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"Don't cry". Jarod's voice is low, dark and immeasurably comforting. His quiet, regular breathing over the phoneline is a familiar sound. Miss Parker has lost count of the number of conversations she has had with Jarod since his escape, conversations that have been strangely intimate despite the physical distance. Perhaps it's the silence that brings intimacy for there have been so many evenings when the two of them have sat alone simply listening to the sound of the other say nothing.

"Shut up, I'm not crying," she says angrily into the phone even as she dashes the tears away from her eyes.

"It wasn't your fault".

"Stop trying to psychoanalyse me, Jarod. I've had enough of everything today - so make whatever cryptic smartass remark it is that you've called to make and leave me alone," she tells him in a taut voice, reaching out a trembling hand for her cigarettes.

"Don't smoke, it's not going to help," Jarod tells her and his voice is disconcertingly close by, loud and clear despite the noise from the storm.

Parker freezes and looks around the room to where Jarod is watching her from the shadows. His long, black leather coat is wet from the rain, his face flushed from the cold and his expression is unreadable.

Parker thinks about reaching for her gun, but instead, snaps the handset of her phone shut and puts it down on the table. She rises slowly, drawing her robe around her narrow shoulders and walks to where Jarod is standing. He puts his phone in his pocket and waits.

"You're a confident sonofabitch, showing up here ...." She puts one hand to his face, her fingers resting on his smooth, cold skin. Jarod looks startled and flinches at the unexpectedness of her touch.

Suddenly, it is Parker who is in control, her red tipped fingers pushing the jacket from Jarod's shoulders as he stares at her in shock.

"You've done this before haven't you Jarod. You've fucked a woman?" she taunts him.

Jarod smiles then, warmth flickering in his dark eyes like a flame and he cups Parker's face in his hands. He lowers his mouth to hers and kisses her cruel mouth. He draws back momentarily, tracing the harsh angles of her stern, cold face and he sees the way her light eyes soften despite herself.

"Fucked yes. This? Maybe not," he answers in a soft voice and he leads her to the bed, their hands clasped like children.


The storm has outside has not yet abated.

Equally violent is their startling reaction to one another. Breathing is ragged and Parker gasps again. Her body seems to ache all over but there is also joy and unbearable pleasure. Jarod's teeth sink into the flesh of her shoulder and his calloused hands slide over her naked body as if he has a perfect right to do what he wishes.

His heavy-lidded eyes are unshadowed and filled with tenderness as he pulls her naked body against his.

"If I'd had any idea you were this good in bed, Jarod, I'd have tried harder to find you," Parker murmurs nastily even as her own hands wander over him.

"Don't," Jarod tells her, placing a finger on her unpainted mouth. "You can go back to being a hard-nose bitch tomorrow. Tonight - you're my Parker and you're as helpless as a kitten up a tree".

Miss Parker shivers as his fingers trace patterns along her bare skin. He's already kissed her everywhere, his hands and mouth have imprinted themselves on her body the way his mind is always playing games with hers.

"Why did you come here tonight?" she asks him harshly, her eyes wide and vulnerable.

"For you, for this," he tells her and then his mouth covers hers again and she sighs against him. "You tried to save that little girl - I saw the look in your eyes when you failed".

He uses his thumb to wipe away the tear that slides down her cheek.

There's sex, comfort - and something else.


Miss Parker is alone when she wakes up the next morning. The bed is still warm from where Jarod's long body lay beside hers. She can still smell him and taste him on her tongue. The musky scent of sex hangs in the air, but Jarod is gone.

The phone rings and Parker answers it, knowing exactly whose smug, familiar voice she will hear.

"What?" she demands abruptly, her fingers clutching the bedsheets convulsively like talons.

"Good morning to you, too, Miss Parker," Jarod's voice says humorously. She can see him smiling at her and tries to forget how it felt to have that clever mouth against hers.

"This changes nothing," she says harshly.

Jarod's laugh is low, dark and wicked. The sound is like another forbidden caress.

"Too late".