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Her nights are quiet in D.C., especially with Fritz in L.A. He makes an effort to fly out at least one weekend a month and Brenda attempts the same, though it's been six weeks since they've seen each other. Brenda doesn't mind -- here in her apartment, she can be as messy or as loud as she wants. She can eat her dinner in bed, leave her wet towel on the floor, keep her vibrator on the nightstand. She can do as she pleases.

She's tidier here without Fritz nagging her to move her shoes or wash the dishes as soon as they've been dirtied. She works late without anyone to complain about her hours.

It's wonderful.

She wonders if this is what it's like to be single. It's been so long since she's been on her own that she'd forgotten the quiet freedom of living her life without answering to another person. She had thought she might be lonely when she relocated, but she finds the reality is just the opposite.

She stretches out on the sofa and turns on the television. There's a baseball game playing and she changes the channel immediately to the Food Network, where she marvels at three tiered cakes in vibrant colors. There's no one to pester her to check the score, no one to shift restlessly on the other end of the couch, no one to talk over her preferred volume.

She smiles, content and relaxed.

The phone rings. Brenda knows it's Fritz; no one else calls her except her daddy, and he only calls on Thursdays. The downside to this bicoastal marriage and her hard won freedom is that she must spend more time on the telephone and she must answer when he calls. It's not worth the passive aggressive pity party if she doesn't.

"Hi, honey," Brenda says when she answers the phone, muting the television.

"Hey you. I can't talk long tonight -- I've got to get back to work soon, but I thought I'd check in to see how you're doing."

"I'm doin' just fine," she replies, looking at her nails. It's time for a manicure. "How 'bout you?"

"Good. Busy."

"I vaguely remember that about workin' for the police," she says pointedly, hoping he'll realize just how much of a hypocrite he's become. For someone who loathed her work, he has certainly made himself at home at the LAPD.

He doesn't acknowledge her comment. "Did you hear the latest about Major Crimes?"

She rolls her eyes at his penchant for gossip. "No. The only one who tells me about my old job is you."

"Get this -- the promotions freeze was lifted, so Raydor was made Commander."

Brenda floods with warmth at hearing the other woman's name. "It's about damn time! Commander Raydor has a nice ring to it." She can just picture the look on the other woman's face at receiving her stars. Brenda wishes she could have been there to see it.

"I thought you might be interested to hear that. Anyway -- I've got to run. Joel says he misses his mom."

"Give him a big kiss for me."

"I will. I love you, Brenda."

"Me too."

She ends the call first, setting her cell phone aside on the coffee table and feeling warm all over.

Commander Raydor.

Commander Sharon Raydor.

The very thought makes Brenda feel lit up inside with heat and a spark of desire, and she turns off the television. Getting to her feet, Brenda prowls toward her bedroom with purpose.

She settles herself on her bed and shucks off her shorts and panties, reaching for the egg-shaped bullet vibrator on her bedside table. She flips the switch and as the toy hums to life, she presses it between her already slick folds.

She pictures Commander Raydor in her uniform, hair pinned back, stars gleaming at her lapels. She remembers the image of her at Delks' funeral, remembers that impenetrable green gaze and how sexy she always looked in her uniform, and she sighs.

This isn't the first time she's fucked herself to fantasies of Raydor, and it won't be the last. Tonight she settles in with an enticing image of Raydor bending her over her desk, working steady, sure fingers between Brenda's legs. She rocks her hips against the vibrator, crying out when it hits a particularly sensitive spot, and imagines that Raydor has thrust two fingers inside her. She reaches down with her free hand and enters herself, curling against molten heat.

In her fantasy, her Raydor is the Sharon of the past, the antagonist, the wicked witch. She remembers so vividly how frustrated those encounters had made her, and how aroused she had become as a result. She misses her desperately and desires her even more, wishing she could find out just what Commander Raydor could do under the right circumstances.

She circles the vibe around her clit as she works her fingers inside herself, fucking herself with a rhythm she's perfected in her husband's absence. She imagines Raydor fucking her, imagines that the fingers buried within her belong to the other woman, and feels her orgasm begin to build.

Removing her fingers with a groan, Brenda pictures the other woman pulling her hair and mirrors her fantasy, wet fingers tangling in blonde tresses. She's rough with herself the way she wants Raydor to be rough with her.

"Oh captain...." she cries, biting her lip hard at her error. "Commander..."

She rocks her hips against the pulsing egg once, twice before she comes with a moan, her orgasm crashing over her in delicious waves. In her fantasy, Raydor covers her mouth with her hand as she comes, urging her to be quiet in the office while the rest of the world carries on outside.

When the tremors have stopped and her clit is too sensitive to bear any more of the vibrations, she turns off the toy and drops it on Fritz's side of the bed.

"Commander Raydor," she says again, grinning.

She'll get a lot of mileage out of this promotion.