IRREFUTABLE EVIDENCE

BY

C.N. WINTERS

 

Disclaimers: This is the story about two women who fall in love with each other…If this is a problem for you please find something else to read.

Authors note: After looking through my file cabinet I found this old story I wrote. After I began reading the story this week, it sounded very ‘uber’ to me. It was written long before my Xena obsession began but the comparisons to the warrior and the bard I found are a bit unnerving. Guess it was my destiny to be a Xena fan, even back then. <VBG>

I’d like to give a special thanks to Lin and Barry for giving a helpful hand with this project (as well as others).

I’d also like to dedicate this story to two special woman – my late grandmother, Macellia and a dear friend I’ve meet thanks to the wonderful invention called the internet, Norma (and you said I’d never do it Tig’<G>). I must also mention in this dedication my ‘rock’, my light and the answers to my prayers – my husband Joe. As Ralph always said to Alice, ‘Baby…You’re the greatest!."<VBG>

I’m releasing it in parts. It was originally typed on an ancient Macintosh <BG> so I have to put it in my PC now . . . each part at a time. So please bear with me – it is completed, but not retyped yet. Hope you enjoy it.

Don’t forget to ‘feed the bard’ - comments and criticisms are welcome as long as it’s constructive. You can contact me at: cnwinters@hotmail.com


CHAPTER I

"If I make it out of here alive, I am GONNA kill Kathy!"

Sara mumbled in a heated whisper as she drove along the ghetto streets of Detroit. The barred windows and graffiti stained buildings diverted her eyes from the dirty street signs, covered with residue from area industry. Nervously, she rounded a corner in her BMW.

"Damn it!" she whispered angrily. "Same party story. . .for the third time!" Her hands clutched hostility to the steering wheel as she made her turn. She hoped the force of her fingers in the leather would help her navigation skills in some way.

She definitely made a wrong turn somewhere along the way. She coasted to the side of the busy street; reading the directions once more. She made all the correct turns but somehow this didn’t look like the area she was searching for. She knew she wouldn’t find a luscious green front yard decked out with a Cape Cod structure around this part of town. She spent her life in the area and assumed she knew just where to go, with a little help from her assistant. With all the new subdivisions that had popped up recently, it was getting more and more difficult to say where anything was anymore. She realized her assumption and the trite expression of never assuming anything was now a reality.

Her attention to the hand drawn map and directions, that her assistant Kathy had given her, was interrupted by a window cleaner. He smeared his dingy rag across her windshield, leaving a dark smug in her view. He laid his palm flat, asking for compensation for his work, so digging into her purse she pulled out a five dollar bill as she rolled down the window.

"Here you go," she said as she handed him the money. Her anger began to melt as she met his needy blue eyes.

"Thank you very much ma’am," he replied appreciatively.

"Make sure you eat," she added.

"Yes ma’am. Thank you again."

His clothes were tattered and his face was dirty. She could tell by the thinness of his hands and his wrists it had been quite some time since he had eaten. Sara stared as he walked away, toward a restaurant. An idea occurred to her and she rolled up her window.

"Wait a minute," she yelled to the man, as she exited her vehicle with pocketbook in hand. She closed the car door, setting the alarm. "Let’s go over there," she said pointing at the diner.

The homeless man followed Sara obediently as they dodged traffic. Once there, Sara held the door open for him. He hadn’t showered in quite awhile and his odor was offensive. Once inside, every head in the joint turned. It was quite a sight to see a beautiful, well-dressed blonde and a smelly bum walking in together. The vagabond tired to act dignified and shook his dingy, tattered coat. His crud covered fingers ran through his greasy hair, trying to enhance his appearance. Sara stood her ground, staring the patrons down until they returned to their meals and conversations.

"Come on," she said to the man. "Let’s sit at the counter."

They each took a stool, as a black, overweight man greeted them, taking in both customers appearances. "What’cha need?" he asked as he cleaned the space in front of them with his wash rag.

"What would you like to eat," Sara asked the man. He looked at the five dollars and the menu on the wall, calculating the costs.

"Don’t worry about that," Sara said grabbing his hand that held the money. "I’ll pay for whatever you want." The man seemed amazed as he looked at her hand on his. But his attention soon turned back to the menu.

"I’d like a cheeseburger and fries with a beer," the man said soft and politely.

"I’m buying and you’re only getting a cheeseburger?! Wouldn’t you rather have a steak?" Sara teased.

"Well. . .yeah but. . ."

"But nothing. He’ll have the T-bone with a baked potato . . . What vegetables do you have today?" she asked.

"Green beans and carrots," the waiter said sternly and a bit bewildered.

"How’s that sound?" Sara asked her guest.

"Okay," the bum replied, his confusion mimicking that of the waiters.

"Good. . .But there’s one catch," she said with a smile to the homeless man.

"What?" he asked, leaning away. He was nervousness, almost fearful. The lines of his aging face growing deeper. Sara sensed his apprehension. She knew he must be wondering what task he would have to engage in to receive this meal.

"No beer. . .Only something good like milk or juice," Sara smiled reassuringly.

"Milk?" the man asked. He hadn’t even considered that as an option.

"Milk it is," Sara replied. She was playing with him – teasing him, but he didn’t mind. The bum simply grinned his approval and gave a slight nod.

"And you?" the waiter asked Sara.

"Do you have a restroom?’

"Yeah, straight back there," he pointed.

Sara turned to the homeless man, "What’s your name?" she asked.

"Rick," he replied. "Rick Edmonds."

"Okay Rick. Go get washed up while they get your order okay?"

Rick nodded silently and left for the rest room.

"Anythang else?" the waiter asked in his urban accent.

"Yeah. A Coke for now and some directions a little later."

"Lemme go place dis 'n I’ll be back wit’ yo drinks," he said, walking to the cook station before ringing up the bill.

Sara studied her surroundings and smiled at a table of people who kept looking over at her. She was definitely ‘out of place’. Her blue Anne Cline dress and Italian high heels were certainly a statement of her wealth the other patrons didn’t know and would probably never know. But she didn’t feel nervous. In fact she felt she made everyone else nervous. Or perhaps it wasn’t she who made them uncomfortable at all. Perhaps it was Rick – the man with nothing but the tattered clothes on his back. Perhaps from seeing his state of homelessness it made them question their own financial stability . . . or lack of. At any moment perhaps they could be Rick – dirty clothes, sleeping on doorsteps, eating a decent meal only when a stranger feed them. Maybe he was the threat to their sense of security, not her, who was apparently rich. She was what they dreamed of becoming; he was their worst nightmare. And perhaps their reality and destiny were closer to his than hers.

The waiter returned with the bill which Sara paid with a fifty. He brought their drinks and placed her change on the counter top. Sara began to drink her pop as Rick returned.

"Feel a little better?" she asked him.

"Yes, thank you," he replied, taking his seat again.

He took a big drink of his milk and a small white mustache formed on his upper lip. Sara chuckled softly as he whipped it away. Half the glass was empty so Sara instructed the waiter to bring another one.

"I’m not sure what to say," Rick confessed. He looked at his new full glass of milk as he spoke, shying away from Sara’s engaging green eyes.

"Say whatever you want," she replied, placing her hand on his shoulder.

Rick paused a moment drinking some more milk. He could feel her touching him but he didn’t dare look.

"You touched me twice," he said, still keeping his face away.

"I did?" she answered, pulling her hand self-consciously away.

"Yeah," he said quietly.

"I’m sorry if it bothers you," she apologized. "I’m a ‘touchy’ person I guess. I didn’t mean to. . ."

"No!" Rick cut her off, meeting her eyes for a brief moment. "I’m not complaining. . It’s just. . .You see. . .The last time anyone touched me was a year ago," he added, staring at his beverage again.

"A year?" Amazement consumed Sara. She couldn’t begin to image what a year would feel like without being touched by someone.

"Well, that’s not entirely true. Last week some cops chased me from a store front. And a month ago someone tried to get some money I had which ended in a brawl but. . . but besides that, it’s been a year."

Sara’s first reaction was to say ‘Are you kidding?’ but she knew the man wasn’t joking and she held her tongue. She just looked into his blue eyes, pondering a response.

"Do you remember the last person who touched you?" she asked gingerly, unsure of the reaction the question would bring.

"Yeah", he said reminiscing. ". . .A worker at the homeless shelter that used to be down here. I was really cold and she brought me an extra blanket she dug up. After she put it over me. . . "

He paused and Sara watched as some tears welled up in his eyes. Intensely, she watched, waiting for him to continue – intrigued but saddened by his pain.

"She stroked my hair. . .She thought I was asleep. . .But I wasn’t. . . I still remember how she looked. . .Long black hair, deep blue eyes and gorgeous curves." A small grin and a blush came to his face as he thought about the woman.

"She sounds like an angel," Sara replied sympathetically.

"She was," Rick answered with conviction. "She was always nice too. Always had a smile. But they closed the shelter. Lack of funding I guess . . . I’m not sure what ever happened to her."

Silence filled the small seating area as Sara studied the man’s face. At first glance he appeared much older but he was actually young – perhaps early thirties – younger than her. His face was now clean but just as shaggy and she could see confusion in his eyes.

"Can I ask you something?" Rick questioned Sara, making eye contact again. She answered with a nod.

"What do you want from me? You buy me steak. You clean me up. What can I possibly give you in return?" This time he held his gaze as he waited for an answer.

Sara was about to give him one when the food arrived. "Thank you," she told the waiter before turning to Rick, "Nothing really."

"Nothing?" Rick pushed. "There must be something you want."

"No. You just looked like you were hungry." When that answered didn’t look like it was satisfying enough for Rick, Sara continued. "See, I belong to a lot of organizations. I write checks all the time to different causes but I never really see where my money goes. Today I’ve spent a few bucks and you have a full belly. . .But I also need directions. I’m not where I’m supposed to be."

"I can believe that," Rick said with a smile. It was the first smile Sara saw on his face. His teeth were maize but still strong. Sara returned his smile with a brilliant white one of her own. "What do you do?" he asked after a small silence.

"I’m in real estate. I was going to look at some property when I made a wrong turn somewhere," she said rising from the table. "With any luck that waiter down there can tell me where to go. . .I’ll be back."

Rick continued with his meal, watching Sara talk to the waiter. She leaned across the counter and he couldn’t help but admire her body. Firm full breasts, tight buttocks. She looked as good going as she did coming. Her golden locks weren’t long, all even in length stopping just past her earlobes, except for some small bangs. It had been a long time since Rick noticed a woman in a sexual way. He couldn’t help noticing Sara now that he was semi-clean and no longer hungry. He watched as she scribbled some notes down on a piece of paper before come back to him.

"Okay," she sighed as she finished her soda. "If my car isn’t on blocks yet I’m in great shape!" she joked.

Rick forced a smile. Sara knew he didn’t want her to leave but she had to get going. Night would fall soon and she had work left to do at the office. First on the list was to call Kathy and read her the riot act for getting her lost.

"Do me a favor?" Sara told Rick as she was leaving. Rick listened attentively. "Don’t give up hope Rick Edmonds. . .There are people who still care."

"I won’t," he said proudly.

"Good," she said putting her hand on his shoulder. A piece of her wanted to stay almost as much as he did. She wanted to make sure he was all right for the night with a warm place to sleep. She wanted to see him clothed in garments other than the ratty old suit he wore. But she knew that she had to leave.

"Take care," she added as sorrow of her departure plagued her voice. She began to walk out the door.

"Wait!" Rick yelled. Sara smiled and turned around. "You forgot your change. . .Plus, I don’t even know your name."

Sara paused a moment before giving him her name. She could see the need in his face as he sat on pins and needles.

"Sara," she said, lingering a bit. She knew Rick wanted more, need more. "Sara Langforth," she added, requiting his silent wish.

Rick looked at her memorizing every detail of her being from the light shade of red in her blonde hair to the blueness of her high heels. He motioned to return her money.

"You keep it," she said, " . . .but on one condition."

"What’s that?" he said smiled. The nervousness he experienced the first time Sara set ‘terms’ to her gifts had evaporated now.

"You come back tomorrow and get breakfast. Some eggs, bacon and sausage. . .the works!" Sara grinned one last time. "Promise?" she added as Rick looked at Sara’s generosity in his hand.

"I promise," he said placing the money over his heart.

"I believe you," she said sincerely, reaching for the door.

"Sara Langforth," Rick said with a smile, making her stop. "You’re my new angel."

Sara paused a bit longer, holding the door open, looking at Rick one last time. He seemed like a good person, an intelligent person. Someone who didn’t deserve to be where he was in life.

"Take care," she whispered again. Without so much as another word she was out the door, walking swiftly back to her car.

A cool night breeze from the river had replaced the warm evening wind. The sun had almost made it’s decent across the horizon, shadowing the city against itself. The sulfur smell of a nearby factory permeated Sara’s nostrils as she walked back to her ‘beamer’. All four wheels appeared to still be on her car and she sighed in relief. At least something is going right she considered silently.

She continued to strut down the sidewalk until she heard some commotion in the ally she was approaching. She heard a struggle ensuing and she paused in her steps. She wanted to make sure the coast was clear because the last thing she needed tonight was a broken arm from something flying around the corner, into her path. She tiptoed to the edge carefully and peeked around to see what the noise was about.

She saw four men. Three were surrounding another who has his back to the brick, ally wall. She watched as he was repeatedly pushed back against the wall, every time he tried to escape. Her sight was overriding her other senses at this point as she watched the man who resembled a caged animal. She could see they were talking so she strained to hear the conversation, trying to block the visual images from her mind.

"Where is it Jimmy?" the tallest man, and apparently the leader of the gang, kept asking.

"I don’t have it," the cornered man repeatedly answered, his voice quivering more each time.

Sara kept her ear turned, struggling to hear what the conflict was about. She considered going back to the restaurant or making a break to her car but both options seemed impossible at this point. Any movement might alert them to her presence. She knew the people in the restaurant would probably be as sympathetic to this man as they were to Rick. And if Sara ran to her BMW she may become the new target. So she decided to stay put and continue to listen, all the while planning her next move.

"It was a three hundred grand deal Jimmy and you’re telling me you’re empty," the bully insisted.

"I did the best I could," the man argued, showing more courage than Sara had seen since the exchange began.

"Well your best isn’t good enough," the thug sneered.

With a raised arm the bully hit the surrounded man. He fell hard to the ground and Sara could tell there must have been something in the attackers’ hand by the way the victim feel so quickly. She watched him struggle to his knees in front of the menacing giant.

"As a matter of fact," the thug added, ". . . Your best isn’t worth shit! Anyone who ‘misplaces’ a hundred grand in dust isn’t worth my time . . . and as far as I’m concerned . . .your time is up."

The shadows of the ally blocked Sara’s view but she could tell the attacker was pointing at the man. That’s when she heard the man's tearful pleas.

"No. No Carlos. I’ve been with ya for a lotta years . . .don’t end it like this . . .Please . . .No . . . Carlos. I'm telling ya the truth!"

The thug began to laugh and helped the scared man to his feet.

"You really thought I was gonna kill ya, didn’t cha?" the bully continued as he laughed.

A smile came to the man’s face and he too began to chuckle.

"You really had me goin’," the man said as he began to walk away.

Sara watched as the grin disappeared from the bully’s face in an instant. A moment later he turned around, watching the man begin to leave. Two gun shots pierced Sara’s ears. And helplessly, she watched the man’s body fall lifeless to the street.

"Well, Jimmy," the thug said towering over the dead man, "You were right."

Shock. Denial. Disbelief. They all flooded Sara at once as she watched the three men standing over the corpse they had created. Suddenly the attention shifted to her direction and not the dead man. She could see the smoking gun and the deep brown eyes of the murderer cast upon her.

She felt frozen. Her brain told her legs to run but try as she may, they wouldn’t move. The blaring of a car horn in the street behind her woke her up and her feet took off.

She ran past the ally. Another shot rang out. This time it was in her direction but she kept moving. It had been years since she ran track in school but her speed and strength reappeared. She felt one of her shoes fly off but she kept her pace although her steps were now off balanced. She hit her alarm and her locks popped open. She crashed into the door, sending a shooting pain up her leg.

She flung the door open and hopped inside. As she started the car she could see all three men in the alleyway watching her. All three men had pulled their guns now. She threw the car into drive and sped out into traffic narrowly missing a taxi.

Carlos instructed the other men to put their weapons away. He would deal with the little blonde soon enough and it wouldn’t be on a crowded street, even if it were now twilight. He knew he had options, many options of how to proceed.

As the BMW raced passed them he went out into the street, picking up the pump that had fallen from the young woman’s feet. The two men followed almost instinctively behind him. He tossed it in his hand once before slapping it into his companion’s chest with a thud.

"Dead," he uttered; nodding back to the thug that held the shoe. "I want Cinderella dead."


Sara’s adrenaline pumped so hard she could feel her pulse pounding in the back of her head as she drove. She didn’t know where she was going. She was just driving – driving as far and as fast as she could. Her thoughts were scattered. The image of Rick in the restaurant the man lying dead in the street as the blood pooled from his body, the brown eyes of the murderer – all flashed through the screen of her memory. The clearest of all however were the brown eyes. She remembered them as well as his other features. His tall stature, his well-fit body, the tan skin and large nose. This was not someone she would forget overnight…if ever.

Once her nerves began to calm down she looked at the buildings and noticed the street signs. That’s when she first saw it – the sign leading to the police station. She followed it carefully until she saw the brick and stone structure. Quickly she parked the car and ran inside shoeless, rushing past two uniformed officers. She found the front desk and spoke as she tried to catch her breath.

"Can I help you?" the officer asked.

"I just saw a murder I have to report," Sara answered raggedly.

"Settle down Miss. Have a seat over there and I’ll get someone to help you," he said pointing at a small bench.

Sara walked over and she sat down, trying to collect herself. But that hope was short-lived when the sound of someone shouting made her jump.

"No way!" the voice said.

Sara watched as two women were arguing yet laughing as they walked through the double doors of the station house. Quickly they made their way to the front desk. They were debating something that obviously humored both of them.

"If that’s what you think, you’re crazier than I thought?" one woman said to the other.

"I’m crazy?!" the woman challenged. "I’m not the one who spent two hundred dollars on a psychic," she added with a chuckle.

"For your information," the other woman countered with casual grin on her face, "I did not spend two hundred dollars on a psychic."

"Then how much did you spend?"

"A hundred and fifty."

"Oh, jeez, what’s the difference?"

A beat passed between them as they locked eyes. In sync, both women replied, "Fifty dollars."

They both started to laugh. "Oh Denise," the other woman sighed. "You’re getting too predictable my dear," she added with a chuckle.

They both laughed again as Sara watched them interacting. Sara sensed the comfort they had with each other. And she couldn’t help but admire the taller of the two women. She had long brunette hair that flowed just over her shoulders and her laugh was intoxicating. Her deep blue eyes smiled when she grinned and Sara felt her adrenaline begin all over again but for a different reason. She wondered why someone so beautiful would pay $150 for a psychic. It certainly couldn’t be for advice on her love life. She was far too gorgeous to worry about being lonely.

Sara watched with a great deal of interest as the desk sergeant walked up to both of them and began to whisper. He pointed at Sara and they both looked over at her and nodded to him. The sergeant took his place behind the counter again as the two women walked over to her. Sara rose when they were a few feet away.

"Hello," the brunette Sara had been admiring greeted her, "I’m Lt. Denise VanCook and this is my partner Sgt. Angela Michaels."

Denise extended her hand to Sara and she could finally see her beauty up-close as she did the ritual first meeting handshake. Sara couldn’t take her eyes off Denise no matter how hard she tried and for a split second she almost for got the real reason she was there.

Denise looked down and noticed Sara’s shoeless state. "That’s a bold fashion statement," she smiled. "What’s your name?" Denise asked softly.

"Sara Langforth."

"Okay, Sara," Denise began, " . . . Let’s go into my office and you can tell us what happened." Sara agreed with a nod as they escorted her to the office. "Please have a seat and tell us what you saw."

Sara took a moment to soak up her surroundings. The lieutenant’s desk was littered with manila folders and books. A bag of pretzels carefully rolled up sat at the corner along with a coffee mug. A few ring stains in the same area of the cup lay on the desk calendar. Sara could best describe it as an organized mess - she could speak from experience.

"Well," Sara started pausing to catch her breath, "I was on my way to look at some property – I’m in real estate . . . and I got lost on the Lower East Side. So I stopped at a restaurant to get some directions but on the way back to my car I heard some noise in the ally . . . And that’s where I saw it happen."

"Saw what?" Angie and Denise asked in harmony.

"The murder . . . Three men were holding another man and then they let him go. But when he had his back turned they shot him . . . In the head I think . . . I mean I know they shot him I just don’t know if it was the head . . . All I do know is he fell quick to the ground afterward and didn’t move . . . That’s when they noticed me."

"They saw you?" Angie questioned.

"Yes . . . At first I was in shock . . . I think they were too. They didn’t know I was there . . . But I ran and I heard another shot, which I think was meant for me. By the way, that’s how I lost my shoe. It fell off as I was running."

"How long ago did this happen?" Denise asked.

Sara looked at her watch. "Around seven. Maybe seven thirty. I drove around awhile before I came here. I didn’t know where to go or what to do. After I settled down I found the precinct and here I am."

"Do you remember what the gunman looked like?" Angie asked.

"I don’t think I could forget if I tried," came the honest response.

Denise and Angie looked at each other and they began to take Sara’s description of the man. The more Sara spoke with great detail the more anxious Denise became. After Sara finished Denise turned to Angie.

"Can you get the profile book on Larry’s desk? I’ve got a hunch."

"Sure," Angie said rising and leaving the office.

After she left, Denise turned to Sara.

"I want to show you a picture . . . I think the man you may have seen is tonight is someone we’ve been looking for."

Soon Angie returned and gave the book to Denise. She thumbed through the pages until she found what she need. She held the book out to Sara and pointed to a mug shot.

"No pressure here . . ." Denise began gently, "But does this look like the man you saw tonight."

Sara studied the picture and she looked up into Denise’s waiting baby blues.

"Yes. But the man I saw looks about ten years older. His hair was being to gray –right here," Sara said using her own hair at her temples.

Denise turned the book back to herself and inspected the book. "Funny," Denise smiled. "This picture was taken eight years ago." She then turned to her partner, Angie. "I want an APB put out on Carlos DeVittem. Armed and dangerous. And make sure you tell all the uniforms coming in and out. The shifts are changing and I don’t want to lose any time on this.

"No problem," Angie said as she quickly left the office.

"You’re sure this is the man," Denise asked Sara once they were alone again.

"Pretty sure . . . The picture is old but it’s a striking resemblance," Sara said looking at it once more.

"Okay, we’ll see if uniforms can round him up. We’ll be in touch if we need you to make a positive identification once he’s in our custody. Are you willing to press charges against Mr. DeVittem for firing at you?"

Sara nodded and Angie came back in.

"Sgt. Wagner’s taking care of the APB," she announced to the small office.

"Good," Denise replied, getting her coat. "Can you start the report?"

"Yeah . . . Where are you going?" Angie asked.

"I’m going to escort Miss Langforth home . . . if that’s alright with you," Denise added, turning to Sara.

‘Would it be alright?’ Sara thought. ‘It would be fantastic.’

"That would be fine," Sara calmly replied with a gentle smile.

"Good. I’ll explain some things we’ll need to do in the next few days. Okay?"

"Sounds great," Sara replied. They began to leave the office when Angie stopped them.

"Are you coming back here?" she asked Denise.

"Yeah," Denise nodded.

"Okay, I’ll wait for you if I finish before you get back . . . After all, you owe me dinner."

"Well in that case maybe I won’t be back," Denise said winking at Sara to get Angie’s goat.

"You better be here," Angie ordered.

"Don’t take that tone with me," Denise joked. "I’m your commanding officer."

"Ohh, don’t even try to pull rank on me when it comes to food lieutenant," Angie countered.

Denise just chuckled and she made her way out the door with Sara. The cool air was a welcome relief to the hot station house.

"I’ll drive you to your place. Tomorrow, call and we’ll get your car. It’s probably best if it stays here tonight if they got a look at it."

Sara agreed to Denise’s plan and they climbed into the unmarked police car. Sara gave directions and they pulled out into the light traffic. Sara’s nerves had begun to calm down and she studied Denise even more as they drove down the streets.

"If the uniforms can bring in DeVittem tonight, perhaps you’ll be able to identify him tomorrow. We’ll put him in a line-up and ask you to pick him out. After that I’ll explain what we’ll do next, okay?" Denise instructed.

Sara simply nodded as she continued to admire Denise. She could tell Denise was a strong woman. Her voice, her body language conveyed confidence and reassurance. Sara felt rattled by the evening’s events but just being in this woman’s presence put her at ease. Aside from being beautiful in Sara’s eyes, Denise also seemed protective and experienced in her field. For the first time all night, Sara felt safe.

"Tell me something," Sara asked. "Does everyone get an escort home?"

"I wish I could say everyone who walks into my precinct gets this kind of protection but it isn’t true. We can only do so much with the officers and time we have."

"Then why are you talking me home?" Sara responded with a smile.

"I was officially off-duty about an hour ago. Angie and I just got stuck filling out some back paperwork."

"My luck wasn’t too bad tonight then," Sara smiled. "I have an experienced cop taking me to my doorstep."

Sara couldn’t disguise the joy in her voice. Denise being an excellent detective picked up on it. She hadn’t taken the time to notice, as they spoke of the crime, but Sara was a strikingly, elegant woman. Except for the fact she was shoeless, she looked like perfection. Nervously, Denise ran her fingers through her hair, trying to concentrate on her duties. She noticed woman everyday – at the supermarket, at the post office, at work or in a national magazine. A beautiful blonde could always turn her head but this blonde would have to wait. Sara was her witness . . . period. Letting her emotions interfere in her job duties could be deadly . . . for Sara and herself.

"You should know something," Denise said changing the electrically charged atmosphere. Sara just looked at her, hanging on her words.

"Any time someone witnesses a brutal crime there’s a chance they might become a target . . . I’m not trying to scare you. I just want you to be a little extra aware of people you encounter."

"Do you really think I could be a target for this man?" Sara said in her articulate voice, the voice that Denise enjoyed more and more each minute.

"There’s a possibility, yes . . . But that’s why we’re here. If you need us or experience anything unusual don’t hesitate to call. My home number is on the back," Denise said handing her business card from her coat pocket.

"Thank you," Sara said taking the card. She let her fingers linger a few moments on Denise’s before pulling it away.

Sara’s touch was soft; gentle. Her fingers were well manicured unlike Denise’s short, brittle nails. Yet in the same regard they were very similar. Their size and shape were almost identical.

It had been a long time since Denise felt another woman’s hands upon her. Of course she touched her partner Angie often. They were very intimate but their intimacy was emotional. The only physical intimacy they shared was like any other friendship – a light hug when things went wrong, a pat on the back when things went right and a short caress on the shoulder to get the others full attention.

Denise felt awkward. It wasn’t often that a witness, female or male, had the style and grace to make her loose track of her thoughts. Sara, however, made her seriously unsteady. Denise, who always considered herself bisexual, could feel the vibes this woman emitted to her. Sara’s risqué stares and brash glances were fueling Denise’s curiosity.

"Are you living with anyone Miss Langforth?" Denise cautiously asked.

Sara wasn’t sure how to compute the question. "Why do you ask?" she replied in her proper voice.

"I was just wondering if someone else may be at risk," the detective answered.

"Ohh," Sara answered trying not to sound disappointed. "I live alone . . . now."

"Divorced?" Denise asked.

Sara didn’t know exactly how to reply. Denise may not be so quick to help her if she knew she was a lesbian. But Sara always said she would live her life on her terms and not deny who she was. Protection be damned she knew she had to be honest.

"I lived with someone for five years . . . After many months of late hours at work I came home early one evening. There was a blonde in our bed and it wasn’t me."

"I’m sorry," Denise said sympathetically.

"Thank you," Sara nodded. "But that was awhile ago. I’ve gotten over it but I still find my odd hours and late nights make it tough to find the right woman."

"I hardly get home at five. I know how you feel," Denise answered.

Sara paused a moment. Denise didn’t reply or react to the fact that Sara just mentioned she hasn’t found the right woman. She wasn’t sure where to take the conversation at this point.

"So I take it you haven’t found Mr. Right?" Sara asked casually as possible.

"Or Mrs. Right," Denise said. "I keep all my options open," she grinned.

Sara chuckled. ‘So she did hear. And she’s not offended. Great gosh o’mighty!’ "So what’s it like to sit on the sexual fence?" Sara teased.

Denise took the jab in good spirit but replied, "I don’t consider myself a fence sitter."

"Oh really," Sara said rolling her eyes.

"Really."

"Well, let me ask you this. Would you consider spending your life with a woman?" Sara commented with a bit of disbelief regarding Denise’s orientation.

"Is that an invitation?" Denise countered with a smile.

Sara smiled and a chuckle escaped. "No," Sara grinned, "Well . . .at least not yet."

Denise looked over and caught the playful, sexy smirk on Sara’s face and had to chuckle. They came to a red light and Denise looked into Sara’s jade eyes trying to find a starting place.

"It’s difficult for the hetro and the homo society to believe that anyone can like both. And yes I have considered spending my life with a woman . . . unfortunately she didn’t feel the same way."

The light turned green and Denise started back down the road. Sara thought about it silently but she had to admit aloud that she still didn’t understand.

"Do you like apples?" Denise asked.

Sara laughed, "What?!"

Denise chuckled too but repeated the question. "Yes or no?" Denise added.

Reluctantly Sara agreed to play along. "Yes I like apples," she answered

"What’s your favorite – red or green?"

"I see where you’re going with this so let me save you the time. An apple is an apple no matter what color it is," Sara replied.

"That’s not true. Red apples are sweeter and green apples usually have a harder skin."

"Well, in that case, I like red apples," Sara answered.

"I like both. Why should be sexual preference be any different? And I’ve heard this from both sides. Hets think I’m a lesbian trying to act straight. Gays think I’m just afraid to come out of the closet. But both are wrong and they try to make it complex . . .when in truth it’s very simple. I fall in love with people, not genders."

Sara was interested at this point. She sat up more and faced Denise by shifting her body. "But doesn’t being bi prevent you from finding a lifelong relationship?"

"No, why would it?" Denise replied.

"Well let’s take your apple scenario . . . Oh, take a right up here," Sara said pointing out the windshield. As Denise did as instructed, Sara continued. "Anyway, if you like both apples, red and green, wouldn’t it get old after awhile if you only had a red apple. I mean wouldn’t you like a green apple now and again?"

"Not if I met the right apple," Denise winked.

"So for now you’re still in the orchard?" Sara joked.

Denise had to laugh. "Yes metaphorically, I’m still in the orchard . . . Oh god! How did we get on this subject?" Denise continued to chuckle.

"You wanted to know about my love life and if I lived with anyone," Sara said very directly.

All the joking left Sara’s face and it was replaced with intent. She wanted to get to know Denise better. Bisexual or not, this woman was someone Sara definitely needed to know more intimately. "This is my building," Sara said quietly pointing out the window. "Mind if I call tomorrow to see how things are going with the investigation?"

Denise was putting the car in park and got side tracked when she looked over at Sara, admiring her in the street lamp light. She looked almost angelic. Denise’s curiosity began to run wild. She wondered how Sara’s lips felt when she kissed, how Sara’s skin tasted covered with desire’s sweat and how Sara’s beautiful voice sounded when she was at the pinnacle of passion.

Sara could almost read Denise mind – hell it wasn’t unlike the thoughts she had earlier at the station house. But still she had to chuckle at Denise’s slip of reserve. The soft laugh brought Denise out of her wandering thoughts. "Oh yes. Feel free," she said with an embarrassed grin and shaking her head. "Tomorrow . . . Be careful Miss Langforth," Denise called out as her witness left the car.

"Sara," she corrected. "Call me Sara. I’ll speak to you soon." With that she winked and closed the door behind her.

Denise watched Sara pass the doorman of her apartment complex and go inside. Denise understood, as she reminisced of their conversation, her new found curiosity would make for a long, sleepless night.

 

CONTINUED IN PART II