Irrefutable Evidence Part Three by CN Winters

See Part One for the disclaimers. Write the author at cnwinters@hotmail.com.

Chapter Three

It was a long day. After the trip to the police station, Sara had unfinished business at the office that kept her there until well after nine. In truth, Sara didn’t need to work but she became so accustomed to it. Besides she enjoyed what she did. The trust fund her mother left her was more than enough to keep her comfortable for the rest of her life. However, she found that real estate was a good way to keep her in ‘spending’ cash. It also kept her connected to people in general. She could live in a big ivory tower that her mother lived in for many years – appearing at different functions, being the country club matron her parents bred her to be. She could. But that just wouldn’t do. And Sara was happy with the choices she had made.

For now she was curled up on the sofa just as the kettle started to whistle. She went to the kitchen and made her cup of instant hot chocolate. After she finished she returned to the couch, mug in hand. She thumbed through her book, picking up where she left off – Huck and Jim had just started their journey on the mighty Mississippi.

It was typical for Sara to have at least three or more books she was reading at once. This week it was "Huck Finn", "Little Women", "Taming of the Shrew", and a book about the latest presidential hopeful, Bill Clinton. Sara never liked television very much but her array of different reading material seemed to mimic a channel surfer – flipping to a different story or different characters if she grew disinterested.

The apartment was silent except for the sound of her refrigerator and the click of the wall clock. Once in awhile she slurped on her drink but even that wasn’t noisy. She continued to read, getting deeply involved in the story as she always did, shutting the world out around her.

She was about to take another drink when she heard a foreign noise. She looked over at the front door. It was the sound of metal against metal, much like a flat nose drilling a screw. She rose and walked over to the door, looking out the peephole. She saw a man standing out front with his arms and eyes downward. She stood on tiptoes, trying to get a look at what he was doing. Quickly she realized what it was.

Sara dashed to the phone, fumbling with Denise’s number as she dialed quickly. Sara said a silent prayer as the phone began to ring.

"Hello?"

"Denise?"

"Yeah. Who’s this?"

"Sara Langforth."

"Hi Sara. What can-."

"Listen to me," Sara whispered quickly cutting her off. "There’s a man standing out front of my door. He’s got a gun with a silencer."

"What?!" Denise exclaimed. She felt the phone begin to shake in her grasp.

Sara began to repeat but Denise cut her short. "Okay. Listen. Is there anyway out of your place?" Denise said quickly.

"The front door," Sara replied sarcastically.

"Besides that," Denise pushed. She could feel her heart jump up to her throat. If she could have crawled through the phone lines she would.

"The fire escape."

"By that ally before the driveway?" Denise asked.

"Yeah," Sara answered automatically. She then took a second to realize that - after being there for just a few minutes the other night - Denise managed to memorize the layout and area of her apartment building.

"Good!" Denise replied before Sara could voice her astonishment. "Go out the window. And head to the back of the building. I’m on my way."

"But I’m acrophobic!" Sara pleaded.

"He’ll be in there before I can get there Sara…Just don’t look down. Concentrate on the steel beams around you; not the ground below. Okay?"

Sara sat silently with the phone to her ear, staring at her living room window. The thought of going outside terrified her as much as the gunman that waited at her door.

"Sara?" Denise said urgently. "Sara?!" she practically yelled to get the woman’s attention.

"I’m okay. I’m goin’. Just get here."

Popping noises that began to come from the front door almost made Sara drop the phone. Denise could hear it on the other end and she knew what it was.

"Oh my god!" Sara whispered, her hand gripping the phone for survival.

"Listen," Denise began, "He’s coming in. Get out now! I’ll be there in three minutes!"

Sara heard Denise slam the phone down. She quickly hung up afterward, taking a deep breath. Quickly she ran to the bathroom and turned on the shower. Next she went to the window and fought with the locks. Once free, Sara tugged on the seam and the window noisily shot up. Her shaking hands pushed against the glass to quiet the noise.

Don’t look down Sara reminder herself. Don’t look down. Slowly she put one foot out on the steel platform below her window.

Pop! Another shot rattled against the door lock, followed by the pounding against the door itself. Sara’s body was half in and half out. She quickly ducked outside and closed the window behind her to buy her more time. Once completely on the platform, she looked at the steel support bars wrapped around the escape like a protective cage. She didn’t dare look at the sidewalk below.

With her heart pounded hard against her ribcage, she began her descent. The side railing looked secure and Sara walked slowly, pretending it was the stairway of her apartment as she made her way to the next platform. It wouldn’t be long before the attacker realized she was not in the apartment and she felt herself speeding up.

Once on the next platform she stopped and took in a deep breath, inhaling the cold autumn air. One down, she sighed to herself. Two more to go. She wasn’t sure how much time had passed as she stood, gaining her nerves to make the next leg of her trip. All she knew was she had a killer above her and a long, agonizing trip below her.

She felt her legs shake as she moved step by step to the next landing. Once there she walked across to the next set of stairs. This was getting easier than she thought it would be. Of course you’re not as high anymore either Sara, she told herself. Finally she was at the last landing.

She followed the railing, like every other platform. Until she came to the next set of stairs. She realized in an instant, she had a problem.

When she came to the end of the rail this time there wasn’t a stairway – just a huge ladder. She looked up and she saw a release latch. At that moment, Sara knew she didn’t have a choice. She would have to look down. And she knew . . . she wasn’t anywhere near the ground.

She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply again. When she opened her eyes and exhaled, she took hold of the ladder, releasing the latched. Quick and with much commotion, the ladder clanged and rattled until it crashed to the concrete below, echoing through the ally. She knew, by looking at the building across from her, she was still two stories up.

She began a deep breathing exercise she used whenever she got stressed at work. She never thought that in a million years she would be using it to save her life. She was about to take her first step toward the ladder when she heard it – Ping! Ting! She looked up. The attacker was leaning out the window and the sound was two ricocheting bullets.

Suddenly she heard another noise. This one from below. Schreeeccchhh! The sound of rubber against asphalt stung Sara’s ears and she looked down. She watched a car stop, swinging its backside so the grill faced her and the building. The passenger door flung open. Then the driver side.

"Come on!" Denise yelled as she ran toward Sara.

She was far from safe but the sight of Denise made Sara sigh in relief. She watched Denise move like a cheetah. Quick. Graceful. She was halfway between Sara and her car when more shots rang out. Denise leapt to the side and Sara watched as Denise’s body hit the ground hard. She went into a roll and raised her hands. Two shots rattled Sara’s eardrums as Denise sprung to her feet, making her way to Sara, revolver in hand.

"Let’s go!" Denise coached as she stood underneath Sara.

Sara tried but her feet just wouldn’t budge. "I don’t think I can," Sara wept, both in fear and frustration.

"Yes you can!" Denise encouraged. "Just turn around and walk down."

Sara looked back up at the open window of her apartment. The assassin was gone . . . at least for the moment.

"Come on Sara. You can do," Denise prodded again.

Sara looked down at Denise’s smiling face. A man was trying to kill both of them but Denise stood grinning at her, believing in her. With that, Sara began to make her shaky descent. Denise looked up, watching every step Sara made. The attacker peered back out as Sara was halfway down the ladder. Denise saw the man take aim and she drew quickly again.

Denise steadied her sights between Sara and the fire escape to get a clear shot another set of shots rang out and Denise returned fire. Sara gripped the ladder in fear, not sure who was shooting and where. The attacker ducked back inside but Denise knew they were running out of time and ammunition.

"Jump!" she called up to Sara who was halfway down now.

"What?! Are you crazy?" Sara screamed.

"Jump and I’ll catch you…I promise."

Sara looked down at Denise who had her arms open to her. The sight gave her the confidence she needed. She sprung from the ladder and omitted a yelp of fear in the process. Her body fell fast and she prayed Denise would be strong enough to steady her. It felt like hours but seconds later Sara’s bare feet smacked the pavement and she felt Denise’s arms around her tight, holding her up. She was on the ground. Finally.

Not more than a second later, however, she felt her body slammed up against the bricks of the apartment complex. She watched Denise pull her gun from the shoulder holster, sending two more shots back at the window.

"Let’s go!" Denise warned, nearly pulling Sara’s arm from its socket.

They raced back to the car and jumped inside. Denise slammed the car into gear and they raced down the ally to the main street. Sara watched in awe as Denise examined her firearm and opened the chamber with a flick of her wrist.

"Here," Denise said handing Sara the weapon. "You’ll have to reload for me," Denise instructed as they flew down the street. "Pull the bullets from my shoulder strap and put them in."

"I don’t ‘do’ guns," Sara protested meekly.

"You do tonight," Denise said in a tone that ended the debate.

Without further argument, Sara began the task of reloading the weapon. She pulled them out one at a time and carefully placed them in her hands. Sara could feel the softness of Denise’s long black hair as she moved it out of the way to reach more ammo. She could feel the officer’s well toned shoulders as she steadied the strap as well as the shake of her own hands that held the bullets she retrieved already.

Denise could see Sara visibly quaking.

"Are you okay?" Denise asked as Sara loaded the gun.

"Yes," she said softly, reloading the weapon.

"You weren’t hit, I mean," Denise clarified. "You weren’t shot?"

"No."

Sara’s answers were brief as she tired to catch her breath. Her adrenaline began to come down and along with it a series of involuntary shakes and spasms.

"Good," Denise said with a long sigh as she looked in her rearview mirror. "I’m going to take you back to my place tonight. We’ll make some arrangements tomorrow. I’ll see what I can do."

Sara nodded her agreement and shifted to get more settled. That’s when she saw Denise’s other arm.

"Oh God. You’re bleeding," Sara exclaimed quietly, peering over to get a better look.

Denise glanced over at her arm, non-chalantly. "So I am," she replied casually.

Sara did a double take to Denise’s cavalier attitude. "We have to go to a hospital," Sara urged.

"No," Denise began firmly. "I don’t want to take the chance of leaving you out of my sight. I’ll be fine."

"But you’ve been shot Denise. I think-."

"Sara," the officer stopped her. "Trust me. It’s just a flesh wound. I know what being shot feels like. I’ll be okay."

Sara didn’t argue further. Denise was a grown woman and she realized Denise was intelligent enough to care for herself if need be. She also wondered just when and how Denise took a bullet but she could save those questions for another time. The disappointed look, however, still showed on her face.

"Thank you for your concern," Denise said noticing Sara’s expression. "I do appreciate it . . . so I’m sorry if I got short with you. Aside from Angie, I’m not used to people caring about me."

Sara felt a sudden uneasiness settle over her entire being. She didn’t think she was that easy to read. In fact, she knew she wasn’t. But Denise had a way of pulling emotions out of her and bringing them to the surface unlike anyone she had met. She could say it was because of Denise’s observational skills as a detective. But it felt deeper for some reason, something that touched her very soul. But she didn’t want to dwell on it. She cleared her throat and handed the revolver over to Denise.

"Here you go," the petite blonde replied quietly.

Denise could feel it too as she took the weapon from Sara’s hand. This woman was becoming much more than just a witness. Denise realized that she would kill anyone that tried to harm this woman and it seemed to have less and less to do with the case the longer she thought about it.

Moments later they arrived at Denise’s apartment. The officer quickly escorted Sara into the complex and to the elevators. Denise got out first and checked the hallway of her apartment. Once clear, she waved Sara out.

"When we go in," Denise whispered, "You stand by the entrance while I check things out."

Sara nodded mutely and followed Denise’s orders as they entered. The detective started by turning on the lights in the living room as Sara obediently stood by the locked front door. Sara watched as Denise checked the rest of the apartment. When she shouted an all clear, Sara finally released the breath she’d been holding.

"Make yourself comfortable," Denise yelled as she collected some medical supplies from the bathroom. "There’s Coke and iced tea in the fridge if your interested," she added.

"Got anything stronger?" Sara asked half-joking going into the refrigerator. "After tonight I could use something a little stiffer than cola." She noticed, short of the drinks, a pint of Chinese take out, a head of lettuce and one single egg were all that occupied the fridge.

"Sorry," Denise answered as she rounded the corner, supplies in hand. "The only alcohol I have is what’s in this bottle," she said shaking it. "My dad used to drink . . . so I try not to." Denise didn’t add more and Sara didn’t press.

"Coke will do," she said with a smile as she popped the top. Sara took a seat at the small kitchen table. Upon closer inspection she noticed it was a card table with a cloth thrown over it. With that she began to take in her surroundings.

She had never seen a ‘bachelor pad’ given her lifestyle but Denise’s place would be a great example. Junk mail, along with important bills, cluttered the corner of the table. She spotted what appeared to be a sweat sock sticking out from the bottom of the sofa that looked like it had seen better days about two decades ago. The TV was perhaps one of the first models that came out ‘cable ready’ since it had knobs instead of buttons.

The fridge itself wasn’t much better. It was almond in color, an appliance hue popular in the seventies. The wallpaper in the kitchen itself looked like a pattern on an ugly polyester leisure suit. Oh yes. This place was certainly ‘refined’. All that was missing was a picture of dogs playing poker. Sara chuckled inward to herself at Denise’s surroundings. This was certainly a place where Denise simply ‘crashed’ after long hours at the stationhouse. A warm roof over her head and a few cool drinks - the basics of survival.

Sara watched as Denise went to the phone on the makeshift end table comprised of milk crates. Denise took off her shoulder holster carefully, avoiding her wound. Sara then watched Denise dial the phone and wait for a response.

"Hello," Denise said into the receiver. "What are you doing? . . . Sorry for waking you . . .. Well I got a call from Sara Langforth . Seems DeVittem had someone pay her a visit . . . She’s at my kitchen table . . . Okay, my ‘excuse’ for a kitchen table," Denise smiled and shook her head. Angie never cut her any slack.

"Anyway, someone one broke into her apartment. I’m sure the uniforms I called are there now . . . Well the short version is she climbed down the fire escape and I picked her up in the ally . . . Yeah there was a little gun fire. I got grazed but I’m okay . . . She’s good. A bit shaken but okay. Can you call to see it the uniforms are there now? . . . I’m going to the Captain tomorrow to see about twenty-four hour protection so can you get in early around 7 . . . She’s going to stay here tonight . . . Okay sounds good…I’ve got to get cleaned up so I’ll see you tomorrow okay? . . . You too . . .Bye Angie."

As Denise hung up the perfect smile that Sara enjoyed more and more came to her face. The blonde walked over with the alcohol and bandages. Denise closed her eyes and rested her head on the back of the couch, letting out a sigh. Sara’s eyes seized the chance to admire Denise’s features – from the red highlights of her long dark hair to each digit on her feet. Sara studied Denise’s long muscular arms and reminisced about how strong they felt tonight wrapped around her. Denise however sat up and brought Sara from her admiration.

Denise could feel Sara’s eyes upon her even though her own eyes were closed. She now knew the attraction was anything but one sided. But she figured she could be ‘upfront’ with Sara if the situation ever presented itself. But Denise still couldn’t help but remember how wonderful it felt to have a woman in her life. It had been awhile since she had anyone in her life. But a woman…with the seductive way they brush their hair behind their ears or the way they teasing licking of lips. She missed that deeply. Those qualities that women possessed, and used, always made Denise’s blood boil. Watching Sara’s body language was looking at a fine work of art. Sara knew how to capture a woman’s attention and hold it – hers to shape and mold as she saw fit.

Denise stared into Sara’s eyes, soaking up Sara’s delicate features – her small amount of bangs across her forehead, making her round face and high cheekbones more noticeable. Her light complexion was accented by her thin lips, sending Denise farther away from her good senses.

"Take your shirt off," Sara ordered softly.

The blonde’s articulate voice captured Denise. When she didn’t move Denise watched Sara undo the buttons, one by one, hanging on her every movement. After the task was complete, Denise was pulling the fabric from her shoulders, clad only in her bra and well fit denim jeans. Sara grinned. She couldn’t help it. Denise was by far the best looking woman she had seen in ages. With a slight shake of her head to gain her focus, Sara looked at the wound on Denise’s arm.

"Let’s see what we’ve got," Sara replied. She gently took Denise’s strong arm in her petite hands, surprised by its feel. "You’re very muscular," she complimented. "Nice definition, not too bulky."

"Angie and I work out every Friday," Denise smiled.

"How much can you press?" Sara asked conversationally.

"Around 220," Denise answered.

"Really?!" Sara said surprised. "That’s probably 100 more than you weigh."

Denise laughed out loud. "Well let’s say I weigh more than I look."

"Yeah well," Sara grinned. "Muscle does weigh more than fat and you certainly have muscles."

Denise smiled as Sara winked and began cleaning the blood from her arm. When Sara hit the wound the smile fell and Sara offered her apologies.

"S’okay," Denise said placing her hand on Sara. "I know it’s gotta be done. I just have to remember to get peroxide next time… Doesn’t sting as much," she said, gritting her teeth. With the blood now clear Denise could see it wasn’t deep at all. The bullet just missed Denise. "If I jumped a second sooner, it looks like it would have missed me," Denise commented.

"The blood on your shirt made it look much worse than it is," Sara concurred.

"A few years ago I probably would have made it without injury," the officer grinned.

"You’re not that old," Sara complimented.

"36," Denise argued.

"I’m 35 and I don’t consider myself old," Sara debated.

"I don’t think I’m old either," Denise said with a sly grin. "Just not as quick as I used to be."

"I don’t know about that," Sara chuckled. "You were movin’ pretty quick when you got out of your car to rescue me."

"I didn’t want you to get hurt," Denise replied sincerely.

Sara looked into Denise’s eyes. She saw the honesty so plain and unhidden on Denise’s face. It had been a long time since Sara felt anyone cared that deeply about her. She could picture herself bringing up Denise's face with gentle fingertips and taking Denise’s lips to her own; feeling their warmth and responsiveness. But instead she grabbed the alcohol bottle and went back to her task.

"Thank you for saving my life lieutenant," Sara responded softly as she fixed the bandage. "I don’t think I told you."

Denise lingered a moment, watching Sara’s hand work on her arm with tender care. "My pleasure," Denise whispered, leaning down to Sara. Denise knew instantly the gesture was inappropriate but it felt so natural. As soon as Sara finished the task, Denise rose to her feet going to the kitchen. "Would you like another drink?" she called over her shoulder not looking at the woman who was creating a firestorm within her.

Sara was momentarily confused. Denise’s warm nature just…disappeared in a matter of seconds. She was retreating. Sara could tell.

"No," Sara said returning from her thoughts. "I’m still okay."

Denise returned with a glass of iced tea. And took a seat on the sofa next to Sara. "Thank you for helping me," she said motioning to her arm.

"It was the least I could do," Sara said sincerely.

An uncomfortable silence passed between them. "It’s been a long night," Denise finally uttered. "Why don’t we try to get some sleep so our heads will be clear for tomorrow, okay?"

"Agreed," Sara nodded.

"I want you to sleep with me," Denise said. When she realized the double meaning, if only in her own mind, she made up for it. "I mean in my bed. I’ll know you’re safe that way."

Sara grinned. "I know what you meant Denise…Thank you. That will make me feel much safer."

Denise let out the smallest of sighs and rose. "Come on . . . Follow me," Denise instructed.

She led Sara back to her bedroom and turned on the light. "This is it," Denise said escorting her inside. "Not much but it’s home." She took off her jeans and threw on a clean white t-shirt.

She found an oxford in her closet and tossed it to Sara. As Denise turned down the sheets Sara quickly shed her clothing pulling the shirt over her head. Given their size difference it made a nice nightshirt for Sara. And Denise had to admit it looked damn good on her too. Clearing her throat Denise motioned Sara over to the other side of the bed so she herself was next to the door. "I wanna stay on this side…just in case," she explained.

"No arguments here," Sara smiled.

Denise turned off the light and in a few moments their eyes adjusted to the difference. Sara snuggled into the pillow that held a combination of Denise’s perfume and her own scent. She inhaled deeply. The excitement of the night tired her more than she thought and soon she fell asleep. But not before curling up next to Denise, her arms wrapped around Denise’s good arm.

Denise was heading to dream state when she felt the warm body curl up around her. Instead of being startled she simply enjoyed it. Sara fit her perfectly. Absolutely perfectly. With those tender thoughts, Denise drifted off to sleep.

Continued...Part 4

 


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