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Soft as Fine Leather, Smooth as Silk

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SOFT AS FINE LEATHER,

SMOOTH AS SILK

Elizabeth Lowry

 

"Shit, cunt, cock, fuck, and all those other dirty words you can't say on television!"

Leslie Jenkins straightened warily, glanced at her partner, then slowly reached under the car seat where her thermos had rolled. "Here, Kira." Leslie pulled the thermos out, unscrewed the top, and offered it to the fuming woman. "Have some more. It's decaf."

The blonde woman sneered at the proffered thermos. The pink-tinted edges of a street light three driveways down entered the car, creating crazy shadows and giving the woman a faintly satanic look. Leslie shrugged at Kira's refusal, refilled her own cup, and dropped the thermos back under the seat. She breathed in the aroma of the still-hot coffee, always more pleased with the smell than with the taste, and took a sip. The liquid was warming, if not palatable, and she wriggled her butt to find a more comfortable position in the compact Chevy.

"Care to share your misery?" Leslie kept up her visual sweep of the area rather than focus on the woman next to her. No sign of any activity around the lower middle-class neighborhood they had staked out. In fact, there'd been no sign of anything for a couple of hours now. And if Kira was frustrated by the lack of excitement the night had brought them so far, Leslie was just bored. But she had an idea of how to alleviate that boredom.

"Shit, fuck, I hate surveillance!" Kira squirmed within the small bucket seat, seemingly ready to bolt from the confines of the car at any moment. She ran a hand savagely through her loose hair, doing nothing to ruin the style, Leslie noted enviously. A hand through her own hair would have destroyed her artificially-created curls and left a frizzy mess. Why did she always have to be partnered with Miss TV-Perfect Policewoman, Leslie asked herself. Because she's the best policewoman in the division, she answered. And Kira's reputation always spilled over to hers when they were teamed.

Leslie sighed. "It can't always be action, adventure and romance." She shot a quick look at Kira. As she expected, Kira only glared back at her. It was always touch-and-go around Kira. One minute she could be your best friend, the next minute she could be your worst enemy. Generally, Leslie found her to be fairly affable when they were partnered, although the affability always came with a touch of condescension. But Leslie had found that if she played to Kira's need to feel superior, their cases went smoothly, and she usually learned something--interesting. And there was something interesting she wanted to draw from Kira tonight.

Leslie turned her attention to her coffee. A late-night jogger loped by, momentarily catching their attention, then vanished around the corner. Kira let out a deep breath as the man disappeared, the most relaxed she'd been that evening, and Leslie decided this was her opportunity.

She took another sip of coffee. Not as bolstering as a good shot of bourbon, but it would do. "So tell me," she began, curiosity overtaking her sense of caution. "Which one of the rumors I've been hearing is true?"

Kira gazed at Leslie, her face devoid of any expression, then turned to stare out her window.

"C'mon," Leslie prodded, with a feigned air of nonchalance. "'Fess up." She kept her eyes fixed on her coffee. "Did you really fuck 'em both?"

Out of the corner of her eye Leslie caught Kira turning to stare at her. Leslie sensed Kira was debating with herself, and she frowned. Kira was usually eager to share the details of her latest sexual conquest, and seemed to take as much pride in them as in her latest bust. Kira lived on the edge, thrived on it, and had taken as many punishments as rewards for her actions. Leslie had long ago discovered she could only take Kira in small doses before she was overwhelmed by the sheer immensity of her conceit. But she was ready for a dose now. And a little hesitation on Kira's part wasn't going to stop her from putting truth to rumor.

"If it's true--" Leslie tried a little flattery, "--you'd be the first." She put a bit of emphasis on the word "first." Leslie was sure Kira would have to boast about the supposed double-conquest when she put it that way, regardless of any restraint she seemed to feel.

A smug smile finally graced Kira's lips. She licked them, then settled back in her seat. "What if I did?"

Leslie turned her head to look out the side window so Kira couldn't see her smile. "Details, lady." She turned back to Kira, the smile pulled from her lips but still in her eyes. "I need details."

Kira crossed her arms thoughtfully, a devious glint in her eye. "If I tell you--" she bargained, "--it goes no further than this car." Kira made a visual sweep of the street in front of them, then settled her gaze on Leslie.

Leslie thought a moment. Paydirt. "Only if the details are better than what I've already heard," she replied brazenly.

Kira dropped her arms and laughed. Her head fell back on the headrest, then rolled to face Leslie. "Guaranteed, Jenkins. Guaranteed on my next undercover."

Leslie nodded. This was the same deal they always made. A little silence in exchange for a juicy assignment. Being partnered on Kira's next big vice bust would look nice in Leslie's jacket, and was definitely worth a little silence. "Everyone still believes that little Martinez fucker cracked his skull when he tripped, don't they?"

Kira rolled her head back, accepting Leslie's bond as she had many times before. 

"I fucked 'em both."

Leslie grinned. "Like I said, details, honey. You just admitted to doing what all the women and half the men in the department would like to do." And I want to live it vicariously, she added silently.

Kira straightened in her seat. She caught her tongue between her teeth, then ran her hands along the steering wheel. "Men. You know?" 

Leslie nodded in agreement, though in truth she had no idea what Kira meant.

Kira explained as if she sensed Leslie's non-understanding. "I mean, all you ever hear about those guys is how inseparable they are, and how good they are at their jobs--" she paused, "--and how high and mighty they are." Kira continued to polish the wheel with the palms of her hands. "They are good, you know?" she added softly, almost reluctantly. "Cops, I mean."

Leslie studied her partner. Kira appeared lost in thought, rubbing her hands over the steering wheel mechanically, eyes unfocused on the street in front of them. She was lapsing into silence again, which was extremely dissatisfying. Leslie took another swallow of her coffee. "You're good, too," she said. Flattery will get you everywhere.

"I know." Kira finally let her hands drop in her lap. She fell back into silence.

"So." Leslie chose another tack. "I thought it was just you and Starsky after you started that undercover." Kira would respond to this. She always had to make sure everyone got the facts straight where she was involved.

"They didn't want me for the assignment at first," Kira finally spoke, but answering a different question. "Thought I was too goddamned reckless." Her voice dropped to silky but accusing tones. "As if they weren't the most reckless team in the history of the LAPD. What they really thought was I was too good and might show them up."

Leslie made a sympathetic noise.

"But the Blonde Bombshell gets what she wants," Kira smiled over at Leslie. "And I wanted that assignment."

"So did every other blonde policewoman." Leslie touched her own dirty blonde hair self-consciously. Luckily Kira missed the remark, and the gesture.

"That's why you should always go for the interview." Kira lapsed into her instructor mode. "Once Starsky got a good look at me in person, I knew I was in." Kira flicked on the inside light and adjusted the rear-view mirror to look at herself. She fingered a few strands of hair, and shaped her eyebrows. "And after I got a good look at him, I knew he was in, too." Satisfied with her appearance, she pushed the mirror back into place.

"Instant attraction," Leslie supplied her own details. "Animal magnetism. Body chemistry." She couldn't suppress a smile.

Kira lifted a nicely-defined eyebrow. Her face glowed, but the glow vanished as she switched off the overhead light. "We were hot and heavy before we even started at the dance hall," she fleshed out the facts of their first encounter. "We had sex that first night after they accepted me on the case. God," she breathed, remembering the moment. "He acted like I was saving him from something. Or someone." A frown clouded her features. "Like if he could get enough of me he could let go of someone else." She thought about this a moment.

Leslie thought, too. "Maybe that woman," Leslie mused. She made another visual sweep of the area, an attempt to at least pay lip service to the reason they were there. "Remember that woman we all heard rumors about, the one he was supposed to be bedding to get to her father, only supposedly he only got as far as her bed? I heard he really tripped over her."

Kira dismissed the whole thing with a shrug and fell silent.

"Go on," Leslie stepped into the silence, trying not to appear too eager. "`You and Starsky...'" she prompted

"`Me and Starsky...'" Her voice trailed off. "David and I had quite a little thing going there," she suddenly elaborated.

"Yeah?" Leslie raised an eyebrow. She couldn't keep the excitement from her voice.

Kira either didn't catch it, or chose to ignore it. "The first couple of weeks were crazy. We were working nights at the dance hall, running reports and leads during the day, and fitting in a quick round of hole-in-one when we could." Kira smiled, a haughty grin that Leslie knew meant something had pleased her. "And all the while we were driving Hutch crazy!"

Leslie thought she could see sparks ignite in Kira's eyes. She knew there were some in her own. "Do tell," she managed calmly, finishing off her coffee.

"You should have been there." Kira turned and laughed. "We've all seen how the two of them act around women, right? That competitive, macho thing? At first Hutch could have cared less about me. I was just some dumb lady cop he had to work with. But then he caught on that Starsky and I had something going. Not that I was trying to hide anything, mind you," she digressed. "But David was being kind of quiet about it." Kira jumped back to the story. "Once Hutch figured things out, though, he did a complete about-face. I was suddenly the hottest thing in high heels he'd ever seen. Every chance he could, Hutch would try and get me alone, or show off how smart he was, or make cutting little remarks about Starsky in front of us, or whatever. God, he was so obvious!" She laughed again. "And you know what that did?" Leslie shook her head. "That just set Starsky off! Intruded on his territorial rights or something! It was a panic! So he tried to cut Hutch off by acting very professional and throwing procedure at him all the time." She grinned. "Which Hutch just ignored, of course." She grinned wider. "Which only made Starsky madder."

"Macho games," Leslie commented. A thought struck her. "Remember when Ralph and that kid from Vice squared off over you? They made pretty good fools of themselves, too." Leslie tried to think back to a time when two men had fought over her. There wasn't one.

"Yeah." Kira brushed over Ralph and the kid. "But what most men, including Starsky and Hutch, have never been smart enough to figure out is there would be no macho games if whoever was in the middle wasn't encouraging them."

Encourage macho games, Leslie noted. She'd tuck away that little piece of information in her things-to-try-around-men file.

"You encouraged them, then?" Leslie didn't really have to ask the question. She knew the answer.

"Oh. No." Kira rested her arm on the opened window and leaned sideways to catch the breeze, running a hand lazily through her hair. "I don't know. I mean, they're both there, they're both hot, what are you supposed to do?" She looked at Leslie for an answer.

Leslie shrugged and set her empty cup on the dashboard. What are you supposed to do, or what am I supposed to do?

Kira continued to play with her hair. "Plus, it was kind of funny that neither of them had wanted to work with me, but now they both wanted to fuck with me."

Leslie shrugged to herself. Kind of funny.

Kira's hand stilled. "David wanted to marry me," she suddenly blurted out.

Leslie was glad she hadn't had a mouthful of coffee when she heard that.

"You're kidding," she managed.

Kira shook her head. "About two weeks into the case he started talking about family and kids and all. He'd get the sappiest expression on his face whenever he talked about that." She sat up and slid sideways to face Leslie. "All I had to do to put that expression on his face was start talking about children. And it worked every time! It was great! It was like making a guy get hot just by running a fingernail up his arm." Kira's tone sounded almost clinical. "You slide a nail up a forearm, the guy gets excited. I'd mention kids, and Starsky would sap up!"

Leslie grinned back. Fingernail up the arm. "So he really asked you to marry him?" She hadn't heard any mention of this tidbit from the grapevine.

Kira settled back against the door. "Not exactly," she admitted, somewhat reluctantly. "I sort of found out about it from another source."

"Hutchinson." Leslie fingered the guilty party. She couldn't resist. "When did you start sleeping with him?"

Kira checked the fingernails on her right hand in the dim light. "About the third night he escorted me home. He and David were supposed to trade off taking me and that blonde taxi dancer home in case the psycho followed either of us, but Hutch kept ignoring the line-up David was trying to supervise."

"But Hutch wasn't ignoring you." A faint twinge of envy swept through Leslie. 

"Nope." Kira examined her left hand. "He certainly wasn't."

"Did he ask you to marry him, too?" Leslie took a quick look up the street to take care of business, then returned her attention to Kira.

Kira looked at Leslie as if Leslie had just accused her of failing to Mirandize a suspect. "Are you nuts?" she asked scornfully. "He wasn't putting any effort into this thing. He just wanted to show up Starsky."

"Did he?" Leslie breathed. She wanted to get to the meat of the matter.

Kira understood. She smiled slyly. "You really want the details, don't you?

"Be explicit," Leslie grinned back. Kira had given her the go-ahead to talk freely now. "What were they like? I mean, are they different in bed, or do they do everything the same like they do at work?"

Kira took a deep breath and played out the moment for all it was worth. A touch of poetry graced her description when she finally spoke. "One was as soft as fine leather," she lowered her eyelids, lashes fanning across her cheeks, "the other as smooth as silk."

"Damn!" Leslie slapped the dashboard. This was what she'd been waiting for. "Starsky first."

"Okay." Kira held both her palms forward, suddenly excited.   This was the effusive Kira Leslie knew. "Picture this: The room is as dark as we can get it in the middle of the day."

"Shy boy?" Leslie inquired.

"Quite," Kira answered. "David would make a great vampire."

"Nice sucking technique," Leslie murmured, her imagination awakening.

"Shush," Kira hushed her, annoyed with the interruption. "Just listen." She resumed her description. "The room is dark, he's in his black bikini underwear--"

"Black bikinis?!" Leslie interrupted again.

"Shush!" Kira slapped the seat between them. The floor was to be hers and hers alone. "He liked just a touch of clothing on as opposed to being completely nude," she explained. "Anyway, he's in his bikinis, I'm in my teddy, and we're dancing."

Leslie lifted an eyebrow but finally kept her mouth shut.

"Slow dancing." Kira further defined the action, obviously enjoying Leslie's response. "I'm talking face-to-face, hip-to-hip, toe-to-toe body-writhing. He's holding me so close I don't know where I end and he begins, and we're just sort of gliding around the room. Just gliding and gliding and gliding."

"God," Leslie sighed, giving in to her imagination, unable to remain quiet any longer.

Kira didn't mind this interruption. "After I don't know how long--" she resumed, "--he makes a dizzying move, sort of dropping me backwards, then pulling me up off the floor and into his arms, and then we're both on the bed."

"He's on top?" Leslie couldn't resist the question.

Kira nodded. She was clearly enjoying the telling of the tale. "I can feel his weight on top of me, but he's not using me for a mattress like some men do. He's just sort of enveloping me with his heat and weight and scent."

"God!" Leslie sighed again. "And then?"

"Let's just say this man knows the meaning of the word `endless'." Kira brushed a stray curl back from her face, her hand vaguely trembling. "He could suck and kiss and fondle until I thought if I didn't get him inside me I would implode! And even then he could stroke for hours!"

Leslie shook her head and looked out her window. Everything was quiet on the street. It was only her body that was chaos. Good thing she'd brought decaf or she'd be having fits by now.

"And then--" Kira seemed immensely pleased with the reaction she was getting from Leslie, "--he liked to cuddle afterwards."

Leslie let out the breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding in a whoosh. She looked back at Kira in disbelief. "That is too good to be true."

Kira smiled smugly and made a point of calmly surveying the street. "All true," she replied. She was exceptionally pleased with herself.

"Don't stop now," Leslie knew she was just encouraging Kira's arrogance, but this was the best Starsky story she'd heard in a while. And she knew a good Hutch story had to be next.

"So I guess now you want to know what Hutch was like." Kira didn't wait for a signal from Leslie, but plunged ahead. "Totally different." She swept a hand in front of her. "Starsky was good at what he did, but his repertoire was limited, if you know what I mean. I think Hutch must have read every sex manual that came down the pike."

"Do tell," said Leslie, with mock seriousness.

"I swear." Kira shook her head. "If he could have found a chandelier, he would have hung from it."

Leslie concentrated on the image in her mind.

"It wasn't exactly slam-bam-thank-you-ma'am, but sometimes I felt like a lot of it was just show." An odd expression crossed Kira's face. "David acted so--so gentle and tender and caring when he was in bed." Her voice softened, and Leslie could have sworn she caught a hint of tenderness in her words. "He comes across as being kind of slow and maybe not so smart when you're around him, but he sees everything and he feels everything--and he's so damned dedicated to that job!" The tenderness turned to anger. Kira was talking more to herself than to Leslie now, so Leslie decided to stay out of it. "And he is so damned dedicated to that partner of his!"

Leslie continued to listen, but she wasn't paying attention. "Hutch?" she asked, slightly confused. Get back to the sex, she thought.

Kira settled back against the seat, her legs stretched out as far as the cramped interior would allow. "All technique," she ruminated. She didn't speak for a moment. "Not that it wasn't good technique." She suddenly roused herself. "He wasn't afraid to put anything anywhere." 

She glanced over at Leslie. Leslie was frowning as she tried to fathom Kira's meaning. "Grow up, Jenkins." Kira sighed, exasperated. "I just mean he wasn't afraid to touch me anywhere, or kiss me anywhere, or try something a little different."

"How different?" Leslie squinted at Kira.

Kira smiled ferally at Leslie. Leslie had seen that look before. Kira used it when she wanted to shock, or when she felt superior to those around her. Leslie hid her irritation at Kira's disdain in the interest of knowledge. 

"Picture this:" Kira began again. "Two glasses of white wine, a plate filled with slices of fruit and cheese, and two naked bodies nestled among white satin sheets."

Now Kira was back to being her conceited, but garrulous, self. Leslie did her best to picture the scenario.

"We've just done the deed, we're hungry, we're feeding each other the slices of cheese and fruit, holding wine in our mouths as we're kissing, that sort of thing."

Leslie rested her head against the car seat.

"All of a sudden he takes his glass of Chablis and pours it over my tits." Kira trailed a finger between her breasts. "I'm screaming in shock, because the stuff had been chilled, when he leans over and begins to lick it off. Just sort of sucking it off my skin." Kira continued to run a finger up and down her breasts, her eyes far away. "Just licking and sucking, licking and sucking. All the way down to my stomach."

It was all Leslie could do to keep her hands still.

"And then," Kira's eyes focused and she looked straight at Leslie, "he took a slice of apple and slid it up inside me."

Leslie didn't move a muscle.

"Poked it right up in there with his finger," she said matter-of-factly. Leslie decided Kira's composure was solely for effect. "Then he licked and sucked his way down to my slit, sucked it right out, and ate it."

Leslie knew Kira was waiting for a reaction. Leslie didn't give her one. She kept her features composed, as if Kira were describing a routine bust to her. Kira might be able to titillate her, but she would not have the pleasure of shocking her.

"So I decided to give it a try, too." Kira wasn't giving up. "I poured wine all over his cock and licked it off, and then I stuck a piece of apple up his ass and pulled it out with my teeth."

Kira finally succeeded in shocking her. "Gross!" Leslie rolled around until she was facing the door.

"Not as much as you'd think," Kira seemed suddenly bored with the subject. "What time is it?"

Leslie checked her watch. "Quarter of one. We check in at one."

Kira flashed the headlights twice in quick succession. Leslie looked at her sharply, but didn't say anything. What Kira had done wasn't a signal, it was another sign of her impatience with their assignment. A stupid and dangerous thing to do, considering the light could focus unnecessary attention on them. But that was Kira, impulsive and oblivious to consequence. Leslie had to admit it made working with her exciting.

"How'd they find out about each other?" Brought down from her reverie, Leslie resumed checking the street.

"What did you hear, Jenkins?" Kira, too, had turned her attention to the street.

Leslie hung her arm out the window and tapped the side of the car. "Well, I'm not saying who said, but someone said you arranged to have Starsky walk in on you and Hutch so you could surprise the both of them."

Kira rolled her eyes. "Wrong." She reprimanded the erring student. "Hutch knew about David all along. That's why he did it. It was David who didn't know about Hutch." Kira paused. "One day he showed up when Hutch was over and caught us."

"So why did you set him up?" Leslie asked, still a little unsure of the facts. "Was two too many?"

"I didn't set him up!" Kira shouted, sitting upright. Leslie grabbed the door handle and nearly jumped from the car. 

Kira's voice echoed in the interior. "It just happened. Hutch came over to my place with some sanctimonious garbage about how could I sleep with both of them at the same time and have it mean anything, and how could I betray Starsky like that. Then he tried to break it off between us, like he was some kind of moral purist and I was a slut from sin city, when he was the one who started the whole damn thing!" Kira grabbed the steering wheel, her whole body tense. "I had to show that righteous prick just who was thinking of whom, and with what part of their anatomy everyone was thinking! And Starsky just walked in."   Kira continued to clench the wheel. "I didn't set him up!" She reiterated. 

And then:

"I didn't have to," she muttered, and fell back into the seat.

"What do you mean, you didn't have to?" Leslie drew her arm back in the car and stared at Kira. She immediately regretted asking the question. She should have pretended she hadn't heard Kira's admission.

"I don't know what I mean," Kira spat. Her voice rose again, but her anger didn't seem to be directed against Leslie. "I mean, how else was David going to get it through his thick skull he was getting too serious? I never promised him anything. I never said the words commitment or marriage. I never made it seem like more than it was."

"What was it?" Leslie pushed, aware she was treading on dangerous ground but lured by her temporary ability to extract information from Kira. She had never seen Kira lose her composure when it came to men. This weakness was interesting, and ripe for exploitation.

"It was just supposed to be fun," Kira demanded from somebody, maybe Starsky? "We were just having fun. It was fun to have two men giving me attention at the same time, especially when it was those two men." She released the steering wheel and faced Leslie, her finger jabbing into Leslie's shoulder. "And I showed them just what kind of woman I was." Her tone was icy, yet imploring. "I was no namby-pamby meter maid rape-bait that needed to be rescued by the big strong policemen, and I was no harem girl sex-slave to be bought and traded on the open market!" Satisfied she'd made her point, she settled back in her seat and breathed deeply.

"I guess not," Leslie mumbled. 

"Damn right," Kira concluded the discussion.

Leslie squelched the impulse to rub her abused arm and kept her mouth shut.

"So, did you get all the details you wanted, Jenkins?" Kira swept her hair back from her face and held it off her neck. "Did I lay to rest all those rumors?" She released the hair and let it fall back to her shoulders.

"Yeah." Leslie nodded. "I guess." 

Kira looked at her, annoyed. "You guess?" Her eyes narrowed. "There's something I left out?"

Leslie knew she had the advantage, and she meant to keep it. "Well," she replied thoughtfully. "No, there's really nothing else I heard. At least nothing worth mentioning." She bit the inside of her mouth to keep from smiling. Kira wouldn't let the evening end without eliciting every scrap of information Leslie had. This rare feeling of power with Kira was intoxicating.

"Do you want to be in on my next undercover or not?" Leslie's foundation of power was suddenly dissolved. Kira played quick and dirty.

"Okay." Leslie gave in as casually as possible. "I also heard the three of you did it together."

There was no reaction from Kira. No response, no sign, no physical gesture, no movement. Leslie might as well have been sharing a car with a statue. They sat in silence as the minutes ticked by. 

A car pulled into a driveway down the street. A couple got out from the car, plodded up to the house, and disappeared inside. Their porch light went out, and Kira spoke.

"What do you think, Jenkins?"

Leslie was startled by the question. She wasn't sure how to answer. Did Kira want her honest opinion, or was she just fishing for more compliments? Whichever, Leslie had best err on the side of safety. She'd go for the compliment.

Leslie pursed her lips. "Well--" she phrased her answer carefully, "--they do get around with a lot with women. But a lot of people say it's all a cover and they really sleep with each other." She paused. "I don't know if that's true or not." She looked for some kind of confirmation from Kira. Kira remained stone-faced. Push on, Leslie told herself. She suddenly brightened. "But if any woman could ever get them both in the same bed, it would be you!"

Kira turned away from her. Leslie stared, waiting for a response. There was none. Leslie's watch beeped, breaking the silence. Kira picked up the radio automatically and reported their status. Leslie sensed she'd said the wrong thing, but she had no idea what it was. If bestowing upon Kira the distinction of having had both members of the most illustrious team on the LAPD, and at the same time, wasn't enough to stroke her ego, then Leslie didn't know what was. And she didn't care to waste her time finding out. She had more than enough knowledge to satisfy her curiosity, and the promise of a high-profile assignment to boot. And enough fodder to keep her in wet dreams for quite a while. Leslie sighed contentedly. Stake-outs could be very profitable if run properly. Very profitable indeed.