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Advocate & Rsawest

For Disclaimers see Chapter 1a

1a 1b 2a 2b 3a 3b 4a 4b 5a 5b 6a 6b 7a 7b


Chapter 2b

Amanda had a lot on her mind as she climbed the stairs of the Cornerstone Clinic. She felt a wave of relief when she saw that Iris' office door was open.

"Iris?" said Amanda as she peeked in.

Iris Park looked up from a stack of papers, her reading glasses still perched on her nose. "Hi Amanda, how are you?" Iris' smile went right to her gray-blue eyes. Sitting back, she pushed her papers away.

Amanda studied the woman in front of her for a moment. Iris hadn't changed since the first time they met nearly ten years ago. Amanda was a student in her class, and eventually, Iris became her supervisor. What always surprised the young psychologist was how much presence and energy this red haired woman radiated. She exuded confidence in those around her.

"Not too bad," Amanda said, leaning against the doorframe.

Iris peered at Amanda over her glasses, giving her the familiar look that said, "What's really bothering you?"

"I've met someone."

Iris nodded and smiled, taking off her reading glasses.

"She's amazing and it's been such a long time... I don't know how to react anymore," explained Amanda, closing her eyes.

"Sound like a big crush to me," said Iris with a smile.

"A crush after one date? Well, I guess I can’t disagree with you," Amanda laughed.

"Some things never change, Dr. Greer," agreed Iris, who started laughing too. Then she sobered. "Amanda, it's okay to want this you know. I'm sure Jody would agree."

"I don't know. It's awfully risky. It's only been one date and I already nearly fell into a puddle. And she hasn't meet Missy yet..."

"So does she like hockey?" interrupted Iris, with a glint in her eyes.

"I’m going to ask her over to watch the playoffs this weekend."

"Not a bad start there, you know. Could do worse."

"It's been a long time since I was in a relationship. This was my first date in months. How can I feel this way so quickly?"

"You know that some things defy explanation. Sometimes things seem like magic."

"Come on Dr. Park, my rational mentor and mother-figure, you're not saying that this is magic?"

"Not in the mainstream sense, no. But how do you explain reasons people get together? I can't explain human nature. It just is. And it just happens when it happens. We can't plan for it."

Amanda shifted against the doorframe. "So you have a sense about this?" she asked hopefully.

"The only thing I have a sense about is that you’re ready for a relationship. You deserve to be happy, Amanda. "

"What about Missy?"

"Doesn’t she seem happy?"

"Yes, as far as I know, she's a very happy baby. She knows how much I love her."

"So why would this make Missy unhappy then? Go with your instinct. Trust it. Missy's mom deserves to be happy," Iris encouraged, as she stood up and walked over to Amanda.

Amanda was silent as she stared out the window. Iris laid a hand on her shoulder. "You do deserve to be happy, Amanda," she repeated softly and smiled.

"I think I am beginning to believe that Iris."


Claire sat down her empty wineglass and propped her feet against the coffee table. Fiddling with her sock, she pondered her current predicament. Should I call her? She said she’d call you, remember? A voice interjected. But it’s already 9:00 p.m. I don’t wanna wait anymore!

Maybe she was just trying to let you down easy. She probably has no intention of calling you. It’s just easier to blow someone off from long-distance. You’ve done it yourself, the voice taunted.

RING... RING... Claire jumped over the coffee table and then stood, staring at the phone as it rang. Taking a deep breath she answered. "Hello."

"Hi, Claire. It’s Amanda."

Yes!! Thankyouthankyouthankyou. "I was just thinking about calling you." Fuck! Why did I say that? Could I sound a little more anxious?

"Really?" A pause. "Are you still interested in getting together again?" Amanda had her fingers crossed on the other end of the line.

"Absolutely." The goofy grin Claire had been sporting off and on all day made a reappearance.

"Great. How about we get together late Saturday afternoon at my place? Are you interested in watching the hockey playoffs on television?"

"That sounds wonderful." Does Minnesota have a hockey team? "How about if I show up around 4:00 o’clock."

"4:00 o’clock sounds perfect. Do you need directions?"

"I’ve got the address. That’s all I need. It’s a date then?" Man, I hope my gaydar doesn’t need maintenance.

Amanda could hear Claire’s smile through the phone and she didn't miss the implications of the simple question. "It’s most definitely a date. I’ll see you then. Bye."

"Bye, Amanda." Click. The line went dead. Well, at least I’ve got nearly a week to figure out how to stop acting like a hormonal teenager around her. Plus, it’ll give me plenty of time for hot showers. Just thinking about going out with Aaron Levine makes me feel dirty.


"I know. I know. But I still wanted to check to see how she’s doing...No, that’s okay. I know how much she loves playing in the tub. Just tell her I said hi, and I love her, and that I’ll pick her up in the morning.... Okay, Mom.... I love you too...Bye."

Sitting the phone back in its cradle, Amanda returned to her stool and began squinting her eyes, trying to imagine a picture on what was still a clean white canvas. Bringing the paintbrush to her mouth she began chewing the already gnarled wooden tip.


"Ugh!...Coming!" Laying down the brush Amanda exited her spare bedroom and began unbuttoning her paint smock. Reaching the front door, she stopped, and called out loudly. "Who is it?"

"Jeffrey Dahmer," replied the decidedly female voice.

"Hmmmm." Amanda tapped her chin with her index finger. "I’m very finicky when it comes to the serial killers I let into my house. I might consider Manson, or Son of Sam, but Dahmer is just too creepy. Try again tomorrow."

Amanda immediately stepped back as the front door flew open and Jody marched in. "You really should lock your door. A real lunatic might try to get in one day."


Jody narrowed her eyes, and plopped down on the couch. "I’m here in a shameless appeal for sympathy," she sighed.

"Men are pigs, right?" Amanda asked.

"I haven’t told you what happened yet!" Jody protested.

Amanda brought her hands to her hips, "Okay, tell me."

"I was stood up."

"Men are pigs."

"Are you always this impatient?" Jody asked, slightly irritated.

"Was that a real question? Besides, why did you come over?" Amanda sat down next to her friend, propping her feet up on the coffee table.

Jody looked slightly guilty. "So you could tell me that men are pigs."

"Well then, look how much time I just saved us," Amanda replied reasonably.

"I guess." Craning her neck, Jody scanned the townhouse. "Where’s my buddy? It’s not past her bedtime already, is it?"

"She’s spending the night at my folk’s place. It was weird. They just called me out of the blue and asked if she could come over. They said something about not seeing her much lately. true...I guess. I don’t know. I suppose I should bring her over more often." Shrugging, Amanda removed her feet from the coffee table and stood up.

"You mean you’re free for the evening!" Jody exclaimed with undisguised eagerness. "Let’s have a girls night out."

"Actually, I was hoping to do some painting and..."

"Come on Amanda," Jody interrupted. "When was the last time you got out and cut loose?" Looking down, Jody began rotating the tip of her foot into the carpet. Continuing her adolescent behavior, she pulled out the big guns. Puuuleeeease," she beseeched with puppy dog eyes.

"Jody, I really wanted to..." Amanda looked at the pathetic pout her friend was displaying. It was all she could do not to laugh... "go out with you tonight," she finished.

"Great. If you insist," Jody grinned smugly. "Besides, maybe I’ll get lucky. I could use a change of luck in the man department."

"And just how many times have you gone out already this month?" Amanda inquired, eyebrow arching. Not waiting for an answer she began walking towards her bedroom. "Lemme go change."

"I dunno 4 maybe 5. I don’t keep track of exact numbers." Following Amanda into her room, Jody sprawled out across her bed and waited for her friend to pick out an outfit. Emerging from the walk-in closet Amanda held up light blue knee-length dress in one hand and a pair of white bib overalls, which were spotted with yellow daisies, in the other. Pointing at the dress Jody smiled, "That’ll work." Nodding, Amanda disappeared back into the closet. "You can’t fault me for loving men," Jody called after her.

"And often."


Amanda poked her head out of the closet. "I would feel sorry for you except I haven’t been out that many times in the past year." Her head disappeared back into the closet and Jody could hear her digging for shoes.

"You know, Amanda, sex can be a two-person activity."

"Slut!" rang out the voice in the closet.

"Spinster!" Jody retorted, as she ducked the sneaker that came flying out of the closet.

Amanda reemerged wearing the powder blue dress and a pair of gray pumps. "Spinster?" she squealed in mock indignation. Crossing the room, she flipped on the light and entered the attached bathroom. Rolling over on her belly, Jody propped her chin up on a fist and waited.

Stepping out, Amanda held up a tube of red and pink lipstick. "I won’t be thirty for another year or so. But I seem to recall your thirtieth birthday party what....six, seven, years ago?" she teased.

Scowling, Jody pointed toward the pink lipstick. "That was uncalled for," she whined. "It was three years ago and you know it!"

"Time drags for us sexually frustrated spinsters...How do I look?" Amanda slid in her second gold hoop earring and stood before her friend.

"Gorgeous as usual. You’ll have every guy in the place after you."

"Great," she replied sarcastically.

"It is for me. I’m bound to catch some poor cast off," Jody laughed.

Turning off the lights as they went, the pair made their way to the front door. "By the way," Amanda asked, "where exactly are we going?"

"Who knows where we’ll end up? The night is young and so are we."

Amanda was about to offer a smartass comment when Jody growled. "Not another word Amanda." Laughing, the friends made their way into the night.


"Okay, it’s almost show time," Claire muttered, as she glanced at her watch. She still had another ten minutes before she was supposed to meet Aaron. Thank God, I called and arranged for us to meet at the restaurant. I can’t stand the thought of Aaron knowing where I live, much less coming inside my home.

Adjusting her rearview mirror, Claire added a fresh coat of lipstick. "Well, Gumby, I dropped so many hints that he’s gotta believe I’m interested him or at the very least a drug score. Yeah, I know...YUCK! And what makes it even worse..." Claire blotted her lips "... is I get the feeling that when it comes to Aaron, I need to actually connect the dots. But if I can make him work to impress me, maybe he’ll let something slip."

Claire looked at her watch again and took in her surroundings. The streets were just beginning to pulse with nightlife. Couples and small groups began passing by Claire’s Explorer with increasing frequency. Aaron had instructed her to meet him outside Origami, a place she hadn’t visited in years.

Origami was located in the warehouse district of Minneapolis. The once dilapidated brick buildings, now housed some of the hottest nightspots and most elegant eateries in the Twin Cities. The early evening shadows gave the area an aura of mystery and excitement it didn’t have in broad daylight. Origami, the popular Asian restaurant and bar, was trendy without being overly exclusive. It’s patrons ranged from yuppies trying to remain "fresh," to entertaining businessmen.

So Origami has got more going on inside than sushi? I wonder if Mark knows this is where Aaron’s "friends" hang out?

A black Mercedes pulled up along side Claire’s Explorer. When the driver exited, Claire took at deep breath and bid farewell to her faithful-driving companion. I knew I should have paid better attention when I was watching Miami Vice. "Wish me luck, Gumby. I may need it." Grabbing her purse Claire made her way out to greet Aaron.

Aaron had spared no expense in efforts to impress the lanky brunette. His Mercedes had been detailed and the streetlights reflected brightly off its glassy finish. He wore his dark hair slicked straight back, in an effort to look dangerous and sophisticated. Claire thought it extenuated his prematurely receding hairline. His black Armani suit was impeccably pressed and his new Italian shoes shone. He wanted to bed Claire, plain and simple. And tonight he was willing to do nearly anything to make sure that happened. Why shouldn’t Claire want him? So what if she was a few years his senior? He was still a man to be reckoned with. The County Attorney’s office couldn’t touch him. No one could. Aaron puffed out his chest. He could show a beautiful woman like Claire a good time. He had the right connections, and he’d stretch them to the limits for the chance touch her...taste her.

Aaron smiled, his eyes traveling up and down Claire’s body. "Hello, Claire. I’m glad you decided to take me up on my offer. I wanted the chance to thank you personally. You look lovely." Aaron reached out for Claire’s hand and lightly kissed her knuckles. Claire’s stomach lurched.

You can do this! "Why, thank you Aaron. I’ve been looking forward to tonight." Claire intentionally freed her own charismatic force. Both her looks and demeanor demanded attention and oozed raw sexuality. "I hope before the evening is over we’ll both get what we want." Claire smiled and let the implication hang in the air. Aaron swallowed hard. That’s right Aaron. Start believing you’ve got a shot. "Shall we go inside?"

"Of course." Straightening, Aaron offered his arm to Claire.

Slipping her arm around his, Claire wasted no time in her quest for information. "Nice choice Aaron. Do you have the opportunity to come here often?" Claire questioned as they began walking inside.

"It’s where I meet with business associates and..." he looked at Claire "I thought it would suit a beautiful woman like you." Aaron held open the door and Claire passed in front of him.

Christ, I think I really am gonna be sick! Does he think that’s suave? "Well, I am partial to exotic flavors." Claire deepened her voice and looked at Aaron, "I’m sure I won’t be disappointed." Aaron shifted slightly, Claire’s words clearly making a physical impression.

After a quick check with the hostess, Aaron returned to Claire and informed her that their table would be ready in a few moments. "Why don’t we wait at the bar upstairs? I’m sure some of my associates would be delighted to meet you," Aaron offered pointing to the staircase.

Claire began to make her way upstairs. Trying to hide her surprise she asked, "You mean they know we’re coming?"

"No, not exactly. It’s just..." Aaron leaned closer to Claire "...I had a little business to attend to tonight anyway so I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone. You don’t mind do you?"

Jackpot!!! "Of course not. I’d love to meet some of your associates. You never know, maybe I could end up transacting a little business myself." You are making this way too easy. But I already knew you were involved with drugs. What I need to find out is how that ties in with criminal cases being tossed out. If you had the cops in your back pocket there wouldn’t have been an arrest to begin with. What’s the common thread?

Origami’s bar was far too crowded for Claire’s tastes. Bodies were pressed tightly against each other as the patrons moved in a mass pilgrimage toward the bar. Finding a relatively empty corner, Claire leaned back against the cool brick and watched as Aaron went to fetch her scotch and soda. Blue eyes scanned the bar and its customers. What am I even looking for? Shit! What am I gonna do if it actually comes down to me buying drugs? I don’t know anything about drugs and there’s no way I’m buying or using. I’m not risking my entire career for...

"Here you go." A drink appeared before her eyes and Claire immediately flinched back.

"Jesus Aaron, don’t sneak up on me like that! How’d you get back here so fast? There’s no way you could have made up to the bar and back so quickly," Claire observed, taking a large swallow of scotch. The burn of the alcohol reminded her of her recent over indulgence and she winced remembering the resulting hangover.

"Sorry Gorgeous, I didn’t know you were so jumpy. I have a friend at the bar." Oh yeah...she wants me bad. You don’t need to be nervous, Babe. I’m a sure thing.

Smiling at Aaron’s arrogance, Claire immediately composed herself, and was back in the game. Stroking a fingertip up and down Aaron’s sleeve she whispered in his ear. "Are you always this confident?" She could feel Aaron’s shiver. Casually, she took another sip of her drink. "You certainly seemed confident at your trial," Claire observed innocently.

"Let’s just say I had a feeling things were going to work out."

"I guess it wouldn’t do for an important man like you to end up in prison." Claire stilled her teasing finger and waited for Aaron’s reaction.

Aaron began choking on his martini. "P...Prison!" he exclaimed. "I told you there was NO way I was ending up in prison." Aaron’s tone turned condescending. "Claire, I belong to a very important and powerful organization. In order for business to continue running smoothly, that organization can’t have its executives cooling their heels in jail now, can they?"

Claire’s eyebrows shot skyward. Executive? You wish. Claire mentally snorted. It doesn’t take Dick Tracy to figure out that you’re only one step above an errand boy. Claire’s finger resumed its journey. "Well, it seems I underestimated your status Aaron. I won’t make that mistake again."

A small Asian woman waived a hand at Aaron then quickly descended the stairs. "Looks like our table is ready. We can come back up after dinner. My associates should be here by then." Without waiting for Claire’s response Aaron began making his way through the crowd and down the stairs.

Claire sat down her empty scotch glass and began to follow. I’m half way home asshole. I knew your acquittal was no accident! Now all I need is a few names, and a little detail and I can take this to Mark. Half way down the winding open staircase Claire was assaulted with a pungent odor. God, I hate pickled ginger.


"I love pickled ginger!" Amanda squealed.

"I know. Why do you think I picked Origami?" Jody replied, laughing at her friend’s enthusiasm.

"Oh, I don’t know." Amanda pretended to be considering her options. "Could it be this is the spot where you were stood up earlier and you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the future emergency room patient?"

"Er...should I say no?" Jody looked down sheepishly at her shoes.

"Don’t bother. But you do realize I’m not bailing you out." Amanda glanced at her scowling friend and stifled a giggle. "Come on slugger, let’s go inside. I’ll buy you a beer."

Opening the door, Amanda was surprised by the large mid-week crowd. "Wow, I haven’t been here since undergrad. I don’t remember it being this busy," Amanda squinted, "or this dark."

"You need to get out more, my friend. This place is always packed. Let me go check with the hostess and see how long wait is. Maybe they’re still holding my earlier reservation." Slipping away, Jody moved towards the hostess while the blonde did her best to avoid being squashed by the people coming and going near the door.

A few moments later Amanda saw Jody wave and point toward the stairs leading to the bar area. I guess we’re going to the bar first.

Amanda placed a hand on the stair railing and looked up preparing to take a step. As her eyes drifted upward her foot stopped mid-motion. Standing at the top of the stairs was the most stunningly beautiful women she had ever seen. Amanda forgot how to breathe.

Claire stood at the top of the steps in a form fitting, blood-red strapless dress, that barely extended below her panty line. Amanda swallowed hard, contemplating the unlikely existence of any panty line at all. Claire’s thick dark hair was pulled up on one side by a pearl comb and spike black heels completed the outfit. A man a few steps in front of Claire turned to her and said something that made Claire flash a brilliant smile. Jesus, she’s gorgeous! A few more steps and Claire looked down to see Amanda. When their eyes met both women smiled in pure reflex.

Amanda... Man, she looks fantastic! Amanda? The smiled dropped from Claire’s face. Ohshitohshitohshit! What’s she doing here? I don’t want her to see me with Aaron! Claire was so busy trying to figure out what to say to Amanda that she didn’t even notice when Jody stopped along side her.

"Hello, Claire." Silence. "Claire?" Jody tapped her on the shoulder.

Claire turned, slightly startled. "Hi Jody," she pushed out. Maybe they won’t ask what I’m doing here. Please, please, please!

"What are you doing here tonight?" Jody began looking around to see if Claire was alone.

Fuck! Claire looked at Jody for several seconds trying to decide what to say. "I’m here on a business dinner," Claire offered. That’s truer than you know, Jody.

Jody stared at Claire’s dress. "Business dinner, huh?" Jody’s tone made it clear she didn’t believe her.

"Yes, and if you’ll excuse me..."

At the moment Aaron decided Claire was taking entirely too long descending the stairs. Turning around, he made his way back up several steps to retrieve Claire. "What’s taking you so long, Gorgeous?" Aaron asked gruffly, laying proprietary hand on Claire’s shoulder.

Uh...oh. What else could possible go wrong? Claire wondered, as she inconspicuously tried to move out of Aaron’s grasp.

"Hello, Aaron. I didn’t think we’d be seeing each other again so soon." Jody held out her hand. She’s here with him? He’s barely out of his teens. What about Amanda? Bitch! she seethed.

"Dr. Penbrook? Huh, I guess it is a small world." They shook hands. For a split second Aaron looked a little embarrassed to have run into her. Recovering quickly, he addressed Jody, "I didn’t know you knew Claire."

It was all Claire could do not to groan out loud. Shit, I had to ask? "Dr. Penbrook and I share a mutual friend," Claire offered. At least I think she was friend before tonight. You’ve got three seconds to get your hands off of me, Aaron.

"And here she is now," Jody added, as Amanda made her way up to the trio.

Amanda looked at Jody, and then back to Claire and Aaron, her smile fading. Her brow knit in confusion, "Hi Claire, I’m looks like everyone knows each other here but...I ...but..." She felt her chest constrict as she watched Aaron pull Claire into him and wrap his arm around her waist. Aaron was making clear that the two shared a "personal" relationship.

Mercifully, Jody interrupted her friend’s ramblings. "Amanda this is Aaron Levine. He’s a new patient. We had our first session yesterday. Aaron, this is my partner, Dr. Amanda Greer."

Aaron hadn’t heard a word Jody said. All he knew was that Claire didn’t seem to be pulling away from his advances, at least in the presence of these other women. He decided to press his luck. Turning his head he began to nuzzle the soft skin around Claire’s ear. Both Amanda and Jody’s eyes widened at the display.

Claire couldn’t take anymore. That’s it buddy! "Listen..."

"We should go," Amanda choked out, before turning and pushing her way through the bodies drifting up and down the stairs.

"Crap," Jody muttered. Shooting Claire a deadly look, she took off after her friend.

No!!! "Get the hell off me!" Claire hissed, as she wrenched herself free from Aaron. "Wait!" she yelled, but the women were already near the bottom of the steps. Not bothering to look back at a stunned Aaron Levine, Claire flew down after Jody, having already lost Amanda’s shorter form in the crowd. Claire watched as Jody exited Origami but she was still a good fifteen feet and twenty people from the door.

"Finally," Claire mumbled, as she pushed her way out the front door and felt a blast of cold night air. Frantically looking up and down the street but she couldn’t spot Amanda. "Where the hell is she?" Turning the corner, Claire scanned the parking lot. Spotting two figures near the back of the lot, Claire called out into the shadows as she approached, "Amanda, is that you?" As she got closer she saw Amanda, sitting on the hood of a dark colored Audi with Jody perched along side her.

Claire breathed a sigh of relief. At least I found you before you left. You must think... "Amanda, I need to explain. It’s not what it looked like."

Jody stepped directly in between Claire and Amanda, effectively blocking Claire’s view of Amanda. "Why don’t you just go back to your boyfriend?" Jody taunted as she emphasized the word "boy." Even in dark, Claire could see the anger in her face.

Stepping to the side she tried to look around Jody. "Amanda..." Claire began again, but stopped when Jody mirrored her movements, blocking her view once more. It was Claire’s turn to get angry. Pale eyes shifted, focusing completely on Jody. "Move" she growled, her face turning feral.

"Or what?" Jody challenged.

"Jody, what are you doing?" Amanda jumped down off the car, wiping her eyes with an irritated hand.

Claire’s gaze never wavered. "Or, I’ll move you myself."

Amanda could feel angry waves pouring off both women. "Jody," Amanda grabbed her friends arm and pulled her away from Claire, "I can talk for myself."

Sensing the finality in her partner’s voice, Jody stepped away and slipped into the passenger seat of Amanda’s car.

Claire felt a lump in her throat and swallowed hard before speaking. "Amanda," she began softly, "I know what it must have looked like but Aaron is just a client. I need to explain."

"You don’t owe me any explanations, Claire. I barely know you. You can have dinner with anyone you like." That’s true, Amanda told herself. We’ve only gone out once. I don’t have the right to be jealous or upset. But that’s exactly how I feel! "I’m sorry about Jody, she gets a little protective sometimes." A pause. "I should be going. Goodnight Claire."


Without another word, the smaller woman left Claire standing open mouthed, in the parking lot. Claire raised a hand to shield her eyes as bright headlights temporarily blinded her. Then the car simply backed out and drove away.

"That went well," Claire muttered sarcastically. Fuck! She mentally screamed. Could I have screwed this up more? Wait. Don’t ask. I might as well see if I can get any more information out of that idiot Aaron.

Reentering Origami, Claire noticed that although the bar area still appeared to be overflowing, the dinner crowd finally seemed to be thinning. A quick scan of the dining area and Claire had resigned herself to the fact that she’d have to enter the sea of people upstairs to find Aaron.

Twenty minutes later Claire was still looking. Maybe I missed him and he’s in the bathroom or back downstairs. Thirty more minutes, and Claire was ready to pack it in. Ahhh...the perfect end to the perfect evening, she thought as she made her way out of the restaurant and to her car. Amanda probably won’t speak to me again. Claire closed her eyes at the unexpected pain that prospect presented. Her partner obviously hates me. And, finally, that little jerk ditches me before I find out anything I can take to Mark.

Claire rummaged for her keys and unlocked her car door. I wonder if Gumby still loves me?


Continues here...

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