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Warnings and Disclaimers written by Wildcat, (c) 1997.

Warnings/Disclaimers are included with stories to enable readers to judge whether each piece is of interest to them. They are intended to be taken seriously as a warning about the nature of the story. It is the sole responsibility of each reader to decide whether they wish to read a particular story following the Warnings/Disclaimers.

LOVE/SEX WARNING/DISCLAIMER - This story depicts a love/sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live, please do not read it. If depictions of this nature disturb you, you may wish to read something other than this story.

VIOLENCE WARNING/DISCLAIMER - This story depicts scenes of violence and/or their aftermath. Readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of depiction may wish to read something other than this story.

HURT/COMFORT WARNING/DISCLAIMER - This story may be best classified as a Hurt/Comfort Story involving various characters. Readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of issue may wish to read something other than this story.

The characters in this story are the total inventions of the author and has no bearing on any experience or story by any other.

May the Muses guide all our lives to be creative, charmed and moved to doing things greater than what we could have imagined. J.A. Bard

Chapter 1-5 6-9 10-15
Strangers Until We Meet
J.A. Bard

Chapter 1

Detective Adison was on a stakeout, with partner. Though at the moment, her partner was off getting coffee and sandwiches for them. She was on a typical stakeout with unmarked car that spelled 'cop stakeout vehicle', parked near the usual corner where drugs, thugs and other undesirables met for business or for socials. The unsavory characters were usually not residents of the small artist colony. If they were, they didn't stay long. The area wasn't in a bad part of town or looking neglected; it was just a few blocks from the town's center. But the location was good for people who weren't staying long and wanted a close as possible access to the nearest road out of town.

Shade trees lined the walkways on both sides of the street, which were practically bare, as the area was in the throes of Autumn. Birds found the branches to their liking and would occasionally roost until the fog rolled out, leaving walkways sprinkled with unattractive droppings that the shop keepers found themselves daily rinsing down. Greenery devoid of spring and summer blooms, wrapped around the base of the trees to keep their roots warm and to give some color to the otherwise drab start of winter.

The detectives recent reassignment from foot duty, to spending most of the day sitting at the nice picturesque spot, was due to the local businesses that didn't like the type of characters seen visiting the baby accessory and apparel supply store. After all, how many baby accessory and apparel stores had gang-types visiting from out of town?

Adison's eyes wandered back to the lone woman sitting on the bench facing a view of the ocean that was breathtaking, especially at sunset. The tall dark haired woman had been in town for two weeks now, making it a daily ritual to sit at the same spot, staring out at the ocean. Her length of stay at that spot, varied.

A small rocky outcropping created a great contrast of colors for the dipping hot sphere at sunset, which local and visiting artist's liked to capture. However, it wasn't sunset and from what the Detective could see the woman wasn't looking out at the ocean today. She was huddled in her coat, as if…she were hurt. Today she had been there since they rolled up early in the morning after most of the fog receded out to sea. Now, it was lunchtime and she was still sitting. Detective Adison wondered if she felt uncomfortable where she was staying.

Familiar footsteps sounded behind the Detective and soon she was rewarded with her partner sticking his face near hers through her rolled down window.

"Hey, Adison." He started in a low voice. "I got some more information about that chick you keep lookin' at from the House."

"Scripts." She acknowledged her partner as she reached over and took her coffee then her bag of fires and a sandwich. "Who gave ya the information?" In a small town, there were few secrets, but there was also lots of gossip, so it paid to know the source of the information.


Elsie worked part-time at the hamburger stand and wherever else she could get jobs. She was an older woman who was near retirement age, just scraping the poverty line. In small towns that relied on the tourist trade as part of their income, there were not too many jobs available. Detective Mark Scripts, her partner, liked the old woman, and made sure she was doing okay. She was a familiar face at his family’s dinners, and he also made sure her rent and utilities were paid for. The local church participated also, by making sure her clothing fit the seasons. Elsie repaid the detective with reliable information and to the community that gave her support, handling what money she did make, carefully. Small towns had their advantages.

"She's just another battered woman on the run, Scripts." She looked at his expression. "All right. I'll bite. Does she have any kids?" She asked to pass the time while secretly wanting to know. The local police department didn't get background information on residents of the safehouse. The House was unusual in that it did tell the community what its business was about. But it catered to out of state victims and needed the local community's support to identify any suspicious outsiders interest in the women they all were committed to help get a new start on life. This information, however, didn't entitle anyone from knowing about the victims, unless they gave it willingly. Many of the residents of the House continued on to the next safe haven, looking for a place with a better chance at getting a job and anonymity, which was found more readily in large cities or suburbs. A few stayed on in Sunrise, like Elsie.

"Had. One. Male. Seven years. Died in a hit and run about a year ago. Got her too. That's where the limp is from." He moved around to his side of the car with a smirk. He settled himself in the car as Addison held his coffee and bag of food until he got comfortable. He folded his long legs into the smaller space grateful they were in a bucket seat, because his partner was a lot shorter than he was.

The blond detective handed him the bag of food first so he could get out what he wanted before finding a place to rest his coffee. The car's stained interior attested to many a stakeout and wore the spilled food and beverage stains like a veteran.

"Hmmm." Adison took a sip of her own coffee, letting a smile crease her lips from the flavor, Hawaiian Hazelnut. "Traced to the batter?"

"He's a cop, what d'ya think?"

"I think she's got problems." She bit into her first French fry liking the crunchy flavor that Kelly's Place was famous for.

Detective Scripts nodded. He wanted to down play the disadvantages of his pitch. He was not being very subtle in his matchmaking attempts. He had met the woman on several occasions and though she said little, he liked her. He got the feeling she wasn't like the others that were living on the mental and physical edge of survival.

Deep green eyes with pale blond lashes turned to the tall dark haired partner that returned her stare with an innocent fluttering of his dark lashes over his brown eyes. Grinning he took his coffee and settled it on the dash, where it teetered dangerously until the liquid ceased its movement.

"Sooo, did you get Kate her birthday gift yet?" She decided to change the subject.

Scripts scowled. "I will not get her a pool! We got a house payment and a car payment. That's all I want to owe."

"Why not get her a small plastic pool." Adison suggested. "I don't think she's really serious about a big one."

"You don't think so, huh?" His head shook over the sandwich he was inspecting before he took a big bite. "She showed me a picture of what she wanted, surrounded with flower gardens, equipped with a fountain, and get this! Has to come equipped with a small rowboat!" He told her after he swallowed his first bite. He took a furious bite out of a finger full of French fries. Then continued when he had that swallowed. "A seven-year-old doesn't know enough about pools. My mother's been talking to her. Dam!" He turned his body sideways to look at his partner. "She told me if it's going to cost too much I could leave off the Jacuzzi. If she wants bubbles, she can use Mama's tub."

Adison sputtered in her coffee then laughed at how Kate had her Daddy wrapped around her pinkie finger, but not that tight. Detective Scripts’ parents were wealthy, but Detective Scripts' household lived on his police salary and what his wife made teaching and selling her art. They had finally found the house both had agreed on, or rather, the house they both wanted finally hit the market, and by then they had taken out a loan for a new car. Though there were no regrets, both were firm on not spending any more large amounts of money until their loans were considerably lower. It was the usual dilemma of accumulating what seemed to be important to be on the road to happiness. But, even the Scripts' children were involved in fixing up the house and Kate decided a pool was called for with elaborate gardens. It was too much like her grandparent's home to fool Mark and Linda Scripts.

Adison sat up straighter pulling the camera from the side of her seat. "Hey, party time."

Four cars slowly pulled up to the shop across the street from them. It appeared to be the same group of characters from the previous week. They parked in front of and near the baby's apparel store they had under surveillance, and all the cars were brand new. No license numbers, just the advertisement of the place where they were purchased. Adison took pictures of the license holders anyway, hoping at the angel she was at, the pictures would show enough because she wasn’t going to get out of the car and snap away.

The group that got out were wearing billed caps with the bills pointing not quite sideways and with their own private slogans sewed across the crown. The last one that got out was the exception; he was wearing a bowler type hat, with little feathers in the sweatband. Their baggy sweat pants looked awkward, with each pant leg hoisted up at different heights. Swaggering and dressed a bit gaudy for their town and the tourist bunch, they didn't fail to see the two detectives in their easy to spot car. Two of them stared hard at them. A third spoke to one of them. They all laughed.

"You think we're their topic of conversation?"

"Hmmm. The butt of their jokes." Detective Adison returned with a smirk.

"I once saw one of those guys, use a tape measure to make sure his pants were pulled up at the right height. Did you know they have to be exact? It marks the wearer from one neighborhood to another."

"Hmm." Adison was reminded of her adolescent years where everything had to be perfect or your peers would make your life miserable. "Ya gotta admire them, Partner. Who would have thought the alternative to mid-life crisis and Viagra would be weight lifting a pair of baggy pants with their third arm while still young. They are obviously preparing for the future."

Detective Scripts looked took a quick look at his partner than at his crouch. "Well, I got nooo problem about my strength. Or, I haven't heard any complaints."

"They could be fakin it and have suspenders holdin them pants up." He added after a moment.

"Hmmm. Do you think if they ran they would look like ladies, hoisting up their skirts with both hands?"

Her partner laughed. "Like Andy at the Halloween ball?"

Both chortled as they remembered the previous month's ball where one of the children pulled the fire alarm on a dare. It had set everyone rushing to find out where the fire was. Andy, who was on duty for the fire department, was dressed in a very low cut gown, with heels too high for any self-respecting woman in Sunrise to wear, and wearing black fishnet nylons. He played the Lady of the Night, which had everyone in stitches when he had to run to shut the alarm off. The ten-year-old guilty party also found it difficult to take the lecture seriously with a painted face Andy trying to control his temper. Neal, the ten year old found out the next day that it wasn't a good idea to take dares when it came to pulling fire alarms, as he was to spend a month and a half cleaning up trash. Neal was the star speller in the school and he would miss competitions that year.

"Oh, look, we're gonna have company." Scripts smirked.

The one left to watch the cars came swaggering toward their car.

"Ya spin' on us? Ya got nothin' better ta do?"

"Paranoid? Hmm? Doin' somethin' y'er not suppose to be doing?" Alex asked pleasantly. She had the camera under her coat careful not to move least the lens poked out.

"Ya keep bother'n us and we'll file harassment."

Detective Scripts laughed. "Here we are sitting in our car, having lunch, admiring the view of the ocean, and some paranoid type feels intimidated by our lawful presence. What do you think, Partner?"

"Hmm. Well, we were here first, so maybe its more of a guilty conscious."

"Have you ever met this guy before?" Scripts asked his partner.

"Nope. Definitely not the type I hang out with. My friends dress better. Have you?"


"Ya keep spyin' on us and you'll get hurt." The tall muscular man threatened in a soft voice.

"Sounds like some punk trying to bring punk stuff into our little town. What do ya think?"

"I think we've been threatened by a tourist."

"More like Halloween stuff at the High School."

The guy snorted and walked his gang walk back to the car. His friends weren't in the store for long.

Their shift ended when another group from their team arrived. For a small town, they didn't have many officers to spare so they were teaming with a group from Los Angeles that was trying to keep tabs on this gang. If a call had come in, the two detectives would have left their stakeout. The Chief let the L.A. group know that his team was there as a favor but the immediate emergencies took precedence over the day stakeout. The pair from L. A. brought another pair from another state that was studying gang activity. So the Sunrise's police force of eleven was reinforced with four from the city. Since they had no proof that there was anything unlawful going on, they could only park a car and watch the traffic. However, the different players that visited the store were raising some eyebrows on different gang task forces in other cities. With the President's sudden interest in crime prevention, more information was being shared within the states and cities, as well as more assistance from the usual aloof FBI was given in information gathering.

Det. Adison took one last look at the still figure on the bench and headed their car back to the office.

"Did she even leave for a bladder brake while I was gone?" Scripts asked curious.

His partner looked at him sideways. "You think my job description covers women's restrooms?"

Scripts grinned. "Not your style, Partner." He raised his eyebrows and appraised her with an up and down look. "Parks, camping…maybe."

"Geez. A comedian with my nonexistent love life." She deadpanned back.

"Well, I know someone that appears to be available." He told her waggling his eyebrows up and down.

"Scripts, stop that! You look like a Marx's brother. And they're dead, I might add."

Adison pulled their patrol car into the parking structure. They stopped at the mechanics booth filling out the form on time in, mileage, turned the keys in, and reported whatever the mechanic needed to look at. As usual, Adison put a check mark in the box requesting the interior to be cleaned.

"Why do you keep filling in that box, Detective? Does it look like I got the time for that?" The mechanic asked, expecting the same answer he got all the time.

"Maybe you'll hire some kid from the high school looking for a job."

"Right. And by the next day, after they've hot rodded around the dunes, we'll get the car back."

It was a joke between them, because it was already done, at Adison's suggestion, and the teenagers had taken the cars and drove them around the dunes, chasing each other. They were caught when one of them had turned the sirens on and couldn't figure out how to turn it off. It wasn't one of Adison's best ideas, but everyone enjoyed the laugh, including Adison.

Gathering up their gear, they headed upstairs to their desks. They had reports to read and phone calls still to make on other cases that were on their desks. Tomorrow their month-end reports were due. The good thing was that the computer filled out most of the stuff that they use to spend hours doing themselves, and a lot of them didn't write very legible or typed with two fingers, making it a long and tedious process. The program they used kept track of personal arrests and their times and other statistics the Chief was interested in, so that simply clicking on the end-of-month label at the top of their screen, tallied and sent it off to the Chief's E-mail inbasket. The computers were paying off in less time spent filling out forms with the same information or with paper copies of files buried and maybe forgotten under someone's desk clutter. If two people wanted to access the same file, the computer would flash a message that was updating it, and ask if the user just wanted to read the file. They had a computer geek that kept their file server with a secured firewall and up and running, and with few crashes. The one big crash had the Chief ordering Officer Burns to look for a back up plan. Two days down time with a system board failure on the server made everyone realize how easy life had been using computers over paper.

"I'll se ya tomorrow, Alex." Scripts finally was able to shut down his computer with his in basket holding only two notes that could wait.

"Ya, Scripts. Say hello to Linda and the kids for me." Adison shut her computer down and left shortly after. Choosing to walk home since her one room was nearby, she enjoyed the quiet walk after work. It helped her unwind and think about the tall woman from the shelter. Normally she only took a professional interest in them. They were too unstable to form even a friendship with, she felt. But this one, she seemed to be on her mind lately, as in, since her first day of arrival in town. Adison shook her head as she took the steps two at a time, up to her rented room.

Don't be askin' for trouble, Detective. Ya got enough on your plate, as it is.

*   *   *   *

Adison took a four-hour nap then got ready for her night work. Dressed in black with her light hair covered with a sock cap, and any exposed skin darkened, she stealthily slid out of the house she was renting a room in.

She walked to her destination, a parked nondescript car. With her flashlight she checked around the car to be sure no one had approached it. Scripts used it the previous night for his turn at night skulking and left it where it would be hard to tamper with unobserved, right on top of soft sand.

Tonight was her turn to skulk. Apart from working for the Sunrise police force, she also had been hired to investigate a group of rouge cops that may have been responsible for the disappearance of three women that had been sent to this town for hiding purposes by the FBI. One had disappeared before her arrival and the other two as they were being moved to another destination. The FBI used one of the farmhouses as a safehouse, before moving their protected witnesses to their new life. It was believed someone in Sunrise was responsible for the disappearances. The Attorney General and head of the FBI weren't pleased that someone was leaking information that caused the disappearance of valuable witnesses that had been promised new identities. That's where Adison came in. She was from the outside so no one had any information on her.

She had been uncover for two years now; taking notes, pictures and blending in with her partner, an exNavy Seal who was a legitimate Sunrise police officer. Her Chief knew of her out side assignment and had purposely partnered her with Scripts, who Adison didn't think knew of her real assignment in Sunrise.

Chapter 2

Elizabeth watched the sun dip then hide completely behind the horizon. It got chilly in the evenings, but she was use to the cold. She merely pulled her coat tighter around her, not thinking that her thin body may have something to do with her susceptibility to chill. Sighing inwardly, she thought of having to return to her room, her small prison of enforced exile…no, not exile, it was like going underground. Though the night sometimes scarred her…it was part of her own self-treatment, in taking back her life. She did this by doing things she liked doing at one time. Like sitting out in the open, staying out for as long as she liked, and day dreaming her day hours away. Sleep was still a problem with her. She pulled her cane toward her and stiffly pushed her long frame up. She moved toward the House, the women's shelter that was about a ten-minute walk for her. It overlooked the town center's fountain that had gardens surrounding it and grass for anyone that wanted to sit under the trees that gave shade during the summer. On the second floor of the House, was a sitting room whose balcony looked out over the center square, and past that at the long row of stores, and off to the left the ocean. To the right were other shops, apartments, homes and a school. Further up the road was the clinic, police station, a church and a cemetery, just before the first farm.

She didn't socialize with the other residents in the House, since there was nothing to say to them. What was there to say that was new? They were all there for the same reason; to escape from an obsessive stalker who used deadly force. Her stalker was also a police officer; therefore he had access to information that would find her. In this information gathering obsessive age, it could be easy to be found…and to disappear, if you knew how.

She grimaced as she felt her knee object to the misstep.

Officer Bo Jeffery Milton. Drop dead looks if you were in for that type, charming southern personality, controlling to the point of being fatal. He had attempted to befriend her after a break in to her apartment. She tried to put him off but he was persistent. Her sixth sense put off all sorts of alarms and she tried to keep a distance…but somehow she became known as his girlfriend to his colleges. Telling him she wasn't interested in his gender would have endangered her life; she recognized that right away.

Elizabeth Duke was a writer by trade. She wrote a variety of books, using different names. She didn't want to confuse her reading public when she moved from one type of book to another. She had written two dozen Romance novels, which were easy and kept a steady flow of money coming in. She also wrote sci-fi and a few fictions. When Julian came into her life, five years ago, it made her a single parent, and she added author of children's books to her repertoire. After Julian's death, writing children's books became impossible.

"Liz, there you are. You missed dinner so I saved you something."

Liz smiled faintly. "I'm not really that hungry, Genie. But, thank you" However, her stomach rumbled.

"Liz. Come over here. I want to talk to ya." Genie was a gray haired stocky woman, whose mannish mannerisms were deceiving to her mothering complex, as Liz labeled it.

Liz was tired, her leg was throbbing and she didn't want to tackle the stairs right then, in order for her to retreat into her small room, so she followed Genie into her kingdom, the kitchen. Genie had been a cook in the Army, before she left while 'in the family way'.

"I have some soup. Have some with fresh bread." She told her softly. "Come on. You're not eating enough to be missing dinner."

Genie regarded the too thin figure before her that was leaning on her cane wearily. Liz was a tall thin dark haired woman, with hands that were long and thin and nice to watch when they drew small circles on the table when she was deep in thought. Her face was haunted looking, with a lot of shadows, like most of the women that stayed here. Her eyes had no luster and her limp gave her the impression of an older person. Like the women that made it to their shelter, there was a quiet strength that was beneath the shadowed gaunt looks.

"All right." Liz sat down in the kitchen near the stack of newspapers that were going to be tossed into the recycle bin, stretching out one long leg while rubbing the knee of the other.

Genie moved a soup bowl in front of her that had a warm vegetable and noodle look to it, and a small loaf of bread. "Eat."

Tiredly Liz ate, listening idly as Genie moved back to her work in the kitchen, liking the sound of the rhythm from her chopping, as she was preparing something for the next days meal that required overnight simmering.

Genie understood Liz's need for isolation. Liz had spent the one-day required to be introduced to the other women, and then she stayed pretty much on her own. Genie had been one of the residents when the House first opened. She ended up staying and later admitted she had fallen head over heals in love with Claire, who managed the place. Both women were in their late fifties, and not afraid of showing their affection for each other in public with their verbal banter and sometimes holding hands.

Not all the inmates, as Liz called the residents of the House, felt comfortable with the relationship, but no one came out and made a comment. Sunrise was a town that was not just gay friendly, as some of the residents would say, but welcomed anyone who understood that their town didn't hold to intolerance of others.

"So…how was the sunset?" Genie finally asked as Liz finished her soup and was now pulling her bread apart.


"Do you really see it?"

Liz was quiet for a while. "Sometimes." She said softly.

"Hmm. There's a house near the cove that's for rent. You can see it from that bench you sit on. Nice for writing. Doc mentioned it was available for rent. Got it all cleaned up."

Liz chewed on the last of her bread. Genie picked up the bowl and raised an eyebrow inquiring if she wanted more soup.

Liz smiled faintly and shook her head.

"It's about $1500 a month, three bedrooms. Has a great view." She continued watching the dark lashes that covered faded blue eyes.

Liz had mentioned to Claire that she was thinking about settling here and getting back to her writing. Claire, was an easy woman to talk to who didn't need to fill in long spaces of silence with the sound of her voice. The first week Liz had arrived, Genie insisted she sit out in the fresh air in the back of the House watching Claire prepare her garden for the winter. The first week Liz was too weak from the side effects of the drugs she had been given to fight off pain, a cold, insomnia, and fear. She found outside was more preferable to hiding out in her small room.

Liz turned over the idea in her mind. The rent would be no problem with her royalties from books she had written. The monthly checks were being mailed directly to the agency that was sheltering her, so she had funds on hand. The house looked far enough away for her to have her privacy but not too far to…would she be too isolated for Milton to kidnap her easily? Maybe a dog? The image of her last dog, Rusty, had her stomach clinch painfully. Liz looked down at her fingers that were fiddling with the crumbs on the table, to change the focus of her thoughts.

Claire was delighted she wanted to stay. She mention three other writers in town, who gave winter workshops, using the board and breakfasts businesses as places their students stayed at.

Under the care of an acupuncture clinic, her leg was getting better and her back spasms were less debilitating. Under a different health care plan, the pain was less intense, she was off drugs so she was able to think clearer and now she could appreciate more of what was around her. The drugs she had been receiving before her arrival to Sunrise, had left her in a fog and the pain was always there. On her arrival to the airport not far from Sunrise, Claire had taken one look at her and straight away had taken her to the clinic. Things were pretty blurry then, but she felt very grateful to Claire for taking the initiative. Living with pain on a daily basis reminded her of who she was running from and left her with a narrow focus on life. Now that she was feeling physically better she had resumed, in the privacy of her room, trying out some isometric exercises and yoga to get back some of her flexibility and stamina. She had a long way to go, but she reminded herself she needed to do it slowly. She couldn't afford problems now.

A small smile curved Liz's lips. She was one of those authors that did in-depth research for her books, which meant learning about the different martial arts, tai chi, yoga, cooking, how to drive fast cars, and whatever one of her characters was good in. She picked up the skills easily and most of her main character's had the same athleticism as her. Even in her Romance books the characters did well in some athletic sport. Her sci-fi characters were always skilled in many things and her fictions, well, she didn't feel as comfortable with them. But she was working on that skill. Janey, her editor's wife, was her sounding board.

She missed socials with Janey and Eric, but she didn't want to endanger them. Milton had threatened her friends and some accidents had happened; though not deadly. Enough for her to put distance between her friends, just as Milton intended her to do, and isolate herself to make her a better target for his manipulations.

Julian was her partner and delightful company in helping her do research for her books. He liked the cooking classes as much as he liked the karate classes. The flower arranging class did have him embarrassed, though he tried his hand at it anyway. He was being a good researcher, he had told her. Thinking of Julian, who looked just like his mom, had her heart clinching. Her greatest hero was Julian, who sometimes changed genders in stories, much to his seven-year-old disgust and discomfort when someone would ask who inspired her characters in front of him. Without his inspiration she lost her desire to write children's books. It hurt too much.

"I'll take a look at it tomorrow. Thanks. Is Claire in her office?"

"Should be."

"Good night Genie…and thank you for saving dinner for me."

"Sure, tall gal." She waved a knife at her then returned to her cutting board.

Liz limped her way over to the office and rapped lightly on the door.

"Enter." A muffled voice called.

Liz opened the door and found Claire up to her shoulders, turned partially upside down, in a box that was filled with holiday ornaments.

"Hi, Liz." Claire straightened up and went over to the safe. She pulled from its contents a small black zippered case and returned it to its owner. Claire never asked her clients what they were keeping in the safe, but in this case, she guessed it had to do with Elizabeth's laptop and writing.

Liz put the case in her jacket pocket. "Good night, Claire."

"Before you go to bed, why not stop at the kitchen and…"

"Genie already made sure I had her chicken noodle soup before I retired. The fresh bread was delicious." Liz smiled.

Claire was of average height, with her once bright red hair now faded with grays, but her hazel eyes and freckled face gave her a younger look and right now it was lit up with pleasure. "Good. We worry about you, Elizabeth. You do need to eat more often. Were you able to keep yesterday's dinner down?"

Liz nodded. "Yea. I think those pills from the clinic are helping."

Claire nodded. "That's good to hear. Now…you need to take in more food. Which reminds me, Doc's house is up for rent."

Liz's smile grew wider. "Genie told me. I told her I would check it out tomorrow."

Claire nodded looking deeply into the faded blue eyes that for a moment lit up.

"It's not that we're trying to get rid of you…but, it's a big step to live on your own and his house is out of town. Think about those things. Maybe you'll want to find out about a roommate."

Liz didn't want a roommate. Claire was right about living alone. But she didn't want to endanger anyone, should Milton come looking for her again. This time, she wasn't drugged and she would be better prepared. She wanted it to end. She wanted to stop running from his terror.

"I will. Thanks. Good night." Liz turned around and made her way to the staircase. There was an elevator, but she wanted to exercise her legs. As she moved up the stairs she passed one of the inmates who gave her a looking over as they passed. The hairs on the back of her neck rose. Liz merely nodded and moved on. She was distrustful of Karla. She didn't fit the profile of the rest of the women here. And then, there were little incidents that had started shortly after her arrival. Liz shook her head. Writing tended to keep her imagination pretty active. But then again, it was her instincts that had saved her on many occasions. It angered her for a moment that it didn't save Julian's life.

Liz unlocked her room and before stepping in looked around. Her eyes swept over the sparse room that had a single bed, her brief case, desk with her laptop, notes, a small room with shower stall and toilet, and a very small cloths closet. Her suitcase was always left packed. The only clothing she hung in the closet was the next day's shirt. Things on her desk had been disturbed. She had placed a pencil exactly on the corner of the laptop. Now it was closer to the center.

Elizabeth placed her hand over the laptop feeling the warmth. She smiled. She never left her working hard drive in the laptop. She removed it and replaced it with another and regularly dumped her files on a zip drive, which she usually left both with Claire in her safe whenever she left the building. She booted up the laptop to see what someone may have been up to with the hard drive that was a decoy.

After about an hour Liz trudged down stairs to use the office computer to send an E-mail, letting her contact know that she was found…but she wasn't leaving this time. She meant what she had said to Claire. She liked the feel of Sunrise and she intended on staying a while.

Resettling in her room she replaced the decoy hard drive with her working drive and while she waited as her laptop came up, she searched the rest of her room. So, someone had copied files from the fake drive, she smirked. There was a virus just waiting to happen when those files were opened without her password. It pays to know geeks, she thought smugly. It was a very clever virus, that sought out Internet files before it destroyed the hard drive it was residing in. As soon as the user logged onto the internet; someone who was monitoring the freaks of hate-dom would know their location and who they were. There was no anonymity on the Internet, no matter what anyone said. In two calendar days, their entire hard drive would be worthless, and anyone they had sent messages too would be sent a special virus that would wipe their drives out next time they rebooted.

After she finished inspection of the rest of her meager belongings, she sat down for some serious writing. Feeling a small victory against Milton and his gang gave her an idea for a situation for one of her own characters. It was late at night that her creative juices flowed, and her fingers and brain were on the same wavelength as she tapped way into the morning. She lived for the evenings when she felt more free and alive.

Chapter 3

Detective Alex Adison moved away from the car she had parked in an abandoned building and jogged toward the marsh, her short form easily hidden as she easily moved around the buildings that were between her and her target. The boy's club was meeting tonight. It was their usual Wednesday boy's night out where some of the good-ole-boys came from neighboring areas to join them. They all dressed up in their little soldier outfits and boots usually shinned so bright, the lights would sparkle off of them, giving their positions away, should Alex miss them in her first scan. Though Alex had placed a bug through out the warehouse, including the two restrooms, she liked to see if any new members were visiting. She pushed the small pack in another position on her back in annoyance. A sentry dressed in full camouflaged gear, looking every bit of a soldier with some very nasty weaponry around his belt and wrapped around his right arm, took her favorite hidy spot. Something important must be happening. She looked around and spotted more shadows where normally a lone cat or drunk would be. She looked up on the roof, spotting a new camera.

Paramilitary. Dam. The most paranoid types. They'll run a sweep and pick up the bugs.

She moved to the side as she could hear someone sneaking around where she was hiding. Being small had definite advantages, she thought as she pulled herself into a very tight hiding spot. Bet you can't do this Detective Mark Script. She humorously pictured her teacher and partner with his long legs trying to get in a small pose like she was in. Dam exSeal, probably could.

Two silent forms stood near where she was hiding. She watched as one of them held his hand to his ear where a small hearing piece was no doubtedly placed.

"Roger that, scout four, positioned." Was the soft reply.

Hmmm. This is not the ordinary boy's night out. Script is going to be sooo disappointed. He loves showing these little guys up. Good thing you aren't here Partner, you'd get your ass hurt with all this firepower and Linda would be sooo pissed off.

She peeked at one of the rifles one of the sentries was carrying in ready position.

Geez. That thing would bring one building down. This is where over kill comes to mind. What are they expecting, some city gang breaking up their meeting? Alex prayed that's not what this was about. The town would not survive a 'pissing' contest between two flake groups.

The two sentries didn't give her much room to escape but their soft speech between them told her that something important was going on. They were wondering how long more they were going to be standing about without a break when someone of higher rank shut them up and reminded them an operation was going on. He then moved on.

When one of them finally took a bladder break, she was able to move to another position. She found where the vehicles were parked for the event and started to photograph the license numbers. One large well-armored vehicle caught her attention. It could only be used to imprison someone one in. What was it doing here? Excited, she was thinking that maybe this was the group that was responsible for the disappearance of the other women. Who were they preparing for? The image of the tall dark woman she had seen on the bench came to mind, but she dismissed it with having no substantial evidence than…maybe she was getting too interested in this woman. It was getting in the way of her work. Detective, keep your mind on your work. This is not the time to be getting…interested in someone. Especially a woman on the run. Dam, woman, you've got to stay focused here!

Curious, and after making sure the guards wouldn't see her, she moved to lay underneath the vehicle, placing a homing device in a place that would be difficult to access. Another advantage of small hands, then placed another near, so if one was found, perhaps the other would be over looked. Then carefully, she moved to the back to make a copy of the lock. She placed the electronic keying device over the lock and waited a few moments. The small vibration against her palm told her the door was open. Looking around again, she opened the door. Empty. Closing it and keying it back into a locked position, she moved to another location.

It started to get too busy in her area when a small group of military dressed figures with sweepers started to move through the cars. She hadn't activated her homing devices yet, so she didn't worry about them being found, but did worry about herself, so she left the area for another place to stake out.

She settled near a tall tree close to the road that led to the state highway. She wanted to see where the armored vehicle for holding prisoners was going. After waiting for two hours, all but the one she was waiting for hit the road. The only place it could be stored was in Amos's warehouse. It wouldn't be easy to get in if they found her bugs. Alex smiled at the challenge, but resisted the impulse. She liked challenges. She returned to the warehouse and found only the small town militiamen and two of her fellow police officers outside of the building in an argument.

She didn't dare use any monitoring devices. She didn't want to take any chances. She moved closer, looking out for anything that may have been left behind to give her presence away. She found it. There were now two cameras mounted on the corners of the building. One gave off a glint as it made a sweep of its area.

She bowed her head and concentrated on the group, and where they were standing. She was nearly startled when the voice she heard was Danny's angry growl, as if it were in her ear. The night carried sounds well, and Danny's short temper was giving him away.

"I don't like them moving in our operation. We were doing fine. Fuckers! Who do they think they are?" He angrily pulled off his military fatigue cap slapping his leg with it. He ran his fingers though the black dyed hair aggravated.

"We need them right now. We'll put up with their shit then move on." The taller of them, Mike had his own cap pushed back on his head. He was chewing a toothpick and tossing it from one side of his mouth to the other. It was the only thing that betrayed his own irritation. He needed to keep his group calm and thinking that he had everything under control.

"I don't want to move on. Those fuckers! I like it here and it's our organization!" Danny continued. His face in the dark was reddening and his breathing was moving to what Mike knew would be close to having an asthma attack.

"Calm down! We'll get the girl for them, then close their operations with a few anonymous phone tips. The FBI loves those." Mike voice soothed the others, quickly coming up with an alternative plan. He was flexible in coming up with plans on how to get the others to follow his lead. He was furious that an out of town, a Southern Belle, he thought contemptuously, was trying to take over his operations. He didn't care who the guys relatives were or what political people he had in his pocket. This was his backyard and he wasn't going to give it up to any sweet talking prick that thought west coast militias were soft, just because he had access to military equipment that they had not.

Alex slightly shifted her weight to prevent her foot from going to sleep. It didn't surprise Alex that Mike was the leader. She knew he was the one that had done a background check on her. A deep one. But, she returned the compliment and knew she got more stuff on him then he on her. Idiot spent too much time on the Internet leaving traces like crazy. He downloaded paramilitary type-of information and posted his own. Script was kind enough to send his email address to an on-line porn-soliciting firm. Like all such firms, it was shared with similar type firms who flooded his mailbox with all sorts of adds. She wished she could have seen his face when they started coming in. She smirked then moved out of the area.

Time to go.

She arrived home to find her phone machine had picked up a message.

A voice breathed in and out loudly as if he were masturbating then the usual scream of release.

It was Joey, one of Mike's boys. The calls had started a day after her arrival in town. No matter what phone number she had they had found her the same day. Small town's had their disadvantages. Her satisfaction was that Mike was getting the same treatment with his E-mail. No matter how many times Mike changed his E-mail address, the next day he was flooded with the same solicitous mailings.

Joey wasn't a cop. He was the only mechanic in town so he thought he was all-powerful. He worked on just about everyone's car…except people like her who took hers to the police mechanic to make sure she wasn't going to have a very unfortunate accident. They use to have three stations that did better repair work, but the other two folded up one night and left. Alex had her suspicions and she and her partner kept a close eye on Joey. They made sure he knew he was being watched.

She sat on the chair near the machine and thought of what to do about Joey's increase of calls lately. Should she sic Scripts on him? Drop in on him herself? Smiling she hit the record button.

She started out with her usual introductory then added, "Jooooeeeeey, surely you have something better to do than leave messages of your panting on my phone. I'm saving these Jooooeeee, so when I turn them over to the FBI, you can do that for them too. Just think of the hit you'll make with the big boys behind bars Jooeee." Joey's problem was his moments of courage were limited to when he drank or when he was standing next to Mike. The image of Joey getting off to make the recording with Mike watching had her grimacing. Not a pleasant image.

If Joey stuck to his new routine, he would be calling again close to 4 AM and get his own personal message. That was in about ten minutes. While she waited for his return call, she cleaned up and got ready for bed. She needed to take a quick catnap before reporting to work at 7AM.

She missed the call as her tired body easily dropped into a deep sleep, but her recorder had clicked on and this time, no message waited for her the next morning.

Chapter 4

"Adison!" The Police Chief gestured for her to come into his room, giving her the sign to bring her partner.

Tiredly she moved around the desk chair she was about to collapse in. She grabbed the cup of coffee Scripts had in his hand as he moved to his own desk.

"Thief." He growled grumpily. "There outta be a wanted poster out on people like you." He turned around and went back into the coffee room.

The Chief smiled when the door closed. "You're lucky you two drink the same type of coffee. Sit down, Alex."

Alex picked up the presence of another in the office quickly. Turning slightly she spotted a slim form of a tall brunette dressed in a neat business suit leaning against the files. Her hair was worn to her shoulders, with a slight curl. Her brown eyes looked directly into hers with no wariness or aloofness. It was the look one peace officer gave to another, with the exception of a wink that was given so fast the Chief didn't see it.

A rap on the door and Scripts slipped in with his own coffee.

"This is Agent Briscolle, she's from New York. Briscolle, Detective Adison and Detective Scripts. Briscolle is with a special units division that's investigating a slave trade that is trying to start a branch out this way. May very well fit in with what happened to those gals that disappeared two years back."

Alex hoisted her blond brows up to her hairline. "Amos is going big time?"


"He owns a large warehouse near the marsh. He's been suspected of running illegals from there and before we could catch him with the goods, he managed to get rid of the ten he had. We found them all dead at the bottom of a stolen boat, drown. We haven't been able to pin anything on him yet. That was over a year ago. Just after Adison signed on with us." Chief Harper explained.

The three didn't mention that Mike and Danny were the investigating officers of the incident. They had been demoted as a result of evidence that came up missing and sloppy work at reporting their investigation.

"So, you have a spy in your midst. Guys like that usually can't resist going back into business." Agent Bricolle mentioned.

"We know the spies, we just want to make sure we get them all in one big sweep. Every time we turn around, a few more of those sorry ass characters pop up." Chief Harper turned to Alex. "What did ya find out last night?"

Harper came from Washington D.C. He was an ex FBI agent who wanted to retire to less brutal crimes than what he spent most of his life living with. His wife had convinced him to stay in policing, which he loved, but not in the FBI who was very controlling and too invasive in their lives.

"There was a big party at the warehouse last night. The visitors came dressed to kill and out shinned their hosts. Left behind an armored prison car and bad feelings with their hosts."

"Just what we're looking for." Agent Bricolle whispered in suppressed excitement.

"They've now got some cameras mounted on the building's corners. They probably found my bugs, which means they may be setting up some kind of trap if we go looking."

"Hmm. Well, we can work something out, like arranging for a building fire safety inspection. I'll check with George over at the firehouse. I think this is her day to sit watch. We can rattle their cages and see how creative Amos is about what he's doing with that vehicle."

The small town had a part-time fire crew. Men and women made up their small group with George, an exfire fighter from San Francisco, running the fire station on rotating weeks with Andy.

"So, Agent Bricolle, what's your cover?" Alex asked the brunette. Everyone was going to notice the stranger and there was going to be talk. With all the leaks in the FBI she didn't think the agent was here as herself.

"Official from the Women's Shelter. Two birds with one stone." She flashed a brief smile. "They believe one of the women in the shelter is a plant from the Blue Knights."

"I'm surprised they let a woman in their group." Scripts mentioned.

"Hmm. Probably a girlfriend."

"Which one are you suspicious of? Candy or Karla?" Scripts asked.

"Karla was the name given."

"Dam, you win again Alex. How do you do that?" He shook his head disgustedly.

"You know?" The agent asked intrigued.

"She's been snoopin around too much for only being here two days. Caught her starting to follow one of the other women in the shelter. Had to make my presence known a few times when she was looking to do some mischief."

"Who was she following?"

"Elizabeth Duke. She arrived about two weeks ago in pretty sad shape."

"How is she doing?" The agent looked worried.

"Fine. Claire at the House took her right over to the clinic and got her off some medication she was on. Doc thought it was a bit overkill to be giving her pain killers and sleeping pills."

The agent nodded looking worried. Elizabeth Duke had been giving the FBI some inside information about the various shelters while they were trying to hide her. She was their willing bait for a sting operation on a larger group. It looked like the group was getting too focused on her, which had her and their team leader worried. Elizabeth was a highly intelligent woman whose experience was writing, not working in covert police business. She used her intelligence to create fiction that was based on well-researched fact, and had been the lover of a since deceased agent. It was a hate crime, within the agency. Officially it was marked as an in house killing. Killing a fellow agent was supposed to be the last breach of moral law in the bureau. There was a group within the agency that was responsible for the killing and didn't seem to care that it was known that they were responsible for her death. The bureau's boss wanted the members outed as well as the Attorney General, and the political leader or leaders that was protecting them, ruined. Because of the sensitivity of the issue, there was a small team that operated with little connection to their home office to find the members, as many as possible, and get rid of them or bring in enough evidence to hang them.

Agent Mel Thorn had gathered together a small group of FBI agents and people from the outside to make up his team, authorized by the Attorney General and endorsed by the President. The outside group consisted of geeks, hackers of the highest ability, private investigators, and people like Elizabeth, victims that were willing and able to mark their target group. Mel wasn't the usual FBI agent that played by FBI rules, which was why he was chosen. He was more cynical of agents and their aloofness over the people they were sworn to protect and therefore, less likely to be intimidated if the problem went pretty high in the agency, which was suspected. Their orders were directly from the bureau chief and Attorney General, and she was pretty clear on what she wanted accomplished and with few people to report to, to prevent leaks.

"Where are you staying?"

"The Garden Cottage."

"Nice place for privacy." The Chief nodded. A husband and wife ran the cottage. No kids. They were from Georgia and had the southern drawl that gave the place more atmosphere.

"Yea, well, let me go back and get my things unpacked. For my role, I've done my duty and reported in with the local police. I've scheduled a visit to the House at ten and will be here a few days. We think whatever is going to happen, will be happen' soon, possibly within a week."

"Okay. There's a place called Brumer's, I'll be having lunch there about one. The lunch crowd pretty much dies about that time." The Chief offered. "If you have anything of importance, pass it to me there."

He didn't bother to tell her he was part owner of the place and usually met his wife there for lunch, if she wasn't involved in one of her art projects.

"Right. I'll see what's happening at the House." She turned to Adison and Scripts. "Nice to meet with ya, Detectives."

The door closed and both Detectives looked at each other. "Would you say she's worried about the mysterious Elizabeth Duke, more than the others?"

"Yea." Adison didn't tell her partner all she suspected.

"So, do you think?" He asked her lifting his brows.

"Naw." Adison smiled at her partner.

"Are you sure?"

"Yep. Doesn't have the vibes."

"Geez. You and those vibes."

"Speakin' of vibes. When are you going to come over for a bar-b-que, Adison? I keep getting grilled every night about why you're not coming over." The Chief protested.

"Tell you're wife…I miss her cooking, but…not enough to visit a house that's hanging off those dam cliffs." Adison finally admitted.

"The bar-b-que is on solid ground!"

"Yea, right. I have these dreams, in slow motion, of the house going down the cliff and the ground around it, like a carpet, being pulled down with it. Nightmarish, Chief."

"Dinner at Brumer's would be better." The Chief nodded. "I'll let her know it's nothing too personal. Well, lets get to the morning meeting. I want you and Scripts to be the snoops today. Let's see if they feel chatty. Did you get the bug planted, Scripts? Good. Paybacks are sweet."

The Chief was referring to finding a bug planted in his office, which he locked each night. He was furious that Mike would have the nerve. It indicated to the three of them, that something big was coming down.

The morning roll call was taken, orders were handed out, and the usual mouthing-off by Mike and his partner could be heard as they made their way to their patrol cars. Mike and his partner were given the stakeout job. The imposed stillness was to get them to indulge in idle chatter, which Scripts and Adison would be monitoring. Much to Adison's chagrin, their conversation was the same old stuff.

The only redeeming quality about Mike was he hated the idea of the gangs moving in but that was more a territorial thing than for decency reasons. The idiot sometimes got out of the patrol car and tried to intimidate them, creating irate calls from the business owner to the patrol's complaint desk.

Adison wasn't happy to hear what they had to say about the silent figure that returned to her position on the bench. She shifted unconsciously in her seat. Script glanced at her curiously, then resumed his attention on the conversation.

"Hey, I'm gonna go check the shops. I'll keep ya in sight." She whispered to her concentrating partner. He nodded and continued to monitor the conversation, while glancing around them periodically.

She eased herself out of the passenger seat and decided to start on the opposite side of the street.

After about thirty minutes of socializing with the business owners and checking out some of the sidewalk wares she moved on to the next store grateful she had no room for any collectibles in her rented room. Her grumbling stomach had her thinking of getting a subway sandwich for Scripts and her.

She could feel the presence to the side of her, as she stepped out of a shop. Adison turned in time to catch the stumbling figure of the tall woman whose cane got caught in an uneven part of the brick walkway.

"Hey, got ch'a." Her sturdy smaller frame gave the taller one a firm place to catch her balance.

The grimace on the gaunt shadowed face told her that she was going to need to sit down.

"Agnes?" She called into the shop the woman had just left. She didn't want to leave her partner out of view. She pulled her radio from her belt. "Scripts. How about lunch?" It was their code for trouble but not the kind to come running to.

"Hey, comrade. I hear ya."

Alex smirked. The conversation between Mike and Danny must be irritating him for him to use the word comrade. Mike-types still thought the Russians were the enemy, as if looking at themselves in the mirror didn't clue them in.

"Make it Roses's Cantina."

Ohhh, that's really going to irritate them.

Agnes came bustling out with a chair. She seemed to have assessed the situation and was quick to bring what was necessary.

The tall figure sunk into the chair gratefully.

"Mia's next door getting something to eat. Do you want her to check it out?" Agnes asked the tall woman.

She nodded. "Please." Mai and her husband ran the acupuncture clinic where she was receiving treatments for her leg and back.

The brown unmarked police car pulled up beside the walkway and Scripts was next to Alex quickly.

The grip on Alex's shoulder was strong, and she felt the connection of the woman's body against hers to be more than pleasant. Mentally she rolled her eyes. Get a grip, Detective!

As the woman settled in the chair stiffly her hand moved off Alex's shoulder.

"You alright?" Alex asked softly.

"Yes." She knew why her knee was acting up. She was pushing herself with her exercises. She was getting that feeling that she needed to be a lot more physically agile if she was going to make her stand here. Milton and his paramilitary buddies were not going to let her get away this time. She felt it. Maybe Karla's appearance was what gave her that feeling. It was the first time they were able to get someone into the women's shelter system.

Elizabeth looked into the greenest eyes she had ever seen, as she prepared to thank her rescuer. The pupils expanded for a moment, causing her iris' to shrink into a thin band, until her partners arrival and it reversed, giving her another view of malachite iris's flecked with brown in the centers, and her pupil receded to a tiny black dot.

She knew this was a detective. For her own protection she made it a practice to know who the police were in each city she took refuge in. She made a game of trying to judge who was trust worthy and who wasn't. Usually it wasn't all that difficult. Being a creator of characters sometimes helped being a good judge of real characters. She was also aware that the Detective had been keeping an eye on her and was able to thwart some of Karla's obvious attempts to cause her some trouble. The first day of her arrival, two days ago, the woman stared to make things uncertain and difficult for Elizabeth.

Mai arrived and the Detective stepped aside.

"Elizabeth, what happened? Did it give out again?"

Her small boned hands gently probed the leg underneath the panted leg. "Hmm. You've got some swelling here. I think you need to get over to the clinic. Gary's holding down the forte while I grabbed us some junk food."

Mai laughed at Scripts who was a neighbor. Gary had tipped him off that the house he and his wife were interested in was going to be sold. "You've been tempting him with those pizza's you keep bringing home for you're kids."

Scripts smiled and blinked his dark eyes a few times, feinting surprise. "Me?" Then he got serious. "Ya know, a man's gotta have some junk food in his diet."

"Why don't we move you to the back of our car and drop ya off at the clinic?" Alex offered. It was obvious the woman was not going to be able to walk.

Mai nodded. "Great. I walked over so I don't have my own transportation. I don't think you should be walking on it until we have a look at it, okay Elizabeth?"

Elizabeth nodded. She didn't mind the ride. Her knee was throbbing. She was also wishing for more contact with the blond Detective, but her larger partner, more Elizabeth's size, helped her over to the back seat. She smiled shly at the Detective when he released her. She was aware he had been keeping an eye on her also, and had brief conversations with him whenever he came over to the House to talk to Elsie, one of the workers at the House.

Mai rode in the back with the tall woman. Mai was a petite Chinese woman whose size and stature belied her strength. So far Mike and his friends hadn't targeted her and Gary yet. They were more focused on the gay's, lesbians and transsexuals that settled or visited their town. It kept the Chief busy trying to keep everyone safe since they had no obvious proof that Mike and his friends were responsible for the harassment that happened outside of his jurisdiction.

Small towns were not just attracting gang interest, but also other subversive groups that thought setting up business outside of the cities would be easy. Chief Harper was determined his town and the other surrounding ones, were not going to be taken over. By pooling their resources together the other Police Chief's, with the help of the FBI, whose direction per the President of the United States, was to assist smaller communities with their gang problems, had put a nice task force together. When a gang element was identified, they found out from where they were from, and got in touch with the city to see if they were interested in monitoring them first hand. The visiting officers were given housing in fellow officer's homes or at a reduced rate, were put up at one of the board and breakfast houses. It helped with the incentive to get the other departments in the big cities to come over and help with the monitoring and sharing of information. So they had more help then some small towns…though it helped to be an ex Agent who knew the right people.

While Scripts helped the tall woman into the back of their car with Mai already settled, Alex studied the area around them. Noting who was interested in what they were doing and the expressions on their faces. Not everyone in their small community was happy about how open Sunrise had become, which was surprising since they chose to come and set their roots there after the intention of the mayor and board made it clear that it would be an open community. And their bent was to be a small artist colony that wasn't going to be so expensive that it would drive the struggling artists out.

One of the large warehouses where it had once been a granary had been renovated into small one-room artist lofts. A successful San Francisco artist had purchased the property and remodeled it so that the right lighting was set for each room. He also had created a shared work area, and kitchen. It was communal living but his lover and he ran it like a big home. The more manic types of personality were either weeded out or given rules of behavior to follow.

There was a scattering of writers that occasionally left for book signing tours across the country and sometimes to Europe. There were a few who made their business on the internet and five who invested in the catalog business.

Their town also had a collective grocery store that everyone was a member to. The five farms that surrounded the town were organic farms that provided the town as well as the surrounding cities with their harvest, as well as home gardeners, adding their flowers and foods they grew. It was a nice community on the surface.

Alex elected to drive since she wanted to study the tall woman in the mirror.

The dark car rolled to the front of the clinic and Gary came out with one of their students to assist. Between Gary and Lonnie they had the tall woman in a wheel chair and into their clinic. The clinic had both medical doctors and nurses as well as a connection to the small hospital that three towns shared. The clinic was a teaching facility for medical doctors that wanted to familiarize themselves with herbal and acupuncture medicine. Mai and Gary were the instructors.

After the two were safely dropped off, Alex and Scripts headed back to the sandwich shop for lunch.

*   *   *   *

"So," Scripts mumbled around a full mouth of meats and cheese. "What d'ya think after seeing her close up."

"Not my type." Alex ignored his look of exasperation. Since he had found out she was not interested in men, he had been trying to get her a girlfriend. Since he was happily married he had decided it was how everyone should be. Same sex partner's didn't bother him. It was one of the reason's he chose Sunrise. He suspected his effeminate son was gay and didn't want him to grow up in a neighborhood that would drive him to suicide like his older brother did when he was in High School. He had named his son, Christopher after him. He had adored his older brother who took care of the younger children while both parents worked. They were an immigrant family that had strong family loyalties regardless of sexual orientation.

"She sure is! Hey, ya gotta trust me on this. I have had a lot of success in match making. With more meat on her bones, definitely more sleep to get rid of the dark circles, and some color in those eyes…which I'm sure you can put in there." He left the rest unsaid.

"Geez. Give me a break." She wasn't going to admit to him right now, that she did feel something for the woman. But she was dangerous stuff with a price on her head. She was a victim and she didn't like to get involved with victim types especially when they were part of her assignment.

"Well, she plans on staying here. Looin' for a place to rent." He informed her not daring to look at her face.

After finishing their lunch, they checked up on their quarry, Mike and Danny, who were still monitoring the store, and having a small dispute about cars. A call came for them to roll. At first it brought a smile to Adison and Scripts face until the family dispute code came in. They both groaned. Domestic calls were rough.

"Ten four, we're rolling." Scripts answered. He didn't want Mike and Danny there. They tended to instigate the perpetrator or leave the victim in a worse state then was necessary. They didn't have many domestic calls. The judge, Carolyn Mead, had a policy of enforced counseling for both parties and she made sure progress was being made. If the perpetrator or victim couldn't take it, they either disappeared or moved. However, her verdict went with the perpetrator so no matter where he ended up, most cities had copies of her rullings. Another call for the police and his record would come up. From there, it was up to the next judge in his new hometown to decide what to do.

"It's that new couple in town, the Mills, near Eden's Pond." Scripts supplied his partner. "I hear he figures himself a farmer, except she does all the farmin."

"Oh boy. Not that big guy that wears the tight jeans, shinny new boots, and closes Jake's Place just about every night."

Oh, yea. That's the guy. Loves his women petit, barefoot, pregnant and hard at work." He smiled at Alex. "I heard y'all met."

"Dam. Ya. He thought to take a pinch out of my butt the other night. It hurt like hell!"

"I heard about it from Mattie. She said you had a grip on his thumb that made him not only kneel on the ground but pee in his pants. That guy's not gonna like ya."

"Last time I get talked into going dancing with Harriet and John. Stop being so happy, Scripts."

"I just like your technique. Quiet, polite, and then bam!"

As they approached the farm, Alex got out. It wasn't wise for the big guy to see her, since they had history.

"Now don't do something stupid and make sure you check around you before putting you're foot down. That type of person is paranoid and I don't want to be taking your butt to the hospital." Scripts warned her.

"Right, Dad. Didn't you say I was your best student?"

Scripts blinked at her innocently and then smirked. "Oooo rah." It was a phrase he picked up from one of his buddies, an exMarine. It wasn't said with the same emphasis, so it was sort of Scripts own phrase. Then he put the car in gear and headed toward the driveway that wound up to the farmhouse.

"Alright. This one's not going to be easy so just be real cautious." She told herself out loud as she made her way quickly around to the back of the house to time her arrival with that of her partners.

Scripts entered through the farm gate carefully. Approaching a house where a domestic dispute was going on, was where most officers lost their lives. He had no intention of being a statistic. He wanted to be sure he wasn't going to be shot by sniper fire. He spotted Rance on the porch with a shotgun casually resting in the crook of his arm, pointing toward him. The phone line was dangling in the yard, hanging in strips in some places, where he had shot at it.

Hot dam! Must have shot it out. They said she was locked up in the bathroom. Dam, if he used that piece he would have been at her by now.

Scripts pulled up, parking the car so that it formed a protective barrier between him and Rance. He tried to sense if there was anyone else around that he had to worry about, but could detect nothing that made his hair raise at the nape of his neck but Rance with his shotgun.

"What's up Rance? We got a call of some trouble."

"No trouble. Now, get off my property."

"Where's your wife?"

"Doin' what she's suppose to be doing. Working. Now….get….off…my….property."

The gun barrel was moved so that it pointed at him.

"I can't leave without seeing her. Ya know the law Rance." He was sure Rance wasn't a stranger to police coming out to his place on domestic abuse matters. Right now, he looked the type.

"I said she's busy." His voice slurred a bit but Scripts wasn't fooled. His eyes were focused on him. "Now, get out ta here, ya dog sucking cock sucker."

"Put the shot gun down, and let's get your wife out here so I can check on her. If she's okay, I leave."

The shotgun was now pointed directly at him. "I…said…."

He could see Alex ready around the corner, waiting for his signal. He was the one controlling the situation. He watched the trigger finger as it whitened from the increased pressure and Rance's bright blue eyes close to almost slits. He had the dart gun at his side and was already moving to get a clear shot at him. He fired two darts hitting the back of a hand and his neck before the windows to their patrol car were blasted out and the second spot he had rolled to was peppered with another blast.

He watched the large man sink to his feet, with the rifle finally sliding out of lifeless hands, then his body dropped over the guardrail on the porch and into the dead flowerbed.

"Scripts! I called an ambulance" Alex came out from behind the corner with her gun extended. Her voice sounded shaken.

She continued up the stairs with her gun focused on the unconscious figure.

Scripts pulled the hands into cuffs then took a pair from Alex to put around the ankle and a rusted decorative wheel the previous owners thought to add to the now, dirt garden.

They both cautiously entered the house scanning each room.

"She's in the back bathroom. Dam! I could see blood everywhere!"

The door to the bathroom in the master bedroom was hanging by wood fibers. Apparently Rance had kept blasting the door even past necessity. They found his wife's bloodied form hiding in the tub.

Scripts felt for a pulse. "Got a live one…barely."

"I'll get the camera and call Lars." Alex left hurriedly, angry and wanting to cry. She hated when she felt like this. Scripts kept telling her that it was important that she still feel for the victim. Once she didn't feel it…she was just another cop. They needed evidence to convict Mills and pictures had a great impact on the jury. She also put out a call for their official photographer, Lars. But just in case the ambulance arrived before him, they needed photos of the victim as they found her.

By the time the ambulance arrived, Rance was conscious though groggy, and his wife was dead.

Alex didn't dare touch Rance. She was afraid she would lose control. All the way back to the station she listened to his belligerent ranting about the duties of a wife. He seemed to know that he was going to get time and took great pleasure in tormenting the two that caught him.

After dumping him in the tank, writing up their reports, and getting the film off to the lab to support their own photographers work, they took a break and headed for the police work out room. Scrip insisted Alex spar with him. Alex finished the bout in tears with her partner holding her. He cried silently with her.

Chapter 5

Elizabeth groaned when her leg was put on the x-ray machine.

"Sorry, it's going to hurt. But we need these pictures to see what's happening inside."

Elizabeth nodded. She wanted to know too. The knee was getting worse instead of better.

After giving blood, having her self prodded and stuck with pins to help with the swelling she was grateful to be readied to be taken to her room at the House.

"I heard you were interested in the cottage by the sea." Gary teased.

Elizabeth shrugged her shoulder's and shifted her weight. The throbbing was gone and with the knee brace she felt better.

Dr. Ebbens walked in with her x-rays. "Well, looks like some damage but…I just talked with Mai. Are you taking any medication or pills or anything other than what Mai gave you?"

"No. And…I take the those pills sometimes."

"Like when?"

Elizabeth's pale blue eyes closed for a moment, then opened. There was an angry fire in them. "Last night. Why?"

"How about bringing them in, or better yet, I'll have Margaret drive you to your place. She'll take them off your hands."


"Can't be sure. But by the blood work Kenny was studying and the looks of this knee, you've been taking something that would cause weak ligaments to flare up. That's not something Mai would be giving ya. Don't want to make our clinic look bad." He joked.

"Ahh, there you are Margaret. Got the coach ready?"

"Horses are raring to go."

"Great. I want to see ya again tomorrow. Claire mentioned that you might be interested in renting my house."

Elizabeth nodded.

"When you feel up to it, take a look around. Let me get the key for ya."

Elizabeth was thinking about news spreading fast in a small town.

On the drive home Margaret told her about the cottage. "Dr. Ebbens and his wife, Lily bought the property overlooking the cliffs as a summer home. Old Rogers, an architect had a home he had built but was tired of it and wanted to sell the house. So Dr. Ebbens bought it and had it lifted and moved over to their property. They didn't stay in it much, as they traveled a lot. Dr. Ebbens did a lot of lecturing in Europe and on the East Coast at the time. It was after Dr. Ebbens heart attack that they came here to settle. Lily found she hated the kitchen, and being so close to the cliff, so they purchased another home closer to the farms. That was about a year ago. You can't tell these days that Dr. Ebbens had a heart attack. He's been following Mai's diet with exercise program. He and Lily are crazy about Mai and Gary. You'd think they were their kids!" Margaret laughed. "But then, everyone in the Clinic is like one big happy family, ya know?"

"So, why are they renting it out now?"

"Hmm. I don't know. Do you want to see it now?"

Liz thought about it. Her knee wasn't hurting as much, swelling was down and she was curious. It was also better than returning to what she felt was a prison.


Their course was changed and took a more scenic route. Liz was lost in the beauty of the coastline and the breaking waves that scattered the gulls that were hunting for food in the sand. She closed her eyes and listened to the pounding surf, the cry of gulls and breathed in deeply the air that stimulated her and brought a healthy color to her cheeks. The road wound inland, then upward toward the cliffs and the house.

They pulled up into a well-manicured driveway. Margaret helped Liz out of the car by holding the door open. She somehow suspected Liz wasn't going to take it kindly if she did too much assisting.

Their walk up the stoned walkway revealed a garden that spring would liven up the greenery that surrounded a few statues that were placed within view of the draped windows facing the back. It was the few days of November, and well into autumn with the early morning fogs and overcast skies not conducive to late blooms. The ocean breeze was cool and it lifted Liz's long dark hair, sending it back in streamers. Once they were in the house's protection, the wind's force was no longer felt.

The key easily turned in the lock. It opened into a small entrance, which then branched off in two different directions. Liz limped toward the left. A spacious sunken living room with wooden floors opened to the connecting dinning room whose windows gave a beautiful view of the ocean. The two connecting rooms had the appearance of a lot of space. She walked around the dinning room, finding a snack bar that opened to a medium sized kitchen. No utilities, with the exception of a microwave built into the cabinets. She moved toward the other side of the house. Three rooms with the master bedroom having a big window that over looked the ocean. The other rooms were smaller and had windows looking out into what use to be a big garden. On closer inspection she could see that the doors led onto small patios.

"It's beautiful." She nodded. And too vulnerable. She thought sadly.

"Real open and breezy, huh?" Margaret echoed. "I'd love to have a place like this. Lily had Max come over and design the gardens, before they decided to move. What's the frown for?"

"A bit too open." Liz murmured.

"Ahh." Margaret knew about domestic abuse and the women who came to hide from their stalkers. Having the shelter in their community meant that Claire Moore, the manager, gave talks on it so that community's support remained strong. Elizabeth was right, there didn't appear to be too much too keep out a burglar or a stalker here. "Well, ya can always get a roommate, like Alex. She's just about going crazy in her rented room. She's been threatening to get a roommate and move into a big ole place."


"The Detective that brought you in. The short blond, green eyes, big smile."

A soft blush that sent little tingles up and down her spine had her grateful that she wasn't facing Margaret.

"Hmm. Maybe I'll do just that."

After locking the place back up, they returned back in the direction of the center of town. The House was located about five minutes at a fast walk up the road from the first start of the shops. It took her a longer ten to fifteen minutes. It was past dinnertime and her stomach was making a quiet rumble. The nice thing about Genie was she always had food ready.

Claire Brooks, the manager of the House was standing with a stranger at the foot of the steps talking softly, nodding now and then and laughing. The stranger was a tall woman, dressed in a business suit, something odd here, for everyone in Sunrise dressed casual even to somber events. She had a briefcase in her hand and it had the appearance of being heavy.

She picked up my laptop.

By instinct, her writer's imaginative instinct, she picked the tall brunette out as her contact. She had the appearance of an FBI agent, undercover, she thought to herself with mirth. Hopefully she had a good cover that could give her a valid reason for looking so professional.

"Liz, there you are. How are you doing? I heard about your leg."

"It's okay, Claire. We got the swelling down." Margaret reassured her. She stayed by Liz's side until they were in her room. Liz's eyes fell on the laptop that had all the appearances of being the same one, a Gateway 2000, except it wasn't latched down and there was a pencil in the center of it.

"The pills are right over there."

Margaret nodded and retrieved them then replaced the bottle with another.

"See ya tomorrow for your check up." The door closed quietly behind her.

Liz booted up the laptop and where it requested her password she gave it. She scanned for a file and found it. In it's cryptic fashion, it informed her there was a bug in her room and it wasn't removed. She also got a warning to be careful what she said for someone may be listening in, even while she was in public. She suspected that. She read up enough on the toys of the paramilitary and studied their snoop toys to understand better at what to expect from Milton and his friends, when she started to hide from him. She also worked it into her fiction. It was the only way she could work off the anxiety she felt acting as bait in this deadly game. She didn't have enough mobility to do any running, which would have gotten rid of a lot of her pent up nervous energy. It would also have left her vulnerable for kidnapping or a hit and run, she thought bitterly.

A soft knock on her door had her heart beating fast for a moment.

"Liz, it's Genie. Open up the door, this stuff's heavy."

Liz hopped over to the door as quickly as she was able, unlocking the door to find Genie with a tray laden with food.

"Clear some space, woman." She walked over to the small desk that Liz used to write at, and Liz quickly removed the laptop and some papers she had lying next to it.

"Ye'r too skinny to go without a meal. Now get on with it. Ya don't have to bring the tray down ye'r self. I can come back for it in a bit. Just eat up."

Genie knew she was going against their own rules of food in the rooms, but they bent the rules often, and when someone objected they were patient to point why they bent them. For the women who chose to try and take advantage of the bending of the rules, it was used in their therapy to examine boundaries and motives. Larry, the therapist, was not merciful when he felt honesty with oneself was time to be examined.

Liz realized she had an appetite after her second swallow. Maybe things were looking up, though she wasn't sure just why she thought that. She finished everything on her plate and tucked the fruit off to the side for the evening. Normally it was expected for the women to go downstairs if they wanted a snack, but Liz's mobility was limited.

A soft knock and Genie's voice announced herself. Liz unlocked her door and let Genie collect her tray and dishes. Genie was beaming. "Well, this is nice to see," was her only comment.

After she left Liz didn't lock the door but gathered up her coat and cane, then locking the door behind her, though it wasn't keeping Karla out. Elizabeth was getting restless. Before she had the slip earlier, she was heading to the herb shop for something for headaches. With the swelling gone down the headache was gone, but she still felt she needed to walk around, no matter how awkward. Dr. Ebbens or Mai hadn't said anything about not walking around.

She stopped in Claire's office. Anytime anyone left they were to check out with her and give where they were going and about how long it would take. It was for everyone's protection.

"I'm going for a walk around the shops and maybe stop to get some coffee."

"Okay, Hon. In thirty minutes, give me a call and give us the scoop. You know the drill."

Liz nodded she knew the rules and was grateful for them. It saved one person's life at the last safe house she was in. During the daytime, if she remained in sight, like sitting on the bench, she didn't have to worry about checking in. However, she was restless and her leg didn't hurt too much. So, she would wander through the shops, remembering to call the House after thirty minutes, though in reality, she wasn't too interested in looking through shops loaded with holiday ornaments and festive decorated windows, but she was getting cabin fever and needed to get out.

"Liz!" Claire's voice called to her as she negotiated the last step. "Genie's driving that way. She'll give you a lift to the shops."

As much as the walk over would have normally given her pleasure, since the accident, her mobility and stamina wasn't the same. It had taken her a long bitter year to adjust to it. Being on the run tended to make her take a more realistic look at her strong points and weak ones, and her less than adequate physical condition was something she had to adjust to.

Liz shifted her weight to the cane as she turned her body to see the familiar van makes it way to her.

"Need a lift?" Genie's pleasant voice asked. She leaned over and pushed the door open. She didn't help Liz nor embarrass her by watching her struggle to climb up into the van.

"I didn't hear the click of the seat belt." Genie mentioned as she started out toward the row of shops.


There wasn't any talk as the two women were comfortable with the silence. "Here's where the good shops start." Genie nodded to some of the evening strollers. This was a strange small town for the shops were open until 11PM, way after most small towns closed up. But, it was nearing the winter holidays and the residents and tourists were taking advantage of the lower prices on the ornaments and gifts than what they would pay in the lager cities. Since it was an artist's town, there were many one of a kind ornaments that three of the shops supplied and other gift's that the stores had out to temp the willing potential customers.

"Do you need a lift back?" Genie asked. She wondered if the tall silent woman would admit she needed help.

"Well, I was thinking about coffee after I wandered a bit."

"Ahh. Mollee's Coffee and Goodies. She makes the best fruit pies. When I've picked up my load, how about I meet ya there."

Liz turned to look at Genie and laughed at her expression. "I take it you’re a fan of hers." It felt good to laugh, she thought.

"It's her pies and goodies that I serve at the House. You can't get any betterin' her works of art." Genie liked the sudden brightening of the blue eyes when the tall woman let herself relax.

"All right." Liz nodded and slid out of the van nearly loosing her balance. Again she felt the reassuring presence of the small blond detective.

"Hi, everyone. Genie, how's the cooking?" Her hand unconsciously was steadying the taller form waiting for her to shift her weight off her smaller and sturdier form.

"Hmm. How come you're not over so much lately? Not hungry or are ya playin' games at someone else's place?"

"Ehhh ya." She drawled awkwardly. Usually she spent a few nights a week playing board games with a small group of women that got together with Claire and Genie. It was one of her few social ventures. For a moment she blushed. Why was she blushing?

"I've had a lot of paper work to catch up on. Not much time left for our usual get-to-gether." She returned quickly. She didn't want to admit she was nervous about meeting the same women that was steadying herself against her, at one of the get-to-gethers and have sharp eyed Genie notice that she was…attracted to her. "So, where ya headed?" She asked the woman that loomed over her, though at an angle as she leaned easily on her cane. She could see some of the blueness of her eyes peering down at her but…it was too pale to show through the dark shadows of her face.

"She's just stretchin those long legs of hers. Don't ya be taking her on no long hike, Alex. Why don't ya join us for some coffee at Mollee's? That should pay up for not visiting us for such a long time." Genie laughed. "Then I can share with ya all the local gossip, that is, if that partner of yours hasn't spilled it all."

Alex cocked her head to the side for a moment. Dam, between her and Scripts it's amazing there are still single people in town!

"Sounds easy enough to pay. We'll meet ya there." She returned her attention to the tall women. "That is, if you don't mind some company?"

Elizabeth shook her head more interested in watching the animated face that was responding to Genie's accusations and revelations. So, she usually visits on their game nights.

"We didn't really introduce ourselves, so I guess we haven't officially met yet, so…I'm Alex Adison." She held out her left hand so Liz didn't have to switch hands for her cane.

"Hi. I'm Elizabeth." Geez, you sound like you're in an AA meeting. "I hope not to meet you officially, no offense meant, unless being a taxi is part of the official work you do."

Alex's face lit up. "No offense taken." Sorry, baby. But this is official. I'm your assigned bodyguard until that creep gets caught.

"Being a taxi sometimes is what we do. Small town cops sort of do a little of everything. So, what did you want to look at?"

"Well, I just want to look at everything. I've never seen a place like this."

"The artsy bit or the mixed life styles?"

That took Liz off balance. She hadn't really had a second thought about the mixture of life-styles. She found it different and was happy that such a place could exist but she was more intrigued by the artsy atmosphere. The area generated a creative energy flow in her that translated into long writing stints at her laptop at night, when she found it especially flowed for her.

"I guess both. It's quite festive with all the ornaments celebrating different countries holidays for this time."

Liz moved slowly along the shop windows. Looking into the well-lit interiors and smiling back when smiled at. She stopped at a toy store, staring at the train set, remembering that Julian wanted one for Christmas.

She blinked a few times and concentrated on the chugging engine as it moved around a small town setting, which happened to be a replica of Sunrise. She studied the scene trying to get a handle on her feelings.

"Nice replica huh?"

Startled she turned her head to look into the dark eyes of the detective. It took her a few moments to replay the remark.

"Yea." She looked back at the house on the cliffs, recognizing the house she wanted to rent. Their view of the miniature display gave a perspective of the small house from the ocean side. The place was too vulnerable she thought sadly.

"Why the sad face?"

Liz looked at the reflection that was staring at hers in the window.

She shook her head. "I visited that house, over looking the ocean. It…was nice."

"Hmm. I like it too. The Doc has us going out now and then to make sure that it's secure. It has an alarm system that would make any techie envious."

"An alarm system?"

"Hmmm. Old fashion, but highly efficient."

"What's that?"

"Geese. Big, huge white geese, I might add."

"I didn't see any geese."

"Well, he had us put them in a pen to the south until the place is rented. And if whoever rents it doesn't want them around, we'll probably help him make a permanent pen out there."

"Oh." Margaret's mention of Alex looking for a roommate was very much on her mind. Two birds with one stone. She was intrigued with the officer. She needed to feel safe, and having her for a roommate sounded tempting on more levels then what she was at the moment admitting to herself.

"If ya do decide and want a roommate, I'd be interested." Alex told her. She already got the tip off from Margaret, who was Scripts babysitters roommate. Naturally Scripts who was matchmaking with his wife egging him on, had to mention that to her.

"That…sounds nice." She took a slow breath. Too good to be true? Elizabeth Ann admit it. You are definitely attracted to the woman. You're both adults. You know she's interested in you. You can feel it. Forget about her not being your usual type. You can't deny those shivers that run up and down your spine whenever she touches you. Same feelings as with Millie. And that was so long ago, Elizabeth Ann and here they are again. Ya got ta wonder why now. Goddess, Woman! Take the offer.

Thoughts that this was not a good time to start a relationship momentarily had her wavering and this wishing for something more than a friendship was probably all coming from that romantic side of her that found writing Romances so easy when she was lonely. Her practical side pointed out that everything had to start somewhere and this problem with Milton, wasn't going to be forever. This firmed up her resolve to get him out of her life as soon as possible.

"Well, what's got ya worried about the place? The rent?"

Liz was nervous but she remembered from living with an agent, honesty was the only policy, because lives depended on it. "It's too open."

"Not easy to defend." Alex agreed. She moved to look at the house at another angle. She knew Scripts and her could fix that part. She was more than willing to be her roommate. Right now she was trying to keep her hormones in control as she thought about how much easier it would be to protect her by living with her.

"That would be no problem, actually. Why don't you think about it?"

Alex's stomach rumbled, startling them both.

"Hungry?" Alex asked Liz with a grin.

"Genie did say Mollee's."

"Hmm. She has all sorts of coffees. From strong to foamy types."

"You mean cappuccinos?"

"Hmmm. Her's don't have a name. When she makes a cappuccino they have a different taste."

They slowly made their way to the coffee shop looking in windows and making comments about things in general.

The two arrived to see Genie seated at an inside table waving at them.

She had her cell phone out and was talking on it when they slid in a bench seat side by side, sitting across from Genie. She pretty much took up a big section of the bench on her side.

"Hi. Sit down and get comfy. I told Claire we're over here. I had to tell her Mollee's going to use us as guinea pigs." Genie was too happy. "If it's good…I've got something to surprise Claire with. She needs something to lift her spirits."

A waitress came by and took their orders for drinks while they waited for Mollee's surprise to be set before them.

As the women waited for the surprise Genie watched the two women sitting across from her. She had purposely sat so she was taking up a lot of room on the bench. She had a little gleam in her eye. Since Liz had said she wanted to settle here and stop running she decided she would be a good match for Alex who was nice to everyone but kept everyone at an emotional distance. Seeing them sitting side by side gave her the impression that they were the perfect pair, so she decided to press the issue.

"So, Liz, what did ya think of the Docs place? Margaret said you kinda liked it."

Liz looked up startled. Her thoughts were on the very subject, picturing her and a particular roommate taking advantage of the fireplace's romantic atmosphere.

"I told her if she needed a roommate with all the extra space, I was available." Alex told her as she sipped her cappuccino. "Hmm. This is sooo good."

Both women missed Genie's surprised expression. She was wondering what she had missed between dropping Liz off and meeting up with the two.

Meanwhile, Liz's head was down hopping her blush wasn't giving away her thoughts of how she was thinking of her potential roommate.

"That's a good idea. Cheap way to get a bodyguard." She teased.

Liz sputtered her coffee and Alex dropped her cup with a thwack that sent coffee over the tabletop.

"Oh me goodness!" A smirk appeared on Genie's face. There was silence around the table as the waitress cleaned up the mess.

Liz wasn't worried so much about her guessing at her ulterior motives. She was curious about Alex's reaction. They needed to talk about just what they both were expecting from the other…well not everything…yet. This had to be an honest room mate relationship, she thought firmly. She was ignoring her rapid heartbeats that had other feelings that wanted discussing.

"Wow!" Genie's eyes opened wide as plates filled with piecrust and different colored layers of chocolate were set before each of the women. "Claire is going to be sooooo happy. You tell Mollee I want four of these pies in tomorrows delivery and if she's got an extra plate, I'll take one home to my Honey Lamb tonight."

"She's already got one in a take out bag and only four pies you said for tomorrow?"

"If I order more than four in the morning, they'll all be finished in one sitting. Women and chocolate. And you're right. Hmmm. I knew it!" Genie was moaning in utter delight.

The three women were silent as they ate, limiting any noise to hums of pleasure.

"Dr. Ebbens sent Elsie and Jimmie over to clean the place up this morning. Was it cleaned when ya saw it?

"It was clean."

"Good. Well, I need to get back with my supplies and to take Claire her desert. You two take your time. I'll call the House from the van and let her know you're with Alex." Genie moved fast for her bulk. She didn't wait for any answer from the two.

"Hmm." Alex was finished with her pie and she pushed the plate over pulling her refreshed coffee toward her. She watched Liz play with the crust left on her plate.

"Wanna take a walk or would ya like a lift home?"

"Well, neither." She smiled a bit nervously toward Alex. "I think I've had too much being closed in at the House, and my legs a bit tired from the walk."

"Ahhh. Well, how about a ride over to the house?"

"At night?"

"Best time to see if the security system works."

"Oh, yea."

"Let me take the bill, if you don't mind?" Alex asked.

Liz returned her bill to Alex. She waited by the door while Alex paid their bill.

"Looks like Genie got to the bills before us. I owe her." Alex told her as she ushered Liz out the door.

They walked slowly along the now nearly deserted walk. Alex motioned to a dark vehicle parked near where they had met.

"A Landrover? The terrain is that rough, huh?" Liz teased Alex. She frankly liked the rugged machines but thought them a waste of gas to purchase unless that's what they were used for.

"As a matter fact, every few weeks I go up to the mountains. I own a cabin up there. That's why I rent down here." Alex checked around the vehicle, looking for marks in the night light that would indicate someone had crawled under her vehicle as she unlocked her side and then waited for Liz to buckle herself in.

As they rode to the house Alex could see in her mirrors that someone was following them from a distance. Since they were in a small town, she reasoned everyone by now knew that Liz was interested in renting the Docs place and their followers probably guessed that, that's where they were headed.

"Let me show you the advantages of driving this gas guzzler." She remarked as she pulled off the main road and started over the rough ground.

"Where are we going?" Liz held on as the truck bounced through the dark.

"It's a short cut to the house."

"Ohh. I just hope there isn't anything were running over."

"Naw. Believe it or not, this is an old path, and I'm going slow enough to stop suddenly should something else share the path."

"Oh." Liz looked over at the bouncing small figure across from her. In the dark she could of sworn there was a big smile on her face. What was so much fun bouncing around like a silly jack in the box, she thought grumpily?

She had to keep her head down as her taller form was not giving her as much head space to fly up. Liz tightened her seat belt.

Finally Alex pulled onto a smoother road and came up to the house from another direction. Her lights picked up white flocks huddled around various water pools. There was movement from the birds as the lights shown on them. Liz watched the birds suspiciously as Alex's seat slid back and she swung down and started to walk toward the walkway. She turned to Liz and waved to her.

"Right. Maybe they know you, but not me." She muttered.

"They haven't been released yet."

"Released?" Liz carefully slid from her seat using her cane to test the ground.

"Yea. I told Dr Ebbens I was going to visit tonight to check out his alarm system. The electrical one." She smiled.

"Oh." Liz followed Alex, watching the blond head in front of her as it turned this way and that, as if searching for something. The lights to the front came on as they crossed over a certain part of the walkway.

"You have a key?" Alex asked as she reached for the doorknob.

"Hmmm." She tried to think if she left it in her room. "Yea, I put it in my purse." She reached in the purse that was slug over her shoulder.

"Hang on to it." Alex was jiggling the doorknob then pushed opened the door. She returned her lock pick to a small pouch in her palm.

"Too easy." She murmured. She stuck her head into the foyer to look around, then turned the lights on in the entranceway. She motioned for Liz enter and to stand to the side of her out of the doorway as she pushed the door closed behind them. She looked around the entranceway. Her eyes were looking for places she could put some sort of motion detector and where someone could place a bug or a trap. She moved to the left and studied the large living room with the fireplace. Images of Liz and her passed through her mind, which she had to shake herself out of as she refocused her thoughts on places that hidden cameras or other peepers could be placed. She moved to the dinning room and paused at the windows, looking out at the illuminant waves below them.

The lights weren't on in the dinning room so she was able to pick up the reflection from Liz's face that was behind her. Liz shifted her eyes to stare into Alex's reflection.

"Beautiful view."

"Yes." Alex moved on, checking the kitchen then looked around the other rooms. "You can have the master bedroom…that is…if you should decide…"

"I think that would be a good idea. The roommate thing, I mean. Detective, were...?"

"Call me Alex. Seems funny for roommates to be so formal." She grinned.

"Alex, then, were you offering to be my roommate as a bodyguard?"

Alex gave her a slow grin. "Well, it comes with having a police officer as a roommate."

"Ahh." Liz thought about it. It was rather distracting that her body was always humming whenever Alex came near her. "Well, I'm seeing Dr. Ebbens tomorrow. I'll tell him I'll take the place and that I'll be having a roommate. And…the benefits of a bodyguard is…a nice service to have." She added.

Alex nodded. "Great." Sure beats having to spend nights patrolling the area to be sure there's no body huntin her.

As they were leaving, Alex shut the light off before she opened the front door. She stared out at the dark open space before them trying to sense any disruption. She should have brought Scripts' wolfhound. Angel had a good nose. She listened to the geese and didn't hear any restless sounds from them. The crickets were in full swing, smartly staying out of the reach of the geese. The occasional call of a loon from the marsh could be heard over the cricket din. She moved toward the Landrover slowly, letting her body motion activate the light around the vehicle. It came on.

"How come it didn't come on when we arrived?" Liz asked puzzled.

"It wasn't turned on." Alex offered no other explanation.

Liz climbed into the seat and watched Alex hop up into her seat. She pushed the button for the seat to come forward so she was nearer the wheel. When the engine came to life she started to back out. The white geese lifted their wings in agitated fluster and started to move toward the truck. The fence came open then closed behind them, cutting off from view a very irritated flock of geese that were honking their opinion after them. When the gate locked Liz turned around to see the geese starting to mill around the fence.

"You let them loose?"


The rest of the ride, which was on a road and not a rutted path, was quiet.

"I'll see ya tomorrow, roomie." Alex told her as she let her out at the bottom of the steps of the House.

"Right. I see Dr. Ebbens at 10."

"How about lunch at one? Mollee's? We can make plans then."

"Okay. I'll see ya there."

Both women hid their smug looks from the other as they parted. Liz started up the stairs ignoring the pain in her knee that was numbing her upper leg. She had a nice evening. She was thinking about what an interesting character she could create out of Detective Alex Adison for a good thriller. She liked the way she checked out things. Moving from one place to another…pausing like she was trying to get a sense of the place.

She stopped by Claire's office and stuck her head in. "I'm back." She decided not to ask for her computer drives tonight.

Claire was sitting at her desk with Genie sitting on the couch reading a magazine. They both looked up.

"Good. Are you going up?"

"Ya. I've decided to take the house. Good night. And thanks for the ride and the treat, Genie."

They waved and Liz started her progress up the stairs. She could hear the boards creaking above her and guessed she was going to get a bump from no other than Karla. She continued her progress listening for when the person above her would make her move.

She was almost at the top when she saw the shadow move quickly toward her. She moved to the other side grabbing the railing and while dropping her cane, she grabbed the blouse fabric of Karla to prevent her from taking a painful tumble since she missed running into Liz completely.

She pulled her up to her face. "If I didn't know better, I would think that your snooping in my room and trying to knock me down the stairs means you're up to something nasty." She whispered softly in the struggling girl's ear. She hoisted her up and tossed her onto the landing, two stairs up. Picking up her cane she continued her way up the stairs.

"You are going to get yourself burnt if you keep this up." She told the dark eyes that were angrily staring back up at her.

Liz fell into a deep sleep, thinking she would let her dreams create an interesting character for a story.

A rap on her door woke her the next morning.

"Elizabeth, ya got an hour to get ready. I'll give ya a ride to the clinic." Claire's voice came from the other side of the door.

"Right. Thanks!" She stretched thinking that was the longest she had slept in a long time.

Liz slid out of bed and hobbled over to the shower. She turned the water on then stopped. Noticing her shampoo had changed places with her conditioner.

After making her way back to her suitcase, she looked for the small bottle of shampoo she used in her overnight bag. She finished her shower and dressing, she didn't have many cloths to choose from. Being on the run tended to cut down on things to carry. She put the conditioner and shampoo in a bag after she dried her hair and slowly made her way down the stairs.

"Good. You're on time. I have to take a ride out to the airport and pick up another guest. I'll drop you off at the clinic. At least ya got a ride one way."

"No problem. I'll call for a taxi."

"Ask for Gil. Only Gil. He's short with a tiny little growth, that he calls a moustache along his lip. Black hair that sticks up and of course, he's got a mouth on him. But he's also trustworthy and won't over charge ya."

Claire looked at Liz for a moment. "He knows you're here and Karla probably has been tipping him off of your whereabouts."

Liz nodded. She knew who she was referring to.

"Ms. Bricolle that was here yesterday, warned us about her. We're having a background check on her. I don't want to toss her out until I have proof." Claire explained. "It means we didn't do a good background check the first time and endangered a lot of people."

She looked at the bag Liz was holding. "What's in there?"

"I think my things were messed with. I was going to give them to someone in the clinic check it like they did the pills."

"Dam. All right. Come on, let's get moving."

They moved out of her office and Claire took her out the back way, which had no stairs but led directly into the garage. Liz looked around as Claire opened her door.

"Kinda risky having those chemicals in the garage, isn't it?"

"What chemicals is that?"

"All those poisons."

"Well, before we got a spy in our midst's, it wasn't a threat."

Continues here...

Chapter 1-5 6-9 10-15

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