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Strike a Pose - Complete Story

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Chapter One: Getting cold feet after all?

 

After the one night spent together, Sharon had still not called Sam. It might have been due to the fact she was still at odds with sleeping with a stranger. Then again, Sharon could not recall ever been as sated as she had been after that night. It had simply been, perfection. And that scared her too.

 

And so, three weeks had gone by while Sharon had been quite busy with her work. With several solved cases under her belt, she felt on top of the world. Yet her thoughts kept wandering back to the heated night spent with the stranger she had met in the bar.

 

***

 

Sharon stepped into the Murder Room wondering what the commotion currently happening around Lieutenant Tao's desk was all about. Stepping closer she could see the reason why. They were all staring into the computer screen, where the web page of a noted photographer was open. It was showing a full page advertisement for an upon coming photo exhibition. That of the renowned photographer Samantha McCloud.

 

Sharon recognised her face immediately. And she was also positively surprised to find out the identity of her one night stand. Sharon moved closer to the screen to have a look with the rest of her squad.

 

"Look at the boobs on that one" Provenza pointed out half drooling. "I thought models were more skinnier than that?"

 

Sharon rolled her eyes. Only Provenza would notice the breasts before anything else. Not that Sharon herself wasn't looking at the exact same place though. But still! The mindset of that man!

 

"That's the photographer." Sharon stated knowingly recognising the full breasts and body which had been haunting her dreams for the past few weeks. The others turned to look at her in surprise then, but she held her stance. "It says so in the caption." 'Lucky save, Sharon' she thought, realising her little faux pas.

 

"Yeah, that's her." Amy added knowingly. "Monica says the swimsuit models have a little more on the top though." Amy continued to educate her fellow team members. ”Oh, and Lieutenant," Amy turned towards Provenza with a smug smirk on her face. ”just FYI, she is gay."

 

"The good ones always are." Provenza added with some defeat in his voice, even if there most likely was little if no chance for him to score with a woman like that, straight or otherwise.

 

"Who is Monica?" Sharon asked curiously from her underling.

 

"She's the assistant for the Artist, Sam." Amy replied smugly as clearly, she knew these people well.

 

“Oh?” Sharon asked wide eyed. “And you are acquainted with them?" Sharon continued probing.

 

"Well, sort of.” There was a huge grin on her face now. “I met Monica at a get together." Amy was bending the truth a little. It had actually been a gay bar and they had kind of hooked up.

 

"So, you could get us invited to the exhibit then?" Tao asked wanting to get there and see what was on display, as he was really fond of the arts as well as the next person.

 

"I could try." Amy told him, not sure as the exhibit was quite the event of the season as Monica had put it.

 

“Good! Then count me in." Tao looked at the others to see their interest. “That is if you get the tickets of course.” He added.

 

"Excellent! I am in too!" Sharon said gingerly. This would be a great excuse for her to see Sam. “Let’s make it a team event!” She added quickly trying to cover all her tracks, even if it wasn’t really necessary as nobody seemed to take a note on her sudden interest in the exhibit.

 

Andy looked at Sharon, then back to Amy. "We can all go, you know, together?" Andy looked at the others. He wanted to go if Sharon was going to go there too. “I mean as a team as you said?” Glaring back at Sharon now.

 

"It's settled then!" Amy summed up, hoping she had some influence with Monica.

 

She was hoping to actually be able to use her connection to get the team on to the invite list. After all, Sam McCloud was the new hip thing in town and there were a lot of public figures on 'the list' as Monica had referred to it during their pillow talk. But, this was an elite squad in the LAPD, so that was the angle Amy was going with her new, well, friend with benefits?

Chapter Two: At the photo exhibit

 

Luckily Monica was extremely infatuated with Amy and was ready to bend over backwards to get her latest 'object of affections' circle of friends into the event.

 

The four Major Crimes team members had arrived at the exhibit. After a brief chat with Monica who promised to introduce the team to the Artist later on, they decided to each take their own routes through the exhibit itself. Tao went his way, while Amy hooked up with Monica. Andy was shadowing Sharon, even though she tried to make a quick getaway from him as he seemed totally clingy. There were celebrities and other public figures attending the opening of the exhibit as well. After all, Samantha McCloud seemed to be the latest house hold name in photography.

 

After some time, Monica finally managed to get the Major Crimes team an audience with Sam. Monica guided the team towards the Artist standing in the middle of attention. And, Sam was a vision. Standing tall, dressed in a revealing red dress. With the high heels adding the little extra height to the statuesque brunette. Sam of course, having already noticed Sharon and having kept on eye on the auburn beauty only wishing their paths would cross sooner than later.

 

Monica introduced each of them to Sam. Since Sharon had not indicated any familiarity with her what so ever, Sam had decided to go along with Sharon's choice and simply play it as if they had never met before. She was a little surprised of this, but then soon realised the reason why.

 

Sam had noted Lt. Flynn clinging onto Sharon at each turn and suspected there was more going on than just a friendly outing between co-workers. Sam wasn't too happy about the situation and felt like she had been played by Sharon. Then again, picking up strangers in bars sometimes caused regrets like that. Sam also had her own set of rules to follow and decided it was better to let go of any further thoughts where Sharon was concerned.

 

After the pleasantries had been exchanged, Tao had engaged Sam in a conversation of a technical nature. The others were not so interested in exposure, focal lengths or aperture and so, had moved a little farther away to chat about other topics. Amy was naturally finding herself side by side with Monica again. They seemed to be very friendly and cosy together as Sharon had noticed. Sharon had also caught Andy staring at Sam's cleavage intently once again, as he had when glaring at the picture on the computer. Sharon, feeling coy, decided to play with him a little. Paybacks and all that!

 

"You seem to be enjoying yourself!" Sharon commented rather sarcastically to Andy.

 

"What? I was just admiring her photogenic assets, that's all" Andy tried to get off the hook he was hanging tightly on.

 

"I'm sure you were" Sharon replied sounding a tad annoyed, but not because of Andy, rather because of Sam. Perhaps feeling a tad jealous too.

 

And Sharon wasn't an innocent one either. Her thoughts and eyes were wandering exactly to the same place Andy's had been in. Probably even further in. 'Who can blame him! I am as guilty as he is staring at her breasts. She is gorgeous and all I want to do is to rip her clothes off and fuck her until she screams my name right here and now!’ Sharon’s inner voice was telling her.

 

***

 

Later in the evening, when some of the hassle had settled down there was more room and privacy to walk around the vast showroom. Sharon had stopped by a particular photograph, named simply as '47'. It was a delicate nude, posing sideways with her face in the shadow but her full breasts, stomach and long legs partly displayed in a dim light. Sharon thought there was something familiar in the picture but could not quite put her finger on what it was.

 

Sam had noticed Sharon taking a liking to the picture and decided to strike a conversation with her on that very subject. After all, Sharon was a guest and Sam was nothing if not a good hostess.

 

Sharon, who had been staring at the picture and lost in thought, was roused from the deep state only when she realised another person was standing right beside her. Sam had appeared a few moments ago, but had let Sharon admire the picture in peace.

 

"You like this picture?" Sam then asked when it seemed that Sharon was not going to recover from wherever she was any time soon.

 

Sharon was startled. She realised she had been caught staring at the nude beauty and she also felt pretty embarrassed of having been done so. She cleared her throat hastily before answering. "Yes, it is actually very lovely." 

 

'What the hell kind of comment was that? Come on Sharon, you can do better than that! After all, you are talking to the Artist who pours her heart out into her work. And you really, really like this one don't you!' Sharon's inner voice berated her.

 

"Thanks!" Sam smirked. "Lovely, was exactly, were I was going for!" Sam was amused and knew she had disturbed Sharon from her thoughts and dragged her out from obviously some place very pleasant. She could clearly tell Sharon was smitten by the image and probably had been drooling over it for a while before Sam arrived. And also, that she was now a little embarrassed and at a loss for words. But Sam was going to milk this one some more. She had to get her kicks from some place and pay backs are a bitch after all!

 

Sharon looked at Sam. She was mesmerised by the intent grey blue stare fixed right into her own eyes. It took a few moments before Sharon was able to speak again.

 

"What I meant is, that it is a vision of beauty and it caught my eye immediately." Sharon finally managed to utter the compliment she had meant to earlier. 

 

"I am glad you like it." Sam decided to forgo further leg-pulling and was content in hearing Sharon's praise of the picture. "So, did you find anything else of interest while browsing?" Sam asked then, fully understanding the implication of the words only after they had escaped her lips.

 

As Sam had been afraid, Sharon caught right on the double entendre as she contemplated a moment before answering with her eyes fixed on Sam's the whole time. Then taking a long lingering look over Sam's body she replied.

 

"Actually, yes." She said with coy smile on her lips.

 

Sam inhaled sharply. She had not expected this reaction at all from Sharon. But she did not want to pursue that particular train of thought. Rather she decided to be on her best behaviour and fell into her full business mode.

 

"Well, I am sure if there are several items you like, we can make a great deal for you." Sam made her sales pitch with a soft smile, something she used on her clients, knowing they wanted to purchase her works.

 

Sharon was a little disappointed, that the sexual innuendo was over. But being the detective she was, she could deduce where this was coming from. Sharon had deliberately not let on to anyone, that she already knew the Artist. This was mainly for the benefit of Andy. Sharon was not prepared to answer any awkward questions which may have risen from him. She also wasn't too happy about how Andy acted around her, all clingy and needy at the same time. Especially since they were not together together this evening.

 

"That is good to know." Sharon replied simply.

 

Sam offered to give Sharon a private tour and to open up the background on some of her works. If Sharon was interested of course. Sharon agreed and they made a small tour stopping for a moment longer by those woks which Sharon particular liked.

 

When they had completed the brief tour and had stopped for a drink, Sam decided to be bolder and ask Sharon about the relationship with Andy.

 

"I noticed you lost your shadow" Sam stated trying to make a joke of it.

 

"Andy is," Sharon started not sure how to explain the situation. And whether she even knew herself what it was. So, trying her very best to explain, she simply said. ”Sometimes he can be very protective and does not know when to back off.” It was a half truth but still, something, better than nothing of an explanation.

 

"Guess that is a desirable quality in a partner?" Sam asked, trying to probe further.

 

Completely ignoring the word ‘partner’, but knowing full well Sam had thought Andy and she were together there as a couple, Sharon simply chose to reply: "It can be endearing yes. But it can also be a little suffocating."

 

"Well, guess the thought is what counts." Sam continued. Since there had been no denial of a relationship, Sam assumed the worst. At least where she was concerned.

 

Sharon wasn't sure how to get out of this conversation anymore as the turn of it to her relationship with Andy was not something she wanted to discuss. So, she tried to end it with a cryptic response.”It’s complicated."

 

Sam nodded in understanding and also agreeing it was time to finish the conversation as well. She then responded rather sympathetically: "It usually is."

 

Sam then turned to look around and noticed Andy coming towards them. Sharon was none too happy about it. She wanted to spend more time with Sam, but she was also guessing that the time was up for them. At least for now.

 

Sam turned towards Sharon and said: "Well, I wish you a great evening!"

 

And without another word, she moved away from Sharon. Noticing another one of her guests waving at her Sam quickly walked to her and started a conversation while trying to put her personal feelings and Sharon right behind her, where they belonged.

 

Andy was standing next to Sharon, but his eyes remained fixated on Sam. It was no secret Andy liked a pair of nice looking knockers as Provenza had put it. But it seemed he had developed a crush on Sam's pair. Sharon was getting really annoyed and jealous. Not because Andy was staring at other women. But because he was staring at Sharon's woman. Okay, so not her woman. Not yet at least. She then deliberately moved right in front of Andy, restricting his view. Sharon was giving Andy her trade mark stare.

 

"I am going home now." No good night, no explanation other than. "I will grab a taxi."

 

And she was gone leaving a confused puppy dog eyed Lieutenant standing all by his lonesome looking like he just peed on the floor and had been punished for it.

 

Chapter Three: Shopping for art

 

The very next day, Sharon returned to the gallery where the photo exhibition had been held the previous night. She picked up the items she wanted, including the work simply labelled as '47'. And, as promised, Sharon received a generous discount. Because Sam had left a note to the gallerist noting, that if Sharon was to return there, she would be given one. The gallery also promised a home delivery of said art work to the Captain of the Major Crimes team, as was the deal also.

 

Sharon then stepped out from the gallery gingerly, only too happy of her purchase of art. After a moment of contemplating of what she had just done. Not because she did not buy art, because she did being a patron of the arts and all, rather where to put them at her condo, and once having a few ideas of the were exactly, she felt satisfied. She then got into her car and drove back to the office to continued her work day. After all, the cases did not get solved by themselves!

 

***

 

Later the same day, Sam had dropped by the gallery to walk through the purchases which were placed after the exhibition. She did this usually after the event simply to make sure they had everything needed in stock. Much to Sam's surprise, the work labeled as '47' had been the biggest seller. As Sam was checking through the names of the clients, she noticed one Sharon Raydor on the list. Sam could not help but smile.

 

What the general public, or Sharon Raydor, did not know was, that the photo in question actually was a self portrait of the Artist herself. Something, which Sam also intended to keep that way, even if she wasn’t ashamed of her own body, far from it. But it was just her way of doing things. Sometimes posing for herself, as it were and leaving something more of herself behind as well in the process.

 

Chapter Four: Looking for love or a hook up?

 

The following weekend after yet another exhausting few days of chasing suspects, Sharon ended up at the club again. She had asked Sam's assistant as to where to find Sam. Since after the last awkward conversation they had had, she did not want to call her and ask her directly either. It was not as Sharon was stalking the photographer. But she did not want to be rejected either, not before Sharon had a chance to explain herself.

 

Sharon wanted Sam, that much was sure. No one had been able to turn her heat on and push her buttons quite like Sam had. But Sharon also had issues with Andy who had gotten into his head, that the two of them were in a relationship of sorts. Sharon had tried to gently lead Andy towards the truth. But for what ever reason, he was unable or unwilling to take the hint.

 

Sharon had entered the bar and was scanning the room for any sign of Sam. Sharon's eyes quickly landed on the familiar figure. Sam was surrounded by a few women, who seemed to be asking for her autographs. Sharon moved closer and could hear the women giggling and then, she noticed two of them flirting with Sam as well. Sharon was not pleased to see this, at all.

 

Sharon stepped closer and Sam noticed her immediately. It was difficult not to. Sharon had an effect on Sam. Making Sam's skin tingle and her heart beat faster the minute Sharon entered Sam's radar. Something which most women lacked to do to her.

 

"Sharon." Sam greeted her with a smile.

 

"Sam, ladies." Sharon was nothing if not polite despite the fact she felt like punching the women currently surrounding Sam."May I have a word with you?”Sharon asked. “In private?" She added, then giving the other women around Sam a stern look.

 

The other women just nodded and looked at Sam. Sam looked at the women and simply said to them. “Ladies, please excuse us for a minute." And then taking Sharon by her arm and guiding her farther away for more privacy.

 

"So, what's up?" Sam asked casually. She was actually far from cool or casual, but she pulled it off somehow.

 

"I would like to talk to you about what happened the other night." Sharon started.

 

She wasn't actually sure as to how to explain or what to explain. There really was nothing to explain. Part from her being a scaredy-cat and not calling Sam after their night together. Then she had let Sam think she and Andy were together. Not any of her proudest moments that much was for sure.

 

"I am sorry I have been acting the way I have. I have no excuse." There, she had said it. "Sam," Sharon was trying to argue her case some more just then. "I want you." She stated simply while staring intently into Sam’s eyes.

 

"Sharon, I am not going to sleep with you, if that is what you are after." Sam started. ”What ever you may think of me…” Sam paused and looked back at Sharon. “I have guidelines I like to follow, you know.” Sam wasn’t sure why Sharon was here now, after she had shown up at the gallery with someone she was clearly involved with.

 

“And what might those guidelines be?" Sharon asked, a little frustrated of the way the conversation was going now.

 

"Breaking up relationships is not on my to do list." Sam replied. “Nor do I like to play the role of the woman on the side either.” She then added making her meaning quite clear, hopefully. After all, this was not Sam’s first rodeo.

 

"You mean Lieutenant Flynn and myself?" Sharon asked, knowing the answer too well.

 

"Yes, you and Lieutenant Flynn." Was Sam's curt response.

 

"It's not…” Sharon was trying hard to explain the situation not wanting to argue about it. “The two of us are not in a relationship." Sharon was clearly loosing this battle. She should have come clean earlier was something she was berating herself about, then again, well, guess Andy was a crutch for her not to get involved either.

 

"Does the Lieutenant know this?" Sam was sure he did not by the looks of things during the opening of her exhibit.

 

Sharon was shaking her head in frustration, knowing that Andy was not living the same day dream as she was, at all.

 

Sam stepped closer to Sharon and placed her hand under Sharon's jaw. Only gently touching her. She brushed Sharon's lips softly with one finger. Looking Sharon in the eyes and with soft low voice Sam said to her. ”Sharon, I like you very much. You are very exquisite and I would like nothing more than to be with you. But, you have to sort out what you want and whom you want it with."

 

Sam removed her hand, turned around and walked out from the bar. Leaving a very confused and sad Sharon standing all by her lonesome there.

 

Chapter Five: A lonesome week followed by another

 

Two weeks later and after several restless nights filled with reoccurring dreams of a certain artist, Sharon had perfected a routine of masturbating. As being inspired by the photograph titled simply as '47'. But even staring at the photograph, which she now suspected was that of Sam herself, was not the same as having the real thing warming her bed. She had reached this conclusion after a careful examination of her inner being and remembering the details of the perfect body she had spent the one night with. She simply had an itch, which only Sam could scratch.

 

Sharon had learned through Amy, that Sam was on an assignment for a fortnight and was returning some time this evening. Sharon was sitting in her living room sipping wine when she decided to end her own suffering and pay Sam a visit. Feeling cocky she dialled Sam's number.

 

"Sam McCloud, how may I be of service?" Sam was answering the phone in her pro-mode. She had not recognised the number and decided to be on the safe side in case a client was calling.

 

"Hi, it's Sharon. How are you?" Sharon asked trying to act all casual.

 

"Well, I am settling back home." Sam responded not sure as to the reason of the call. “After having been away for a while.” She added to explain what she meant.

 

"Don't move! I'll be right there!” Sharon then quickly stated before she was able to change her own mind of the resolve she seemed to have right now.

 

All Sam could hear on the other end was a 'click' and the call had ended. She looked at her phone in disbelief, not sure what to make of the call at all.

 

***

 

Some ten minutes later, the doorbell rang and Sam went to answer. Sam had already changed into her night gown. This time it was meaning short hello kitty shorts and a tiny, tiny tight top.

 

Sam opened the door. Sharon was standing there, dressed in a trench coat. Sam looked at her, both happy and confused at the same time, but wondering why the look and also, why she was there now.

 

"Has it started raining?" Sam asked somewhat confused as it was pretty warm still outside, no need for coats at all in her opinion.

 

Sharon did not respond. She entered Sam's flat and pushed her against the nearest wall. Holding Sam against the wall, Sharon kissed her, hard and passionately. Sam was about to protest, but Sharon deepened the kiss and and then started roaming Sam's body with her hands. Sharon then broke off the kiss and her contact with Sam. Leaving Sam standing there, panting and wide eyed.

 

Sharon stepped back and slowly opened the belt of her coat. Then opening the coat, revealing what she was wearing underneath. A see-through black lacy bra and matching panties. Sharon removed the coat in a slow and tantalising striptease.

 

Sam could not take her eyes off of Sharon. She was staring at the scene with her mouth open. Sharon was a vision in her undergarments and high heels. Sam could feel her juices flowing and pooling in her tiny shorts. She was hooked. Rules and regulations be damned. All she wanted was Sharon.

 

Before Sam managed to move, Sharon grabbed her by her arm and dragged her off to the bedroom. Sharon was clearly in control and Sam could only follow her lead. Once in the bedroom, Sharon pushed Sam onto the bed and pounced on her, pinning Sam down while slowly and tortuously kissing her. Sharon was glad of the easy access she had and it wasn't too much of an effort to remove Sam's ‘night wear’. Sharon was finally getting her way and getting rid of several weeks worth of frustration in the process.

 

Chapter Six: Business as usual

 

A few weeks had passed since the night Sharon had appeared at Sam's flat. After their night together, they had ended up spending the whole weekend in bed. And also finally having 'the talk', clearing any and all misunderstandings. After that, they had been spending more and more nights together and going out on dates too.

 

It seemed, that Sharon and Sam were now in some sort of an established relationship. Andy  too, seemed to be a little confused as to why Sharon was going out with Sam several nights a week. And then even planning to spend weekends with her as well. But there wasn't much he could do about it, since Sharon was out of the door as soon as the working days were over. And not giving the man any time to probe to her situation either. After all, it was her business and nobody else’s.

 

Sharon was happy she finally had a normal relationship with someone she did not have to talk shop with. Someone she cared for a lot and loved to make love to. She and Sam were often going to exhibits, museums, concerts, even the ballet and the opera. There was also talk about some trips abroad. Sam had suggested Sharon could join her occasionally on her work trips and they could spend the free time together. Or remain a few days or so after the work part was over.

 

There was something else Sam had also proposed to Sharon. Actually it had not been a suggestion rather a request. Sam wanted Sharon to pose nude for her. Something which had been on her mind the first time she had seen Sharon, naked and other wise. Sharon had initially refused. Even though Sam had told her that these specific photos would only be for her personal use. Turnabouts and all that. Because she knew about the number 47 in Sharon’s boudoir now and what she had done with it, in a manner of speaking.

 

But, despite of initially declining the privilege, the thought of posing nude for Sam had remained on her mind. And now, she was thinking of actually agreeing to do it, at some point at least. After all, Sam had assured her they would remain in her personal possession only.

 

Chapter Seven: Encounters in the office

 

Sam was back from her short work trip and had decided to surprise Sharon. Luckily the trip had ended a little sooner than planned as the work had finished and she was back two days earlier as well. Sam knew Sharon was busy working on a case and that she would find her in her office. So, with that in mind, she prepared herself for a visit to the office of her lover.

 

***

 

Sam entered the Murder Room. And, with no one in sight, she continued to the Captain's office. The blinds were folded, meaning Sharon wanted to be undisturbed. Most likely doing paper work or similar, Sam then thought and continued on her way there. Carrying a picnic basket, dressed in a short skirt for an obvious purpose, she hoped to coax the busy Captain for a break.

 

As she peeped through the window, Sam could see that Sharon was on the phone with her back turned to the door and standing in front of her desk. Clearly arguing about some lost evidence with someone, at least from what of June could hear from behind the door.

 

Sam entered the room quietly and closed the door behind her. Moving close to the Captain, standing only inches away from her, she put the basket on the desk. Sharon noticed it and quickly looked over her shoulder. She was happy to see Sam of course. But she was also very busy trying to solve the case. Covering the received with her hand whispering.

 

"Hi!" Sharon said smiling.

 

"Hello!" Sam replied gingerly.

 

"I am busy" Sharon continued.

 

"I can see that" Sam replied softly, but not moving away either.

 

Sharon turned her concentration back to the call, as clearly she was pissed off at whomever was on the other end of the line she was talking with.

 

Sam had been prepared for her lover to be too busy for any kind of formal break, even if she had maybe hoped for one. And even though they had not seen each other for several days, Sharon was still very much in full professional mode and seemed to want to continue to be that way. Therefore Sam was moving, to plan B.

 

Sam moved even closer to Sharon, boxing her in between the desk and her own body. Sam pressed herself against Sharon, her breasts pushing against Sharon's back. Sam then snaked her arms around Sharon's torso and made her way to Sharon's breasts. Brushing them ever so lightly with her palms at first. She heard the familiar gasp coming out of her lover’s mouth as Sharon was now listening in rather than talking. Sharon who was still on the call had not heard what the person on the other end had been telling her, at all as the sensations had taken over which they usually did when Sam was involved, closing all else outside their bubble.

 

"Could you repeat that Captain?" The voice on the other end asked her.

 

"Sorry, it was nothing, please go on." Sharon replied and turned back once more with a warning look, even if she was already starting to heat up in the able hands of Sam’s.

 

But Sam didn't flinch this time either. She was here to see her lover after a break and also to relieve the Captain's stress, as she had told herself the reason for coming there in the first place even if Sam knew Sharon was busy. And therefore, no look was going to make her stop what she had planned to do.

 

Being taller than Sharon, Sam had an advantage point standing behind her. Her face inches away from Sharon's neck, she moved closer and inhaled her scent. Sharon had chosen a light perfume for the day. Holding one hand on Sharon's waist, the other free, Sam gently brushed off Sharon's hair gaining access to the soft skin on her neck. She caressed the curvy line with her finger and then with her lips, placed feathery kisses along the pulse points.

 

Sam moved both her hands back to the front, gently massaging Sharon's belly through the thin material of her shirt. Sam started unbuttoning it and let it hang open when done. She moved her hands over the bra clad breasts next. Making contact with both at the same time, this time more intently.

 

Sharon gasped louder now. She was also getting majorly distracted and was unable to make a clear comment, never mind being able to understand what the other person was telling her on the phone.

 

"Listen, something has come up. I need to call you back!" And she hung up without much of an apology or good bye, making Sam almost feel sorry for that person. Almost.

 

Sam was smiling against Sharon's skin. Kissing her way further to Sharon's jaw line, causing Sharon to turn her head. And so, Sam had gotten Sharon's full attention.

 

"Sam, honey, as much as it pleases me to see you earlier than excepted…” She paused and closed her eyes as the kisses continued. But then she tried again. “I am in the middle of something and I don't have time..." Sharon started but was interrupted by another of Sam's kisses. The kiss was soft but demanding and on her lips this time.

 

"Yeah, I know. You told me." Sam responded between kisses, with no intention of stopping what she was doing.

 

Sam's hands were busy on Sharon's breasts. She opened the hook on Sharon's bra, releasing the hardened captives from their jail. She grabbed them into her hands. Squeezing and massaging at first, then with skilful fingers kneading the erect peaks.

 

"Oh God!" was the only thing Sharon could utter.

 

It had been a hell of a day! And despite the after office hours of the day now, Sharon was still working and having had no time to eat during the whole long day either. So, Sharon was totally tense and non too happy about the whole situation, at all.

Sam knew of course, that time was short and she had to speed up things. She also knew Sharon's sense of duty would soon take over and her well laid plans would fly out the window, if she did not act right now.

 

Sam continued to caress Sharon's breast but manoeuvred the other hand downward finding the hemline of Sharon's skirt. Pushing the fabric up in one swift move her hand found its way inside Sharon's panties. Sam found there the soft and already wet curls and couldn't help smiling. 'That was fast' she thought.

 

Sharon was torn. On the other hand she was hell bent on solving the case today. But the odds were against her. Evidence was still lost and there was nothing she could do about it. Then there was Sam. She was helpless against Sam's skilful fingers and mouth playing her like a fine tuned instrument. Sharon knew anyone could burst into her office at any minute even if it was quite late in the day. But there was still daylight, so there was that to consider as the police worked pretty much twenty-four seven. But then she felt Sam's finger working on her sex and her mind went blank and any other thoughts went down out the window.

 

Sharon leaned her head back onto Sam's shoulder. And without further arguments, she was letting the talented digits play on her hot wet sex. At this point, the Chief of police themselves could have walked in and Sharon would not care. Sharon felt a cold and hot tingling of her body at the same time on every nerve ending. And there was nothing she could complain about, at all.

 

Sam felt Sharon to be close and ready to come soon enough. But she had something else in mind too as she whispered in her lover's ear: "Sharon, I want you to lean forward." And she stopped all of her ministrations.

 

"Huh?" Sharon had been in a bliss and waiting for her release, but was rudely interrupted from the state leaving her somewhat angry and a frustrated as well.

 

"Lean forward." Sam repeated her order.

 

Sharon was a bit confused still, but obeyed nevertheless.

 

Once in position, Sam pushed Sharon's skirt even further up and removed her panties. Sharon was in a position now of bending over her desk with her derrière fully exposed to the cool air and for Sam's eyes to stare. Sam licked her lips. Then bent over to kiss Sharon's soft skin. Her tongue darting to the crevice. She was holding onto Sharon's hips and felt her shiver. She kissed and licked all the way to Sharon's sex, tasting and savouring the nectar which was now dripping in abundance. Sam could have continued doing this all day, but, time was of the essence.

 

Reluctantly removing her mouth, hearing Sharon whimper in objection again, she then positioned herself.

She hiked her own skirt up, and so with that, revealing her plan. The purple fake phallus jutted up cheerfully from between her legs. She coated it with Sharon's juices before moving in to position. Tickling Sharon's entrance with the appendix slowly, teasingly, not moving inside right away.

 

Sharon was surprised. This was not what she had been expecting at all.

 

"Tell me what you want?" Sam coaxed Sharon.

 

"Inside! Now!" Sharon tried to make it sound like a command but it sounded more like a plead really.

 

Sam pushed the dildo inside, little by little, making sure Sharon was ready for her.

 

Sharon was holding on to her desk for dear life, when she felt Sam push inside of her.

 

Sam started moving her extension in and out of Sharon, moving faster and faster. Holding onto Sharon's hip for leverage Sam was working overtime ensuring her lovers release. Sharon was panting and whimpering and very close. Sam moved one hand around Sharon’s torso landing on her clit. She was flicking the hooded nubbin with her fingers, rubbing it in the same rhythm as she was pushing the dildo, as it went deep inside of Sharon. Soon enough Sharon's body started to shake. Followed by a loud “Oh. My. God.” Sam could feel and hear her lover coming, hard.

 

Sam extracted herself from Sharon and turned her around. Sam was holding her in an embrace, softly kissing and cooing to her, taking care of her lover.

 

"That was a really nice surprise" Sharon complemented Sam after she had calmed down a little.

 

"I thought you needed a break." Sam was grinning.

 

"Thank you." Sharon responded and kissed Sam.

 

When they broke off, Sam straightened herself.

 

"Well, you have your case to resolve and I need to go." Sam said and noticed the discarded panties on the floor. She picked them up and balled them in her hand.

 

"What are you doing with my panties?" Sharon was curious, not angry, rather amused.

 

"Well, I need something to sustain myself before you get home, don't I?" Sam grinned wickedly.

 

Kissing the Captain one final time goodbye, Sam left the office. She then turned back and quipped. "Enjoy your late lunch!" She was pointing at the basket on the table. And with a smile on her face, she was out of the room.

 

Chapter Eight: All is well that ends well?

 

A few months later

 

Sharon had fallen into a light slumber when her phone vibrated indicating an incoming call. Recognising the caller id as that of Lieutenant Provenza, she picked up the device to answer.

 

"Yes, what is it Lieutenant?"

 

Sharon was angry for being woken from a pleasant dream. Sam, who had been off on a photo shoot for two weeks, was supposed to arrive home today. Due to Sharon's hectic working schedule they had decided to postpone their get together until the next day when Sharon was having a day off.

 

"There has been a murder." Provenza started, not sure on how to break the news to his Captain, not that a murder was really news to their small squad.

 

"And? Can't you handle it? I'm supposed to have a day off tomorrow, remember?" Sharon was getting annoyed at the Lieutenant.

 

"I think you want to be in on this one." Provenza stated rather cryptically.

 

“Okay…” Sharon wasn’t sure of the why, but it wasn’t like Provenza to call her for nothing either. “Please text me the address." Sharon was a tad alarmed now, not sure why she was needed at the scene. She quickly rose up from the sofa she had dozed off on earlier. Adjusting her clothing and hair, she then picked up her bag and keys and left the apartment.

 

***

 

Sharon arrived at the murder scene in record time. She scanned the overall area visually and then quickly realised why Provenza had insisted on her coming to the scene. Sharon slowly walked to the parked police car where their suspect had been placed in. Her heart started beating faster as she got closer to the vehicle. Feeling a lump in her throat forming she kept on moving.

 

As she reached the car, she opened the door and stepped inside into the back seat. She was sitting beside the suspect now. Not making eye contact at first, but then, slowly turning towards them. The suspect looked back at her, but did not say a word. Sharon took a deep breath. She did not have any the facts yet, but she wanted to hear the other side of the story first, as this was clearly no ordinary case.

 

"Care to tell me what happened?" Sharon asked in a low tone.

 

"I tried to revive her, but she was already gone..." Sam started talking hoarsely, the words getting caught in her throat. She was in shock and had clearly been crying too. "All that blood..." Sam could not say anything more at the moment.

 

"Okay." Sharon was at loss of words too. She could not believe Sam had been apprehended as the prime suspect. And in a murder case no less. "Stay put. I will go and talk to the others." Sharon got out, but then turned back and added. "I will be back."

 

Chapter Nine: Suspect Number One

 

The next day

 

"Stay put. I will go and talk to the others.” As Sharon got out from the car she turned back and added. ”I will be back."

 

The words still echoed in Sam's head. She had fallen asleep in the jail cell the police were holding her in. Sam had not seen Sharon again last night though, despite her promise. Two uniformed officers had driven her down town for holding and that was where she was pretty much at right now.

 

Sam was going through what had happened the night before over and over in her mind. But no matter how much she dwelled on it all, she could not make any sense of it at all. Of course it did not help Sam's case, that she had been caught red handed, literally at the murder scene. According to her own words, she had tried to revive the victim. She had also claimed to the officers to have been alerted to the scene by the victim herself. The one who had later turned out to be Sam’s ex. And as their last dying words were those of calling Sam, did not look good for her at all. As it was when Sam had arrived it had already been too late to revive her friend. Worst of all though, excluding the fact that her friend had been killed of course, was the look in Sharon's eyes when she had found Sam sitting there hand cuffed. A prime suspect, the likes which Sharon ate for breakfast. Well that was the expression Provenza used anyway for the murderers. But, Sam had not killed her friend, her ex. She had only tried to help her, right? The whole thing felt so off and fuzzy in her reeling mind at this very moment.

 

During the past months, she and Sharon had gotten so close. Closer than Sam had ever been with anyone. They did not live together, but spent alternate nights and weekends at each others homes. Sam had even made friends with some of Sharon's team. Mike and Provenza liked her for various reasons of course. Amy, and Buzz, whom with she often talked all things photography and their other shared interests like the gay scene in the city and all that. And then there was Andy. After the initial shock of finding out his supposed 'girlfriend' was actually dating someone else, let alone someone reoccurring in his sex dreams. Plus that fact that it was a woman who had won the heart of the Captain. Well, he had been in shock for a while, but then, he had gotten used to it. After all, he still had a tiny crush on Sam's assets, so he had that going for himself. But now, things had changed. Drastically so. If she only had a chance to talk to Sharon and explain everything. Surely, she would understand? At least, that is what Sam hoped. Sam lay back on the uncomfortable bunk and buried her head in the pillow. She started sobbing, without any sounds to be heard.

 

***

 

The night before

 

Sharon was torn. She was hoping this was all a bad dream and she would soon wake up. As she was walking toward the scene of the crime, she was contemplating on the situation. Could Sam really be the killer? Sharon had only known her for a little while, so perhaps there was a side of Sam she did not know at all. But then again she was also doubting whether Sam could really do such a heinous crime. Sharon also trusted her instincts and judgment of people and above all, Sharon trusted Sam.

 

As Sam was a public figure now, Sharon knew the tabloids would have a field day of this case. Her relationship with Sam was well known among the small circle of friends and colleagues as well. But it was not a matter of public knowledge. Sharon knew, the obvious thing would be to excuse herself from the investigation and let Provenza take over. As after all these years, she trusted his judgement above all others. But, for the time being, she simply could not do that.

 

Sharon walked through the murder scene, recording all the evidence into her mind. The position of the victim, the blood, the overall surroundings and then quickly glancing through the rest of the house as well. She noted one thing there, which concerned her. There was an image of the victim and Sam on the victims desk. Sharon stared at it for a good while. Both women were smiling and had their arms around each other. It looked innocent and friendly enough. But still, Sharon could only wonder if there was more there even now.

 

After Sharon was satisfied with her findings, she left the scene and drove straight into her office. The rest of the team remained behind to make sure they had everything on record. And that all the evidence was packed for further study and analysis. When she arrived at the office, she was informed that the suspect had been printed and paper work had been done and was now locked up in the holding cell. Just in case Sharon wanted to interview her. Sharon did not. She was not prepared to meet Sam again despite her promise. No, not tonight, not until she had all the facts clear in front of her.

 

Chapter Ten: The line-up

 

Sam was standing next to some very rough looking characters. Not the the grey jumpsuit and sneakers did anything for her look either. But surely she had a more innocent face than any of these pierced and tattooed thugs standing with her in the lineup.

 

"Number two, step up!” The voice inside the booth demanded over the loud speaker.

 

Number two took the ordered two steps forward.

 

"Turn to the side." The voice boomed again.

 

Number two did as ordered.

 

"Thank you. You can step back in the line." The voice then said.

 

There was a short silence. No orders to be heard and no one spoke in the lineup either as they were so advised not to.

 

"Number five, step forward." The voice broke the silence.

 

That was Sam's number. She looked at the others standing beside her, back at the mirror in front of them, then unsurely stepped forward.

 

"Turn to the left." The voice ordered Sam.

 

What seemed like forever, Sam standing there, with no further orders forthcoming, Sam was getting scared. What the hell was happening here?

 

"Number five, you can step back now, thank you." The voice gave its final order.

 

Two policemen entered the room and guided the six suspects out. Sam was returned to her cell. As the door closed, she just remained standing there. Wondering what was going to happen next.

 

Sam had spent the night and the better part of the day in the holding cell. No one had come to see her or ask her anything except to take her to the lineup and back. She was  not even allowed her one phone call, just liked they did in the movies, so she was sure it was the regulation or something. After all, she had never been in this situation. She wanted to talk to Sharon, but at this point she suspected a lawyer would be a better choice for her.

 

***

 

Behind the mirror

 

"Take a good look at the suspects, Miss. And rest assure, they cannot see you." The officer told the young woman, clad in a sort of a librarian outfit right out of the fifties fashion catalogue. She looked old for her age. Quite possibly due to the heavy glasses and bad hair day and the old school clothing making the outlook of it to be.

 

"Are you sure?" The woman seemed worried the suspect might dash through the mirror and assault her at any given moment.

 

"Quite sure, Miss." The officer comforted her. "If you see anyone that resembles the prowler you saw by Miss Suttons house? Then just tell me and we'll take a closer look, okay?"

 

"Alright." she simply replied.

 

The witness was staring at the group for a while. Seemingly a similar looking bunch they were. With one exception. There was only one person, that did not have any gang tattoos or other decorations on her body, nor did they look fierce and scary either.

 

"Number two." She then said to the officer.

 

The officer nodded and spoke to the microphone. ”Number two, step up!”

 

The witness looked at suspect number two as she stood there, obviously bored like most of them did. The eye witness only shook her head in response, as clearly, this was not the one. 

 

The officer then ordered number two to step back into the line again.

 

The witness took a few moments to check the others out and finally said. "Number five."

 

The officer gave number five the order to step forward, then turn around as the witness kept staring intently at her.

 

"That's her!" She finally said.

 

The officer nodded. He then punched the intercom button and informed the two other officers inside there to escort the suspects back into their cells.

 

"You did really well Miss. Thank you. Now these officer will escort you and write down a report for you to sign." The officer passed the witness on the other officer who had just arrived to pick up her up to get the needed statement.

 

Before she left with the office, she turned towards the officer who had been in the booth with her. "You are sure they wont find out about me?" She seemed so innocent and frail and totally scared still. 

 

The officer assuringly smiled and said. ”Don’t worry, you will be safe."

 

The witness seemed relieved of that answer and said simply. " Thank you.” And left with the other officers.

 

***

 

It was buzzing in the murder room. This was turning out to be a very high profile case for the Major Crime’s team. First off, the victim was a former model turned actress and a very out lesbian Lila Sutton. Secondly, the prime suspect was the celebrated artist and photographer Samantha McCloud, also an out lesbian and known former lover of the deceased. The tabloids were all over the case now and the Major Crimes phones were ringing off the hook.

 

The Chief and Captain had agreed to release no information until they had all the facts investigated with a fine tooth comb. This turned to be out a challenge as they already had two cases where a reporter had bribed some lower level officers and then waltzed into the murder room posing as police officers. Needles to say, the career of both of these officers were cut short and waiting their own sentences as were the reporters for posing a the police.

 

Sharon had not yielded her command rather she was in full force leading the investigation. She and Provenza had had a heart to heart talk regarding it all. And then finally the Lieutenant had agreed to let Sharon remain in lead. It was a conversation most of the team would not have wanted to be even as a fly on the wall at. But the Captain and Lieutenant had agreed on a few safety measures. And at the first sign that Sharon appeared to be breaking those, Provenza would take over.

 

Sharon still felt guilty that she had not yet spoken to Sam. But if she was to give a fair chance to prove Sam was innocent? Well, she could not let her personal feelings get in the way. No, she needed to do this by the book, literally. And that meant staying the hell out of contact with Sam, until they needed to interrogate her.

 

Chapter Eleven: Lawyering up

 

Sam had been sitting in her cell after the lineup when she was called upon. ”You have a visitor." The officer who had opened her cell door said to Sam. She was then escorted to a meeting room where she saw a familiar face.

 

Dutch Jones was sitting by the table and stood up. He tried to greet Sam as she stepped in. Sam was cuffed and would not have been able to respond in kind. But before anything happened, the officers stepped between them and motioned ‘no' with their hands. No bodily contact allowed.

 

"Sam!" Dutch greeted her simply being at a loss of words.

 

A long time friend and her appointed lawyer. Not that she ever needed Dutch for anything but checking contracts and such for her business. But here he was now.

 

"Dutch!" Sam was seated by the officers who then left the room. "I am so glad to see you!" Sam felt tears in her eyes but did not let them fall now.

 

"Sam, I am really sorry. I wasn't aware of what had happened until a few hours ago. My plane just landed and I rushed here as soon as I saw the news!" He was apologising to his friend.

 

"It's okay Dutch. I am surprised you came. No one else has. Nor was I able to contact anyone." Sam responded.

 

"Listen, I don't yet know all the details of this case. Just that you are the prime suspect and as the witness indicated you from the lineup. I know you know I have never defended on a murder case, but I promise I will do my damnedest to get you out from here!" Dutch assured Sam.

 

Sam and Dutch went through Sam’s own version of the story and what she had done and said to the police. Duch made a note of it all in his notepad.

 

"So you believe me?" Sam then asked Dutch at then end of their conversation.

 

"Of course!" Dutch did not hesitate to respond. He had know Sam for a thousand years and knew she was no killer. No matter who had picked her up from the lineup.

 

"So, what happens next?" Sam asked. She was tired, hungry, felt dirty and she wanted to leave this nightmare behind her. Of course Sam knew what she had done herself, mostly nothing. But no one had believed her. Apparently not even Sharon. Sam had started to think that Sharon had deserted her and that was it for them. Then again, she was the police and Sam, was the suspect, in the worst kind of crime, murder.

 

"Well, you will most likely be interrogated first. Then taken before a judge, who will set bail..."

 

"So you mean I am stuck here? For how long?" Sam was getting desperate now.

 

"I will find out. I promise!" Dutch tried to console his friend. But even he noticed being unsuccessful in doing that.

 

“Okay. Well, guess I will wait for you to fix this then?" Sam sounded beaten though.

 

"I promise, Sam" Dutch repeated to his friend. “I promise you will be out of here.”

 

But he was not even convincing himself. After all the evidence was there. Sams finger prints in the house. Blood all over Sam's clothes and then there was the eye witness. Only thing missing was the murder weapon. The motive was sketchy though. As supposedly Sam had killed her ex lover because she had started a new relationship and Sam had been jealous. Even Dutch knew that was not true. First off, the two of them had never really been seriously involved. They had been more like really good friends with benefits. Dutch also knew Sam was not the jealous type. Usually the case was the other way around. At least on two occasions, Sam had had a one night stand and the women in question, had read more to it thinking they were in a relationship. One of them even stalked her for a while. In the past few years though, Sam had become really careful with the sort of women she picked up after having learnt her lesson.

 

Dutch decided to chat with the investigating team and find out what was on the table. Dutch of course did not know about Sam's and Sharon’s relationship. As during these past few months Dutch had spent most of his time abroad. Working in UK with his boyfriend who had returned to his home country and asked Dutch to join him there. But, that was neither here nor there as far as the investigation was concerned as he was there now, for Sam. After saying their good byes, Sam and Dutch got up and the police officers came to take Sam back. Dutch felt his heart break as he watched his friend being so down and defeated and being basically hauled away in chains. Could not get more worse than that, he thought.

 

***

 

Dutch went up to the Major Crimes unit and asked for Captain Raydor or Lietutenant Provenza when he entered the murder room. Provenza immediately turned around, when he heard his name called.

 

"Who is asking?” He spat out angrily, not appreciating the interruption at all.

 

"Lt. Provenza?" Dutch asked the grumpy old man.

 

"Who else!" He replied non too politely. ”What do you want?" He glared at the suit standing in front of him. Provenza actually had to look up as Dutch was a good twenty-five centimetres taller than him. Tall, blond, well dressed. Provenza was getting more annoyed by the minute he glared at the man in front of him.

 

"Lt. Provenza," Dutch started. He was really good in reading people and he could see Provenza was not happy at all. "Sorry to disturb you, I can see that you are extremely busy."

 

"And?" Provenza was curt still.

 

"My name is Dutch Jones. I am here for Samantha McCloud. I am her lawyer.” Dutch told him in a polite tone and manner.

 

Provenza's demeanour immediately changed. He was very fond of Sam and was glad to see she had gotten herself a lawyer in the light of all things. Provenza, despite being the lead investigator on this case, had sworn to prove Sam's innocence. But hid his personal opinion and feelings well for the duration of the investigation.

 

"Lawyer eih?" Provenza started, he looked around and grabbed Dutch by his arm and dragged him into one of the empty conference rooms.

 

Before he spoke one more word, he closed the door behind them. Then he went to the window and closed all the shades. He motioned for Dutch to sit down.

 

"Listen, I am sorry if I seemed a little, " Provenza was looking for the words.

 

"Angry, pissed off, grumpy?” Dutch lent a helping hand with a hint of smirk there.

 

"Thanks! I guess I deserve that!” Provenza seemed more relaxed now. “But, we have had a lot of trouble with the press, trying to sneak in and all" Provenza continued to explain his behaviour.

 

"Sorry, I understand." Dutch replied knowing how things must be for him. "So what can you tell me about the case?" Dutch asked politely again.

 

"You know about the lineup and witness?" Provenza asked and Dutch nodded in response. "Well, then there is the story of the jealous ex-lover." Provenza added, but Dutch cut him off immediately.

 

"Listen, Lieutenant.” He paused and collected himself trying not to be too defensive, only laying out the facts for the Lieutenant. “I have known Sam since we were kids and I know for a fact, that she and Lila were never a real item." Dutch educated the Lieutenant.

 

"Well, I suspected there was no truth in that either. But Miss McCloud was there that night. And we have a witness stating the same." Provenza added.

 

"What else is the witness saying?" Dutch dared to ask.

 

"Well, she claims that she saw Miss McCloud stab the victim." Provenza stated sadly.

 

"What!?" Dutch half shouted.

 

"Yes, well, I did not buy that claim either. Unfortunately, it is her word against our evidence."

 

"What does the evidence say?" Dutch then asked more calmly again.

 

"First off, the murder weapon is missing. Secondly, there was not nearly enough blood on McCloud’s clothes and she did not run away from the crime scene." Provenza summarised pretty much all their findings, rather freely at that as he had made the decision to trust this lawyer type after he had told Provenza being Sam’s friend and all.

 

"She told me she was trying to help Lila. That Lila had called her for help." Dutch then told Provenza of their discussion with Sam earlier.

 

"Yeah, she told us the same at the crime scene." Provenza said and paced around in the room. 

"Listen Jones, I will do my best to give her a fair investigation. But you have to promise me, that if it comes to that…” He paused but they both knew the meaning of the words. “That you will give her the best defence!" Provenza was looking straight into Dutch now.

 

Dutch was a little surprised in how passionate Provenza seemed to be for this case. Maybe Dutch had misjudged the grumpy old detective. But he was not about to look the gift horse in the mouth because he needed all the help he could get to get Sam off. Plus it was good to have an inside person on their side as well. At least, Dutch thought Provenza to be in earnest rather than simply lying to him to get the scoop of what Sam was telling her lawyer.

 

"I promise!" Dutch responded.

 

"Good! Now I have much work to do!" Provenza opened the door, indicating  their meeting had adjourned.

 

Dutch walked out and into the elevator, deep in thought of his next step. And also reeling in his mind what he had heard from both Sam and the Lieutenant.

 

***

 

Sam had finally fallen asleep. She had refused to eat anything at all. She had taken a few sips of the water she had been given and then she had lain there, on her side. Crying a little, jumping up when she had gotten stiff and then paced a little in the small cell and then back to bed again.

 

She woke up to the door being opened and light from the corridor shining into her bloodshot eyes.

 

"Come on, the detectives want to ask a few questions from you." The officers standing there told her.

 

And with that she was hauled off to the upper floor, where she was faced with Amy and Andy, who had a few clarifications to ask from her, rather briefly at that. But they needed to follow all the leads nevertheless, no matter how insignificant they might just be. Still, no Sharon to be seen, anywhere. 

 

Chapter Twelve: Getting nowhere fast

 

Two days after the initial crime, the Major Crimes team had basically been working non-stop investigating the case. Taking their naps in the non-used offices and eating take out food on the run. The coffee consumption was at its highest it had ever been in the history of the Major Crimes unit. Nerves were on the edge and even Mike Tao had snapped at Buzz from some minor issue.

 

"People, people! We all know what is at stake here" Captain Raydor addressed the elephant in the room. So please, try to hold it together for a little while longer.

 

The truth was, that their investigation did not turn out any new positives for Sam. Rather it had remained pretty much the same no matter how they looked at it. They were at an impasse. It was their flimsy evidence and Sam's statement against the surprise witness statement. None of them added up though.

 

Sharon stared at the murder board. She felt another headache coming on. Or then it was the same which had continued in various stages ever since the night of the murder. It seemed time was standing still for her and all of the other noises faded into the background.

 

Then, the silence was broken once again. The desk phone was ringing. Sharon was quickly woken up from the state she had been in. Since the press was literally harassing the team, all phone calls were screened now. And no other than those of police officers were put through to the units internal number. Amy who had been closest to the device, answered. Everyone looked at her and listened to what she said.

 

Amy continued the conversation on the phone with the caller. "I understand." She said to the caller. "Can you repeat the address?” She started jotting it down on the paper. "I see. We'll be right there. Thanks! She put down the receiver.

 

The silence and the suspense was palpable as nobody was saying anything for a moment there. The rest of the team kept staring at Amy, who in turn looked at the others wide eyed.

 

"There has been another murder." She stated in a somewhat low register.

 

"What do you mean another?" Andy asked not sure what Amy meant.

 

"Same exact M.O. and identical cuts." Amy responded immediately.

 

"How can you be sure?” The Captain asked.

 

"Well, the officers who got the call from, were the same ones in the first murder scene. And lucky for us, they still had the images of the first victim on their pad. So it is safe to say they are pretty sure."

 

"But Sam is still in lock up.” Provenza was quick to remind the others.

 

"Yes, she sure is!" Sharon got a new bounce on her step now. This other murder, sad as it was, proved for sure, that Sam was not the killer and most likely they had a serial one on their hands. Sharon knew she should not feel happy, that it was completely wrong, but she could not help it. But they had to be sure before any champagne bottles were popped and celebration started.

 

"Okay, people, let's roll!" Provenza shouted to the others and before he could complete the sentence, the rest of the team was already out the door.

 

Chapter Twelve: Murder most fowl

The team arrived at the murder scene. Lucky for them, the press had not gotten a wind of this crime. Nor was there any reason for them to believe this one was connected to the first murder either. So, at least for now,  Captain Raydor and her team had the opportunity to work in peace.

 

"Captain Raydor!" The officer onsite greeted her.

 

“Officer Cortez!" Sharon returned the favour politely.

 

"The victim is inside. She has been identified as one, Sheila Connor. She was already gone when we got there, so there was nothing to do to help her. The neighbour called it in. She was delivering some mail belonging to the victim and when she did not answer, the neighbour got the landlord to open the door. We have already interviewed both of them. Neither had seen nor heard anything. The coroner can tell you the exact time of death of course.” Cortez went on stating all the facts she had her partner had gathered so far. “But supposedly it happened sometime after last night as our victim was seen exiting her home earlier in the evening."

 

"Thank you officer, that was very thorough!” Sharon commended Cortez and forced a smile. After all, murder was never a happy occasion. ”My team and I will take it from here." Sharon continued, as she and her team entered the apartment fully now.

 

The team had spread out in the two bedroom home. Each checking and tagging whatever they thought might be used as evidence. The victim had been stabbed, and was now laying on the living room floor. She was still wearing her clothes and the stab wounds were similar to those found on Lila Suttons' body.

 

Sharon was standing next to the body. Simply staring at it, as if waiting it to tell her the full story. Sharon looked all around her. The door, the small table beside it, the sofa and the gazing towards the kitchen. Then again back to the body, not once moving from were she stood. "What a waste!" She said softly and sent out a silent prayer for the victim, Sheila Connor.

 

***

 

After the initial sweep of the crime scene, the body was released to the coroner. The team was packing up and Provenza had noticed Sharon had been deep in thought and not spoken too many words during the time the team had spent there.

 

"A Sam for your thoughts?" Provenza tried to cheer his boss up.

 

"What?" Sharon was deep in thought of how she would face Sam now. The one who had been wrongly accused. As it was too obvious this murder was done by the same person and so, it could not have been Sam. Not even a copy cat doing it as no details were leaked during this investigation, that much of Sharon was sure. What bugged her now, was what the common denominator was. Both women were of different age and social status. What also confused her, was the surprise witness who had picked Sam from the line-up.

 

Provenza raised his eye brows: "Too many unanswered questions?" He tried then.

 

“Yes.” Sharon simply stated. “Yes there are." She added. But then, she thought of something else she had missed. ”Did you find any pictures or albums or such?"

 

"No pictures, but you know how young people are.” Provenza snorted. “They keep everything on their phones!” He shook his head. “We had some trouble accessing the victim’s phone, so Mike and Buzz will have to do their magic back at the office." Provenza then told Sharon.

 

"Okay." Was Sharon’s short response.

 

Provenza was not done probing though. "What about Sam?" He asked rather bluntly.

 

“Sam?" Sharon repeated the name of the woman she was involved with, perhaps even loved, even if she now felt like she had betrayed her lover when it counted the most. ”Yes, I will have cross that bridge when we get back."

 

That was all she was willing to reveal at this point. Sharon was doubting her own judgment in not seeing Sam at all during the process. She kept telling herself it was all for the best of the case, as she did not want to compromise anything. Then again, she could have turned the investigation over to Provenza. And be there for her girlfriend, supporting her through this ordeal. Yes because that is who Sam was. Or at least had been. Sharon wasn't too sure how Sam felt now, after the let down. And maybe, it was all for the best as clearly, Sharon was not girlfriend material herself.

 

Sharon had never doubted Sam's innocence in this case. But she also was too hung up on being ever the professional and doing things by the book. She had not even once considered their relationship was more important than the case. Sharon was also non too keen to have her face plastered all over the tabloids either. Again fearing that of her professional life being tarnished. It was actually funny, since she had never before considered herself to be this uptight. But mostly, she had only herself to worry about, not the actions or feelings of a life partner.

 

Sharon and Provenza left the scene and got into the car together. The drive back was done in pretty much awkward silence. Provenza knew Sharon well and also knew when it was time to talk and when not to, so going along with with her choice of not speaking was a no brainer.

 

Chapter Thirteen: A new plan

 

The team was back in the office. Compiling the evidence and pinning some of it onto the murder board as well. They had actually set up two separate boards now. One depicting the time line of the Sutton murder, the other for the Connor one. There were still gaps to be filled for the latter one, as while Ms Sutton’s life had been pretty much of an open book in every way due to her celebrity status Ms Connor’s was not. Meanwhile the task was on the way as Buzz and Mike were busy working on uncovering the secrets of Sheila Connor’s life. At least that is what they were hoping for. Still, so far they had been unable to find any relatives or friends of hers. And according to the neighbours and landlord, she had pretty much kept to herself. Rarely even going out. The night before being one of the few exceptions.

 

Sharon was staring at the board created for Lila Sutton’s case. The picture of Sam and Lila all cozy together being part of it. She had been standing there a good moment when she heard someone calling for her.

 

"Captain Raydor? Captain Sharon Raydor?" A distinguished male voice, sounding rather demanding.

 

Sharon turned around and looked at the tall man standing in front of her. She was surprised to see a stranger in her murder room. Especially after she had given specific orders. Which was not to let any outsiders there in fear of the reporters getting inside again and afraid the second murder might leak out as well.

 

"Yes, who wants to know?" She asked coldly.

 

Dutch Jones was finally face to face with the infamous Sharon Raydor. He had heard stories from some of his lawyer friends of course, of a tough Captain eating defence lawyers for breakfast. As they were face to face now, the Captain seemed shorter than the legend gave credit for. Nevertheless, Dutch was at the receiving end of the trade mark glare of the Captain’s and he immediately changed his tone feeling the wrath emanating from the other end of it.

 

"Captain," He said with a lesser voice now. "I am sorry to disturb you, but my name is Dutch Jones." He politely introduced himself to Sharon.

 

Sharon of course knew immediately who he was. She had made the choice of holding back the release of Sam, to protect the case. But she also knew it was most likely going to back fire at some point. And so, she had not realised how fast news really travelled at the precinct. She should have known better.

 

"Mr Jones," Sharon started her tone still stern but much more polite now. "You are here because of Samantha McCloud.” She did not get to finish her sentence when Mike came running out of the tech room where he and Buzz had finally managed to hack into Sheila Connors phone. "Captain, we need you!" He shouted out to the Captain loudly.

 

The Captain looked at him and responded:"Give me a moment!" And then turned back to Dutch. "Mr Jones, I," Sharon was cut off the second time. Only this time, it was Dutch who was getting agitated, despite being in the presence of the somewhat scary Captain Raydor.

 

"Look, Captain, I know about the second murder." Dutch blurted out.

 

Sharon stared at him. She was about to respond but closed her mouth back shut. She looked back at the murder boards, then back to Dutch and then, made her decision. She grabbed Jones by his hand and lead him to one of the empty meeting rooms and closed the door behind them.

 

"Sit down, please.” Sharon motioned towards the chair. As Dutch sat down, Sharon remained standing. She then folded her arms and stood there rather serious looking. It was an unconscious gesture she made when a serious matter was discussed, as if shielding herself on some level.

 

"Mr Jones, I am very sorry you have had to hear about the turns of events through other sources and I take full responsibility in withholding the information from you and your client." Sharon bent towards Dutch and looked him straight in the eyes with the most sincere expression she could muster. ”But I assure you, I only did that to protect the integrity of this case and Ms McCloud."

 

Dutch started at Sharon, internally he was thinking, “That is the biggest bullshit I have ever heard!" But he took a minute to pull himself together and put himself also in Sharon’s shoes. And that led him thinking, that maybe she was right after all. There had already been too much publicity and a second murder even. Which had happened while Sam had been incarcerated. Something which would easily prove her innocence. But then again, it was quite likely, that after the second murder, there might be more and they could have a serial killer on their hands. Dutch had gotten his information from a reliable source and knew of the M.O. being too close to Lila's case to be a different perp doing it.

 

"Okay." Dutch finally said as he really had nothing more to add."What about my client? How long do you plan in holding her?" Dutch asked then. He was very worried about Sam. She was in a really bad place mentally and he needed to ensure her she was going to be released, and soon too.

 

Sharon had planned on moving Sam to a safe house. Sam was technically off the hook. But Sharon did not want Sam to be released just yet. First off, after the second murder, Sharon had Andy looking for their surprise witness who had placed Sam at the murder scene doing the deed itself of the first murder. But without any luck. The address had turned out to be fake and the phone number had been disconnected. The witness was nowhere to be found. Sharon had a bad feeling about the so called witness in general, as they had indicated Sam as the killer without much of ado. And now, she had made the plan for Sam to be safe, just in case as her instincts were telling something else was a foot and Sam could be in danger.

 

"Mr Jones, we are going to release Ms McCloud eventually. But as you may have gathered, the delicacy of this case and it is important that we do not interrupt that delicacy either. I have made preparations to move your client to a safe house. For her own safety as much as for the sake of this case. Since the killer is still out there and after this second murder, well, she may also have become a target.” Sharon explained her plan to Dutch.

 

Dutch was surprised. So, the Captain seemed to be fair after all. He decided not to argue the facts which Sharon had laid out for him. But to rather play along. He agreed, that Sam could be in danger if indeed there was a serial murder out there and Sam was no longer officially a suspect.

 

"When exactly will this be done?" Dutch then asked wanting to tell Sam of this news as well.

 

He did not want to reveal any personal facts about his friend and client. But after seeing Sam, sitting there unmoving almost. With blood shot eyes and the fear emanating from her and how small she had looked. Dutch had never seen her in that condition, ever.  And he was extremely worried Sam might not be able to make it much longer if she was not released. Not that her friends was suicidal. But she seemed to be in a bad mental place. Understandably so, since she had just lost a friend and was blamed for her murder as well.

 

"I will personally take care of it today." Sharon ensured Dutch.

 

Dutch nodded his head but just had to ask one more thing. "Am I allowed to tell her? I mean, when I go and see her?"

 

Sharon was thinking before she responded: "Can I trust you to handle it in such a manner, that there will be no repercussions?" Sharon was worried Sam might not see things as she did and maybe wanted to get out right away.

 

"I can handle Samantha.” Dutch let slip. So far she had not let on he and his client were on first name basis, but there it was.

 

Sharon caught that slip, but was glad. If the Sam and Dutch were friends, then most likely she would trust him enough and do what Sharon had planned.

 

"Good!" Sharon smiled and said, "It is agreed then!" Sharon offered her hand to shake.

 

Dutch took it and shook on the deal, both parties nodding in agreement.

 

Sharon escorted Dutch to the door and then walked to the tech room to find out what her team had managed to get out from Sheila's phone.

 

Chapter Fourteen: Off the hook?

 

Dutch was waiting for Sam. The police officer had guided him to the same room as before and he was tapping rhythmically on the table. He was worried, but hopeful.

 

After a few minutes, Sam was brought in. Handcuffed as before, aided by the officer to sit down. She looked really thin, pale and absent minded. It had only been a few days, but Sam looked like a shadow of her former self.

 

"Sam?" Dutch tried to poke a reaction from her.

 

Sam looked up, but her eyes seemed vacant. "Why are you here?" Sam asked in a monotone voice.

 

"I am here, because I am your friend and I care about you and, well I am your lawyer too."

 

Dutch was confused about the question. But it seemed Sam was in a really bad place right now. Dutch had only seen her "loose it" one other time. Which had been some twenty odd years ago, when her then girlfriend, whom Sam had been head over heals with, had decided to marry a man and leaving Sam like a discarded tissue without any kind of explanation whatsoever.

 

"Fine." Sam responded without any interest.

 

"Look, Sam, there has been a development and," Dutch tried to break the news gently as he wasn't sure how Sam would react whether the news were bad or good. "There has been a second murder and…well…”

 

Sam immediately got alert from her daze, transferring the woman in an instant. "Another murder?" She looked at Dutch, only this time her eyes were connecting too.

 

"Yes, the same M.O. and the police suspect it is the same killer." Dutch let out all at once.

 

"But, then, that means..." Sam looked around confused and at her cuffs and back at Dutch again.

 

“Yes. It means that you are not a suspect any more" Dutch let out a small smile then.

 

"I am free to go?" She asked hopefully.

 

"Well," Dutch started.

 

"Well what?" Sam raised her voice now. She was getting a little of her feisty back and her face got more colour onto it as well. Sam felt the restraints in her hand and she pushed her hands towards herself while making a gesture of trying to force them off. When she couldn't Sam looked back at Dutch and asked: "Why am I still handcuffed then?"

 

"Sam, the police think you may also be in danger if they release you now. They have plans to move you to a safe house." Dutch told her.

 

"A safe house? I don't think so. I can take care of myself. Just get me out of here!" Sam rose from her chair and half shouted to Dutch.

 

This was not going to be easy. Dutch needed to calm Sam down and then convince her of the plan he had agreed on with Captain Raydor.

 

"Sam, I have been your friend now, for how long?" He decided on another approach.

 

"Forty-seven years." Sam replied in a more normal voice, but still standing.

 

"And do you trust me?" He asked looking at Sam, never loosing eye contact.

 

"Y-yes:" Sam replied, sounding somewhat hesitant.

 

She could not think of any time, where Dutch did not have her back. Even though she had felt betrayed by everyone. Especially Sharon now and a little by Dutch during this process as well. But she knew Dutch most likely had done his best, even though it did not feel like that sometimes during the ordeal. After all, Dutch was the only one who had visited her and tried to console her at any point.

 

During the few days, when Sam had spent in jail, she had wallowed in self pity, self hate and finally in the hatred for everyone else. She had felt alone and betrayed. But most of all, she was at loss as to why Sharon had not come to see her at all. Sam thought they were in a relationship, of sorts and that there had been trust and understanding on many levels between them. But apparently she had been totally wrong.

 

It also seemed to Sam that Sharon had not believed her and thought she was guilty. Even though Sam had told Sharon and the other members of her team, who she had thought were also her friends, how badly she had tried to save Lila that night. But it was too late, she was almost dead when Sam had arrived at the scene. Hardly breathing, unconscious and the blood, there had been so much blood there!

 

That fatal night, Sam had been on her way home, when the phone rang. She noticed the caller id and was surprise her friend was calling her from her house phone at this hour. The last they had spoken Lila had told Sam she had a new love interest and they had been seeing each other for a long while now. Sam had been happy for her friend. Despite the fact, that in the past, the two had been close friends with benefits. But there had never been anything really serious going on between the two. But the two of them had always looked out for each other.

 

When Sam had picked up the call, there was Lila on the other end. Hardly able to speak, breathing unevenly, only able to utter a few words: "Sam?... Help!" And then the call was cut off. Sam had turned the car around and driven to her friends house like a mad person. Finally only to arrive too late to save her friend.

 

Lost in thought again, it seemed, Dutch snapped his fingers in front of Sam. He did not dare to touch her. He was afraid the officers behind the door were still keeping an eye on them and that they might not be privy the status to the case at this point in time.

 

"Sam!" Dutch said to her softly.

 

Sam looked at him. ”What's is the plan?" She then asked. Deciding, maybe it was best to go along after all. What was a little more time after all? But she was ready to leave this hell hole of a place behind her, so the plan of getting to a safe house sounded really good right about now.

 

Dutch smiled: "Good, you are finally back! Here is the deal..." Dutch then laid out the Captain's plan trying to paint a nice picture of it in the process. He wanted Sam to be safe and put his trust in Captain Raydor on this one, swearing there would be hell to pay if anything happened to Sam from now on end.

 

Chapter Fifteen: Out of the frying pan

 

Sam was getting into the back seat of the un-marked police car. Two civilian clothed police detectives were seated in the front, ready to take her to the safe house where Lieutenants Flynn and Tao would be awaiting for her arrival. Sharon had agreed to meet them there as soon as she had wrapped up at the station.

 

Sam had been released from the jail. She had showered and changed back to her own clothes, which her assistant Monica had brought her from back home. Since Sam's clothes she had worn on the night of the murder were now evidence she only had the prison jump-suit to wear. After thoroughly scrubbing the stench of the jail from her skin, Sam had  finally eaten a descent size meal. At least where her current food consumption was concerned and now waiting to be moved to her next destination.

 

Dutch and Monica were both present when she was escorted out from the detention area of the police station. Both of them hugging her and convincing this was the right move for her to make. And also, that they both cared and loved her. Both of them had given Sam huge hugs, before the officer delivered her to the waiting car.

 

***

 

Andy and Mike were waiting for Sam to arrive. It was a comfortable two bedroom flat on the top floor of an apartment building some fifteen minute ride from the police station. Andy was pacing around, checking the windows every now and again.

 

"Settle down Flynn, you're going to burn a hole in the carpet!" Mike told him

 

Andy was nervous, not because of he was suspecting the safe house wasn't safe. Rather, he was worried on how Sam would be reacting to the whole situation. After all, they had all kind of turned their backs on her.

 

He looked at Mike: "I am worried, that's all." Andy said simply not explaining himself.

 

"It'll be fine. The place is safe." Mike wasn't sure why Andy was so fidgety.

 

"No, I know that. I am just worried about our guest. How she is now you know." Andy tried.

 

Mike finally understood what Flynn was on about. Guess in the business of the case, he had kind of ignored the fact that Sam was their friend too. And that none of them had seen her since that night. Well, Flynn had as he and Amy had briefly asked her a few questions, but that was pretty much it. All the interviews had mostly been handled by other department officers. First there had been the statement taken at the murder site by the officers arriving to the scene and then during the second one, Sam had basically been informed she was detained as a suspect. The third one was Andy and Amy checking up on a few facts, getting curt responses only from Sam.

 

While Major Crimes unit had taken over the investigation, they really hadn't considered Sam ever being the suspect at all. And what she had told them that evening, they kind of had believed and not even the Captain had pressed for further information from her part from the few fact checks. Guess deep down they all had tried to find enough evidence to exonerate Sam and find the real killer. As it turned out, they had been on the right track all along. But Sam did not know any of this.

 

"Yeah, I hear ya!" Mike was thoughtful after that response.

 

***

 

Back at the station, Sharon was going through some paperwork when her desk phone rang. She answered it and as the conversation progressed her facial expressions were going from absent to surprised. She soon hang up and half ran out of her offie.

 

She caught up with the rest of the team, who were each busy at their own desks. Amy and Provenza were having a conversation regarding some of the evidence. Basically recapping on the current tasks at hand when the Captain burst in.

 

Everyone was looking at her, and before anyone could ask, she said. "There has been another murder!"

 

Chapter Sixteen: The bodies are piling up!

 

It was obvious now to all of them, that they had a serial killer on the loose. One who was clearly hastening their pace between the killings. They were still at loss as to what the link was between the two previous victims. Since Sheila Connor’s phone content had not revealed anything personal, which the team thought was odd, since most young people recorded their whole lives on those devices. After the investigation, Sheila Connor remained an enigma.

 

The Captain, Sykes, Provenza, Buzz and Julio had quickly left the station and arrived to the murder scene in two cars. Sharon had taken her own car, while the others crammed into Amy's car. Sharon was eager to get into the safe house, but she also wanted to see the latest crime scene first. En route, she had called Andy informing him of the latest turn of events in the case.

 

The Captain arrived at the scene first, meeting up with the uniform officers on site who had taken the call. They were standing outside the small house discussing the status when Sharon arrived.

 

This time the victim's ex-boyfriend had reported the crime. He had been out of the country and arrived only to find the his ex-girlfriend lying in a pool of blood. Obviously stabbed to death. He had immediately called the police who had arrived quite soon after him onto the scene.

 

The officers greeted the Captain as she arrived, and recapped the situation for her.

 

"Where is the boyfriend now?" Sharon asked, scanning the surroundings.

 

"Ex-boyfriend." The officer emphasised, "He is still in the house, in the kitchen to be exact. He was pretty upset of the whole thing. His name is Ben Kaworsky" The officer responded and added.”The victim is identified as Alana Murphy."

 

"Any reason to believe he is the killer?" Sharon asked then, not ready to chuck this up to the same pile as the other two.

 

"He is pretty shaken up. He said he arrived some thirty minutes before we did. And he is clean, no blood anywhere on him. He did not touch the victim at all.” The officer informed Sharon. “Also, he had the plain ticket on him and we can easily verify his alibi from the airport as well. There was simply not enough time for him to do this.” The officer deduced.

 

"So why did he come here then if he just flew in?" Sharon continued, assuming the officers had already asked the boyfriend all these questions but she wanted to be sure.

 

"Apparently they are separated, but still live together. I will of course check with the airline to validate the flight information he gave us." the officer told Sharon.

 

"Thanks!" Sharon then said and went inside the house.

 

She looked around the living room, where the victim was lying. There were two members from the CSU team taking pictures and marking evidence. Sharon greeted them and then quickly scanned the room, making some mental notes and then went into the kitchen where the ex-boyfriend was still being held by one officer.

 

"I am Captain Sharon Raydor of the LAPD Major Crimes unit." She said to the man, who was sitting quietly by the table. A cup off coffee was in front of him but it was untouched. He was just staring at the table and it was clearly visible he had been crying. He did not respond at first, clearly in a state of shock.

 

"I am sorry for your loss, but under these circumstances there are a few questions I need to ask from you.” Sharon continued,

 

The boyfriend finally looked up, wiped his face and said. "Sorry, it's just," He could not find the words even. "I am still not able to understand what has happened here." He blurted out. And if this person was acting, he was deserving an Oscar for it, Sharon thought. 

 

"I understand it can be difficult. You and Alana were close and now she is gone." Sharon emphasised with him. Sharon sat opposite him. "Mr Kaworsky.” Sharon started.

 

"Ben." He replied.

 

"Okay. Ben, I understand the two of you were living together but were separated?" Sharon asked.

 

"Yeah, it's not ideal, and we are still friends and all. But the housing situation is really bad at the moment, so we decided to live together. We have two bedrooms, so." Ben cut off. He was still distraught, and talking about his life with Alana was not easy, at all.

 

"I understand" Sharon simply responded. "So is either of you seeing anyone new?" She had to ask to establish possible motive or even a new suspect for this case.

 

"Well, Alana was going to the clubs and she was meeting new people, but nothing serious." Ben said.

 

"And that bothered you?" Sharon was probing still, trying to be as delicate as possible.

 

"No, no, I actually have a new girlfriend myself!" Ben was getting a little defensive at this point.

 

Sharon was looking for the next question in her mind, hoping to not upset the man in front of her. "That's nice," she started. "Ben, I would really appreciate it, if you would give me some names of the recent people Alana dated. I know you want to solve her murder as much as I do." Sharon pushed. “And anything you might have would help.”

 

Ben was getting calmer again. Of course he wanted justice and was more than willing to help the police. He got up and went to the cabinet and opened a drawer. Pulling out a pen and some paper  from there. He returned to the table, sat down and started writing.

 

“Here." He said when he was finished and pushed the paper in front of Sharon.

 

Sharon looked at the names on the paper and said.” Thank you." As she rose she asked.”Is there somewhere else you can stay for a while?"

 

"Yeah, I called a buddy of mine. He will pick me up." Ben responded, sniffing as the tears were starting to fall again.

 

"Good." Sharon said, "The officers will ask you where to contact you if we need to ask you further questions. And thank you again for your help." Sharon told him with a hint of a smile.

 

Sharon left Ben in the kitchen. Her gut feeling was, that this time the boyfriend did not do it and after seeing the names on the list, a common denominator was beginning to form in her mind.

 

When Sharon was back in the living room, the rest of the team had arrived. Having been briefed on what the police knew so far of this incident by the officer who had arrived there first and then immediately started their own investigation of the murder scene. Sharon waved to Provenza to come to her. She drew him closer and showed him the paper she was holding.

 

"I got this list from the ex-boyfriend." Sharon told the Lieutenant.

 

"What am I looking at?" Provenza asked.

 

"This is a list of people the victim had been dating" Sharon replied and looked at Provenza with a knowing look.

 

"But I thought it was her boyfriend back there." Provenza was confused now.

 

"Ex-boyfriend." Sharon repeated and looked at the Lieutenant once again with the same knowing look.

 

Then it hit him. "Ah, she had a change of hearts! Or gender that is!"

 

"And you know what this means?" Sharon asked him, knowing full well the answer herself. Well she was pretty sure she knew the answer.

 

"It means.." Provenza was doing the check list in his mind. ”It means, that they are all gay women!" Provenza’s lamp lit up. Our killer is targeting lesbians.

 

"Well, we still need to figure out what Sheila Connors story is. But I am pretty sure we have our motive here." Sharon started and Provenza completed the thought.

 

"A jealous boyfriend, scorned by a woman who turned to the dark side!" Provenza completed the Captain’s flow of mind.

 

Sharon snorted and jabbed Provenza on his side for it as well, as she was a tad offended as well of the supposed joke referenced there. But it was also the gist of it, even if being a lesbian was not that of the dark side of things at all. ”A most likely scenario, judging by the brutality of the killing and force used in stabbing. I would say we are looking for a man. Or at least a very strong woman, but it is not as  likely though as clearly, there is a lot of force used here in all the murders.” Sharon was thinking before she continued as there was the case of Sam, a woman and a slender one at that having been held for the murder as well. So, double standards perhaps? She was thinking now and said. ”He may have an accomplish though." Sharon was still at loss with the now awol witness, who had turned up from out of nowhere and indicated Sam as the suspect right on the bat.

 

"You are thinking about our missing witness, aren't you? The one who set up Sam real good?" Provenza was pretty familiar with the Captain’s train of though by now and he had more on one occasion admitted they worked really well together. Plus he had a beef with that witness too, of accusing Sam.

 

"Yes, I am" Sharon responded. "I think it is time we put an APB out on her." She added.

 

Provenza nodded. They both then joined the others to complete their analysis and gathering of evidence from the scene along side the CSU officers. A short while later Sharon was satisfied she was of no further help there, she left to go to the safe house. As she was driving, she dreaded conversation she knew was awaiting her with Sam. Even if she herself wanted things to be cleared up, she knew this would be the ultimate talk and then, well, guess their relationship too, was over.

 

Chapter Seventeen: Safe house visited

 

Andy had gotten off the phone call with the Captain. He turned to Mike who had been observing Andy's facial expressions during the brief call.

 

"What is it Andy, you look like you have seen a ghost?" Mike asked worried. ”Who died?" Mike was joking in reference to the ghost pun of course.

 

"Third victim did." Andy responded curtly.

 

"Oh." Was all Mike managed realising his faux pas.

 

Just then, there was a knock on the apartment door. Andy was closer and opened it. Outside the two officers were standing with Sam in the middle.

 

"We have a delivery for you." The first officer told Andy and motioned for Sam to get in.

 

Andy stepped away from the doorway letting Sam get inside. The officers remained standing outside the flat. They nodded and left without another word.

 

Sam was standing in the middle of the open living area. Clutching the small bag of her belongs which Monica had put together for her for her stay. She stared at the floor, trying to avoid eye contact with Andy and Mike. She was still angry with them all. And preferred to just be shown to her room, if there was such a place.

 

"Sam," Andy tried.

 

Sam interrupted him immediately. "Can you show where I am supposed to stay?" She asked in a monotone voice.

 

"Sure." Mike took the lead and motioned her towards the hallway, which had two bedrooms and a bath on the opposite side. He opened the door to the first room.

 

"Thanks." Sam simply said as she quickly walked the short distance and went inside. Mike closed the door behind her, knowing full well, that this was not a time for talks.

 

He looked at Andy and simply shook his head.

 

Andy sat down to one of the living room chairs and sighed heavily. Andy was frustrated. Despite how things had turned out, he really liked Sam and was glad she made Sharon happy. Most likely more happy then he ever could have. And now with all that had happened, he wondered why none of them, him self included had reached out to Sam. Was the job so important to them all?  That even when if it hit so close to home, they would ignore the human element of it and try to prove their case despite everything? Sure there was the excuse of contamination for the investigation, but still. He was really not happy on his own actions or those of the rest of his team either.

 

***

 

Sam looked at the room. It was all nice, but rather beige setup for her taste. But after the door closed, she felt like she had just survived the fire, but had been pushed into the frying pan. One jail cell after another. She put her bag down and sat on the bed. She was so tired, she just wanted to sleep and to forget everything that had happened. She lied down on top of the covers on her side, curling up on the bedspread. She was angry and frustrated, but she hoped the worst was over now. At least she wasn't a suspect anymore. Then she started thinking about the poor woman who had had to die to prove her own innocence. Sam gulped, but no tiers came out. She was done crying and even feeling sorry for herself. And from now on, she only had empathy for the other victims families and loved ones. She could imagine how bad they felt after the loss, like she did for Lila. Dwelling in her thoughts a moment longer, sleep finally took over and Sam fell into a deep slumber gladly for the first time in several days.

 

***

 

Sharon parked her car in a vacant slot in front of the building. She got out and walked to the entrance where she buzzed on the apartment number given to her by Andy. She was let in and walked to the lift, punching the floor number and waited for the doors to close. As the lift was en route upward, Sharon was planning on what to say to Sam.

 

The lift halted and Sharon got out. She walked towards the end of the hallway, looking at the numbers as she moved along. Finally reaching the correct one, she knocked. Mike opened the door, greeting the Captain and inviting her in. Andy had fallen asleep on the chair and was snoring a little when Sharon stepped inside. He quickly woke up, almost jumping up from the chair.

 

Sharon smiled and said: "At ease Lietutenant!"

 

She immediately scanned the area, but could not see Sam and asked. "Did our guest not arrive yet?"

 

"She is in the bedroom.” Mike responded- "I have not heard a peep from her since she arrived so, I assume she fell asleep."

 

Mike had listened behind the door of the bedroom of Sam’s a couple of times while Andy had been busy snoring. It was simply to make sure, that Sam was alright. Mike too had been worried about Sam and felt as guilty as Andy did of how they had all treated her.

 

"Okay. I will go and check on her then." Sharon simply said. She wanted to clear the air as soon as possible with Sam now that the case on her part was over. Sharon looked towards the hallway and back to Mike.

 

"First one on the left." Mike responded, knowing the question without actually hearing a word.

 

Sharon just nodded and walked down the hallway. She knocked on the door, but there was no answer. She gently opened the door, peeking in through the crack before entering. She could see Sam was lying on the bed, curled up in almost a bundle and fast asleep. Sharon walked towards the bed and noticed Sam's eyelids were moving rapidly. She was clearly dreaming. Sharon was debating whether to wake her, but decided against it. She noticed the recliner beside the bed and sat down. She kept looking at Sam, noticing how thin she looked now. But that did nothing to diminish Sharon's admiration for the woman she loved, because she did despite it all. She could only hope, that Sam would forgive her. Sharon kept staring at Sam, from head to toe and back. She knew now that she loved Sam, very much so. And she also hated everything that had happened these past few days. She wished she could turn the time back, take away the hurt and pain she had caused her lover. But that was not an option as this was real life and not fantasy. Sharon reclined into the chair and closed her eyes for a moment, pushing back her tears. Then she too, fell asleep.

 

Chapter Eighteen: Waking up, crying

 

It was dark in the room when Sharon woke up abruptly. She had heard a muffled cry and that had roused her from her sleep. She immediately reached for her pocket and her phone, pushing the torch light on to see what was happening. Sam was still asleep, but she was clearly having nightmares. Sharon got up and stepped beside the bed. She noticed the lamp on the bedside table and turned it on. She sat on the edge and gently touched the shaking Sam. Sam's reaction was immediate. Her eyes darted open as she looked scared and straight at Sharon. Tears were falling down her cheeks. She had been crying in her sleep and now, she was crying awake too. Sharon's only reaction was to put her arms around Sam and to draw her close. Sam did not object rather fell into the awaiting embrace. She then let the tears fall freely as she sobbed in Sharon's arms.

 

***

 

Mike and Andy were having coffee in the kitchen of the safe house. They have expected to hear loud sounds emerge from the room, when Sharon had entered it. But instead it was all quiet and had been so for a an hour or so. The gents had received updates from Provenza, who had the rest of the team investigating the new murder case. Provenza had ensured the two Lieutenants, that the team had all covered and they could stay and watch over the safe house for now.

 

After a while, Andy had peeked into the room and saw both women asleep. He went back to the kitchen and started making coffee. Checking the fridge for any snacks, he noticed it was well stacked and took out something to eat for himself and also Mike. Both men were sitting in silence, enjoying their coffee and sandwiches, which Andy had thoughtfully prepared for the two of them. Letting Sam and Sharon sleep for now, they had earned their nap time, after all. The two men took their coffees and retired to the living room and turned on the TV. Andy having control of the remote, was switching between channels, finally settling on a the one which was showing an old western. Mike nodded and they started watching the movie with closed captions.

 

***

 

Sharon was still holding Sam in her arms. Sam had stopped sobbing and she was more alert now, realising, it had been a really bad dream only. Sam enjoyed being held, but she was still angry with Sharon and after a little while, she pushed off from the comforting embrace.

 

"Sorry." Sam said only as she was angry at herself for being so weak and falling so easily into Sharon's arms. Sam wiped away the remaining tears from her eyes and kept them away from Sharon’s at the moment.

 

Sharon was looking at Sam. She was contemplating on how to explain her decision of not seeing Sam in jail. But she was unsure on how to go about it. But, Sharon was also sure, that Sam was still angry at her and she was so afraid of loosing her because of this whole incident. Sharon was hard trying to hold back her own tears too.

 

"How are you feeling?" Sharon decided to keep it on a basic level at first, feeling the waters so to speak.

 

Sam finally looked up and at Sharon. She was enraged and wanted to lash out. But when she was looking into Sharon's eyes, she noticed they had watered up. Sam felt her heart break. On the other hand, she felt betrayed. But then again, she was madly in love with Sharon. A confession, Sam never thought she would hear in her mind. Watching this woman in front of her, Sam wanted nothing more than put her arms around her and tell her all was forgiven. Sam really surprised herself, sometimes. It had been so many years, she had felt any kind of kind ship, let alone love for a woman.

 

Sam did not find the words. She pulled Sharon to her arms and held her tightly. The couple remained in that position for a while until Sam pushed off again. But this time, she did not go far. She looked at Sharon and saw the errant teardrop stains on her face. Sam cupped Sharon's chin and lifted her head so that they were eye to eye. Sam closed the gap between their two faces and placed a soft kiss on Sharon's lips.

 

The kiss ended. Sam cleared her throat and said. "I won't lie to you," Sam started. "I am not in a good place right now and I feel, " She gulped audibly. "I feel like you betrayed me." Sam looked down. There, she had said her piece. Not the way she had imagined in those darkest of hours she had laid alone in the jail cell. But she did not want to hurt Sharon either, only let her know how she, Sam, felt.

 

It was Sharon's turn to lift up her lovers face. Sharon had her hand on Sam's chin and held her gaze. "I am sorry." Sharon managed. She knew no words would make up for what had happened. No excuses would remedy the situation. Sharon could only hope for forgiveness at this point.

 

Sam heard her. She heard the non spoken words too. Now, she had a choice to make. To walk away or to forgive and move on with her lover. Sam felt the tears again. 'Damned', she thought, 'I haven't cried like this in so long, it seems they just keep pouring no matter how I try to hold them back.'

 

Sam was quiet for a moment. Then she knew, what her choice was. She took Sharon’s both hands in her own and held her for a moment before saying anything at all.

 

“What I am feeling now, will pass.” Sam started, feeling her heart beating faster. "But," A pause. ”I love you Sharon and I don't want to lose you." Sam felt tears running down her face again.

 

Sharon could not believe what she was hearing. She kept blinking her eyes. Afraid, she was still fast asleep on the chair and this was all a dream.

 

When Sam did not hear one word coming out of Sharon's mouth, thinking maybe Sharon did not hear her or maybe she did not like what she was hearing. Sam decided to continue: "I forgive you Sharon." She then added.

 

Sharon's eyes were fully watered up again and now both women were crying. Unable to speak, Sharon did the only thing she could. She cupped Sam's face with both hands and drew her in for a very passionate kiss.

 

It took some time, but air needed to be breathed, so both women let go of the kiss and remained staring at each other, both breathing heavily. After catching up with the missed air supply, Sharon finally spoke.

 

"I love you too!" Sharon managed before grabbing Sam and demanding another kiss.

 

***

 

Sharon was getting totally exited. She knew they were not alone, but she could not help herself. They were kissing passionately now from what had started from a forgiveness kiss and had heated up to something more. Tongues dancing inside each other’s mouths, hands caressing, they both knew they were in to deep to stop now.

 

Sharon pushed Sam on her back. She started kissing Sam's neck, moving her hands under the t-shirt. Reaching Sam's breast, she cupped it and started kneading the nipple through the thin bra. She heard the approving low moan from Sam and decided to continue with what she had started. Granted, this was not the most romantic setting nor the time, but Sharon wanted to show Sam her affections now and what she meant to her despite what had happened.

 

Sharon pushed the t-shirt up and over Sam's head and off. Springing Sam's breasts free, Sharon started sucking on the nipples, alternating between the two fleshy mounds. Sam was moaning a little louder and it occurred to Sharon, that  the two gentlemen in the other room might hear what they were up to. But, then again, Sharon loved hearing her lovers sounds and at this point, she stoped caring whether someone heard or not.

 

Sharon moved her other hand down the Sam's bare stomach, caressing it for a moment before slipping inside Sam's jeans. She quickly unbuttoned the fly and moved past the panties, reaching for her target. Finding how wet Sam was, Sharon knew it would not take long to get her off and most likely herself in the progress.

 

Sharon pushed further inside and found the soft wet folds and the erect nubbin. Running her fingers through a few times, she then concentrated her efforts on the tiny bundle of nerves. Circling her fingers around it and on top of it, she kept on until she felt her partner stiffen up and holding her breath.

 

Sam was in seventh heaven. She had not expected this to happen, but she did not complain either. She felt Sharon's skilful fingers taking over and her body lost control completely. Trying to keep it quiet so not alert the two others in outside, Sam enjoyed everything Sharon was doing to her. Feeling the pending orgasm, Sam put her own hand on top of her mouth to make sure she did not scream out.

 

Sharon's fingers were busy manoeuvring on Sam's clit, adding enough pressure and motion as she felt Sam's orgasm starting. She continued until Sam started shaking. Sharon never let go of Sam, and felt her own orgasm starting too. Both women holding on to each other for dear life, until the release was upon them. Finally subsiding, the both panted heavily. Sharon let go and climbed up Sam's body until she reached her mouth and kissed Sam deeply.

 

No words were spoken. Remaining lying on the bed, clinging onto each other, Sam drew the cover on top of them and soon enough, they both fell asleep.

 

Chapter Nineteen: The surprise witness

 

The part of the Major Crimes team, who had been investigating the latest murder was now gathered into one spot in the murder room. Amy had laid out the timeline on to a third board while all four of them were staring at it.

 

"I think we are missing something here." Julio pointed at the board and then went back to one of the boxes containing their evidence and then came back and pinned another photograph on the board."There!" He added victoriously.

 

"Okay, so now we have the same M.O. for all three." Amy continued recapping what they knew so far. ”We also have the common denominator and possible motive for numbers one and three, which is that both victim had female lovers."

 

"This means we have to go back to Sheila Connor’s case and dig up what we don't have to make them all match, right?” Buzz piled on.

 

"Yeah and that is the problem." Provenza sighed rather loudly. "Ideas anyone?" He looked at the others but met only head shakes in response.

 

"Well, it is safe to say that we are at an impasse." Provenza stated rather defeated. "I need to call the Captain and update her on our findings and current status."

 

Provenza picked up his desk phone and was about to dial, when he heard a female voice at the door calling out to them.

 

"Hello?" The woman called again. She was in her mid thirties and wore a pantsuit. She looked at the others, who in turn were staring back at her. "I was told I could find Lieutenant Provenza here." She added looking at the team and trying to figure out whom of them the Lieutenant was.

 

Provenza raised an eyebrow and said to her. ”I am Provenza."

 

The woman walked towards the others and stepped quite close to Provenza. "My name is Gemma Warden. I," She looked a little bewildered, but then manage to continue. ”I was told to come to you. The police officer I was talking to at the desk told me you were the one investigating Sheila Connors murder.” Gemma was asking even if it sounded like she was telling and still kept looking at Provenza, waiting for an immediate answer.

 

Provenza was positively surprised though. He then quickly sent out a thank you to what ever deities were watching over the team and then said to Gemma. "Yes, you are in the correct place." He then realised the murder boards were visible to the visitor and quickly gave a signal to the others who got the message right away and turned the tables around.

 

"Ms Warden," Provenza sounded positively polite now. ”How did you hear about the murder exactly and who are you to Ms Connor?" Provenza asked then, meanwhile offering a seat to the woman like a true gentleman.

 

Gemma gladly took the seat. She felt her knees weak and she had been crying the night before, a lot and she felt sick to her stomach too. She had not been able to eat anything since she had found out Sheila had fallen a victim to a nasty murder.

 

"Well," Gemma started, trying to find the right words, not sure if these detectives would understand her, but she had to do something at least. ”I came home yesterday. I was travelling for work on the east coast." She stopped as she felt a lump in her throat forming once again. She gulped. Audibly so.

 

Provenza realised it was difficult for Gemma to talk. She waved for Buzz and without any words, Buzz poured a glass of water and brought it to Gemma.

 

Gemma appreciated the gesture, accepted it gladly and then took a sip from it immediately before she said. "Thank you!"

 

After the water cleared her throat Gemma was ready to continue: "I came home and saw the police tape around Sheila's flat. You see, I live on the second floor, but,” Gemma paused, then got the courage to continue again. "We were together, despite our living arrangements. Sheila preferred it that way." Gemma looked at Provenza, searching for any hint of disgust in his eyes. But she found none there, only compassion. Gemma then decided to trust him and continue with her story. "You see, Sheila was from a very religious home and she wasn't 'out' the way I am." Gemma revealed as much.

 

Suddenly it all clicked for Provenza. The reason they found no indication of her personality, likes, loves or even friends in Sheila's home nor on her mobile phone. It must have been due to the fact that she was hiding her life from her family.

 

"So, you and Sheila were lovers then?" Provenza asked softly but bluntly.

 

"Yes." Gemma responded. “We were.”

 

"It must have been hard for you to find out she was," Provenza paused, trying to be delicate, but there was nothing delicate or soft about a vicious murder. ”um killed.” Provenza could see the tears forming in the woman’s eyes. “I am so sorry, but we did not find any information as to whom to contact in case of an emergency as there was nothing in her place to be found or even during our investigation. I am really sorry you had to find out about it like you did." Provenza was looking at the woman sitting in front of her who was clearly trying to keep it together.

 

"It has been, difficult.” Gemma sniffed and reached for a handkerchief from her pocket. She dabbed her eyes with it and sighed heavily before she looked back at Provenza and decided to continue.

 

Meanwhile the three others had gathered around Provenza's desk and taken seat, listening to the story unfolding.

 

"Sheila had had a difficult childhood, as her parents had caught her sneaking out with girls during her teenage years and they had finally also caught her kissing a girl. She was sent to a rehabilitation camp, where they purge off the 'gay'. It was years later she was able to come to terms with who she really was and then we met and started seeing each other. Her family does not know. We mostly lived at my place and Sheila kept the place just for her parents visits. I know she was expecting them for a visit while I was away."

 

Gemma was pouring her heart out to the captive audience, listening to the sad story of the victim, Sheila Connor. Amy and Buzz both were steaming inside, hating Sheila's parents for what they had done to their child just because she was different.

 

Gemma continued. "Sometimes, her mother and father brought with them a conversion therapist from their church. That is what they called the people who were part of the "healing group" or what ever they called them. I really wanted to know as little as possible, but I could not deny Sheila seeing her own parents either, now could I." Gemma looked sad. She had lost her love and was lost herself as well. She sniffed again, but added:" I loved her so much. I wish, I just wish I did not go on that damned trip!" She started crying.

 

"It wasn't your fault." Provenza told her. "You cannot blame yourself for any of this." Trying to ensure the now crying witness of the same.

 

Provenza looked at Amy, who immediately got up and went to Gemma. She put her arms around the crying woman and said. "Come on, you will be more comfortable on the sofa.” Amy then lead Gemma to one of the smaller conference rooms which had plump sofa in it in hopes of consoling the grieving woman.

 

Provenza looked at them go and then making sure they were out of hearing distance, he said to Buzz and Julio.”There it is, validation for both the motive and the question why. Gentlemen, we need to catch ourselves a serial killer! And soon!” Provenza was glad they puzzle was getting solved of course, but he also felt empathy for the young woman crying her eyes out of her lost love.

 

"The only thing to make things right now, is to find the killer and get them convicted." Provenza added adamantly. He then dialled his phone and got Andy on the other end.

 

Chapter Twenty: Some sacrifices are to be made

 

Sam and Sharon were fast asleep when there was a knock at the door. Andy did not wait for permission to enter, rather opened the door and saw the two women laying in bed. They were under the covers, but Andy did not look to find out if they were naked or not. No matter how much he wanted to and validate his day dreams of recent. After all, the scenario of the two women naked together had crossed his mind a few times too often. It was not something he was proud of, but that could not be helped in fantasising about it ether.

 

"Captain!" He called out in a low voice.

 

Sharon stirred and opened her eyes. She saw Andy's silhouette in the dark room against the light of the hallway.

 

"What is it?" Sharon asked rather groggily.

 

She had fallen into a deep sleep after the brief but passionate moment and was only too happy to have been reunited with Sam. She had dreamt of being on a sandy beach, her lover lying next to her and the two of them were starting to make love until she had  heard someone calling to her.

 

"Sorry to disturb you, but there has been a development I am sure you want to know. Provenza called just now and told me what had happened."

 

Andy appeared happy, which just had to be a good sign Sharon thought. She started to get up from the bed, when she realised Sam was half naked under the covers and she was  blocking the view with her own body only. Certainly she did not want Andy ogling on her girlfriends naked breasts!

 

"Give us a moment and we'll join you in the living room." Sharon told him then. "And could you brew some coffee, please?" She added softly.

 

"Aye aye Cap'n!" Andy gave a mock salute and left, closing the door behind him.

 

Sharon turned on the lamp on the side table and looked at Sam who was also fully awake now. She smiled and asked from her. "How do you feel?"

 

Sam rose a little and kissed Sharon and then said. "Much better now, thank you." And she meant it too.

 

She felt good about herself and being able to move past the ugliness of the past few days and she felt great about the moment of enjoyable sex as well, which had done them both the world of good. Not that sex solved the relationship, but Sam had thought of it was part of the healing process which had started between the two of them.

 

"I guess you heard what Andy said?" Sharon asked her. Sam nodded in response."Well, we should get up and freshen ourselves a tad, shall we then?"

 

Sharon did not want to move, but first things first and after this case, they would have plenty of time to make things up for each other. That is what Sharon hoped and wished for at least. Despite Sam's forgiveness, she was still afraid Sam might change her mind about them.

 

The duo got up and went into the en suite to make themselves more presentable before joining the others in the living room and to hear out the latest development in the case.

 

***

 

The ladies joined Andy and Mike some twenty minutes later. Coffee was served and both Sharon and Sam were eagerly awaiting to hear what Provenza had told Andy. Mike and Andy had prepared small sandwiches for them as well, knowing the women would most likely be hungry at this point.

 

They all got seated and got their first taste of coffee. Sam was digging into the sandwiches like she had not seen food for weeks. And to be honest, she was too skinny for her own good after her self-imposed "hunger strike” in the jail. The others too felt good to see her eat with such gusto.

 

Andy put his cup down and looked at the two ladies then. "So," He started, keeping the two women sitting at the edge of their seats. "as you know now, the first and third murder could be easily linked together with the evidence we got already." Andy did not seem to spill his guts fast enough.

 

"Yes we know that.” Sharon said impatiently waiting for more.

 

Andy got the hint and moved along. "So, now, we have a new witness who had shed some light into the second victim’s personal life and we have a match people!"

 

Sharon and Sam looked at each other questioningly perhaps. Sharon then turned back to Andy and immediately asked. ”The second victim was a lesbian too?"

 

Andy was surprised Sharon had put two and two together so quickly, but nodded and shouted. “Jazzy!"

 

"So we have a serial killer killing lesbians out there?" Sam asked a tad scared and angry too, but knowing full well the answer.

 

"It seems so." Mike replied. ”But for the second victim, it's a little bit more complicated than that."

 

“How so?" Sharon asked.

 

“As it turns out, Sheila Connor was in the closet so to speak and she was involved with a woman secretly only." Andy continued on the update.

 

"I did not see that one coming." Sharon simply stated.

 

Sam rolled her eyes. She was too old and way too tired of anyone playing it safe and not being who they really were. Never mind what anyone thought of them. Life was short and making yourself unhappy never did any good for the soul either. Pleasing everyone all the time, or even some of the time, was impossible. Sam was often taken up on her attitude regarding this statement. But to those people she simply quoted the bible, something in the line of "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Or then it was the famous quote of one RuPaul "If you can't love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love someone else?” That usually confused the hell out of whomever was on the other side of the debate and also shut them up.

 

"Yes, well, neither of us did. "Mike said.

 

"There is another twist to this tale though,” Andy continued. ”Sheila Connors had gone through conversion therapy a few years back."

 

Sam was furious. It was another thing to remain in the closet by one’s own choice, but it was a completely different choice if family and friends pushed a young person into therapy for being gay. Trying to exorcise the "homosexual" out of the person, so to speak. She looked at Sharon and Sharon looked at her. This was shocking news for both of them.

 

"That sounds so cruel." Sharon finally managed to say.

 

"Sounds more like the bloody dark ages to me!" Sam finally added her two cents. She was fuming now and the others could almost see the steam coming out from her ears, literally. Sam wanted to burn the witch hunters herself. Even though they had not killed Sheila themselves it seemed they were as guilty for her death as the killer was.

 

Sharon looked endearingly at her partner. She felt for her. They all felt for her. Sharon was quickly organising all the new information in her mind. And it was becoming clearer to her too, that this case was indeed about killing lesbian women and most likely under some disguise of a religious agenda. Especially now after all the facts of Sheila Connor’s personal life were coming into light, it was too much of a coincidence otherwise.

 

"Provenza and the others are also convinced we have a match for all three cases." Andy told the others then.

 

"So now, all we need is a new game plan." Sharon simply stated.

 

Sam's mind was in full force now. She knew she wanted the head of Lila's killer on a plate. She was also furious for the other victims. The fact that they were all women, let alone of her "family", got her even more wound up. She made a decision then.

 

"I want to help." Sam blurted out.

 

The three others turned to look at her.

 

"How exactly?" Mike asked.

 

Sam was good on thinking on her feet and she thought she might have a valid idea.

 

"Let me be your decoy." She added simply.

 

"Absolutely not!" Sharon rejected Sam's idea immediately.

 

Mike and Andy did not respond. Sharon looked at her two underlings with "the glare” in place because she did not hear any objections from them at all.

 

"Well," Mike started and Andy piled on quickly. "We could really use her in this…” Andy did not get to complete his sentence when Sharon cut him off right away.

 

"I can't believe you are entertaining the idea of putting Sam in harms way!" She said clearly being unhappy about the suggestion.

 

Sam heard her. She felt warm and fuzzy of Sharon's protectiveness of her. But she was a big girl now and determined to get justice for her friend and the other victims. And if her helping the police catch the killer while putting herself at risk, then it was all perfectly fine with Sam!

 

Sam turned to Sharon and took her by the hand. "Sharon, look," Sam was putting on the best puppy eyes look she could. With those cool and calming blues aimed right at her, it was difficult to object, but Sharon tried her best to do so anyway.  But Sam was adamant too. ”I will be safe, because you and your team will have my back." Sam tried then to ensure Sharon of the validity of her suggestion. But Sharon did not buy it, so Sam turned towards Mike and Andy to make her plead to them. ”Right guys?"

 

Mike and Any responded in unison. "Right, of course!"

 

Sharon glared at them and then back at Sam. She let out a loud and long sigh.

 

"Fine. But you have to promise to do what we tell you to do and no going off script even once!" Sharon was trying to make herself clear.

 

"Aye aye Cap'n!" Sam made a mock salute then. This seemed to the trend of the day.

 

This was the first time she felt she was on the road to something better after the whole incident and even forced a little smile. Sam may not have been her usual self yet, but if she was able to help to catch a killer, then all the better. Of course sex with Sharon had not hurt her recovery one bit either.

 

"It's settled then!" Andy stated.

 

"No, not quite!" Sharon poured some rain down his parade. "I want a full proof plan on how we are going about this."

 

"Of course." Mike responded and looked at Andy in a 'come on Andy, it's her girlfriend you are talking about!' kind of way.

 

"Now, all we need to do, is figure out how and where the killer is choosing their targets." Sharon said.

 

"I know all Lila's hang outs and hobbies, maybe start from there?" Sam hoped to be useful.

 

"Sounds good." Mike responded. The others nodding to her suggestion in unison.

 

The four started making notes on what kind of places would be possible for a killer to stalk their victims. The list was getting rather long, but now they needed some information from the two other victims to compare the notes. If there were any matches, then Sam would make herself available to try to lure the killer in.

 

Chapter Twenty-one: Into the fire again

 

After Sharon, Sam, Mike and Andy had worked half the night making new plans in the safe house, they had decided to take quick naps and go back to the police station in the morning. Sharon had texted Provenza of their plans ahead, knowing the other part of the team had been excused and given some time off to catch up with their sleep before turning back the very next morning.

 

The ladies had retired to the bedroom assigned to Sam and Mike took the other bedroom, while Andy remained on the sofa. All of them getting some deserved shuteye.

 

Sam and Sharon were ready for bed, Sharon wearing one of Sam's t-shirts as a night gown. After they kissed good night, they were each laying on their side of the bed. Sharon was deep in thought, hoping they had made the right decisions for the case. She then turned on her side, looking at Sam. It was then when she decided to voice her concerns once more to her girlfriend. "Sam," Sharon started getting Sam's attention. "You can still back out from this." Sharon knew it was most likely in vane, but she had to try.

 

Sam locked eyes with Sharon and then said to her simply. "You know I won't." It was as simple as that. She then rose up and kissed Sharon once more, a little longer though than she had meant, and then got back to her side of the bed. "Good night, sweetheart." Sam added and closed her eyes. It was hard for both women to go to sleep. For two reasons. One being the case and the new  plan. Second one being, that they really had a hard time passing from any sexual activities. But it was more fruitful to try to get some sleep. "Good night, love." Sharon responded.

 

It did not take long before all four fell fast asleep. Despite the adrenaline still flowing in them all having been caused by the case and also several pots of coffee consumed during the small teams planning session.

 

***

 

The next day the whole team was back together. With the Captain at the helm and Sam making an appearance finally after her ordeal in the jail cell. The nightly plans done in the safe house were presented to the rest of them team. And next steps were to dig up similar information of the other two victims. Each member were assigned tasks and they split up to do just that.

 

The initial awkwardness regarding the team as a whole kind of turning their backs on Sam during her incarceration did not last long. Sam seemed to have forgiven and forgotten all. Especially now that she had made her peace with Sharon and had a role in catching the killer as well. Giving her the spunk back she needed, so to speak.

 

The Captain had a few reports to write and Sam did not have anything to do, since all the others were busy chasing the missing pieces. She was sitting in the coffee room, when she got a call from a friend of hers who had just heard what happened to Lila. They exchanged pleasantries and caught up with what was going on for both of them and since Rita had been travelling a lot abroad she was out of the loop. She had come back to the country and found out about the murders only then.

 

"I am really sorry Sam, I know you two were close." Rita, Sam's friend said on the other end of the call.

 

"Thanks! I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that she is really gone." Sam sighed picturing Lila's smiling face in her mind.

 

"Listen, I know this may not be a good time to hear this, but I need to warn you about something." Rita the told her friend.

 

"What is it?" Sam asked, not sure what it could be. After all, a killer on the loose was the most worrying thing to her right now.

 

"I heard from Leza," a common friend to them both. ”that there is some religious nut going about the bars and trying to recruit lesbians to join some kind of sect where they supposedly heal the gay away."

 

Sam's warning bells were going on full red alert in her mind now. This was all too familiar to hear. "Do you know who the girls are and were they were harassed?" Sam used that specific word, because that's what it was exactly.

 

"No, no, I don't" Rita seemed surprised Sam was so eager to find out, as Sam had let out the fact she was helping the police to catch the killer. Not that she did not trust Rita, but she did not want to put her in danger either. "I can try to find out for you, if you want.” Rita added suspecting her friend would want to go on a mission of mercy herself, as Rita knew how much Sam hated these zealot types.

 

"That would be great!" Sam was getting exited again. "Let me know as soon as you know!" Sam added.

 

Rita was still confused as to why Sam needed this info, unless her worry of Sam really going in a mission against them was in her friend’s mind. "You are not going to join them are you?" Already knowing the answer, but she hoped the heck Sam was not an a path to revenge either.

 

"No, of course not! I just thought I would be useful, if we could play a little trick on them. Teach them a lesson or something." Sam was trying to think some quick white lie to cover up the real reason.

 

"Oh, that is so you!" Rita laughed then relieved if that was all this was about really. She could easily picture Sam seducing one of these "turner types" maybe snap a photo to get them exposed as the hypocrites they really were. "I will get on it right away!" Rita promised her. They talked a little more and then hung up.

 

After the call, Sam went immediately to Sharon and told her what she head just heard.

 

"That is good news!" Sharon said to Sam. ”Let's hope your friend will deliver soon so we can check if this is related or not.” Sharon was in a good mood also over this piece of intel.

 

"We?" Sam asked, "You mean me, right?" Sam pressed. It was obvious this was something she was going to do, since they were her friends and it was her playground after all.

 

"You need back up." Sharon reminded her. Not a suggestion. It was an order.

 

"Fine. I will take Amy. She is familiar with the haunts I usually visit and the lesbian scene in general." Sam suggested then to Sharon.

 

After the words had left her mouth, Sam only realised how they may have sounded to Sharon. Sam was still not sure, about what Sharon's preferences had been before they had met. Nor if they had changed even since the two of them coming lovers. After all she had been married and had children. But they had met in a lesbian bar, so, well, to be honest Sam did not want to pry if Sharon was not telling. Did it really even matter to her? But she knew Amy might be more comfortable in a gay scene any given day. Sam had heard enough from Monica about Amy, so there were no open questions regarding her preferences after all.

 

Sharon had thought she herself could go with Sam. But it seemed Sam was taking the lead on this particular task and Sharon trusted Amy being a very capable backup for Sam. Sharon had heard the subtle hint of Sam's regarding Amy being more suitable for the mission due to her familiarity to the gay bar scene of course, being full well aware of the fact that the two of them had never really discussed any of this before. That at least was what Sharon had gotten out from Sam’s comment. She then made a mental note to have a little talk with Sam after the case had been wrapped up. It was clear that the couple needed to get more familiar with each other and at ease around each other as well, more so than now. But this particular topic seemed to bother Sharon more than she had thought it would.

 

"Alright then." Sharon responded rather curtly and then paused, thinking a moment before continuing. ”This information seems to be too much of a coincidence not to be related to our case. And if it is, then it seems our killer may not be working alone either.” Thinking that it had to be a woman at least who was recruiting lesbians in their own bars. “So you," Sharon then pointed at Sam. ”my dearest, need to be really careful out there." Sharon pointed at the outside to make a point of it.

 

Sam smiled widely. She was exited of the prospect of going out there catching the killer and playing cops and robbers too. But what warmed her even more so, was the fact Sharon was worried about her, and that fact really warmed her own heart.

 

Sharon picked up the phone and called Amy Sykes first, who has out with Julio tracing the steps for Sheila Connor. She then called the others already, informing them all of the new developments and they were all called back as soon as possible. As it was, they were about to set in motion an undercover operation to catch the serial killer.

 

Sam was still sitting in Sharon's office, looking at her lover in full Captain mode. Sam felt lucky she had landed this lady in her life. And did not want a minor thing like being killed in the process of trying to catch a serial killer jeopardise that. Not at all. Sam felt her insides all warm and fuzzy, un familiar feeling to her at least in a long, long while. She then wondered if she was getting a fever or was it really this thing, which all others called love? Must’ve been, Sam thought and much to her own surprise, she was perfectly fine with it.

 

Sharon put down the receiver of her desk phone. She looked at Sam, who seemed to be deep in thought. Sharon was very worried in putting Sam out there. Exposed to a serial killer of women no less. She had no training whatsoever, but Sharon knew Sam had a good head on her shoulders and could fend for herself if push came to shove, this much was for sure. And as Amy would be there too, close by, armed and dangerous as she only could be. Sharon felt at an ease. She could not help but smile at her lover and the sacrifice she was willing to make.

 

Chapter Twenty-two: Hook, line, and…?

 

Sam's friend had come through and delivered the information on which establishments the recruiter had hit so far according to their friends who had been the targets. Combining the information received from Sheila Connor’s girlfriend, and the bars Sam knew Lila frequented, they had put together a map of the bars and hangouts for lesbians in the area. Total of seven of the thirty odd bars were found on all three lists. Those were the ones they were going to stake-out first.

 

Sam and Amy were well prepped and ready for action. Both women were dressed up to the hilt, with tiny cameras hidden on their person to record their every move and earpieces for communication as well. They had decided to follow the map in order, forming an almost complete circle around the town. And so out they had gone.

 

After two nights of working in a row, they had managed to stalk a few bars. But after several hours worth of chatting with the patrons and doing all the leg work during each evening, they still had not had any luck in finding their person of interest, not even a hint of them.

It was the eve of the third night now and both Sam and Amy were putting on their costumes, as the dynamic duo had named their attire they wore to the bars. Dress up was nothing special per se, as both of them were used to wearing dresses to bars they visited in their personal time. But they had tried to butch things up a bit, trying to stick out from the crowd for the one they were after.

 

Sam was in complete leather outfit, with the top and skirt and high heeled boots to match. Amy was playing the biker girl tonight for a change. Dressed in al leather pants and jacket. Sam's wardrobe was coming out of her own closet and she had actually borrowed Amy her outfit for the day. They were about the same height. But due to Sam being more "heavy" on the top, the jacket was a loose fit which actually looked the part on Amy.

 

Sharon came into the girls "dressing room" and she found it hard to not stare at Sam. Of course Sharon had seen her in different outfits and also butt naked. But something about a woman in leather just turned her on. Even Amy looked hot and Sharon was starting to get a little worried about herself control while among these two women.

 

"Ladies, looking good!" She tried to act all casual. 'Eyes front' she told herself trying to keep her peepers off of all those juicy lady parts currently on display.

 

"Hope we'll make some progress tonight." Amy said then.

 

"Well, it is our third night tonight, so guess third times the charm eh?" Sam responded simply.

 

"Well, we are half way done now, so if after tonight we are still at zero, then we need to widen the net." Amy commented, something which they had already discussed as there were plenty of places to check out.

 

After a moment of dressing and makeup and checking their looks in the mirror, both Sam and Amy were ready to go.

 

"Time for your camera and sound checks." Sharon told the duo after the they exited their make shift dressing room as it was a routine always before the team let them leave. Sharon quickly grabbed Sam by her hand and held her back for a moment. Sharon looked at her girlfriend and then whispered to her. ”We need to revisit this outfit later on.” She glared at Sam with hungry eyes. Then quickly kissed Sam before she let reluctantly go of her.

 

***

 

Amy and Sam had arrived to establishment next on their list. The bar was half packed and the sound system was bumping out the latest hits with a heavy bass to it. Sam and Amy split up, each browsing on their own like they had done the previous nights. Amy was armed with two guns, one tucked under her arm and the other inside her boot. Sam on the other hand, did not have a gun. There had been no time to train her and she had never fired one let alone own a permit for one. She did however, have a knife and a small bottle of mace on her person as well. Sam knew how to use the knife. She had been part of a travelling circus in her youth a few summers, working as the assistant for the knife master of the circus. So, she had picked up a few tricks from them back then.

 

Two hours later, they two ladies were still not seeing anything suspicious. Amy had gotten in a spot of trouble with a woman, who was really interested in her. Amy had gone along at first, thinking it was a good cover for her. But then it started to get a little bit too personal and a little too soon as well. So she had excused herself and left for the bathroom. When she was out of sight from her new admirer, Amy had quickly found a spot she could talk to the team residing outside the bar.

 

"Guys, I am in a spot of trouble here, or so it seems." Amy reported. The others had been monitoring her in the camera and had gotten worried too.

 

"I think you better pull out from there." Sharon responded to her from the monitoring van. "Make some excuse and just leave."

 

"Okay. I will think of something. I don't think we need to stay here any longer anyway, since nothing suspicious seems to be going on here, not tonight at least.” Amy responded.

 

She went back to the bar she had been sitting in earlier to tell her new fan she had some work emergency she need to attend to and had to leave. Amy was surprised her little lie did sink in. And the woman she had been chatting with even gave Amy her phone number asking for her to call as soon as possible. Of course she was not about to as she already had a girlfriend, Monica, Sam’s assistant. But it was all part of the undercover work.

 

Amy left to join the others in the van. Sam had been notified of the situation. She had been stalking the bar too and finally ended up talking with two women she knew from before. After she got the "call" in her ear piece, she quickly turned her head and with a low voice responded simply “Okay". And then quickly turned back to her friends and said she was going to take a look at the offering some more, which they completely understood and even cheered her one when she left.

 

After an half an hour, Sam was ready to give up."Guess third time isn't the charm after all" she said under her breath to herself. She told the others she was getting out and joining them in a few. Sam went to the bar and took one more glance around the immediate area and then started out. Letting the others know she was on her way, she turned off her camera. She was just coming out the door and turning towards the van which was parked a little farther away, when someone walked up to her.

 

"Hey, do you have a light?" A figure standing in the shadow who was leaning against the bar wall, asked of her in a raspy voice.

 

Sam did not see the person clearly and was not sure if it was a man or woman there. But assuming it was a woman since this was a lesbian bar and usually men did not hang around them. Not unless they were unto no good. Sam did not think anything of it further and then turned towards the figure answering. "Sorry no, I don't smoke."

 

A small laugh was heard only then and a response. "That's funny, because you are totally smoking! Smoking hot that is!"

 

"Funny." Sam responded, thinking it really sounded as far from funny as a sitcom with a laugh track.

 

The figure did not respond further. Sam decided to end the conversation then and there. "I am sure there is someone inside with some matches or lighter." 

 

Sam then turned and was about to leave, when she all of sudden felt totally dizzy. She tried to turn, but the ground seemed to come closer and closer until she felt it hit her. Sam reached for her boot and found what she was looking for. She pulled the object out with a shaky hand and held onto it for a while. But soon enough she found out she was not being able to do anything with it and at the end it dropped from her hand. After that, there was nothing but darkness surrounding her as Sam was out like the light.

 

***

 

The team in the van were wondering what was taking Sam so long the reach the vehicle. It had been well over ten minutes she had told them she was leaving the bar and had turned off her camera and taken off her earpiece as well.

 

"Any sign of her?" Sharon was bouncing between the monitors and getting really worried.

 

"Nope, nothing. Can't raise her on her earpiece either." Mike responded to his boss.

 

"I will go and look for her.” Amy said. "Maybe she got stuck in a conversation with some friends.” At least that was what Amy hoped Sam was doing now since she had not reported in yet.

 

"Okay, but activate your camera before you go out there." Sharon ordered her.

 

Amy did just that and out the van she went. She reached the front of the bar quickly and scanned the immediate area. Alas, Sam was nowhere to be found. She went inside and walked through the now packed place. But still no Sam. The others were seeing what she saw inside of the van. Amy left the bar and double checked the outside too. She noticed something glistening in the street light a little farther away on the back street.

 

Amy quickly reached the object laying on the ground. Amy picked it up and her camera zoomed in on it, so the others could see what she was holding. Both Sharon and Amy recognised what it was. It was Sam's knife. The one she had shown to the other two and even the tricks she knew and they had approved for her to take it to the stake-out mission as well, for protection. But Sam herself, was no where to be found. And so, her protective device was rather moot.

 

Chapter Twenty-three: Setbacks are a bitch

 

Sam felt nauseous. She opened her eyes, but her vision was still blurry. She was trying to focus, but all she could see was a tiny light on the table close to her. She could not move. She was sitting clearly. And as she looked down she could see the ropes tying her to the seat. She seemed to be alone in the room. Sam wasn't sure if the tech had survived or remained undetected. She could not feel either her ear piece nor could she reach for the camera setup on the top of her bra strap.

 

Sam tried to jiggle in the seat, maybe loosen the restraints a bit. But nothing happened. She could only remain put in her place for now. She wasn't sure if she should shout out and let her kidnapper now she was awake or not. Sam decided against it. She was squinting her eyes trying to look around in the room for something, anything useful.

 

After a moment, the door opened and a shadowy figure remained standing at the door.

 

"You're awake." The same raspy voice from outside the bar spoke.

 

"Yes." Sam was curt, wondering why the shadow play and not reveal who they were. After all, she was the one tied up. Not that she could do anything even if she wanted to.

 

"Good!" The shadowy figure responded.

 

Stepping closer, the figure grabbed a chair and moved it closer to Sam. Close enough, but still in the shadow.

 

"Now, tell me who you really are." The figure demanded from Sam.

 

***

 

Sharon and the team had spread out to search for Seam in the immediate vicinity. They had split into teams of two. Combing a flew blocks to each direction. But it was no use. It seemed Sam had vanished into thin air.

 

Sharon looked at Andy, whom she had paired up with. Andy understood what Sharon was going through. He touched Sharon on the arm to get her attention. ”Sharon, we will get her back!" Andy tried to assure her. Sharon nodded but she was holding back her tears. Andy called the others on the radio, asking for their status only to find out that it was negative for all teams. There was no sight of Sam. Amy had even circulated the image inside the bar, where she had made another round just to be sure. But no one had seen Sam in the last hour or so. Andy told them to fold back to the van. They needed a new plan.

 

***

 

"Who the hell are you?" The figure still in the shadow demanded from Sam.

 

The voice was really raspy. And for some reason did not sound natural at all in Sam's ear. Sam was still rather groggy and knew she had been drugged. Some kind of injection most likely and before she knew what had hit her, Sam was down on the ground. Her only thought had been to defend herself with the only weapon she had on her. But she had been too weak to do anything with it as the drug had started to take its affect. The knife had simply slid out of her hand as she had grown weaker and weaker before it all went dark for her. So here she was, tied up. Facing a killer. At least Sam thought it was him. Who else would have had the idea to knock her out and tie up and bring to this place, wherever it was.

 

There had been no one in the alley leading to the bar when Sam had gotten out from it. That meant someone had been lurking around there and most likely watching her and Amy. Then possibly gotten suspicious, because they had been working the bar and asking a lot of questions. Whatever the case was, she and quite possibly Amy too had been made out. Sam wondered if the perp had gotten to Amy somewhere close as well. She hoped not. But if she wasn't here, then Sam was all alone. Facing a psychopath and without any means to defend herself.

 

Sam was trying to think on what to do and how to stall. She knew the team would eventually find her. Sharon and all of her team were that good. At least that what Sam needed to keep thinking. They would find her and Amy too if she was here. The question now was, how she could get the information out of her jailor before the others arrived. Because he could easily escape if the others showed up.

 

"I am no one.” Sam tried and she was cut off.

 

"Lier!" The figure spat out in anger, clearly getting agitated from a wrong answer.

 

Sam did not want to anger her jailor. At all. It this was the killer they were looking for, the he was armed and dangerous and brutally so. Also, if he really was working with a partner? Then Sam did not like her prospects at all.

 

The figure got up and moved closer to Sam. Close enough, but still hiding in the shadows. It was easy since the room was dimly lit with only one small table lamp shedding light into the otherwise dark room. Sam could not hear any other voices or noises, not even traffic sounds.

 

The figure dared a little closer to her, but was clearly trying to remain anonymous. Keeping his distance so not to be recognised. Sam realised what this meant for her. That if the person with her in the room was not showing his face, Sam clearly was not on the kill list. Because it would not have mattered if Sam saw his face or not if she was going to be the next victim. This little titbit gave her more confidence and also hope.

 

"No, no.” Sam objected. “Why would I lie to you? I don't even know you.” Sam asked.

 

The jailor stepped back and stood there silent for a moment. He paced a little and then asked. "You and your partner were staking the bar, weren't you?" He then said.

 

Sam got her confirmation. It seemed that the undercover duo had been a little more eager than they wanted to be seen and had most likely asked too many questions this time around and then having been made by the one they were looking for.

 

"My partner?" Sam tried to act coy. "What do you mean by partner?" Sam was trying to protect her cover still.

 

The shadow figure did not like it when Sam tried to fool him. "Don't play stupid with me. I saw you and her, your partner get into the bar together. Then split up." He started. "I thought you were like all those other sluts in there. Picking up anyone who was willing to do your dirty bidding. But then I saw you were just hanging out, talking. All the time just talking doing nothing more." He then paused. ”That’s not what those abominations do there." He spat the last words out. “No, they do hideous things to each other in there. In the backroom and even in the alley sometimes.” He sounded totally disgusted now.

 

It was Sam's turn to be surprised now. It seemed, that this person, knew a lot about lesbians and what was going on in the darkened corners of the bars. But if the killer was a man then how could he know? Sam knew, that some gay men were allowed to the women only bars as sort of honorary members if someone was vouching for them. But any other man would have been politely turned away at the door. This was the current policy in most lesbian bars, which had been set to action after several incidents in the past. It was set as a security measure to protect the patrons and personnel alike. This would most certainly mean,  that the killer had a partner. Most likely a female. Possibly the the woman who had witnessed against herself and had been recruiting in the bars too. Of course, taking into account all the religiously crazies out there, there could easily be more of them. But Sam hoped not.

 

"So, you seem to know a lot about gay women then?" Sam was chaining her tactics a little and was trying to probe him.

 

"What the hell do you care what I know!" The figure spat, still angry it appeared. 

 

That had clearly been a step in the wrong direction, Sam thought to herself.

 

"I don’t. Sorry," Sam tried, and changed her method then. "And you are right, I was there with my partner."

 

"I knew it, I can smell a cop a mile away!" The figure laughed.

 

"Yeah, you got me!" Sam added as she decided to play the part given to her. "We were casing the place, as you said.” Sam continued. ”We had a tip there might be some illegal drugs sold there." Sam started spinning the yarn and hoped the cat would catch it.

 

"Yeah, well, I don't like cops. No matter what the case is.” He paused and soon went on again with his seeming ranting. “But I really hate those, those so called women. Playing with each other, claiming it is love only to be cheating on each other soon after. Always on the look out for the next willing partner to give them the needed satisfaction. With the only thing on their mind being sex. Those deceitful bitches!" He seemed to be looking for more hateful words to spit out. But found none, until. ”Those damned pussy licking lesbians!" He finally managed. "I say they deserve what ever is coming to them." He finished his rant

 

Okay. So, Sam had moved one a step in the right direction. He apparently did not hate cops as much as he did hate lesbians. But she needed to find out about Amy.

 

"So, you said you saw my partner too. Is  she here as well?" Sam boldly asked.

 

The figure was quiet at first, but then answered. "No, I only managed to get you. My bad really." He laughed again. “Now that she knows you are gone, she probably will send the whole police precinct looking for you."

 

He stood there for a while, then left the room. Leaving Sam sitting there all alone.

 

‘There is something totally off about this case.’ Sam was thinking to herself. The shadowy figure was clearly carrying a torch for lesbians, hating them all. But it seemed so personal. Had this man been betrayed by a woman who had found out she was really a lesbian? But a man, who knew so much about the behaviour of them, especially the sexual behaviour, did not fit at all. Even second hand knowledge could not be that detailed unless there was some personal attachment. Sam's little grey cells were working over time now trying to figure this puzzle out. An idea came to her then and if she was right, the initial analysis for the killer was slightly off. She had to get loose and away, the sooner the better.

 

Sam was squinting her eyes, trying to see if there was anything in the room to help her. She did not see anything at first. But she then remembered a trick she had once seen in a movie. It might just work, if the chair beneath her would break. Sam knew she had to try. She started rocking the chair, so that the chair was only on two legs. They seemed shaky enough. And so, Sam started rocking even harder only hoping the legs would break. She rocked the chair and then listened for a while. But since her jailor was not back she continued with the action, hoping to free herself before he was back.

 

Chapter Twenty-four: The search for Sam

 

The team led by Captain Raydor was now crammed back into the van again. Sharon kept staring at the monitors, hoping for any signal from Sam. But none were forthcoming. She looked at the others trying to find answers there too.

 

"Any ideas?" She tried then.

 

Just a lot of heads being shook around as response. Except for Mike, who was deep in thought. Sharon looked at his direction after she had noticed Mike had not reacted to her question.

 

"Mike?" Sharon asked the Lieutenant.

 

Mike looked up. "Huh? Sorry, I was just thinking of something..." Not completing his sentence, he stepped towards one of the monitors on the wall. He started typing in a fast pace and lots of windows popped up onto the screen a little after. The others just looked on not sure what the man was really doing. But Buzz seemed to pick on what he was on about and moved closer.

 

"There!" Buzz pointed to the screen which Mike had brought up with a few others. It was a tracking application for wifi signals. The others scooched closer as Miked had stopped his furious typing.

 

"What is it?" Provenza asked, being the never tech savvy of them all.

 

"It's the wifi signal tracker." Amy told the others knowingly.

 

"Yes, I see where you are going with this." Sharon picked up quickly as well.

 

Mike enlarged the window with the tracker on it and looked at the others. "As you know, each wifi signal has a unique carrier address. This is how we can track them."

 

"So you mean we can track Sam's camera signal with this as well?" Sharon was getting more eager now.

 

"Not exactly." Buzz said. "The range of the signal is not very long."

 

“Oh." the others sighed in unison as their faces turned from hope to frown again.

 

"Oh, no worries! We can still track the carrier signal, eventually." Mike was trying to lighten up the mood again.”But," He started.

 

"There is always a but!" Provenza raised his arms as he ranted in his usual grumpy manner.

 

"But," Tao continued despite the reaction and then emphasising the word. "We can try to ping the camera's wifi address over the network and trace it that way. Provided the camera is still in one piece and active."

 

"See," Provenza pointed a finger at Mike rather victoriously his mood changing a mile a minute. ”I knew there was a catch there somewhere!" Feeling totally triumphant he was always right of course, but also a little sad because of their missing member. Well, technically Sam wasn't a member of the team. But she was a friend, family really, and part of this investigation too. Putting her own neck on the line.

 

"How long?" Sharon asked in a low register.

 

"It depends on the frequency settings..." Tao started with the tech talk again.

 

"No techno babble please! Just tell me the rough estimate." Sharon cut him off.

 

"Two hours?" Tao responded.

 

"I'll take it." Sharon said. ”I need coffee!" She then added.

 

"There is a fresh pot brewing." Andy who had anticipated the team’s and his Captain’s need for caffeine and put the kettle on just after getting back in the van.

 

"Thanks Andy!" Sharon told him and turned her face towards the  monitors again. Only waiting and hoping they could tell her something more, even give up their secrets as to where her partner was.

 

***

 

Sam had been bouncing on the chair for while and finally she felt the legs were about to give in. Luckily she had been roped to the chair and she hoped if she got the chair to break, the ropes would give in also. One final swing back and forth, and then, it finally happened. There was a cracking sound and she fell flat on her ass on top of broken chair seat. The legs had broken off and the rest of the rickety old chair had followed suite. As promised by the movie, the ropes gave in as well and Sam was able to wiggle out of them.

 

Sam was quickly back on her feet and ran towards the door with one of the broken legs in her hand which she had now weaponised. She was afraid the noise would have brought her jailor to the room. But there was no sound not even a peep from the anonymous figure. Sam decided she had to make a break for it. She tried the handle of the door and it gave in and she opened the door. She was looking into an equally dark hallway with some light coming through from what seemed to be a skylight. Sam carefully moved out from the room and into the hallway, deciding to walk towards the skylight. At least she could see a little bit now as to where she was stepping. She moved a little ahead, then stopped and listened and then moved again. She had managed to get along a good while until she reached the end of the hallway and what seemed to be another door there. She tried around in the darkness and found a handle. She touched it, turned it and like the other one, this one opened too.

 

Sam peeked through the now open door and was finally able to see light. It was still dark outside, but she saw a narrow alley and a street light. Sam still had no idea how much time had passed between her capture and now. But since it still was night time, she assumed it had only been a short while and that it was indeed the same night she had been captured. Or then in the worst case scenario, even days had passed since she had been drugged and kidnapped. Whatever the case now was, she needed to get out from her captor’s house and fast.

 

Sam stepped outside and looked around. Picking a direction and then started running as fast as she could. Well, with high heels on, it was a challenge. But this wasn't her first sprint she had done in high heels. But that was a story for another time. She ran the whole way until the end of the alley. She stopped and looked around and noticed cars a little farther away on the street. At least she was on her way to civilisation now. Or so she hoped at least as she continued her escape. And lucky soon after she reached a main road there.

 

Chapter Twenty-five: We got so far, but we're not off yet!

 

Sam had finally reached a busy main road after running and then walking for a good while. There were no road signs visible any where. But Sam tried to print images of land marks and buildings into her mind. It was easy enough with her photographic memory. Ironically too, since she was a photographer she really did not need a camera to "see" things.

 

She noticed a taxi and hailed it. She had no money nor phone on her anymore, but she figured she could pay the fare when she reached her destination. She wasn't sure where her team was currently. So her best bet was to return to the police station. She gave the address to the driver and was on her way to safety, finally.

 

***

 

The team had finally managed to track and pint point all the areas where Sam's camera had picked up a signal. Mike pulled out the route on one of the monitors. The last know location seemed to be an internet cafe and after that, there was no contact. The team was frustrated after spending three hours trying to find any trace of Sam’s, only to have reached a dead end. It was highly unlikely Sam and whomever kidnapped her, would be found in a cafe drinking the ole cup.

 

Sharon decided they should go and check the place out anyway and comb the immediate area just in case. Looking for any hideouts or other suspicious place, where one could keep a prisoner.

 

***

 

The taxi ride had taken no more than fifteen minutes at this late hour. Sam had looked at the clock on the dashboard of the vehicle and seen it was four-thirty am. The taxi drove in front of the LAPD station and stopped there at the pavement.

 

"Wait here, I will go in and get the money for you." Sam told the driver.

 

He looked at Sam from the rearview mirror and asked. "Do you think I'm a fool?"

 

"Sorry, its a really long story and I have had a really rough night..." Sam tried to explain.

 

The driver had suspected Sam was a working girl due to her outfit and was surprised of their target destination. Nut had not questioned it in the beginning. Now, it seemed he had been hustled and was most likely going to loose the payment for the fare.

 

"I'm sure you have. Look lady, I don't know what you are trying to pull here, but you need to pay." The driver demanded.

 

"Look," Sam tried again. "I am an undercover cop on a stakeout." Little white lie, but technically, she was. "The mission did not go as planned and I got lost from my team. So if you hold on for a moment, I will go into the station and get your money okay."

 

The driver looked at her like she was some patient who had just escaped from the looney bin. Sam knew the driver did not believe one word she was telling him. She quickly realised how she looked and what the driver was probably thinking.

 

"You can come with me?" Sam tried again.

 

The driver seemed surprised on the last sentence. He turned off the engine and looked once again at Sam. "Fine, but if you are lying..." He said more frustrated than angry.

 

"It'll be ok. I promise." Sam assured him and smiled.

 

The twosome stepped out of the taxi and with the taxi driver in tow, Sam went inside the police station. Sam immediately started towards the lift, but as soon as they reached the lobby, the officer on duty at the check point station waved them over.

 

"You two, state your name and business." She told them.

 

Sam stepped back and towards to the desk of the check point. "Samantha McCloud, I am here to see Captain Sharon Raydor of the Major Crimes unit." Sam forced a smile.

 

The officer checked her from head to toe and let out a small laugh.

 

“Sure! And is this your, um client?" She asked.

 

Sam looked at the driver standing a little farther away, then back at the officer. Sam knew this did not look good. After all, from any outsider her attire might have been seen as that of a hooker but that could not be helped now.

 

"Officer, look," Sam tried to convince the police woman on duty. "I am working with the Major Crimes unit to catch a killer. I got separated from the team during an undercover operation. I got a taxi to drive me here, but I don't have any money on me. So I need someone to pay the driver." Sam thought being honest was the best policy.

 

The officer stared at Sam, listening to the tale being spun, and by her facial expressions she really did not believe a word of it. "Wow! That is really the most outrageous story if I have ever heard one!" She responded and laughed out loud.

 

Sam was getting furious. Apparently telling the truth did not bode well for her either.

 

"Look, if you can just let me up there, I can get my wallet and pay the man." Sam looked back at the driver, who was staring at the two women having the argument.

 

"That's really funny. A hooker paying the John! What's next? Pigs and dogs flying?" The officer was mocking Sam.

 

"Fine, be that way." Sam decided the officer wasn't going to let her up, so she decided to make a run for it. In an unexpected blur, Sam rushed to the elevators, pushed the call button. And as the doors opened, she rushed inside and quickly chose the floor and pushed the close doors button. The officer, after realising what had just happened, dashed right after Sam. But the doors closed right in front of her.

 

She quickly called another lift car and radioed for help. The taxi driver, after finally realising what had happened, started shouting bloody murder to the officer and to go get the thief who stole his money.

 

Sam was in the elevator, her heart beating fast. She realised she needed a card to get in, so now, she had to improvise. The bell of the lift car dinged and the doors opened. Sam stepped out and turned towards the Major Crimes units offices. The hallways were only lit with emergency lights. But as she approached the offices, she could see the lights were on there.

 

"Good, someone is here!" Sam said out loud and ran the rest of the way.

 

As she reached to office, the door was open and it was blocked by a cleaning cart. Sam realised the cleaner must have let it open and trying to avoid further conflict and to explain herself, Sam sneaked inside. She saw the cleaner further away, dusting the Captain’s office. Sam quickly moved towards the meeting room which they had used for changing their attire and in her haste, managed to knock over something which fell onto the floor with a loud crash. She immediately stopped on her tracks, looked for a hideout and then back at the Captain's office. The cleaner just continued with their job seemingly undisturbed by the noise. Sam zoomed in and realised the worker was wearing a headset and quite possible could not hear anything happening around them.

 

Sam was relieved and without loosing any more time, made her way to the meeting room. She picked up her stuff, debating whether to change her clothes or not. But decided then, that time was of the essence since the officer might have alerted others to search for her as well. Sam picked up her wallet and started back.

 

As she reached the hallway, she heard a police officer shouting out. "Stop!" Sam did as ordered and remained standing where she was.

 

"Raise your hands in the air and turn around!" The officer behind her ordered.

 

Sam did as requested. She looked at the officer holding a gun pointed at her and recognised her immediately. It was Annie Rhodes, the one whom she knew from a friend of hers. Sam had seen Annie several times in the bar she frequented and at the get togethers with her friends. She had talked with Annie several times even.

 

"Sam?" The officer had also recognised her. "Sam McCloud?" She repeated.

 

"Yeah, it's me, Annie." Sam smiled a little then. "I did not know you worked for the force." Sam added.

 

Annie looked at Sam suspiciously, especially her outfit and then said. "I did not know you moonlighted as a hooker-burglar." She wasn't sure whether to laugh of not at this point.

 

"Look, I know this may not look,” Sam motioned towards her attire. ”up to par. But I assure you, I am on the level." Sam tried to convince the woman with the gun pointed right at her.

 

Annie kept looking at Sam, internally debating whether to take a chance or not. Nut she knew Sam, sort of anyway and of her. And what seemed what it was now, most likely was not that. Annie decided to trust Sam.

 

"Okay, fine," She then put her gun back into the holster. "You can put your hands down now and do tell me what the hell is going on!?" Annie the said to Sam.

 

"I will, I promise! But first," Sam waved the wallet she had in her hand. ”There is an angry taxi driver down stairs to whom I need to pay my debt to!"

 

"Okay, lead the way!" Annie told Sam as the two of them then left for the elevators.

 

Chapter Twenty-six: Misunderstandings and such

 

Sam and Annie arrived into the lobby in no time. The officer there seemed relieved that the perpetrator had been caught and told as much to officer Rhodes. "Good, you caught her!"

 

Annie went to officer Gina Mendez and pulled her aside, while Sam made her way to the taxi driver with the money in her hand now.

 

“Here! The fair plus some extra for being so patient with me." Sam added a smile there as well. The driver took the money did not count it nor say another word. He just huffed and left. “What? No, thank you?” Sam said mockingly after the taxi driver was half way out already and most likely did not even hear the snide remark.

 

Annie was talking with Gina, quickly recapping the situation to her colleague. As she did not know much, she just told Gina, to trust what ever Sam had told her and go with that.

 

Sam walked back to where the police officer were after paying the driver and spoke to officer Mendez. "Hi, it's me again.”

 

Officer Gina Mendez was not happy at all about what had just expired. But she decided to take the other two ladies word for it. However, she did want to get in the last word and then reprimanded Sam. "Next time, get some ID or someone to vouch for you before you barge into the station like that!”

 

"Will do!" Sam decided not to read into her comments too much as clearly it was a matter of pride for her. After all, at this point she was way too tired and caffeine free to argue with the officer regarding how many things were wrong with her statement.

 

"You look like you need a pot of coffee!" Annie smirked when she heard Sam sigh. They were back in the elevator and Annie was taking Sam to the Major Crimes office.

 

"Yeah, it's been too long of a night for me." Sam wasn't sure of how much time she had actually lost during being held by the kidnapper. “What day is it anyway?” She had to ask.

 

"It's Thursday morning. 5.30 am to be exact." Annie looked at Sam with an eyebrow raised.

 

"Good!" Sam responded. That meant she had only lost a few hours while being unconscious.

 

Annie was getting really interested now. "What the hell happened to you?" She then asked Sam.

 

"Well, it is a lengthy tale. But buy me some coffee and I'll fill you in!" Sam looked at her friend with a coy smile.

 

"Sure!" Annie added as the duo left for the elevators and started towards the offices and namely, break room of said offices.

 

As they arrived to the office floor, Sam realised something and said to Annie. “First things first. I need to call Captain Raydor and tell her I am Okay." Shen then went to a desk and picked up the receiver and dialled the familiar number as her own mobile phone had gotten lost during her kidnapping.

 

"Hello?" Sam heard on the other end as the call connected. Sam was totally relieved to hear Sharons voice again. "Hi, it's me, Sam. I'm back at the police station and well, guess I am alright.”

 

***

 

Sharon and the team were back in the van. They had spent a good while going up and down the streets and checking a few open establishments as well, being mainly bars and diners. But there was no trace of Sam anywhere to be found. Neither did they find any abandoned buildings near by. They called off the search and returned to the van, feeling defeated.

 

Sharon was sitting in a chair, deep in thought. Her team members were spread inside the van, none of them saying a word though. They were frustrated and tired and also angry. Angry at themselves mainly. They had lost a team member on a stake-out. The killer most likely had her and she was in mortal danger now.

 

Sharon kept staring into nothing. She felt desperate. It seemed to be a trend for this case. The one which had hit too close to home. Remembering the last time this had happened, which was a few years back. She had been in a very dark place back then. And she felt like falling into the abyss also this time around. Sharon was running all kinds of scenarios in her mind. It was then when she felt her pocket buzzing. Realising it was her phone she quickly picked it up and looked at the caller id. It was one of the extensions from their own office.

 

"Hello?" Sharon answered, wondering who could be calling from their office at this early hour.

 

"Hi, it's me, Sam. I am okay." Sharon heard Sam's voice on the other end of the line.

 

"Sam!" Sharon repeated the familiar name. The others had heard her and immediately raised their ears tuning into what Sharon was saying. ”Sam! I am so happy to hear your voice!" Sharon continued rather happily. After seeing the caller ID and hearing Sam's voice, she knew right away, that Sam had to be safe and back in the office.

 

"Yours too!" Sam told Sharon as the call continued.

 

"How are you back at the office?" Sharon asked, wanting to know every last detail right away. “What happened to you?” Sharon was eager to get the updates on what had happened to Sam, especially after fearing the worst. “You were captured!” This much she already knew.

 

"It's a long story, honey.” Sam snorted then. “And yes, I was for a while there, but managed to escape.” She added quickly. “But, it is safe to say, that we are definitely on the right track." Sam knew they had been looking for her of course. But she did not want to go into too many details over the phone. And as much as she enjoyed listening to Sharon's voice caressing her ear, she needed coffee more.

 

"That is good news!" Sharon replied and thanked the deities for keeping Sam safe. “We are still in the van but will be on the way back ASAP." Sharon added and nodded towards the others. Amy was closest and quickest and almost jumped into the drivers seat. She started the engine and took them on their route back to the police station.

 

"I'll be waiting. We'll have fresh coffee for you waiting as well." Sam joked, knowing full well, how much the others enjoyed their coffee. Almost as much as she did.

 

"We?" Sharon did not miss the word.

 

"Yeah, me and officer Rhodes. I'll explain that too when you get here." Sam added.

 

“Oh, okay.” Sharon was sure there was a good explanation waiting there. “See you in a few." Sharon could not wait to hear everything. She was hesitant for a brief moment, but then finally added. "Love you.” Because she wanted Sam to know this.

 

"Love you too!" Sam responded and they both hang off.

 

***

 

Sam smiled and felt all warm and fuzzy inside. These three words had not been thrown in the air casually during the months she and Sharon had spent together. And to hear them now, knowing full well the others were listening in on the other end? Well, suffice to say, that Sam was really, really happy.

 

Sam put the receiver down and found Annie staring at her with a crooked smile. "Honey, and I love you?" She asked Sam curiously.

 

Sam simply looked at Annie and did not respond immediately.

 

"That was Captain Raydor on the other end, right?" Annie knew full well, who Raydor was as she had been assisting the Captain and her team on several occasions.

 

"Yeah." Sam responded simply.

 

"So you too are together then?" Annie asked curiously as she was a little surprised. After all, she knew Sam had a reputation of being the ladies woman. And the Captain? Well, that was a surprise as well.

 

"Kind of." Sam wasn't really sure how much she should tell Annie. Or how much Sharon wanted the other police officers to know about her personal life. But, Sam trusted Annie and knew she would most likely not be going around blabbing out such personal information about her colleagues either. "It is a lengthy tale, as they say. But suffice to say, the two of us are, um, an item." Sam was looking for the right words to describe the couples status as there was no real confirmation nor discussion had about what they really were.

 

"I want to hear all about it!" Annie smiled then. ”But, first things first! And that means coffee!" She added. The duo then made their way to the break room to prepare the dark liquid of a life saviour for them and the arriving team.

 

Chapter Twenty-seven: Cliffs notes all around

 

Sam had given the cliffs notes of the case to her friend, also know as Officer Annie Rhodes. After hearing the details Annie was appalled. She could not believe her own "family" had been targeted. "I hope you catch the culprit and I hope they fry!" Annie half spat. She was totally furious after hearing about the cold blooded murders.

 

"Me too! Me too my friend." Sam patted Annies arm then.

 

"I am still trying to wrap my head around you two though. I mean, you were always the wild one, the happy go lucky woman who could have her pick of the litter." Despite the fact, that Annie and Sam weren't bosom buddies even if they had met on several occasions. Chatted and such at bars and parties. But Annie was familiar with Sam's reputation, having even admired her a little. "I always suspected Raydor wasn't quite straight. My gay-dar is very sensitive you know." Annie snorted a little, as it was a reoccurring joke in their circles.

 

"There is no such thing as a gay-dar." Sam told Annie. Sam knew quite well there was never any telling of how a person looked or behaved, what their sexual orientation really was. Although sometimes there was the vibe, as she called it.

 

"Sure there is!" Annie defended her comment. "Raydor is proof of that." She added with a winning smile. 

 

“How do you mean?” Sam had to ask.

 

“Well, I got several pings from her, you know, when I worked with her.” Annie said then. And sure enough there was no further argument from Sam on that subject. 

 

The two women were chatting and sipping coffee in perfect camaraderie and peace, when Sharon burst into the room some time later. Without thinking who saw what, she grabbed Sam for a passionate kiss. She then broke off the kiss and stepped back.

 

"Don't ever do that to me again!" Sharon scolded Sam then.

 

Sam looked at her wide eyed. “Sorry?" Was all she managed. No use in arguing now was there?

 

"Officer Rhodes." Sharon then greeted Annie with a hint of a smile.

 

"Captain." Annie nodded to Sharon casually. Her face having a calm and cool officer look, as if she was not surprised at all of what had just happened right in front of her very eyes.

 

Soon enough, the others joined as well. And as the poured in, each of them greeted Sam with smiles with Andy and Mike giving her light pats on the back. Amy hugged her tightly. Taking their mugs filled with fresh coffee, they all sat down at the same table were Sam and Annie had been sitting before they arrived.

 

"So, what's the story then?" Provenza voiced what they all wanted to know.

 

"Well, " Sam started and continued to tell as detailed as possible what had expired and how she had finally gotten away from her kidnapper. She did not go too much into detail regarding the incident at the station though. Just that she had managed to get inside and paying the fare with officer Rhodes’ help.

 

After Sam had told her tale of capture and escape, the others looked at her and nodded. "Well done!” Andy told her as the others piled on with their own loud agreeing "hear hears!" But the case was far from solved and they needed a new plan on how to catch the killer.

 

"We need to get all the surveillance footage from the bar and its surrounding areas." Sharon told the team then.

 

"I'm on it!" Mike responded and nudged on Buzz to join him.

 

"Provenza and myself will start looking for the place Sam was held in. With Sam's help of course!" Andy then said. Sam nodded.

 

Sharon turned to Annie. "How would you feel on doing some leg work for us, officer Rhodes?" Sharon asked her.

 

“Good!" She was up and half saluting the Captain as Annie was even more than eager to help the team. Especially, since they were looking for a killer who was hell bent on eradicating lesbians.

 

"Okay then, let's get back to work!" Sharon told her extended team.

 

Chapter Twenty-eight: So many files too little time

 

After a few hours of sleep, the extended team was in full force. Both Sam and Officer Annie Rhodes were now officially part of the Major Crimes team and helping combing through all the evidence they had compiled so far. Sam had gone through a lot of surveillance material from various sources, trying to find their suspect. It wasn't easy, since most if was of poor quality and had no sound at all.

 

Mike and Andy had traced down the taxi who had brought Sam to the station to find out the street she had been picked up from. Using that information and bringing Sam back to that place they were hoping she would remember the way back to the house she had been held in. However, neither thought the perpetrator would have remained there after Sam's escape. But if they could pick up any evidence or indication as to were they were hiding now, then that would be at least a starting point.

 

Sam was on a break when Andy popped his head through the door.

 

"Hi, do you have time?" Andy asked the coffee slurping Sam.

 

"Sure, what's up?" Sam asked.

 

"Well, we have found the pick up point for the taxi fare you took back here. And if you are available, we would like for you to join us for a little field trip to have a look around.“ Andy continued.

 

"Of course, when are we leaving?" Sam asked then.

 

"Right away!" Andy told her.

 

Sam followed Andy to meet up with Mike. He was already packed and ready to go. Annie wished them all good luck, as she herself was partnered with Amy. After double checking all of the evidence, they had decided to take a look around the bars again, where the recruiter had appeared. Most of them were closed during daytime. But the three of them serviced food during the day time. Buzz was joining them too.

 

Provenza, Sharon and Detective Sanchez were going through more of the surveillance footage. It was only afternoon, but so far, they had managed to go through most of the tapes. Unfortunately, they had not found anything new in them.

 

***

 

Mike, Andy and Sam arrived at the address given by the taxi company. Sam stepped out of the car and looked around. She wasn't too familiar with this area and it looked totally different in daylight.

 

"Anything?" Andy asked and Sam only shook her head.

 

Sam closed her eyes then and conjured the images back from the night before. Flicking them in her mind like photographs, she was able to remember where she had been standing and waving for the taxi. She opened her eyes and looked at the now busy street. She turned a hundred and eighty degrees the other direction and there she was. Almost at the same spot as she had been the night before.

 

"This way.” Sam motioned at the street she had been half running on during the night.

 

"Let's go then.” Mike said as the duo started walking onward on the street.

 

They quickly reached the end of the street and the trio found themselves standing at a crossroads.

 

***

Sharon was through the last tape and sighed in frustration. She looked at the piles and piles of old school VCR tapes on the desk. They also had quite a few in digital format. Sharon had remained in the tech room while Julio and Provenza had gone for coffee and something to eat. She leaned back in the chair and closed her eyes for a moment. She had a nagging feeling she had missed something and thinking about it did not help bringing it to light. She decided to meditate a little, empty her mind. As was trying to do that, images of Sam in her undercover wear popped in there. Smiling, she shook it off, saving it for later viewing, she then thought. Sharon then went back to the night before, going through their activities scene by scene. She could almost see herself watching Sam and Amy on the screen in the van. Then, it hit her. Her eyes popped open and she brought forth the their own recorded surveillance video from the bar.

 

Sharon let the video run a while before she found what it was that had been bugging her for a while now. Standing at the end of the bar, where Sam had been talking with two patrons, was a woman. Someone whom could have easily been mistaken for a male person, at least from a distance if one did not know any better. And, she, was clearly keeping an eye on Sam. Sharon fast forwarded the recording and saw the same woman close to Sam on four other occasions. She opened Amy’s recoding next and saw the same woman standing close to were Amy had been chatting up a group of women. The same one then kept on popping up through out this recording. It was clear now, that this woman was aware of who Sam and Amy were. Sharon froze the image and looked at the picture for a while. The face was not very clear and the woman had clearly kept away from direct light. But the outfit and her statue would lead Sharon to believe that she could well have taken out Sam. Especially since drugs in a syringe were used to subdue Sam so, it would not have been difficult at all.

 

Sharon needed her tech wizards, but both were out. She pushed the print button and soon enough the printer was pushing out the screen capture. Sharon went to the coffee room, looking for Julio and Provenza, but could not find them. It seemed that they had decided to go out to get something to eat. Sharon went to the coffee pot and poured a cup for herself. She took a sip from it and stared at the image. She then picked up her phone from her pocket and dialled Buzz.

 

Chapter Twenty-nine: We may have found something?

 

Sam, Andy and Mike were standing at the crossroads. Sam once again closed her eyes and found the image she was looking for. Well almost. It had been dark and she had still been groggy from the drug and running for her dear life in a strange place. She pinched the top of her nose. Trying to get the image to focus, but it was still blurry.

 

Opening her eyes, she knew she had to make a choice. It was a fifty fifty one to make anyway. "That way" Sam pointed to the left.

 

"Are you sure?" Andy asked not really wanting to make the extra trip if she was wrong.

 

“Almost." Sam said. "It was dark and well…” Sam did not get to finish her sentence.

 

"We'll take it!" Mike told her and was already on his way.

 

The two followed him suite.

 

The streets seemed shorter than the night before and soon enough they reached a cul-de-sac. Sam looked around the area and there she saw it. A big warehouse which was clearly abandoned. The  main entrance was nailed shut with wooden planks. They walked around the corner and found an other door, just like Sam had depicted. They carefully entered the building, both men with guns drawn and Sam right behind them.s

 

They were in a long hallway, adjacent to a large open area which had clearly served as some kind of machine room at some point There were large metallic chains hanging from the ceiling and a loft type structure was circling all around the area. The walked to the end of the hallway and found three doors there. Andy opened the first one, but the room was empty. Then the second one was opened but it only had an old desk and chair there and some papers on the floor as well, but nothing more. Behind door number three, they finally found what they were looking for. A tiny table with a lamp, which was still switched on and a chair in pieces in the middle of the room. Sam walked to the chair.

 

"This is it." She stated looking at her own handy work, now in splinters.

 

"Great!" Andy replied. "So now we need to search the rest of the place." He added.

 

"I will go up to the loft and look around there. You two can canvas the main floor." Mike said.

 

Both others nodded to him in agreement.

 

They spent some thirty odd minutes going through the rest of the building, which was mainly open area thankfully. Mike was going through the loft. It was also built as open area and there were hardly anything left there part from two discarded sofas and a table with old magazines on top. There was a small kitchen area there too with dirty dishes still in the sink. He kept looking and noticed, that in the farthest corner there was a door. It looked like there might be one more office space there. He walked the distance and tried the handle. It was locked. He went back to were the railing was and looked for the others. They were each on opposites sides, looking around but not finding anything.

 

"Hey guys, I think I found something!" Mike shouted to the others

 

Sam and Andy looked up and immediately started towards the staircase. They reached Mika who was still trying to push the door open but unsuccessfully so. Sam looked at him go and moved closer.

 

"Let me have a look.” Sam told Mike and she checked the lock. She then looked around and noticed the mini kitchen. Sam walked into the area and checked the sink, then the drawers. She found a fork and a knife. She quickly walked back and started picking on the lock.

 

The two men stood in silence and watched her work. Obviously a little surprised to find yet another skillset in their friend.

 

Sam was working hard for a few minutes and then she heard the sound of the lock giving in. She tried the handle and the door opened.

 

"Gentlemen!" Sam smiled victoriously. "After you!" She added.

 

"Wow, impressive!" Mike high-fived her.

 

"I wasn't always a professional photographer." Sam winked at the two.

 

"I don't want to know." Andy stated flatly and walked inside as after all, they were the police and not burglars.

 

Mike laughed out loud and followed Andy, followed by Sam through the open door. There was a table, a file cabin and a chair there. On top of the cabin a coffee maker sat and a computer was placed on the desk. The room looked clean and uncluttered, which was completely different from the rest of the place.

 

Mike immediately went to the computer and pushed the power button. The computer started and the login screen came on. It was password protected of course. He looked at the others and said.

 

"I need sometime to crack this."

 

"I suggest we call it in and haul all the content back to the office." Andy then said.

 

"Good idea." Sam replied as Andy was already on the phone, since they needed some help from the uniform officers. And also, since it was now officially also a crime scene due to Sam's kidnapping, they needed the CSU team there as well.

 

***

 

Buzz answered the call. "Captain, what's up?" He asked the caller.

 

Sharon was on the other end. "I need your help with something. How are things going on your end?" She asked.

 

Buzz looked at Amy and Annie, who were chatting up the owner of the bar they were currently checking up. So far their mission had been fruitless.

 

"We are at our final destination. Nothing so far and seems like another bust." Buzz answered.

 

Sharon thought of something and asked. "If I send you a picture, can you ask where you are now if they have seen this person? It is somewhat blurry, but still." Sharon told Buzz.

 

"Sure. Send it to me." Buzz told Sharon and they ended the call.

 

His phone soon buzzed, indicating a received message. He looked at the picture, it was fuzzy and grainy admittedly. But he quickly ran it through an app on this phone and got the image cleared up a little. The result would have to do for now.

 

Buzz went to the three women standing at the bar talking and asked the owner. ”Have you seen this women before?" Showing the now enhanced screen capture.

 

The owner took the phone in her own hand and stared at it for a good while. She was just about to give it back to Buzz, but pulled it closer to her eyes and said. "Yes, actually I have. I could not recognise her at first, but it is most definitely her." She looked at the trio staring back at her. "It was a week or so ago. I found it odd, that she was hanging around various places in here. Not talking to anyone, just kept staring at the other patrons. But she left alone, I think."

 

She offered the phone back and Buzz took it. "Thanks! That is really helpful." He told the owner.

 

They all thanked her for her time and left for their car.

 

"Where did you get that?" Amy asked immediately.

 

"The Captain sent it to me, just now. She must have gotten it from the surveillance tapes." Buzz told the two. "We need to get right back, I think we have found our suspect.” Buzz added. "Well at least one of them." They all got in and Amy started the car and they drove off.

 

***

 

Sharon was waiting for the others to come back to the office. She had gotten a call from Andy updating her on their find. She had managed to call Provenza's team back as well. They needed to concentrate on the findings of the warehouse and on the woman on the tape now. Sharon was pacing about in the empty office, nervous and exited of how the pieces were finally falling into place. Finally the had good news and possibly had identified the suspect, or at least one of them. Sharon kept wondering about that. Did they had one or more suspects, or had they been misled somehow the whole time?

 

***

 

Buzz, Amy and Annie were the first to arrive. Sharon greeted them and immediately waved for Buzz to join her in the tech room. Amy and Annie were right behind him. They were curious to also know how Sharon had found the mystery woman and their possible suspect. Sharon punched up the frozen video capture onto the screen. They all stared at it for a moment before Buzz took to the controls and clicked open an application. He resized the image on the screen and made a capture of it before dropping it to another application. He then enhanced the picture as best he could taking only mere minutes to do so. Then after being satisfied it was the best he could make it, he then made a few searches and opened yet another application and dropped the image there. He clicked a few more times and the program started reconstructing the image once again. He looked back at the others who had been staring in awe at the tech savvy Buzz.

 

"It may take some time before we get the image clearer." Buzz told to the onlookers.

 

"Alright!" Sharon simply stated clearly happy of this news. “I will go and check if the others have arrived yet.” And she was off.

 

"I'll get some coffee." Annie told the others. "I assume you want some too?" Annie asked the remaining two and they both nodded. She then left for the break room, while Buzz and Amy remained staring at the screen, maybe hoping their unified staring would speed up the process somehow.

 

Sharon stepped into the murder room just as Provenza and Julio had come back from their lunch. They had picked up food for the rest of team as well and then some!

 

"Where can we start?" Provenza asked immediately. He and Julio had recruited two uniformed officers on their way back, knowing they needed help in combing through the evidence Andy's away team had found in the warehouse.

 

"Well, we are still waiting for Andy, Mike and Sam to come back with the goodies, but maybe you can take a few sandwiches to the others. They are in the tech room." Sharon told Provenza.

 

He nodded, picked up a bag and went to find the trio.

 

Sharon took a peek into the multiple food bags on the table and was just about to make her pick when Andy and his team arrived.

 

"This way!" Andy ordered the uniformed officers who were hauling the evidence from the warehouse in a big cart. They had brought the file cabinets, computer and two boxes of paper from the desk drawers. The rest there had been unrelated garbage. They had also brought in the remnants of the chair and ropes from the room Sam had been held in. The CSU team were still on site, going through the building and dusting for prints and possible DNA.

 

Sharon looked at the things which were rolled in as Andy guided the officers towards two large desks which were empty. She then saw Mika and Sam arrive too. Sharon smiled when she made eye contact with Sam. Sam smiled back at her.

 

"Good job, all of you!" Sharon complimented the trio.

 

"Thanks!" Mike replied and followed Andy to help sort the evidence.

 

Sam made her way to the other table, where the food was. Not that she was hungry, but she wanted to be close to Sharon. At least for a while.

 

"Hey, you." Sharon said to Sam and took Sam's hand in her own.

 

"Hey." Sam responded. They did not hug or kiss, just stared at each others in the eyes, holding hands which was enough for now.

 

"There is plenty of food here, if you are hungry." Sharon said to Sam.

 

"Maybe later." Sam replied. "I would like to take a look at that picture you got." Sam said to Sharon.

 

Sharon had told about the woman on the video, when she had called her team members. When Sam found out about it, she had been itching to see it as soon as possible. She wasn't sure, but she hoped she could identify the woman in the picture.

 

"Tech room." Sharon told Sam.

 

Sam immediately took off and towards the tech room. Sharon took one more look at the food bags. She sighed and left for the tech room as well. There would be time for food later.

 

Chapter Thirty: The disguise is revealing

 

Staring at screens and looking at moving images seemed to be the trend for this case. Sam had been staring at the blurry first draft of the suspect’s image for some time now. The program was still working on trying to clear up the image. Sam turned away and sipped from her cup of coffee, which had been brought to her by one of the team at some point, but getting all cold now, but she did not really care. Sam had never seen her kidnapper up close. Only a blurry shadowy figure in the darkened room. And she was only waiting for the image to clear up for her to see them finally, face to face as it were.

 

Sam closed her eyes and went through her own image bank inside her mind. Flipping through them all like it was an album of sorts. First it seemed that there was nothing there, which reminded her of the woman in the picture. Then, after some further browsing, it was when she saw something. Flipping back and forth, the images were getting clearer in her mind now. And then, when she opened her eyes and stared at the picture on the large screen in front of her, it all became clear to her. She had not paid any attention to this woman in the bar at the time, but in the corner of her eye she had seen her. Both inside and outside the bar. Outside! It must have been her who drugged Sam. The build was similar to that of the figure in the warehouse when she had been captured.

 

Sam turned to the others and said. "I am eighty percent sure now, that this is the same person in that image here.” She pointed at the screen and enthusiastically continue on her deductions. “Is the one who was in the warehouse with me." Sam said to the others. "If I could only hear her voice." She then added. “Then I could be sure.”

 

"Unfortunately I did not see her lips move in any of the video captures from either of your cameras." Buzz told Sam. “It seemed she was more of a watcher than anything else in all the video capture.” 

 

"If this is really her, then I hope we can identify her face from the database. Or then we need to do  more legwork and circulate the improved picture in the bars." Sharon said.

 

"I would assume someone would recognise her. After all, if she is indeed the same the recruiter sent by God, that we have heard of. And also she seems to have been all over the places. Then at some point she must have given a name or card or something out to someone, right?" Annie added her observations. “It’s odd though, that during that night, she wasn’t trying to recruit anyone.” Annie added.

 

"I think we should go make the rounds anyway.“ Amy piled on. "I mean, we might get lucky and bump into her?" Amy wasn’t wrong with that comment either.

 

"Yeah, we should go.” Annie pointed at her and Amy. 

 

Amy nodded. She was getting fond of the uniformed officer. They worked well together and... Then she remembered that she had promised to call Monica and update her on what the status was with the case. She must have been worried about Sam and herself. Amy then got up and excused herself, telling she had a call to make. Sam looked at Amy and quickly grabbed her arm and drew her closer before she left and whispered into her ear. “I’ve already called Monica from the car on our way back. She knows you are busy on the case. But its good if you call her anyway.” Sam smiled at Amy then, getting a simple nod in response.

 

Sam had kind of seen the growing camaraderie between Amy and Annie and had hoped no unnecessary drama would develop from it. She wasn't exactly sure how serious the relationship between Amy and Monica was as she only knew they had spent a lot of their spare time together. But on the other hand, during this case Sam had gotten to appreciate Annie and her friendship more and more. And whatever Amy decided to do or not to do, was fine with her. Sam knew relationships were hard. And she had been avoiding them, the loving kind, for a good part of her life. But now, she had finally found someone she really loved and was also willing to put a lot of effort to keeping the relationship alive as well. Funny, she thought then, how life and ideals change all of a sudden or when the right person marches into one’s life. Sam looked over at Sharon who was chatting with Buzz. Sam knew that she was totally and utterly in love with the captivating woman.

 

After Amy had excused herself, Annie, Buzz and the Captain were busy talking about the case and re-checking parts of the surveillance videos. Sharon had had a nagging feeling regarding the suspect she could not quite realise fully, not yet anyway.

 

Sam had been sitting quietly for a while. She was deep in thought and still staring at the image in front of her. She felt they had overlooked something and the answer was staring them right in the face there, mocking them for not seeing the truth.

 

Sharon turned away from the monitor for a split second at exactly the same time as Sam was looking away from the image she had been staring at. Both of their eyes locked and almost in unison each of the women got a eureka-moment and half shouted out loud.

 

"It's the same person!"

 

The others turned to look at the shouting women wondering what the ruckus was all about. Sharon and Sam kept staring at each other, then back at the others. Sharon took the lead in clarifying what she and Sam had just now realised.

 

"Our killer, Sam's captor, the recruiter in the bars.” Sharon started kind of blabbing at first, or so it sounded to the team. "It's all the same person, one woman to be exact." Sharon completed her train of thought.

 

Sam was still staring at Sharon. She gulped. Wow, she thought, they really were in synch.

 

"How do you know this?" Buzz just had to ask.

 

"Well," It was Sam's turn now. "It all adds up, I mean, if you think about it." Sam continued.

 

"What do you mean?" Amy felt her brain rattling, but still could not make the connection inside her own mind.

 

Sam continued "Our recruiter here is a woman. Because only a woman can get into the lesbian bars right?" Sam could literally see the others wheels spinning in their brains, but there was only steam coming out now. She looked at Sharon who nodded in agreement. "All the women were killed in their homes and there was no sign of forced entry in any of the places. And I know for a fact, that a lesbian would never let a strange man into her house if she was alone there. A woman maybe, but never a man. Trust me, it just is so." Sam added, not sure if it was so, but she was trying to prove her point and it was mostly a plausible hypothesis to make anyway.

 

“So you see, it all fits. Lurking in the shadows, trying to disguise her appearance to suite the situations she was playing teach time, the preacher person and then to a more masculine type as the kidnapper, then there was the surprise witness..." Sharon piled on.

 

"You think that was her too?" Annie asked surprised to hear this.

 

"Yes." Sharon simply said.

 

"Seems we have a person, who can easily disguise themselves and move among the community without any suspicion." Annie added.

 

"With all that ranting about punishing lesbian women we were naturally thinking it was a man who for possibly religious or even personal reasons was on a vendetta kind of a spree? Well, the things sounded too personal in a way. Something only a lesbian or a bi woman would say or know." Sam added. "But I did not put the two and two together until just now."

 

"Makes sense, now that you think about it." Amy commented.

 

"So, if we are dealing with the same person then how do we catch her before she kills again?” Buzz asked still a tad confused of their killer’s identity all and all.

 

"That, is a good question." Sharon told him. “As so far, our approach to this case has not been successful. We can only hope Andy and Mike have uncovered something from the stuff they brought back from the warehouse. Meanwhile, this image here.” Sharon pointed at the in progress image on the screen. “Is our best bet."

 

Just then, Andy burst in with Mike in tow.

 

"We've found something." Andy told the others quite enthusiastically.

 

 

Chapter Thirty-one: Something odd on the ‘puter

 

Mike walked to the monitor and pushed a thumb drive into the USB slot. Typing in a few commands he managed to open a few files and pushed them onto the big screen so that everyone could see. There were a few word files there and pictures as well, which Mike then opened.

 

"These, you will find interesting.” He said then.

 

The images popped up on the large screen. They were those of the victims, laying on the floor. Pretty similar to those of the crime scene photos. Only in these, the victims had their eyes closed, but looked like they were still alive, only slowly dying. The one of Lila was there two. Sam looked at it briefly but quickly turned away. She felt her eyes water. Sharon moved to her side and put her arm on Sam's shoulder to comfort her.

 

Mike quickly pulled the image down and went for the text files. The first one seemed to be a manifesto of sorts containing yammer about gay people in general and their right to live or die. There was also several chapters about the healing process, which was turning homosexuals straight. The other file was more personal. It was more like diary. It recapped the events when the perpetrator had stalked the various bars. And later on, it also depicted the murders. According to the text, the killer was planning on another recruit to either turn to their belief or then… Well, clearly the plan was convert or kill, no options between. It was still unclear how the victims were chosen. Possibly something triggered the choice since all of the three victims only had their sexual preference in common.

 

After they all had read what was in the files, heavy reading for any occasion, a short silence ensued. They all looked at each other feeling the sadness present in the room, not just for the victims who had suffered because of this person. But it also seemed they had a real psychopath on their hands this time around and there were others still in harms way out there.

 

"Ideas?" Sharon asked. No one answered immediately.

 

“We'll set a trap." Sam stated in a low voice. She had that look, with eyes narrow and pupils like pins, which was more of a mad person look really. Sam was both sad and angry. But more than anything now after having read the manifesto and some of the details of the murders she wanted to catch this bitch of a psycho.

 

Sharon could read plenty in that look and it go her worried. She remembered the last time they had gone down this road.

 

"Sam," Sharon paused, as she was pretty sure Sam's mind was all made up. And to be honest, it could be their only chance anyway. "If I agree for us do this then we need to be better prepared than last time." Sharon added.

 

"Well, there is three of us now." Annie said.

 

"Yeah!" Amy piled on. "We go in as a group and maybe stage a fight or something. Play the blame game." Amy then winked.

 

"Hold your horses ladies! What exactly does that mean?" Andy asked curiously.

 

"Well, best bet to get the killers attention is to throw her a bone so to speak. Maybe one of us isn't as gay as the others would like to believe."

 

"I see, so one of you would want to heal so to speak?" Mike added to the conversation.

 

"Exactly!" Annie responded.

 

Sam had not said anything, yet. But she liked what Amy and Annie were planning. Sharon looked at her and asked softly. "Sam?"

 

Sam rose from her chair and looked at Sharon. Then turning to Annie and Amy she simply said. "I agree, let’s go and catch ourselves a psycho killer!"

 

Chapter Thirty-two: Planning takes time

 

The team was busy planning their stake-out for the evening. Amy, Annie and Sam, together with Sharon had written down a short script on how they would play out the scene. Basically the trio would have fun at first. Then act all drunk enough and Sam and Annie would blame Amy of side tracking and not being a true lesbian.

 

They all agreed, that once in the bar, they would never venture far from each other. This time they would setup hidden cameras outside the bar too. Just to be on the safe side. Sharon had also recruited extra police officers in plain clothing to stand guard in the surrounding areas.

 

From the rantings of a confused mind and the vague plan their suspect had written, the ladies had narrowed their selected local to two bars. It seemed that from what the killer had written in her diary, that she preferred certain establishments over others. She seemed to have a pattern and if the entries were up to date, the two choices would be where they would find the recruiter in action. At least, that was the hope as they could not really know as they were not mind readers after all.

 

"So how do we choose which one we set up shop at tonight?" Amy asked.

 

"Eeny, meeny, miny, moe?" Annie added.

 

"No, let's do a count of the times for each and the odd one is the one." Sam said. ”She is clearly pretty anal as hell in whatever she does and she must have a full proof system as well.” Sam had been reading well into the mad woman’s rants to know this fact now.

 

"Agreed." Sharon told the other three ladies.

 

They counted the times mentioned for each bar in the diary and got their pick.

 

"Pink Hole it is." Annie said and the others nodded in agreement

 

Buzz knocked on Sharon's office door, were ladies had been having their pow-wow. They all turned to look at him and it looked like he had some good news.

 

"The picture is ready." He told them.

 

The case which had had everyone on the edge and causing the current mode of operation to be that of reacting to any titbit of news thrown their way. Good or bad, every single one of them wanted to know what the news was. So, following the current M.O. all ladies stood up and walked in a neat formation out of the office following Buzz to the tech room.

 

Buzz had already pushed the image onto the big screen, which dominated one of the walls in the room. And there it was. Much better than the original blurry screen capture from the surveillance video. The face, clear as day for all to see. The face of a psychotic serial killer.

 

***

 

"I have already started the facial recognition process." Buzz informed Sharon before she could even ask. Knowing what and when his boss wanted, made Buzz like the very definition of a teacher’s pet. But it was highly efficient too, saving lots of time for all.

 

"Excellent." Sharon responded. She was grateful that she had a team, who was working well together and each of them bringing their own speciality to the mix. But Sam had surprised her the most. The willingness to sacrifice herself for the good of the many was a trait Sharon admired a lot. And also the fact, that Sam had no training but was able to perform in a difficult situation. Even despite the initial hardship Sam had endured. Sharon could feel herself fall deeper for the woman each and every passing moment.

 

"You ladies already decided on the place we are going to hit tonight?" Andy asked then.

 

"The Pink Hole." Amy answered with a straight face.

 

Mike and Buzz both snickered. It was hard not to, with a funky name like that.

 

"Pink Hole eh?" Andy repeated, but kept his cool too.

 

"It's agreed then. I will notify the rest of the team and our backups as well.” Sharon said.

 

They were about to have a break, with lots of coffee and some snacks as it had been a long day. Just when they started to leave, the computer beeped. Everyone turned on their steps and looked at Buzz.

 

Buzz was looking at the screen. A match had been found. The computer blinked in red. Buzz turned to the others and cheerfully stated. "We have a winner!"

 

Chapter Thirty-three: We have a winner!

 

Everyone was looking at the screen, where the name of the suspect was blinking at with a mug shot to accompany it. The record indicated a rap sheet of breaking and entering, petty theft and solicitation. According to the brief the suspect had also had undergone several psych evaluations.

 

"Josephine 'Jo' Deveraux.” Buzz then said the name out loud.

 

“Sam,” Sharon turned to her girlfriend. “Are you still sure, after having seen the cleared image, if this is indeed the same person who kidnapped you?" Sharon had to ask.

 

“I am sure, but I would need to hear her voice to be a hundred percent. It sounded very raspy. I am not sure if it was deliberate to disguise the gender or if it is something genetic." Sam told Sharon.

 

"I am going to pull up the files on her." Andy said and left the tech room.

 

"So now, we have the picture, we have the name. All we need now is, to be sure we pick the right bar. And if and when our suspects shows up, we can set the trap." Provenza stated the obvious.

 

"I am confident we picked the right place." Amy said

 

"As am I.” Annie concurred.

 

"Let's just hope the bait is luring enough." Sharon added.

 

The team started out from the tech room, each of them settling by a desk and grouping up to the assigned tasks to complete all the nights plans.

 

Andy had been busy at his desk, searching for any and all information on one Josephine Deveraux. He had managed to find arrest records and even an audio file for an interrogation of hers. He was browsing further and he found something he had not expected. He quickly took local copies of the interesting files and printed them out. After the printouts were ready, he grabbed them and went to find the Captain.

 

Captain Raydor was sitting behind her desk. She was going through the checklist for the nights activities when Andy knocked on the open door.

 

"What is it Andy?" Sharon raised her head towards the visitor.

 

"I found something interesting in the suspects medical files." Andy answered.

 

"Let me have a look." Sharon's curiosity peeked.

 

Andy offered her the printout and Sharon started reading. As she moved further along, her eyebrows started to rise higher on each reveal. She then looked back at Andy. 

 

”This is serious. I am surprised this person is still out there, roaming the streets and not in a secure facility being treated for this." Sharon said with a low voice.

 

"Yeah, go figure!" Andy replied. "With a medical history like that, she should have been locked up long ago."

 

Sharon stood up and took the papers and then walked out of the office with Andy in tow. They reach the office area where everyone were busy concentrating on their tasks.

 

Sharon took a commanding stance in the middle of the desks and raised her voice. "Everyone!" She said in a loud voice.

 

The team members halted what they had been doing immediately and turned their gazes towards their Captain to listen what she had to say.

 

"Thank you!" Sharon continued. "We have found new evidence regarding our suspect." Sharon waved the pile of papers in her hand. "You can all read the full files on our shared drive, but the cliffs notes are as follows.” She started reading her notes. “Our suspect was diagnosed schizophrenic and with multiple personality disorder in her teens. She had  the tendency to violent outbursts and also hearing voices. But," Sharon paused. The others were glued to their stances, listening to their commanding officers every word, when Sharon continued. "Her sexual preference was also on file, that of being homosexual."

 

They all looked at each other, then started commenting and talking with the person nearest to them.

 

"There is more.” Sharon broke off their chatter. "She was also 'treated' for her homosexuality on three separate occasions, the first time when she was sixteen."

 

"Talk about a messed up start for a life!" Andy added.

 

"So now, I think it is safe for us to assume, that we do indeed have our killer suspect identified." Provenza said.

 

"I would say so.” Sharon responded. “Okay, back to work everyone! We have a very busy night ahead of us." Sharon told her team.

 

***

Sam, Amy and Annie had been going through the plans and in light of the new evidence, they were going through the rough script they had devised. The suspects identity clear and as was the mental history. So, knowing this now, they probably had to play against the mental card. Then again, anyone who kills is most likely mental on some level. Then there were the pure evil killers of course. But those types were rare and of a completely different breed.

 

Sharon was moving all around the room checking the teams process. Being both exhilarated and worried, but also happy that they were finally moving ahead with the case. She hoped to catch the killer before she could kill again. And she also prayed, that they had done the correct math. As it was, all their efforts were put into the one basket, and they needed a win. Sharon reached the desk where the three ladies were working currently.

 

“Ladies?” Sharon half greeted, half asked them, as she noticed the serious faces and non-conversation at the desk where Sam, Amy and Annie were working at. “You all look so serious! Is there something wrong?"

 

"No, no! We have agreed on the plan and fine tuned it the best we can, but,“ Sam started.

 

"We are a bit worried how far we can push the suspect. After all, the place will be packed with civilians." Amy added.

 

"And of course, we also were discussing plan B, in case our suspect does not show up." Annie piled on.

 

"Well, looks like you have thought of everything!" Sharon smiled as she trusted all of them. And knew they would succeed. Well hoped more likely, but she had a good gut feeling about tonight.

 

"Yeah, I have so much going on upstairs, my downstairs is completely void of any blood and activity." Sam cracked a bad joke just then.

 

Amy and Annie snickered, but Sharon looked offended at first. "Well, no snuggles nor hanky-panky for you then before the case!" Sharon said with a poker face. If anyone else was listening, the would have gone red in the face from blushing and hearing such words from their Captain’s mouth, even though they were rather on the mild side.

 

Amy and Annie burst into laughter and Sam started laughing too and then got up and gave Sharon a quick peck on the lips.

 

"Thanks, I really needed the laugh." Sam told Sharon, who was smiling too now.

 

It had been a long and difficult case. The length of the case, sleep deprivation and all the twists and turns had left them all at their wit's end and a little laughter eased the situation some. Everyone was of course worried of tonight’s show down. Only hoping it would be the last effort they would have to make.

 

Going back to work, the planning, checking, testing, packing of gear and re-testing, double checking continued until late that day. It wasn't until early evening, when they all decided to finally have a break. All of them gathering into the coffee area, eating and fuelling on what was hopefully, enough caffeine. It seemed, that was the one thing they all had in common. That and catching the killer and closing the case and bringing some justice to the victims and their families.

 

During a quiet moment, when everyone had eaten and digesting their food, Sharon stood up and raised her coffee cup. "To the success of tonight's mission!" Sharon cheered her team.

 

"To the mission!" The team responded in kind with their cups raised to the air.

 

Chapter Thirty-four: Honey trap for the bear

 

The team arrived in a larger surveillance van to the site. They had several unmarked police vehicles also with them as backup, each of the arriving separately and spreading around in the surrounding area. Sam, Amy and Annie were all in their "bar gear" dressed to impress. This time Amy was the target bait and she had on a killer red number on her which revealed more than it covered.

 

Sam had originally offered to play the bait again. But Sharon had shot down that idea on the spot. Not that Sharon wanted any of the three women to succumb to more danger. Sharon also knew Sam had been through so much already during the course of this case that she needed to step back. Sharon also argued the fact, that Amy had more training as a police officer and experience as an undercover agent and that was a simple fact. There was also the fact that their suspect, Ms Deveraux, could easily recognise Sam. After all she had been the one in contact with Sam during the kidnapping and seen her face. Even if being held in a dark room during the night which was something they had considered while devising the plan. Which was not having Sam on too much display or at least, in disguise. Annie had been chosen to play the part of the scorned girlfriend. Being the underdog as it were. Which was a stereo typical cliché in a way, but fitting the scene they were about to play out this evening. Because Annie had a more buff statue, being a weight lifter and a body builder as a hobby, they had planned to butch her up even further.

 

They were all in the van getting ready. Sam and Amy looked at the mirror then each other. They were both wearing wigs. Amy having a curly do and with lots of make-up, thus distorting some of her regular features. Amy had also put on a pair of blue contact lenses covering her brown eyes. Sam had put on a blond long haired wig and a pair of glasses. Those were of her own prescription as she normally wore contact lenses. Sam had on a pair of leather pants and a tight leather jacket, which was more of a biker look really. But the clothes were still tight and body hugging, leaving the outlook sexy and a very cliche biker girl. But like the nerdy sister of theirs as Amy commented on it with a grin. Annie had on her loose jeans, a tight tank top and plaid shirt to add to the part she was playing. It was really nothing she would normally wear herself though. Not that she had anything against these types of clothes. But being somewhat self and fashion conscious due to her younger age, she did not want to be caught dead wearing the ensemble as she commented to the other two. Bad pun it was, which she knew the moment the words left her mouth. After all, Annie was quite the looker and adding to that her ship shape athletic physique which the ladies loved her for it, she really preferred to show her body. But this was an undercover operation and they were all playing a part, not themselves.

 

The rest of them team had all manned their stations. Mike and Buzz were doing final checks with the other police officers covering the area outside the bar and several female officers were placed inside the bar as well undercover naturally. Sharon looked at the trio getting ready.

 

"All set?" She finally asked them.

 

"Ready as we'll ever be!" Amy responded while the others nodded.

 

"Good luck!" Sharon wished them when they started to leave.

 

Amy and Annie were on their way with Sam following them, when Sharon grabbed Sam by her arm and turned her around. Sharon looked Sam in the eye, then kissed her, deeply, before letting go again.

 

"Stay safe." Sharon whispered to Sam.

 

"I promise." Sam replied and got out the door. Then she was gone.

 

Sharon resumed her position. Midway in the wan, overseeing it all, people and monitors.

 

"Let's begin." Sharon gave the order.

 

***

 

The bar was already packed and music was pumping loud. Sam, Amy and Annie took their position at the bar. Annie had eyes around the area but still no sign of their suspects. She spotted two other female officers there as well and when they made eye contact, Annie simply shook her head. Which was signalling the ‘no contact for the suspect yet’.

 

All three women were once again armed with spy cameras and ear communicators where they could hear and talk to the others. This time around they did not circulate the image nor try to do the walk-around either to check if anyone had seen the suspect. Rather they were setting up their bait, simply waiting for the right moment and any signal from the other female officers who were doing the leg work this time.

 

***

 

Sharon and the rest of the team were glued to the monitors which they had a total of six. Three of them were tagged with the names of the undercover ladies inside the bar. One had a split screen of all the backup officers inside the bar. And the rest were for the feed of the outside cameras. It had already been a good two hours and still no sign of the perpetrator. The coffee maker had been re-filled already three times and Mike was about to start the fourth round.

 

Sharon was looking worried. Provenza brought her a fresh cup off coffee and said. "It's still early. She'll show up." He tried to ensure his boss.

 

Sharon took the offered cup and smelled the scent. "I hope you are right." She replied simply. It was not easy during cases like this, where the investigation was prolonged and they case hit closer to home that they wanted. Sharon felt helpless and defeated during some moments even though the investigation was still going on. Luckily, her team had gotten to know her well and when they saw their leader starting to fall into her self made abyss, they tried to keep her from drowning there completely. And Sharon appreciated that knowing that they all cared for each other.

 

Then, like magic, the second undercover officer Lucy Barns spoke over the comms channel. She had been staring at a group of women for a few minutes and something there had caught her eye. She had walked a little closer and it was then when she saw her.

 

"Ten-four on the perp." Lucy said over the comms.

 

Everyone in the van perked up immediately, including Sharon. They were all looking at Sergeant Barnes' view on the monitor and saw what she was seeing. And right smack in the middle of a group of three women, stood Josephine Deveraux. It looked like she had the attention of the women there and most likely preaching anti-gay manifesto to them.

 

"Notify the others." Sharon told Buzz, who quickly opened the comms channel to Sam, Amy, Annie and Detective Pollard, who was on the other side of the bar doing her rounds.

 

"Ask, if the Sergeant can get a little more closer. I would like to have some audio too." Sharon told Buzz, who was in charge of the overall comms between the undercover operatives and the van. Buzz did as he was told.

 

"Moving in now." The Sergeant responded and slowly manoeuvred closer. Close enough as she dared to go without being detected by their suspect since Ms Deveraux seemed to have a knack for that.

 

"Can you hear anything she is saying?" Lucy asked Buzz then covering her mouth with her hand so it did not seem like she was talking to herself.

 

Buzz ran a few commands on the software and managed to digitally zoom and enhance the sound. And then they could hear what their suspect was talking about.

 

".. I tell you ladies. Repent, turn your life around. Join me and I promise to help you get your life back on the path which the good God intended. You too can become loyal loving wives to men."

 

"Good God! She really is nuts." Provenza was getting angry in hearing this woman ranting on about how the dude or dudess on the heavenly upstairs supposedly wanting all people to be what some religious sect labeled as normal. After all, there was really no such thing as normal.

 

"Yeah, the quicker we get her out from there, the better." Andy piled on. There was no argument from anyone.

 

They continued watching the screen and saw Deveraux handing out cards. Most likely with contact details of the camp, where they healed the gay away.

 

"So, if she really is recruiting women on behalf of the rehabilitation camp then most likely she has also been successful.” Sharon said. "I mean to some gay people, it is still a curse of sorts. A real struggle to be the one true self.” Sharon added knowingly as she had heard stories from her friends about the same.

 

"Especially for young people, who just want to fit in. Trust me, I seen it first hand!" Buzz added to the conversation, having personal experience of the same.

 

Provenza shook his head. He was disgusted on behalf of all gay people everywhere. In the few years he had gotten to know Rusty Beck, Buzz of course, Amy, Sam.And then there and been the surprise outing of Captain Raydor. He was fond of them all and as he had gotten to know the gay community and their lives in the good and the bad as well, knowing they were people as the rest of them were. He wanted this psychopath caught as much as Sharon did. The only problem seemed to be, the elephant in the room so to speak, was that after reading the suspects medical files, she was as much as victim as those she had killed. But none the less, she had murdered those women in cold blood and needed to pay for those crimes.

 

"Yes, so what sets her off to kill, which most likely is when the women turn her down?" Mike speculated. “I meant if she is hell bent of reforming someone specific and they won’t go along with the idea at all.”

 

"So now what we need to do, is to set up our honey trap and hope our proverbial bear out there sniffs the bait." Andy added.

 

"Let our ladies know, it is time." Sharon told Buzz. He nodded and opened the comms to the trio in waiting.

 

Chapter Thirty-five: … and finally, sinker!

 

"Okay, understood." Sam replied to Buzz over the comms and looked at the others. "It's showtime!" The others nodded and took their positions.

 

The ladies started talking loudly. Sam and Annie both berating and pointing at Amy. The idea was, that the created scene would get the attention of the perp and she would target Amy. At least they hoped so. The nearby crowds soon got interested in what seemed to be the beginning of a lesbian drama and quite possibly, a pending cat fight. Lucy was still on the tail of their suspect who was clearly looking for her next conversion target.

 

Lucy then called Lisa Pollard to take over, just to be on the safe side. They ladies quickly did the switch, neither of them loosing visual on Deveraux. Lucy remained in the background, while Lisa was hot on the perps tail.

 

At the bar, the trio was playing out their game. But so far it seemed, no matter how loud they argued there was no sign of the suspect turning their way. Sam tapped on Annies shoulder, who had pinned Amy against the bar and calling her all kinds of ugly names right to her face. Sam just shook her head and Annie let go. Amy was relieved to have a break. It was harsh to hear the things Annie said to her even though it was just an act.

 

Lisa had noticed the suspect stopping and chatting up two women. She moved closer to hear what was said. Instead of the usual biblical recruitment rant, the two women were telling Deveraux about the big fight unfolding at the bar. Deveraux wanted to hear more and the women told what little they had heard. They told some butch had caught her girlfriend cheating her with a man. This really got Deveraux attention and she asked when this had happened. The others told her it was still going on. Some of them were actually waiting it to turn into a physical fight.

 

Deveraux immediately took off, heading towards the now very crowded bar.

 

"She is coming your way." Lisa immediately notified Sam.

 

"Okay." Was all Sam said. The trio tried to use their comms as little as possible to avoid detection. As keeping a low profile in any other regards except their little play there was utmost important.

 

Sam looked at Amy and Annie and simply nodded. Amy and Annie had still played their part but kept a distance from each other making it look like they were cooling off for the moment. The crowd had somewhat dissipated and lost interest of the show as things had calmed down.

 

So now, they needed to spice things up a little again. Amy's phone buzzed. She was supposedly getting a call from her “boyfriend" while in actuality it was Mike calling her.

 

“Hi! Yes, I will try. Okay. Later." Amy kept it short.

 

Annie had moved closer to Amy again. Seemingly angry she asked Amy. “So, your boyfriend is calling you now? When you are here? With me?" Annie played her part really well.

 

"Well, yeah." Amy answered rather timidly.

 

"Why you little bitch!" Annie grabbed a hold of Amy.

 

Sam playing the part of a friend, who was trying to calm Annie. "Hey, hey, hey! No need for violence here!" Sam shouted and pulled Annie away from Amy.

 

"Indeed not." The all heard a voice behind them. A little on the raspy side as well.

 

They all turned to look at whom it was talking to them, even if they knew full well who it was. Sam had heard that voice before, as it was unmistakable to say the least. In the dark room, where she had been tied up. She felt herself shiver inside but held her cool on the outside.

 

"Who the hell are you and what business is it of yours?" Annie asked seeing the woman clearly now. Annie knew of course who she was talking to.

 

“Well, you can call me a saving angel, if you please.“ Deveraux replied and laughed. She walked past the two others and straight to Amy. Looking at the "shaking" woman, clearly distraught by the accusations by the two evil women. Deveraux saw the potential in her.

 

Deveraux took Amy’s hand in hers and looked her in the eyes. "My dear, you don't have to live like this. God has a plan for you." She assured Amy.

 

"What do you mean?" Amy asked with a wide eyed look like a dear caught in the headlights.

 

At this point Amy and Annie cut in. Annie was furious and grabbed Deveraux. "What's your business with my girlfriend?" She demanded.

 

Deveraux just looked at her, clearly despising Annie. "She can still be saved. You can’t.” Deveraux replied simply.

 

Annie let go and turned to Sam. "Can you believe this?" Sam just shook her head.

 

"I, I think I want to hear what she has to say." Amy finally told the other two.

 

"Fine, do what you want. I don’t really care anymore.” Annie fumed and stomped of frustrated. Sam looked at Amy and then asked. “Are you sure?" Amy nodded. "Okay." Sam replied. "I will go after her." She added.

 

Sam and Annie disappeared into the crowd, but not too far.

 

Amy and Jo Deveraux remained at the bar.

 

"So, what can you do for me?" Amy asked directly, but trying to sound all innocent like.

 

"Well, my dear.” She started. “There is a place, were people like you can be healed." Jo then told her. "And I see you don't really want to be what you have been forced to be, by those," She nodded towards the direction of where Amy and Annie had gone to. "those dykes." Jo almost spat the words.

 

"Well, " Amy started, but Jo cut her off.

 

"Trust me, you are not like them. I know. I was once like you." Jo continued and smiled at her. ”By the way, my name is Jo."

 

"Amy." Amy answered, there was no point in telling any other name since supposedly, their suspect should not have been privy of their names. Other than Sam's that was.

 

"Amy." Jo repeated. ”Amy, if you are willing accept God into your life and leave this Sodom and Gomorrah behind you? Then you too can find happiness." Jo tried to sell.

 

"What would I have to do?" Amy asked supposedly curious on what Deveraux was offering.

 

"If you come with me to a meeting, then all will be explained there." Jo promised her.

 

"When is it?" Amy asked.

 

"There is a meeting, whenever it is needed. It is in our base of operations, the Healing Camp." Jo replied.

 

The ladies plan having been to first go along with the suspects plan, then have a sudden change of heart and to hope this would set off Deveraux. Hoping she would try something and then catch her red handed. Of course the plan was never to leave Amy alone with her either. They had several sets of eyes inside the bar and several tens more outside. They just needed prolong the scene long enough and to get Deveraux show her real face. Whichever that was, they still weren't too sure of due their diagnosis of schizophrenia. Quite possibly, the timid woman with the lesbian tendencies had been taken over by the more powerful born again Christin recruiter who was on a mission to either recruit or if unsuccessful, kill.

 

Amy was seemingly thinking on what to do next.

 

"I can't go back to her now and I have no place else to go." Amy finally responded.

 

"Well, you do now." Jo smiled and took Amy by the hand, and started to lead her out of the bar.

 

The remaining two and the police women followed them suite. Each keeping a distance, but still never loosing sight of Amy.

 

Chapter Thirty-six: Don’t stand so close to me

 

Amy and Jo Deveraux were standing outside the bar. Deveraux lit a cigarette and offered one to Amy as well. Amy shook her head with a simple comment. "Isn't that a sin too?” Saying it perhaps a little too sarcastically. 

 

Deveraux just snorted. "This is the only sin I allow myself. Well, part from..." She did not complete the sentence. After all, if killing and murder wasn't a sin, then nothing was.

 

"Were are we going?" Amy asked in a loud and clear tone making sure the rest of her team would hear her.

 

"The place isn't that far from here. I have my car parked close by." Jo responded.

 

They had not planned on taking the scene farther than outside the bar, so going anywhere was definitely out. Amy was trying to stall. She knew the others were right on her tail and there were other officer close by too.

 

"I would like to hear more about this, this conversion thing you got going." Amy tried.

 

But Deveraux wanted to move on as fast as she could. She had finally scored a new recruit in a while and hoped she could keep this one alive too.

 

"All will be revealed to you when we get there." Jo tried and started walking away from the bar.

 

But Amy put the breaks on. ”Look, it all sounds fascinating and all, and I have had my doubts, you know, about living in sin and all. But I really don't think I am ready to go, not just yet." Amy was playing the scary little girl card, hoping it to work.

 

Deveraux stopped dead in her tracks. She stood there for mere seconds, her face turning redder and redder. Even it it was dark outside, it was clear to anyone who saw her. Hands in fists, she turned to face Amy and her look was fierce. Amy could almost see the fire coming out from her eyes.

 

"Look, I don't want to hear about your fears. You, are coming with me. Now.” Jo punctuated her words.

 

Amy knew this was showtime. ”No, I am not." She did not budge from where she was standing.

 

Deveraux took a few steps back, closing the gap between her and Amy. Standing toe to toe, Deveraux grabbed Amy by her arm and tried to pull her with her. Amy pulled back and Jo let go of her arm.

 

"Look, you little bitch, I don't know what games you are playing, but you are coming with me." Deveraux grew more angrier and voice got louder even.

 

Everyone on the look out was hearing what was transpiring between Amy and Jo Deveraux. But they had agreed on the signal from Amy before moving in.

 

"No, I am not going with you." Amy repeated. "You are bat crap crazy and I have had enough of that tonight." Amy added and started to turn back towards the bar.

 

Deveraux was not going to give in. She grabbed Amy with both arms and growled in a raspy voice to her. "You little dyke! You will come with me. Repent or I will do what I do to all you bitches who don't deserver to live in His light." Jo ranted loudly.

 

Amy knew this wasn't enough so she decided to push on.

 

"Everyone deserves to live, no matter what." Amy started.

Jo cut in. "No, you deceitful sinners. You all deserve to die. I will kill you were you stand, just like I did with the others. Those ungrateful dykes!"

 

Amy felt Deveraux let go her other hand and before she could react, she felt a cut on her side. Amy felt a sharp pain, but managed to push off Deveraux and get away before she swung her knife again.

 

"Kill switch! Kill switch!" Amy shouted as loud as she could and ran towards the bar and straight into the arms of Annie.

 

Sam, who had been standing next to Amy in the shadows close to the scene, was running as fast as she could. Jumping Deveraux, both of them then ending down on the ground. Sam was laying on top of Jo, pushing her hand holding the knife to the ground as well. The officers from the bar and even more from the surroundings were pouring to the scene. Soon enough, Deveraux was subdued and the evidence i.e. the suspect’s murder weapon had been taken to custody as was one Josephine Deveraux.

 

Annie was holding onto the still bleeding Amy. They were sitting on a near by bench close to the entrance of the bar. Amy was shaking and Annie pushed off her plaid blouse she had had on and used it to bind Amy's wound.

 

"Does it hurt much?" Annie asked then trying to be as careful as possible.

 

"Only when I breathe." Amy replied, trying to laugh. She was hurting really badly, but she was trying to stay focused on something else, hoping the hell Deveraux did not hit anything too vital.

 

Annie was worried but tried to lighten the mood. "Who says plaid isn''t good for anything!"

 

Annie had already asked for an ambulance from the team in the van. Buzz had made the call and promised ETA was in less than a few minutes.

 

"Look, I know this isn't a good time, but I was wondering.” Annie started "I was wondering if we could hang out sometime?"

 

Amy looked at her and smiled. "What if I die?" She surely hoped it wasn't that bad and she would survive, but still.

 

"You won’t. You are a tough cookie and tough cookies never die." Annie told Amy factually.

 

"Well, I kind of sort of have a girlfriend." Amy said. She wasn't exactly sure if it was that serious, but just in case.

 

Annie thought about if for a second and said. "That's alright, I've been in a threesome before." And smiling looked at Amy as she winked on the comment.

 

Amy just raised her eyebrows and then the ambulance was there.

 

Annie helped Amy get up as the paramedics took over and put her on a stretcher. Annie then got into the ambulance with Amy and notified of her decision to Buzz in the van as well.

 

Deveraux had been taken into the police car already and was sitting there, cuffed and guarded by two police officers. Sharon and the others from the van had also arrived to the scene. Sharon immediately walked to Sam, who looked a little roughened up. But she was still standing on her own two feet. Deveraux had managed to get a punch in her jaw before Sam had tackled her down completely.

 

"How are you doing?" Sharon asked Sam.

 

"I am okay. Just hoping Amy will be too. Annie is with her." Sam responded and held her jaw, which was hurting, just a little.

 

"I know. And she will. Amy is as tough as they come." Sharon tried to ensure her and took Sam's arm off the jaw and looked at it."Did Deveraux do that?" She asked.

 

"Yeah, she got one in just before I managed to push her into the ground." Sam said.

 

"Nicely done by the way." Sharon told her.

 

Sam smiled. "Yeah, I really don't know where that came from." Sam said, "I have never been the violent sort. But when I saw the knife flashing and Amy… well I just reacted." Sam added.

 

"We have all been there, believe you me." Sharon shook her head.

 

"Did you get enough?" Sam asked in regards to what Deveraux had said.

 

"We got it all." Sharon responded. "With the confession and evidence, there is no reason not to convict Deveraux now."

 

"Good." Sam replied.

 

The other members of the team had joined the two women and Sam got a few pats on her back from them as well. Sam smiled and nodded as thanks. The killer was finally off the streets and they could wrap up the case. The CSU van had arrived too. They would collect the evidence from this scene now and the team was able to leave for the night. As they all walked towards the van, Sharon took Sam by her hand and they walked the rest of the way like that. Sam felt both sad and relived. She missed Lila, but she had helped to get her killer and Sam was glad for that fact.

 

***

 

The team had gotten back to the office to tie in the loose ends. The interrogation was happening the next day and it was time to get some sleep before that. Annie had called from the hospital with a status update regarding Amy. She had been lucky enough as the knife had not penetrated anything vital thankfully and only one rib had been broken. She was being patched up and had to remain in hospital for a few days. Annie said she would stay there over night there and it was fine if the others came the next morning. If there was any updates, she would call Sharon.

 

"Ready to leave?" Sharon was standing in the doorway asking Sam who had been sitting in the coffee room for a while staring into her cup for a few moments too long.

 

Sam looked up. She had changed back to her regular clothes already. Even though she felt tired and relieved, she wasn't sleepy at all for whatever reason. Well, most likely it was the coffee she then thought. But it was also quite exhilarating to catch a killer. She could now really understand why Sharon liked her job so much.

 

"As ready as I'll ever be.” Sam replied and smiled at Sharon.

 

"Good." Sharon smiled too."Your place or mine?" She asked then.

 

Sam was surprised. Of course they had spent many a night in each others homes, but they did not live together. And after all this, Sam had kind of expected to go home alone.

 

"Yours I guess?" Sam said.

 

"Okay, let's go then!" Sharon was ready to go home and take a long shower. Then later on, maybe some smooching and then some sleep. In whichever order those tasks might just happen would be fine to her.

 

Sam got up and joined Sharon at the door. A quick peck on the mouth and out the door they both went. Holding hands of course.

 

Chapter Thirty-seven: Closing the case and burying the dead

 

The three victims had finally been put to rest. Sam had attended Lila's funeral. It had been a small ceremony, as per Lila's request with only family and close friends. After the ceremony, the ashes had been spread into a lake near her home. Sam and Lila's sister had done the honours and were now on their way to back to the car park. Sam was chatting with Lila's sister Jenny and as they reached the car, they both stopped for a moment to hug as it was quite the moment for them having lost a friend and a sister. Both women had cried, a lot and they were missing Lila dearly. Sam was about to get into Jenny's car who had been her ride to the funeral, when noticed Sharon a little farther away leaning against her own car. Sharon waved at Sam. Sam waved back. She was surprised to see Sharon there.

 

Jenny was already inside the care and so Sam opened the passenger door and asked Jenny. “Would you be okay to drive home by yourself?”

 

“Sure." Jenny responded. "Is something wrong?" She then asked.

 

"No, it's just,” Sam paused. “Captain Raydor is here.” Sam had not told Jenny she was involved with someone else currently. Not that it mattered anyway. But after the loss of her friend and Jenny mourning her sister, it did not seem so relevant to share this happy news.

 

"Okay, you go. We'll catch up tomorrow at Lila's place. If you feel up to it?" Jenny told her then.

 

They had planned to go through Lila's will at her house with Lila’s lawyer and then check through the house as well as Jenny was going to move in there now as she had been renting so far, so it was a good choice to make for her.

 

"I will be there, I promise." Sam threw a kiss at Jenny and closed the door and waving as she watched her drive off. Sam walked the distance to Sharon's car.

 

Sharon opened her arms to greet Sam. "How are you doing?" Sharon asked Sam knowing how hard it was for her.

 

"It was difficult." Sam told honestly. "But she is out there somewhere in the universe, looking over us.” Sam then added as she was a believer in life continuing in some other form after death.

 

Sharon hugged her for a while longer and then kissed Sam on the forehead.

 

"Come on, I will drive you home." Sharon said to Sam and opened the door for her.

 

"Thanks!" Sam replied and got in. Sharon went back to the drivers side and turned on the engine, and they drove off.

 

***

 

The days after they had caught the killer had been busy. The interviews with their suspect, though brief in nature, since Deveraux’s main personality had only ranted one mantra. That of her mission. That was until finally the subdued personality had emerged and confessed to the murders and said she was very sorry but could not help it because she had not been in control. Taking into account the psychological evaluation, the evidence and Deveraux’s confession, they had gotten on record during the night of Deveraux arrest. And the fact that the murder weapon was an exact match to the three other victims wounds, there was no contest as to the fact, that this was the one and only killer they had caught.

 

The DDA had decided it was better to give Jo Deveraux a plea than put her or the victims families through a trial. The deal was, that Deveraux would spend the rest of her life in a mental institution. There was no argument from the defence, nor Deveraux herself. Deveraux was then transferred to a maximum security mental institution immediately after the deal was made.

 

 

 

The team was busy packing the physical evidence into boxes. Those in digital format were stored onto the stations backup drives. Sam was helping the team, despite the fact that her temporary assignment had concluded.

 

Annie and Amy were both present. Amy had recovered nicely and was back at the job. Only she had to remain as desk jockey for a couple of weeks before her injury was completely healed. Sharon had put in a transfer request for Annie after first talking with her of course. Asking if she was willing to join the Major Crimes team. She of course needed to take a detectives exam first and was assigned to Lieutenant Tao and Provenza as a pupil to be trained before that.

 

It turned out that Annie, Amy and Monica had actually made an arrangement to try a less of a traditional relationship. And they were practising it by going out on dates and spending time with each other. Of course it had been a slight shock for Monica, when she had found Annie by Amy’s bedside in the hospital holding her hand. But after a few heated and less heated discussions, Monica had agreed to give the threesome relationship a try. After all, Annie was quite the charmer and most women could not resist her.

 

Sharon who had been completing all the case related reports in her office and walked towards Sam.

 

"Any plans for tonight?" Sharon then asked her.

 

During the few weeks after the arrest and finally closing the case, Sam had spent almost every night with Sharon. They had mostly stayed in Sharon's place. The few nights they did not spend together, were those Sam had been working on her day job. Which was of course taking photographs and had taken her out of the city and spending a few nights in hotels.

 

"No, nothing." Sam replied. She had just arrived from a two day gig on an early morning flight and had come to the station to check on the progress. Sam had not been involved in the aftermath much, since she did not have to testify after all due to no trial. Sam had continued with her photography after a break due to the case. But thanks to her relationship with Sharon, she had been fully briefed on all the goings on of the case and the deal. Sam had also agreed on the DDA’s decision. Sam both hated and pitied Deveraux, but also agreed that prison was not the option for the mentally challenged woman.

 

"Dinner?" Sharon asked. She wanted to spend time with her girlfriend, whom she had not seen in three days and was eager to be alone with her as soon as possible. Phone sex was not the same thing after all, as was physically touching the other person. Something Sharon knew for sure.

 

"Sure!" Sam responded and smiled.

 

"Let's go then!" Sharon hurried Sam up by giving her a soft pat on her derrière. Sam laughed and followed Sharon out the office and into the elevator. Next stop, Sharon's condo with some light dinner, followed by heavy petting and naturally, sex.

 

Chapter Thirty-eight: The next chapter for the dynamic duo

 

After the case was finally closed, Sharon and Sam had taken a few days off from their respective professions. They were spending it at Sam's house. They had prepared dinner together, then enjoyed it watching the perfect sunset and soon after the two of them had retied to bed. Lying on top of the covers naked, caressing and kissing each other. Familiarising themselves once again each others bodies again. Taking their time without any notion of a quick release.

 

Though enjoying the slowness of the moment, Sharon felt her urges getting the better of her. She rose from her side and pushed Sam onto her back. Sharon manoeuvred herself on top of Sam and started kissing her more forcefully than the soft kisses from earlier had indicated her emotions to be at. Sharon pushed her tongue inside of Sam's mouth and was challenged to a duel with Sam's. They played a while, each taking dominance as the tongues danced their sensual sway until Sharon let go and started kissing Sam's neck. Continuing the task and moving ever southwards down Sam's body.

 

Sharon enjoyed Sam squirming under her. Despite both of them being controlling in bed, Sam liked to give Sharon more power, more control of what was happening. Letting go of the control had come more easily than Sam had anticipated even if she was not used it. But Sam felt safe with Sharon and trusted her in everything. Sharon was a woman who commanded the power. In what ever position she was in really. And their current position? Well, Sharon really needed to take control tonight.

 

Sharon wanted to convey her love for this woman she had only known for under a year. But all the things they had gone through, she knew she loved Sam and wanted to show her that as well. The words Sharon dreaded to say out loud still, would have to wait. Tonight, she wanted to show, not tell Sam her feelings.

 

Sharon was closing in on Sam's breasts. Sharon loved them. She loved to watch them, she loved to touch them and she loved to kiss and nibble on them. Right until Sam was begging Sharon to get her off. Sharon was kissing on the tops of the breast first and was carefully avoiding the most sensitive areas. Gently moving around them in a slow and almost a torturous pace. Sam was moving under her enjoying the ministrations given to her by her lover.

 

Sharon finally closed in on the hard erect nipple, closing her mouth around it and started to suck and lick on it. She heard Sam's moaning and decided to hasten the pace just a little more. Sucking, licking and nibbling, she then moved over to the other one, giving it equal attention.

 

Sam was enjoying everything Sharon was doing to her, but she needed more. She let out a hoarse "Please" and Sharon knew what it meant. Sharon moved her hand between Sam's legs and found the wet softness she knew was there. Moving her fingers into position, finding the erect nubbin she was looking for she started moving her fingers with small circular motions. Sucking on Sam's nipple and moving her finger on Sam's clit, Sharon could tell that Sam was not far from reaching her peak.

 

Sharon could feel her own body responding to her partners arousal and pending orgasm, but commanded her body to wait until Sam was ready. Sharon continued sucking on the taut nipples and applied more pressure on Sam's clit. Sharon felt Sam's body responding in kind. And soon, her body stopped squirming and went all rigid. Despite the fact that Sam was lying under Sharon, she was the stronger of the two. When Sam's body started to orgasm and her body rising from the bed, both women were elevated. Sharon held onto her lover and stopped what she was doing. Feeling her partner’s orgasm Sharon could not help but to release her own. Both women were shaking in unison. For a moment which seemed to last forever. Then finally ending, releasing their bodies and both collapsing back on the bed.

 

They were lying on the bed, Sharon still on top of Sam both panting heavily after the initial orgasm had subsided with a few aftershocks coming and going. They lay there until their breathing became even.

 

"Goodness Sharon! You really know how to show a gal a good time don’t you!” Sam let out a small laugh.

 

"Only you my dear, only you." Sharon replied. It was still too soon to talk about anything else.

 

Lying in each others arms, they soon started caressing each other again and kissing ensued until it was time for another bout.

 

***

 

A little later after a several hours had ticked by, the couple was still in bed, attached to each other limb by limb. Still exhausted but happily so and basking in the afterglow of their love making. Sam and Sharon were happy to just be and spend time with each other.

 

After the case had been closed, Sam had asked Sharon if she would be free for a short vacation. Sharon had not said no. But they had not made any definitive plans either and not really talked about it further since Sam had been called to a photoshoot.

 

Sam had been thinking about her suggestion nevertheless and decided she would ask Sharon again at a later point. Sam thought it was time to make another attempt now and try to whisk of the good Captain some place far away. And then she could have Sharon all to herself, at least for a little while.

 

"What about Greece?" Sam asked Sharon suddenly. "It's not too hot nor too cold at this time of year there. And I know this one little island, where the waters are so blue and shallow..." Sam praised the land she totally loved and which had been the stop for many a photoshoot trips as well as vacation ones in her life.

 

"Greece?" Sharon was curious now. "I've never been there. Sounds lovely though." Sharon added. Sharon was surprised Sam brought the trip up now suddenly. But she was glad Sam had done so.

 

Sam turned on her side and was all eyes on Sharon. "Do you think you can get away?" Sam knew Sharon had a lot of vacation time on coming her way. But guess the question was more of a would she take the leave rather than could she take it.

 

Sharon was reading Sam's mind clearly as she then responded. " Yes, I will take the time off." Sharon smiled at her lover.

 

Sam still looked suspicious. But Sharon did not want to disappoint her girlfriend. It had already been discussed and Sharon wanted to spend time with Sam. Just the two of them, away from it all.

 

"Yes, I want to and go away to Greece with you." Sharon emphasised the words 'I want' hoping to get the message across.

 

Sam nodded then and smiled too. Satisfied of the outcome to her question. She then turned back on her back and tried to draw Sharon closer, but Sharon was quicker and she was getting off the bed. Before Sam could ask what was going on, Sharon was up and rummaging her bag. She picked out something from her overnight bag and came quickly back to the bed.

 

Sam had been okay, at least so far of the arrangement that when Sharon stayed over at her place she would bring her stuff with her and then vice a versa. But for a while now, she had also hoped that Sharon would leave some of her personal belongings behind. Sam owned a big house where there certainly was enough room for them both of them. But she had not mentioned any of this to Sharon. Being only too worried she was either moving too fast or the more frightening fact being that their relationship would not be permanent after all. Sam knew she wanted it to be. More than anything else she had finally found the one woman she wanted to be with for the rest of her life. But she still wasn't sure if Sharon felt the same.

 

"Sharon," Sam started, "What do you think," She paused again, not sure on how to put the words out there. ”What if you would bring enough clothes and what have yous and leave some of them here so you would not need to bring a bag back and forth every time?” Sam looked at Sharon who had clearly heard what she was saying but had not responded immediately. "I have a perfectly working washer and dryer and a hang-in dryer cupboard too.” Sam tried to make it lighter.

 

Sharon looked at Sam and smiled. "I know you do sweetheart." She responded finally.

 

Sharon was really, really glad to hear what Sam had meant with her comment. Sharon wanted nothing more with Sam, than a stable and permanent relationship. And hearing Sam wanting that too made her own decision now even stronger.

 

Sharon, who was still sitting on the bed adjusted her position. Scotching a little closer to Sam, who was positioned on her back but half up off the bed against her pillow. Sharon was holding something in her hand and she kept squeezing it nervously. She bit her lip a little then taking in a deep breath and and exhaling it.

 

Sam was getting curiouser and curiouser of Sharon's behaviour. Even getting worried a little. Was it still too soon to suggest trips and living arrangements? Sams heart was racing fast.

 

Sharon locked her eyes onto Sam's, taking Sam's hand into her own. She mustered all the courage she could get and finally said out loud what she had wanted to for a while now. "Sam, I love you with all my heart." Sharon paused. Sam was unable to say anything at this point. She felt a lump in her throat and tears forming behind her eyes. "Sam," Sharon continued again. "Would you do the honour of becoming my wife?"

 

Sam was not able to utter one word at first. The lump disappeared and tears started falling. Happy tears this time around. She gulped and in a weak voice replied. "Yes, Sharon!" Sharon was smiling, her eyes were tearing up too. She leaned forward and kissed Sam. A brief and soft kiss. She then opened the box she had been holding in her hand, revealing a set of matching silver rings. She took one ring out and held it in front of Sam, not saying anything else. Sam nodded and Sharon pushed the ring on her finger. Sharon then took the other one out and put it in her own finger.

 

Sharon smiled as she looked at Sam. "We are now officially engaged" And then she kissed Sam again. This time more passionately. The kissing continued and grew more heated. Finally the two bodies were once again tangled to each other and they started celebrating their engagement. By engaging in pleasurable sexual activities which continued well in to the early morning hours.

 

Their next stop? A much anticipated vacation on an isolated small island in the middle of the Mediterranean. Basking under the warming sun in the cool blue sea and on the sandy beaches. Not to be disturbed. Well, at least not for a while. As their honeymoon, was about to begin.

 

***

 

Somewhere on a secluded Mediterranean island, a private photoshoot was taking place.

 

Standing tall, poised like a true ancient goddess and clad only in her birthday suit. With her hair set up and decorated with pearls, Sharon, was ready for her first nude photoshoot.

 

Sam had set up her gear and was standing behind the camera, looking through the viewer. Soaking in the beauty in front of her, she had not yet pushed the button yet. She was still in awe of the woman she could call her wife, deities bidding, for the rest of her life.

 

“Can you hurry it up a little, I am not getting any younger here.” Sharon told Sam.

 

“You are perfection!” Sam smiled and told her newly wed wife. "No matter the age, your beauty will not fade. Now, be a dear and strike, a pose!”

 

Click, click, click! And the image was forever immortalised  onto celluloid. And quite possibly on the wall of their home.

 

 

FIN