a growl, more like a ‘yes’.
blonde was back within twenty seconds.
is covering the desk for as long as I need her to,” she said and sank
down on her knees next to Laura. “She knows I am in here, but not why.
She can be trusted though. They all can.”
was nauseous now and dared only nod. If she opened her mouth she was sure
she would vomit.
careful hands Sunny removed her by now severely blood stained jacket. The
green material was almost black where the blood had saturated the fabric.
She also calmly and carefully removed the empty harness. Laura glanced at
motel owner but the composed face didn’t betray anything.
have to cut open the tank top,” the blonde warned Laura, opening the box
she had brought and taking out a pair of medical scissors.
do it,” the older woman said through clenched teeth.
cut the silky fabric along its seam on the uninjured side. She then pulled
it off, very gently, careful not to cause more pain than necessary. Still,
Laura groaned quietly and swayed.
must lie down,” Sunny said.
you almost fell just now. Please, let me help you to the bed?”
Clean it here and put a bandage on it.”
have news for you, Ms Carter. This is my motel and I give the orders
around here. Sit up if you insist but at least lean on my shoulders with
your right hand, otherwise you will fall on top of me when you pass out
and then of what use would I be to you.”
shivering woman seemed to recognise the seriousness in the younger
woman’s voice. She smiled faintly, a crooked, wry smile but complied.
Slowly she lifted her right arm and rested it along Sunny’s shoulders.
the blonde said. “That didn’t kill you.”
had to smile again. Not many people dared to order her around and then
mock her about it, wounded or not. This young woman had guts and the
shoulders she was leaning were slender but strong.
you for doing this,” she whispered huskily.
shrugged as she cleaned the skin around the wound.
isn’t like you could go to the ER or anything, is it? They are obligated
to report gunshot wounds to the police.”
flinched and cried out from the sudden pain.
I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that,” Sunny exclaimed and held on
to the older woman. “I am too blunt sometimes, I didn’t mean to make
you jump like that.”
forced the tears of pain back.
know. Just finish it. It is just a flesh wound, isn’t it?” she asked.
She had felt the bullet from the gun held by the man closest to her, brush
her side but didn’t think it had gone through her. It had felt like a
wasn’t as if she hadn’t been shot before.
There’s a tear and you’ve bled some but it has stopped now. I think if
we keep it clean and keep a close eye on it, you should be fine. We must
get you some antibiotics though. I can take care of that. Miriam’s
cousin is a doctor.”
Who were we? Sunny was assuming she was still going to be able to stay?
had to move on and keep moving for a while. She would rest up for the
night and then hit the road tomorrow. Pity, it had seemed like a nice
place at the outskirts of this medium size city. She could have stayed
here for a couple of months if she had not been set up.
lead she had been on for some time now had sent her to the right place but
somebody had blown the whistle on her and now she had to move on …
regarded the blonde head next to her.
wore her long, blond hair in an austere ponytail and was focused on
putting the large bandage on the older woman’s side.
was so beautiful and Laura felt a strange pang of remorse over not being
able to get to know her better. There was something about her that sent
small shivers down her back; she wasn’t sure why. It had been a long
time since she had allowed herself to really look at another person, to
let her mind wonder about them.
are beautiful,” she suddenly said and a second later blushed fiercely,
mortified that she had spoken her mind out loud. She must really be out of
sorts after the long drive yesterday and the loss of blood this evening.
quickly glanced up at her, a smile playing at the curve of her full mouth.
She raised an eyebrow enquiringly.
you. So are you.”
closed her eyes briefly.
you are,” Sunny insisted.
but thanks,” Laura smiled wearily.
all done. You must drink lots of fluids now. And not just coffee,” the
blonde smiled back. “I’ll help you get washed up and then I’ll bring
you lots of juice.”
bring the juice and I’ll handle the washing up myself,” the older
woman insisted sharply.
looked like she was going to object but shrugged and left the room after
again telling her dog to guard Laura.
Dawn! Are you all right?”
soft whisper of her roommate made the doctor jump.
had been standing at the balcony window, staring out into the rain
completely lost in thought. They had driven more than sixty miles and she
was stiff and sore from sitting down for so long. Standing here, listening
to the rain hitting the window had been soothing.
slammed down the calm and collected demeanour she usually showed,
especially around Joan, and turned around.
What is it?”
okay?” asked the other woman, dressed only in a large tee shirt,
apparently on her way to bed.
of course. I’ll get ready for bed too. We have forty more miles or so to
me why we couldn’t go by plane?”
know why. We have a leak in the organisation and we have no idea what
information they have on us. We have to travel in the least conspicuous
way. No plane, no charter, no helicopter, nothing like that. We drive.
That gives us time to get more information from my contact. We cannot
afford to miss her again, Joanie.”
wanted to kick herself for her slip as soon as the uncalled for nickname
was past her lips. Damn, she had to watch herself.
only raised an eyebrow at the way Dawn just addressed her.
know,” she just said, her voice gentler than it had been all day.
… um, I’ll get ready then,” Dawn stuttered, furious with herself for
dropping her guard like this. She grabbed her small bag with toiletries
and rushed into the bathroom.
at her flushed face in the mirror, she groaned inwardly.
was being very polite. She had to suspect something.
mind raced as she ran the shower.
was bound to. This was not the first time she had overstepped the
boundaries of their working relationship. She remembered the time about
six months ago when fatigue and frayed nerves after a stake out going way
wrong. She had ended up fighting Joan’s restraining arms, desperate over
the loss of two rookie agents.
had never been held with such abandon and tenderness in her life and …
Dawn blushed again as she undressed, memories of how she had clung to the
other woman, screaming in outrage and pain over the senseless loss of
lives, swirling through her mind. She had lost it that night, it had taken
her weeks to regain her composure and she knew Joan had understood only
had never talked about it since, but not a day had gone by when Dawn
didn’t think about it. She could feel those strong arms holding her
back, stopping her from entering the building going up in flames from the
explosives. She could hear that calm voice reassuring her that she had
done everything possible; there was nothing more she could do.
had never been sure, though. She still carried the feeling that she could
have anticipated it. That was when they had realised that there could be a
traitor high up in the organisation. How high, they didn’t know. They
worked on a need to know basis now, with Dawn as the only contact between
their team and the organisation. They needed to bring this woman in. Many
lives depended on it, not to mention the woman’s own.
just prayed they would make it this time, before it was too late.
came out from the bathroom, looking posh as usual in her classy outfit; a
soft blue satin nightgown, going all the way to her feet. Dawn was a very
smiled inwardly and regarded her calmly.
had noticed Dawn’s slip of the tongue earlier and it had been very
interesting, not to mention informative, to watch her cheeks turn red.
Joan had acted as if nothing happened, as if she hadn’t noticed, but her
heart had jumped.
me Joanie, huh, Dawn? She smiled.
so funny?” Dawn frowned.
nothing. I was just thinking,” the brunette smiled even broader.
had curled up on her bed, zapping through all the channels on the small
television-set at their disposal.
folded back her covers and climbed into her bed.
you going to watch it for long?” she asked tersely.
I was waiting for you,” Joan said amicably. “I’m rather tired.”
And you are as nervous as a cat in a dog yard, Dawn, she added to herself.
okay. Well, goodnight then.” The redhead lied down and switched off her
goodnight. May I hit you if you snore, Dawn?” The room went dark as Joan
did the same.
won’t be necessary since I don’t snore.”
woke me up four times last time we shared a room.”
yes. You kicked me twice and one time you snored so loud, the neighbours
were pounding on the wall.”
funny. The fourth time, then?”
smiled angelically into the darkness.
used me as a pillow. There I was minding my business, trying to get back
to sleep and you just yanked me across that queen size bed and held on for
was a total silence. It stretched out for so long, Joan wondered if she
had shocked the life out of her partner.
there was a sharp inhale of air.
me you’re joking, Joan.” The mortified tone in Dawn’s voice took all
the fun out of teasing immediately.
joking,” the brunette offered quickly.
…” Dawn’s voice was a mere whisper.
did you say it, then? Do you find it that hilarious to do this to me, to
did? Joan was surprised. She didn’t think anything threw Dawn. Her
partner was so cool and collected all the time and constantly on top of
cleared her throat.
you did kind of hold on to me. It was just a couple of weeks after that
show down at the warehouses. You were having a rough night.”
patronise me,” Dawn growled in the darkness. “Tell me the truth
sighed. She sure had a big mouth, she chastised herself. To bring up the
worst night in Dawn’s professional life and her own too, for that
please,” she said softly, trying to avoid the subject but knew it was in
vain. Dawn were if nothing else, stubborn as a mule.
me.” The cool voice next to her betrayed no emotions.
were having a bad dream and when you wouldn’t wake up I leaned over you
and you … well, you needed to be close to somebody I guess. And I was
there. I just held you for a little while, Dawn, just to ease you back to
sleep. It wasn’t like I tried to take advantage of you or anything.”
joke fell and died instantly.
Joan could detect all sorts of emotions in Dawn’s voice; trepidation,
fright, embarrassment and something else that she couldn’t identify.
was a rustling of sheets and then Dawn’s light was switched on again.
The redhead swung her legs over the edge of the bed, facing Joan, staring
at her with huge eyes.
have you never told me this?” she demanded to know.
resisted the urge to roll her eyes. This was the Dawn she knew. Like a dog
with a bone, not letting go until she had all the answers. She also had an
eerie notion for knowing when there was something to be found out.
you look. I want to know why you didn’t tell me.”
sat up too, sighing exasperatedly.
one tough cookie,” she groaned. “All right, all right! You were so
vulnerable that night, sobbing my name, hugging me close and trembling in
my arms. I know how you hate to show any sign of weakness, even to me, so
I thought, why tell you? Why embarrass you? I am sorry that I took this
teasing thing too far, I really am. I sometimes have my foot planted
firmly in my mouth.”
had a fair, almost transparent complexion normally, but now she had lost
all of her colour.
God …” she managed.
worry about it …”
God …” the redhead hid her face in her hands. “Oh no …”
What is so wrong with being human, normal, vulnerable – like the rest of
us?” Joan exclaimed. “I don’t hold it against you, you know. It only
makes me … like you more.”
flinched and stared at her.
waved her hands in the air.
know. You’re quite intimidating, now and again. It’s not like I think
you’re super human or anything, but that night … it was hard to see
you that upset but it felt good to be able to help you out, to … well,
brunette held her breath and waited for the blow to come. She hardly
recognised her own audacity to talk to her superior like this. The doctor
seemed dumbfounded, like she lost the ability to speak at all.
rose from the bed and looked down at her partner. Her eyes were narrow,
hiding her feelings well. Then she sighed and sat down again, this time on
the edge of Joan’s bed.
blowing this way out of proportion, aren’t I?” she offered with a tiny
smile that went straight to the brunette’s heart.
knowing you, perhaps not. But you and I have worked together for a long
time now. I’d like to think that we are friends too? And you have been
there for me so many times … Don’t take this away from me,” Joan
asked seriously. “It meant a lot to me to be able to hold you and help
you through that, even if you had no idea about it at the time.”
smiled and patted her knees.
nickname hung between them.
are probably the only one who could get away with calling me that,” Joan
smiled, raising an eyebrow.
am, huh? Well, then, as long as you don’t think you can call me
Dawnie.” She shuddered.
I have a new threat to hold over your head, haven’t I?”
but I would …”
shook her head.
are a good friend, Joan. There’s nobody I trust more.”
felt an embarrassing blush creep up her cheeks and of course Dawn noticed
it right away.
my … Joan Tremayne is blushing. That’s a first, I think.”
…”, the other woman growled. “Don’t push it.”
No, no I won’t,” Dawn relented.
suddenly took Dawn’s right hand in hers.
doctor nodded slowly.
sure? I don’t want you to think … I mean …” Joan lost track of
what she was going to say. Dawn was sitting really close and her scent was
all around them. The softness of the hand she was holding, the same hand
that could easily neutralise a fully-grown man or pull a gun fast as
lightning, was all of a sudden taking over her thoughts.
… I …” Joan
stared at the tiny woman sitting so close and looking curiously at her.
thinking she pulled her close and hugged her. Dawn yelped and inhaled
sharply, apparently taken by surprise. Then she hugged her partner back,
burying her face in her short curls.
Joanie,” she breathed.
know. Truly, I know,” Joan whispered back.
sent a series of tremors through the redhead’s body and Joan held her
even closer. She knew, of course she did.
pulled back and stared at the other woman, as if searching for something
in her eyes.
better get some sleep,” she said.
you all right?”
nodded. “And you?”
okay,” she smiled wryly.
brunette smiled back.
And you know, if you have a bad dream, I’m here.”
covered her eyes with her hand.
will never hear the end of that, will I?”