by CN Winters
See part one for disclaimers. Write the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
Customs didnt take as long as they expected since Denise was packing heat as Sara teasingly put it. Soon they were in a rented car and traveling toward Saras house. It was still considerably warm for September and the fact the car had no air conditioning made it much worse. Add to that the recent rainstorm and you had one humid night as they drove in the darkness.
"Although you really cant see it. Its very beautiful here," Sara said as she drove the small compact down the vacant highway. The greenery looked tropical and moist, with the headlights being the only means of seeing Mother Nature around them.
"Ill take your word for it," Denise smiled. They drove awhile longer in silence. The flapping windshield wipers were the only sound present before Sara spoke. Neither woman could explain it nor could they understand it. Conversation had been a cornerstone of their relationship so far. Sara tried not to analyze it too much. Lack of sleep, a three-hour plane trip and murders perhaps at their back left little in the way of lighthearted conversation. She knew that Denise wanted that distance that she spoke of in Detroit. Surely she didnt mean THIS distant, did she? Nah, Sara decided, Youre just being paranoid Langforth.
"Theres a bed and breakfast that a family friend owns up ahead. I thought we could stay there for the night because Im sure there are nasty critters living in my parents place."
No, Sara reminded herself, YOUR place. She still hadnt gotten used to it being her place. She rarely came to the beach house - just another reminder of the life she had left behind years before. Or more to the point, the life that she was cast from given her evil ways. She was surprised her parents left her anything but soon the shock wore off and she saw it for what it truly was. It wasnt about love or compassion. It wasnt about a final acceptance. If her parents cut her out of the will then that would mean the family had skeletons in the closet . . . and oh my . . . her parents wouldnt dare be remembered that way. It sicken Sara in a way but she figured if she never had their respect the least she could do is take the money. She had morals . . . but she wasnt stupid.
"Wont the place be filled with vacationers?" Denise asked, pulling Sara back from her thoughts.
"Perhaps. But Im sure Nancy will let us stay in the den for the night," Sara replied.
They drove up the driveway to a big structure that seemed to get larger and larger. It looked like a large southern plantation house. It was white with black shutters. A white picket fence lined the huge property.
Denise looked around at the immensity of it with a sense of awe as she and Sara made their way to the porch. Slowly Sara stepped inside and a bell jingled noting their arrival. The silhouette of an old woman moved toward them from the shadows. Sara smiled as they walked to each other.
"Little Sara Langforth!" the woman exclaimed, keeping her voice down, as not to wake the vacationers.
"Oh darlin its been ages since Ive seen you. How have you been?"
"Good," Sara said with a nod. "And you?"
"Cant complain too much," Nancy said as they hugged.
"Hows Chester doing?"
"He passed away about a year ago honey," Nancy said with a forced grin, trying to make Sara comfortable with the bad news.
"Im so sorry," Sara said reaching out to the woman, stroking her arm in support. "I had no idea."
"Im okay . . . It gets lonely sometimes in this big old house without him. But the vacationers keep me company. Ive also got a staff that helps me out. Theyve been a God send at times," Nancy explained.
"Well Im glad youre doing alright," Sara said. They exchanged grins a few more seconds until Nancy spoke.
"What brings you here in the middle of the night honey?" Nancy made sure to exchange a look to Denise as well.
"Oh!" Sara exclaimed realizing shed forgotten proper introductions. "Pardon my manners. This is Denise VanCook. Shes a police officer whos looking after me." Nancy and Denise exchanged pleasantries and a handshake, although it was obvious Nancy was bothered by the fact Sara required police protection. "I happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time," Sara grinned as she explained. "I became a witness for the police department and its safer here than in the city."
"Are you okay?" Nancy asked quickly, her concern evident in her voice.
"Fine . . . However, we do need a place to stay until I can get my house cleaned up."
"My rooms are all filled dear but youre more than welcome to the study," Nancy offered sincerely, almost hopping Sara would agree.
"That would be great," Sara said with an appreciative smile.
"Good," Nancy said soundly. "Ill be back with some blankets and pillows. You gals just help yourself."
As Nancy left, Sara and Denise headed to the den. "She seems like a good person," Denise said as they walked along.
"Nancys the best. Ive known her for as long as I can remember. When I came out, my parents were a bit upset to say the least - - okay . . . they were down right pissed and they disowned me." Denise couldnt help but smile with the theatrics that Sara put on as she made the omission. "I know they talked to Nancy about it, once they realized it wasnt just a phase of course, and things got better. They never liked me again but we did remain civil with each other . . . Nancys a good friend. She was never one to judge," Sara added with a far off look, obviously remembering the past.
Denise didnt have a chance to reply to Saras story. Nancy entered the room, weighted down with linens, which the ladies promptly took from her heavy arms. "Well, Im going to bed but dont take off anywhere tomorrow until youve had breakfast. Promise?"
"We promise," Sara agreed.
"Good," Nancy said before turning to leave. Slowly the older woman began to walk away.
"Hey Nancy," Sara called out making her stop. "Thanks a lot . . . for everything."
"No problem mom," Nancy said mimicking a term that ran rampant on the Bahamian Island. "Its good to see you again. Sleep tight. Well talk in the morning."
Denise and Sara watched her leave and climbed under the sheet of a makeshift bed on the floor. Sara thought she would get a protest as she snuggled into Denises shoulder. She was relived to feel Denise stay loose and relaxed, going so far as to get comfortable herself by wrapping her arm around Sara. A few moments later Denise was out, a light snore floating through the room. Sara had to smile, as she lay there wrapped in the warmth of the officer. Shes protecting me, Sara smirked slyly. Thats all . . . nothing more.
It was hot. It was humid. It was the Bahamas. They had been there three days, at Nancy insistence since they had no utilities at Saras place yet, and Denise was getting used to the Bahamian lifestyle.
Denise stood barefoot on the back deck looking at the water. The sun was just beginning to rise and she could tell it would be a scorcher of a day if the rain clouds that passed by on and off during the early morning hours stayed away. Yellow and orange already filled the horizon over the blue of the ocean and white sand of the beach. Denise stood silently taking it all in.
Sara was inside doing some admiring herself admiring the woman on the deck.
"Shes a sight to see. Thats for sure," Nancy said softly. Sara just grinned. "And I can see youve got it bad dear."
Sara chuckled. "My gosh is it THAT obvious?"
"Oh yes," Nancy conspired. "Its not one sided either."
Sara turned to face Nancy, much more interested in the casual conversation. "What exactly do you mean?"
"She and I spoke this morning before you got up."
"And?" Sara prodded when Nancy didnt immediately continue.
"Like I said," Nancy grinned wildly. "Shes got it bad." Sara sighed in frustration. She knew Nancy well. The old woman wasnt about to divulge any secrets or conversations shes had with others. Gossip was never one of those things Nancy engaged in with others. It was one of her best qualities . . . and right now . . . one of her worst. Nancy could only chuckle at Saras reaction before turning a bit serious. "Hey, I hear weve got some rough weather coming in. You sure you gals dont wanna stay here for the time being?"
"How rough?" Sara asked.
"Its not a can yet but it might be getting to that point."
Sara thought for a moment. "Thats okay. We should be all right. Will you be okay here?" Sara asked.
"Sure. Ive got lots of help here right now," she smiled to reassure Sara that she was just fine on her own. Sara nodded her agreement just before Nancy nudged the blond. "Better go enjoy paradise with her while you can," she teased.
Sara gave Nancys arm a pat and took Nancy up on the suggestion. Quietly Sara crept up behind the lieutenant.
"Beautiful isnt it?" she whispered.
Denise felt a small hand run down her back and she turned to face Sara.
"Yes it is . . . I dont think Ive ever seen water that is actually blue," Denise said in amazement. She heard her own voice and she suddenly blushed. Sara cocked her head in question but didnt say anything. "I feel like such a tourist," Denise laughed out loud. "I have to keep telling myself Im working here. Its not play time," she grinned.
"All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl you know?" Sara teased. "Besides you do go on vacation now and then dont you?"
"Nope not really. I mean not like this," Denise said spreading her arms out. "Im a cop. I dont often get the time off with my line of work and I dont make enough to see places like this when I do."
"Well," Sara said, "I make it a rule to visit a new place every year."
"Is that so?" Denise said watching Sara strutting in front of her.
"Absolutely," Sara said with a firm nod of her head. "The world is a big place. Life is too short. And I plan to see as much of it as I can before I die . . . with your help now that is. You gotta keep me alive Denise," the blonde teased. "Ive got an African safari planned for next year."
Denise took a sip of her orange juice and raised her glass. "Im working on it," she winked.
"Well heres to you succeeding," Sara added, clinking their glasses together. "Perhaps Ill take you on the Kenya tour with me as a way of saying thank you." Denises mood shifted from carefree to one of rigidity in an instant but Sara quickly made up for it. "I mean I might need protection from those wild animals and it would be as friends. Scouts honor."
Sara batted her eyelashes in apology for the off the cuff comment. Slowly Denise began to smile. "Ill think about it," Denise said, "But Ill only come if I can take my gun," she smiled mischievously.
"Its a deal," Sara said shaking Denises hand and then tugging it along as she walked, "Lets get breakfast and head to the store for some groceries." Denise didnt seem to mind the hand lock so Sara just enjoyed it while she could.
They ate and said good bye to Nancy with a promise they would return for dinner sometime before heading back to the States. The sky began to turn dark as they made their way to the grocery store for supplies. They had let of a few fumigation bombs the day before and let the place air out. Now they could begin the big cleaning.
Sara didnt have a rambling estate like Nancy but it was larger than most of the dwellings Denise and Angie were called out to during their patrolling days in Detroit. It had a large porch that ran along the front of the three bedroom home. The living room and dinning room were open to each other with a small kitchen off to the left of that. On the right sat three bedrooms in a row. The master bedroom, of course, had a wonderful view of the gulf. The living room too contained a beautiful bay window next to the front door. As for the dinning area, it had a large patio door that gave access to the beach and tropical vegetation outside.
Denise sat the bags on the dinning room table, releasing a sigh, looking out to the water and the shrubbery outside.
"Its only noon," Denise said rubbing her eyes and yawning. "Why on earth am I so tired?"
"Maybe its the fact your nerves have been on edge ever since Detroit?" Sara teased. "Grant it . . . youve lowered your guard from time to time but for the most part youve been very watchful."
"Maybe," Denise said walking over to the phone. Sara took one of the bags with her and she began stocking the fridge. When she heard Denise yell, she dropped a head of lettuce and ran to the living room.
"What is it?!" Sara asked startled.
"Weve got a dial tone," Denise said showing the receiver off like some kind of prize.
"Oh God! Dont do that again. I thought something was wrong."
"I guess my nerves arent the only ones on edge," Denise teased.
Sara simply shook her head and went back into the kitchen. Denise dialed and waited, listening to the ringing tone and the rain outside the window. She hoped Angie would be in the office since she hadnt checked in with her partner yet. She was relieved when she heard her voice on the other end.
"Sgt. Michaels fourteenth."
"Hi Sgt. Michaels."
Angie could hear the grin through the phone but that didnt matter. She had issues.
"Where in the hell are you?!" Angie exclaimed. "You realize Ive been worried sick about you! I thought DeVittems goons got to you! You better have a damn good explanation!"
"Love you too Angie," Denise chuckled.
"Alright, I guess I deserved that," Angie said calming down. "Im glad youre okay. Now . . . where are you?"
"The Bahamas. Freeport actually."
"Did you just say Freeport, Bahamas? Are you telling me that I gave up MY Aspen trip so YOU could go to the Bahamas? Tell me I didnt hear that correctly," Angie prodded.
Denise paused a moment, unsure of how to answer but certain of the reaction she would get. "No you heard that correctly."
Sara couldnt hear the specifics of the conversation from across the room but she could hear Angies voice boom on the other end. She watched as Denise held the phone from her ear with a cringed look on her face.
"Sounds like youre in trouble," Sara teased as Denise tried repeatedly to move the phone back to her ear again, only to move it away as Angie continued to rant.
"Hold on a sec," Angie said breaking from her tirade. Denise brought the phone to her ear again and tried to listen in on what was going on in her office back home. After a few moments Angie returned her attention to Denise, "Okay where was I . . . Oh yes, part three of the riot act - ."
"Is everything okay in there?" Denise asked.
"Yeah. Brenner and Wagner just walked in. Brenner got a suspect in the car jacking case."
"Thats great!" Denise commended.
"Denise said thats great," Angie yelled to the others as they began to leave the office. "Anyway how did you pray-tell end up in the Bahamas?" Angie asked steering the conversation back to Denise. She wasnt getting off the hook that easy.
"Sara has a beach house here," Denise replied.
"Oh really. Why the hell couldnt I be blessed and be the one whos bi? I could be the one getting the tan right now," Angie teased. "Seriously though, it does sound safer than in the city. But then again being alone and stranded in paradise sounds like it could be verrrry dangerous," Angie added with a laugh.
"Very funny," Denise replied. "Howd it go with Gennar?"
"He wants to know where you are," she said.
"Well dont tell him. Dont tell anyone. If he asks, just say I didnt feel safe in letting anyone know . . . Or flat out lie to him and say you havent heard from me."
"Can I reach you?" Angie asked. "Do you have a number?"
"I do but I dont want to take the chance."
"Gee thanks for the show of trust and support there Den," her partner replied.
"You know I trust you. I dont want to put you in danger by knowing how to reach me. Ill call later this week for an update. Hopefully the courts will push this one through." Denise could hear the sigh on the other end. "Yes I know youre frustrated but for right now its for the best. I think we might do well to invest in one of those new cell phones Ive been hearing about lately."
"Thats not a bad idea. Maybe we can look into it when you get back . . . but then again Im not sure I want you to have access to me at all hours of the night. Youll probably drag me out of bed at 3 am on some wild goose chase stake out and knowing my luck it will be the one night that I manage to land a real date."
"Hey, I only did that once," Denise argued. "If he couldnt understand that duty called he wasnt the guy for you."
"Yeah you keep telling me that but I have to admit, I kinda saw his point too. Coincidentally, that was actually the last time I SAW HIM. Go figure huh?" Angie prodded.
"How many times am I gonna have to say Im sorry for that?" Denise sighed.
"Until the guilt trip no longer works. Or next year. Whichever comes first," Angie replied.
Denise could hear Angies grin through the phone and had to smile herself. "I wish you were here Ang," Denise said sincerely.
"Hell you and I both," Angie chuckled. "I could use a few weeks in the Caribbean . . . Look Denise, I want you to take care of that witness and yourself okay?"
"I will," Denise said firmly.
"I love you," Angie said after a brief pause. "When you hadnt called . . . I really did worry."
Denise smiled, "Im sorry I didnt call sooner. Weve been staying with a friend of hers and I didnt want to call out from there. But I promise Ill stay in contact from now on . . . and yes, I will take care. Everything will be all right. Youll see."
"Okay . . . Ill talk to you on Wednesday?"
"Wednesday sounds good . . . Bye Angie."
Denise hung up the phone and Sara peered out of the kitchen. She watched Denise stroking the top of the receiver after she hung up. Her shoulders were slumped and she had a long look on her face. Sara could tell, Denise didnt like working without Angie.
For Denise it felt like a missing appendage when they werent together. Angie was the yin to her yang. Without the other there was a loss of balance. Denise never would have guessed that Angie would have become such a pivotal part of her life when they had first met. They werent instant friends. In fact Denise wondered if Angie had what it took to make it.
Only a handful of women were on the force at the time and most couldnt take the pressure - not just the pressure of the beat but of their fellow officers. As time went on though Denise respected Angie even admired her on some level. Angie was great at reading a situation and was seldom wrong. They could interview someone and within minutes Angie had them figured out. She knew what made them tick. She could console them or put them off balance, depending on the nature of the interview. Denise knew, if it was not for Angie, she wouldnt be where she was today.
The Eighties were now over and the Nineties were just beginning they had made great strides in the last ten years and Denise knew that they could go higher. If everything on this case worked out that is. Denise knew she had to stay focused. She came back from her thoughts to see Sara approach.
"Hows Angie doing?" Sara asked gingerly, sensing Denises melancholy mood.
"Shes okay. Shes a tad miffed," the detective chuckled, "but shes okay."
"You really love her dont you?" Sara said sincerely, wondering if there was a deeper meaning to Denise and Angies working relationship.
"Yeah I do," Denise said sincerely.
Sara studied Denise a bit longer. "Am I causing problems for you two?"
"What do you mean?" Denise asked unsure of Saras questioning.
"Well, I cant help but notice how close the two of you are. Does the fact that were together make her jealous? Does she see me as a threat?"
Denise was confused and it showed. But Sara watched as the lightbulb clicked on. "Do you think Angie and I are lovers?" Denise asked with a grin.
"I have my suspicions," Sara replied. Suspicions, Sara berated herself, Now you sound like the jealous wife. Just shut up Langforth before you choke on your foot anymore.
Denise laughed and shook her head. "No, Angie and I are not lovers . . . Never have been. Never will be."
"Good," Sara nodded and started back to the kitchen.
Denise gave a physical shake wondering what in the world that conversation was about and followed after Sara. "Why the curiosity?" Denise asked, making Sara stop and turn around.
Sara considered just why she had asked. "Ive never been a woman who enjoys coming between people," Sara explained vaguely. Denise wanted distance and Sara was trying her damnedest to keep that distance yet she wanted to get some answers in the process.
"Well dont worry. Angie and I are the best of friends. I love her deeply but its very platonic . . . It would be detrimental to our partnership if we were anything except friends."
"I guess it goes back to the pesky thing about maintaining a certain distance?" Sara added.
"Exactly . . . Plus shes as straight as they come . . . Shes not homophobic. Shes just exceedingly hetro," Denise explained with a smile.
"What if Angie changed her mind?"
"About what?" Denise asked.
"About your relationship?" Sara grinned, prodding Denise for more information. "Say she decided she wanted more than a friendship with you. Would you take her up on the offer?"
Denise smiled again. "Two year she broke up with a guy shed been dating for about three years. She was drunk and said somethings that could melt a stone . . . But I turned her down . . . She fell asleep on my couch," Denise grinned as she remembered that night. "The next morning she could only remember bits and pieces of the evening but she did remember some of the things she said and she thanked me profusely for not taking her up on any of them . . . People can say lots of things about me . . . Im stubborn. Im hot tempered at times. I can hold a grudge with the best of them . . . But it must also be said that I have a large amount of self-control."
"Well . . ." Sara began, "in the time weve known each other Id have to say thats all true. Especially the self control aspect. Youve displayed that all too well," Sara grinned. "For the most part," she threw in as a slight tease.
She was relieved when Denise didnt take offense and she smiled as well.
"Come to the kitchen," Sara said with a wave of her hand as she started to walk. "Lunch is almost ready." Lightening and thunder struck at the same instant shaking the floor and rattling the windows. "WooHoo!" Sara chuckled. "That baby was close." Her grin however vanished when she saw Denises face full of fear. "You okay?" Sara asked the detective. Denise paused a moment and looked out through the large bay window at the storm.
"Yeah," Denise said trying to brush it off. "Just caught me off guard is all. Seems like the storms are getting worse huh?"
Sara noted the concern in Denise voice but dismissed it. "Well its just a little water and wind. Well be okay. Now how about that food?" she asked completing her journey to the kitchen.
Denise let out a deep sigh. "Yeah, it will pass," she told Sara. On the inside however Denise did her best to steady her breathing and she prayed that it wouldnt last much longer.
The rain never lifted. A week had passed and the storms were still sweeping across the island. Some were short and some lasted all night but one fact remained the same they were getting more and more powerful. They lost their power twice since arriving and Sara was reading by candlelight for the second evening in a row when the phone rang.
Denise looked over at Sara concerned. No one had their number so why was the phone ringing. "Maybe its a wrong number," Sara said upon sensing Denises concern. The officer waited until the third ring and snatch the receiver up.
"Hello. Sara?" an older woman asked.
"Who is this?" Denise replied offensively.
"Sorry. Its Nancy. Is she around?"
"Hold on," Denise said before placing her hand over the mic, looking at Sara. "Why in the hell is Nancy calling us? You gave her the number didnt you?"
"She isnt public enemy number one," Sara said rising and walking to the phone.
"Didnt I tell you NOT to give this number away To anyone?!"
"Lets fight later after Im off the phone," Sara said snatching it away from Denises hand. "Hi Nancy. Whats going on?"
Denise darted to the kitchen shaking her head. What am I gonna do with her? She promised she would listen and she didnt. Saras fierce independence would send Denise to the nuthouse before this was all over. However her anger took a back seat when she heard the concern rise in Saras voice as she talked with Nancy. She went back to the living room and waited for Sara to finish.
"Whats wrong?" Denise asked before Sara could hang up.
"We have a storm coming," Sara whispered as she place the receiver down.
"Theres a news flash. Weve had storms for the past week. Stuck in paradise and I cant even get a tan," Denise replied.
"No Denise," Sara answered starting to look around the living room. "We have a bad storm coming. Nancy said there are hurricane conditions that started in the Atlantic last night . . . and theyre heading this way . . . fast."
"A hurricane?" Denise asked, rising and starting to pace. "Or hurricane conditions?"
"Right now theyre just conditions. A hurricane hasnt manifested yet but it very well could by the time it reaches the island . . . I dont know why I forgot about hurricane season."
"What do you mean? You knew there was a hurricane coming yet you brought us here anyway?" Denise replied, growing angry again.
"Spring and autumn is hurricane season but its been years since the Bahamas has seen one. I didnt think it would be a concern."
"Well it is now!" Denise yelled. "What are we supposed to do?"
Even as they spoke the wind began to pick up. They watched the palm trees outside beginning to swoop to one side. "Well cover the windows with the sheets that were on the furniture," Sara said running to the bedroom.
Denise stood by watching Sara throw the sheets out into the living room.
"Go out to the shed and get some hammers and nails," Sara ordered. It was an odd experience for Denise to be the one taking orders now and she stood still watching Sara continue to search for more sheets. "Go now before it gets worse outside!" Sara yelled.
Denise went to the kitchen and got the key. She ran back through the living room. With a deep sigh she opened the front door. It slammed against the house; almost losing its hinges. She tried to close it again with her hands but the wind was too strong. Finally Denise put her shoulder behind it to slam it shut. Her feet tore up the grass as she raced to the shed. The wind blew her long, dark hair into her face making it difficult to unlock the shed.
But she did get the lock free and stepped inside. Another gust whipped through taking the shed door along with it. Denise didnt notice. She was too busying trying to remember to breathe. Once she had the supplies in hand, she turned to close the shed, only to find the door missing. She watched as it began to tumble across the lawn.
Suddenly something hard hit her from behind, nearly knocking the wind out of her. She turned around toward the house and she watched as the shingles, that once kept the weather out, became dangerous projectiles. To her left she saw the electric and phone lines snap and begin to wave wildly. Denise felt paralyzed. She lost her concentration. She felt dizzy. After a few seconds she closed her eyes to catch what was left of her mental prowess again.
She began to run back to the house. Or at least she tried. It was easy getting to the shed. The wind was at her back. Now she had to walk into it. The heavy rain that just began didnt help either. She was almost around the corner, hanging on the end of the house, when Sara came out. Sara grabbed Denise by the hand and pulled her to the porch. Saras strength startled Denise as Sara gripped and tugged her inside. They stood at the doorway and pulled the door closed together. Once inside they heard ripping and cracking sounds around them. They looked outside. The palm trees, that earlier were only bent, now had completely snapped.
Sara was pretty impressed Mother Nature was certainly on a rampage today. It was dangerous no doubt. But Sara also had a sense of awe as well. She turned to make a smart aleck comment to Denise about the weather but she stopped before she could utter a sound. Sara was worried but not nearly as much as Denise. Denise looked downright petrified. Here was a woman who stood her ground against a gunman outside her apartment weeks before without fear. Yet this same woman was now physically shaking because of some strong wind and rain.
"Are you okay?" Sara asked, looking over Denise considering that maybe shed been hurt outside and didnt realize it at first. Denise was drenched by the rain and looked like a dripping popsicle but more delicious. Damn shes sexy when shes wet, Sara considered silently. She would have dwelled on that fact a bit longer if she had known that Denise wasnt so emotional on edge. She lightly pushed Denises wet hair from Denises face making her jump a tad.
"I dont like storms," Denise confessed as Sara continued to stroke her hair back. "Not at all." Denise couldnt meet Saras face. Her eyes kept shifting around the room around her. She only looked at the blonde when Sara cupped her chin so they could look face to face.
"I dont like them either but it will pass. Just remember how you stood up to those bounty hunters at my apartment and at the office. Youre very brave Denise. Youre the bravest person Ive ever met."
"Its not the same. People are much more predictable than Mother Nature," Denise said as she listened to the wind continuing to moan along with the pounding rain. Her eyes kept shifting around the room and outside to the windows, practically ignoring Sara.
Sara realized that the more time Denise had to think about the storm the worse she would feel so Sara knew what she had to do. Denise was someone comfortable with control. That loss of control at the moment made her a wreck. The weather wouldnt give her that option of control over her destiny. Sitting only made things worse so Sara had a solution.
As carefree as she could muster Sara announced, "Lets get to work. We have lots to do before the real storm comes." Just as soon as she said it she regretted the wording.
"What do you mean the real storm?" Denise said looking urgently to Sara for an answer.
"Its going to get worse before it gets better Denise. I wont lie to you," Sara confessed. "If it is a hurricane at some point it will grow calm as the eye passes over and then-."
"It will get worse again," Denise finished. "I understand. I just thought that this was the worst is all."
"It may be," Sara said holding up a finger. She walked to the kitchen and she turned the battery radio on. "There. Well listen for updates . . . Is that okay? Or will it make you more uncomfortable?" Sara asked genuinely searching for an answer.
"No. Thats good," Denise nodded. "Well know what were up against."
"Okay then," Sara said rubbing her palms together, "Weve got matters to attend to. Well start by cracking the windows in here to relieve the pressure inside. Then were going to nail the sheets up to protect us in case the windows break. I dont want to spend the afternoon dodging glass, do you?" Sara teased.
She prayed Denise wouldnt take offense and she was relieved when the officers lips curled ever so slightly in a grin. "No I agree. Where should I start?"
"Jane go North," Sara pointed acting like Tarzan hoping to lighten things up. "Me go south."
Denise tried to join in and asked, "Can you do the yell too?"
"Yep," Sara answered confidently. "But not damn near as good as Carol Brunette," she smiled.
The rest of the evening went on in a similar way Sara gave the orders, trying to invoke humor as Denise did the tasks. By the end of the night they had a mock bunker with the sofa and kitchen table. Sara stuck to her plan of keeping Denise calm by keeping her busy. But the time had come when there was nothing more they could do and Denise began to grow tense again.
Sara climbed under the table and reached for Denise to follow her.
"Cmere," Sara said, pulling Denise close and putting an afghan around them. "Wanna tell me why youre so spooked of storms?" Sara said casually. "If not thats okay."
Denise took a deep sigh. "Id really rather not think about that now."
"Thats okay, thats okay," Sara said through a smile. She began a light rocking motion as she kept Denise close to her stroking her hair, playing with the ends now in then. After a bit of silence Sara cleared her throat.
"When I was five I got stuck on a Ferris Wheel. My brother and me. The very top car too just my luck," Sara laughed with a hint of melancholy. "They tried several times to get it moving and ended up catching it on fire. People were running and screaming . . . They had just called in a cherry picker to get us out and they managed to empty the cars closest to the fire first until they had it under control. Since we were the highest we were the last to leave. My brother jumped into the picker with no problem but when I jumped . . . I didnt make it inside. I caught the edge. The fire was out at that point but instead of taking the chance of pulling me inside they just lowered the basket until we were both on the ground . . . Ever since then I havent been any higher than six feet outdoors . . . Hotels? Office buildings? . . . No problem. But outdoors? Well, Im scared to death . . . as you already know," Sara winked as Denise looked up at her.
"That had to be pretty damn scary for you," Denise offered.
Sara grinned as she considered it. "Yeah it was. . . and I know if it wasnt for you that night at my apartment, I dont think I could have made it. Not just with the gunman but with that damn fire escape," Sara said starting to chuckle before turning serious. "We all have fears Denise. Things that go bump in the night. You helped me with mine . . . I pray that I can help you with yours now."
Denise grinned but soon an inquisitive look washed over her face. She moved from Saras embrace and soon the two of them were standing in the living room.
"You hear that?" Denise asked with a grin.
Sara paused a moment listening. Then it struck her.
"I hear . . . nothing," she smiled.
Denise ran to the door with Sara right behind her. She opened it to find a light breeze and the sound of water dripping off the house. It was dark now and the sound of the insects had returned.
"Let me turn up the radio," Sara said stroking Denises arm and rushing back inside. Denise took a moment to take things in before joining Sara.
"The hurricane watch for the following and surrounding areas has been lifted: Ft. Lauderdale, Key West, Jamaica, Cuba, Bahamas-."
Denise and Sara didnt hear the rest. They were too busy rapped up in their hoots and hollers. When they settled down Sara found herself wrapped in Denises arms. Knowing shed never keep her promise of distance if she stood there much longer, Sara pulled back and took Denise by the upper arms, getting a firm yet friendly grasp on them.
"Told you wed be alright," she said smiling at the officer.
Denise reached up and she stroked Saras hair, ignoring the little voice in the back of her mind for the moment. "Thank you," she whispered gently.
"For what?" Sara said, trying to downplay the effect the gesture had on her.
"For sharing your story, for keeping me busy . . . for keeping me sane." As Denise moved closer Sara was certain that Denise was going to kiss her. At the last second however Denise changed her destination and she planted a grateful kiss on Saras forehead. "Thank you."
Sara knew the kiss was a show of thanks but something else burned hotter and brighter behind it. Saras impulse to push the limits of distance brought goosebumps to the surface of her skin that she was sure Denise could feel. The most difficult thing however was that she could tell Denise felt the same. But just as times past, as soon as she felt Denise come closer she felt her retreat within herself. Helpless she watched as Denise released her and begin to set the furniture upright again.
If she was unsure before she knew it with undeniable certainty now Denise wanted her too. It may not be tonight Or even tomorrow but eventually it WILL happen. The infamous self-control of Denise VanCook would fall to Sara Langforth when Denise was ready. By the heat in Denises eyes, the feel of it in Denises fingertips, Sara knew the duty bound officer would be worth the wait.
The storm hadnt done as much damage as the sound would have them believe. Except for the trees, a shed door and few shingles, everything looked the same. The phone and utilities were operating again although it took a few days work. Denise had just finished talking with Angie. Everything was peaceful back home which was a good sign.
Sara was making dinner when Denise walked up behind her, their bodies nearly touching.
"Where did you learn to cook?" Denise asked as she sampled the Parmesan sauce. Sara watched as Denise dipped her finger in the white gravy and sucked it dry. Sara masked her arousal with a playful smack, trying to condemn Denises lack of table manners. Denise noticed the delight Sara was experiencing with her gesture, making her grin.
"Why do you insist on teasing me?" Sara asked in frustration. She knew Denise was fully aware of her excited state. No sense in trying to hide it Sara figured. "Just remember that turn-a-bout is fair play," she threatened with a wooden spoon.
"Im sorry," Denise said picking up the salad bowl. "Ill keep my lips to myself."
"Are you kidding?" Sara mumbled to herself. "Thats exactly the problem."
"Whats that?" Denise asked from the dining area.
"Nothing," Sara replied in a singsong voice. "Can you please get the wine out?"
"Sure," Denise replied. She walked back the fridge and yanked the bottle with a smooth grace before strutting back to the dinning table. Sara for her part stood in the kitchen putting the meal on plates. Gently Denise sat the bottle on the table and quickly turned back to help Sara with the dinner when the bottle exploded all over the table.
"What the hell?"
Sara quickly looked over her shoulder to see the glass covering the linen cloth, complete broken. Denises eyes however instinctively looked to the patio door behind the table . . . and the pea-sized hole in the screen that, moments before, was not there.
"Get down!" Denise screamed as she took her own advice.
Return to The Bard's Corner