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|Chapter 1-5 6-9 10-15|
Liz moved into the clinic and signed the arrival sheet then found a comfortable spot to settle.
"AHHH ahh. Don't sit Ms. Duke. I got a room for you."
The two others looked up at Gary as he helped her through the door. "Can't have you move that knee around so much." He winked at Liz as he moved her down the hall.
"They get upset if anyone goes before them. They get here hours before their appointment and expect to be seen before those that have an appointment for that hour." Gary explained.
He prepped her then regarded the exposed knee without touching it until Dr. Ebbens and Mai came in.
"Well, we have decided a treatment plan for you." Dr. Ebbens smiled. "First of all…have you been exercising your leg?
"Show me what you've been doing."
Liz tried to show him but it was rather stiff, so she used the other leg.
"See how you are forcing the knee into this position?" He had a plastic replica of a knee on his desk and was moving it as he spoke. "Well, it's not strong enough here, so it's swelling up. What you need to do is work on building up strength here and here. Then you can work on going in this direction. Now, Mai she has many skills, and one of them can be showing you some safer exercises. I can see by your physique, that you once were an athlete, so you must be going crazy with not being able to let out some of that energy." Dr Ebbens nodded his head toward her in understanding. "So, I'll let the other half of our team talk to you. What's that?"
"I'd like you to run a test on it like you did the pills. "
The doctor took the bag and looked in. He closed it up and nodded leaving the room.
"And, when you get a chance, I'd like to talk to you about renting the house."
"Great. On your way out." He closed the door behind him.
"Okay. First of all. Show me the exercises you're doing now. Mai asked her.
For another hour Mai and Gary went over a plan with her showing her how to do isometrics for some parts that were still too weak to use and how to build her stamina with a few adjustments on the movements she was already using. Gary got to demonstrate as Mai explained them.
"I have a class I teach, every Wednesday night at six, if you'd like to join." Mai offered. "The warm ups would be good for you, even if you can't move too much."
"What class is that?"
"I'll be there. Where is it at?"
"Next door to where you are now. The old church hall."
"Okay. Thanks." Well that explained why she saw so many people flocking to the building next door.
The brace was readjusted and it gave her more support as she moved to the front desk.
"Ahh. Ms. Duke. Okay, here's the papers, look them over and if it's okay with you, go ahead and sign them. You already have the key so that's about it."
"Is there anything about taking on a…"
"Roommate, Detective Adison. That's fine. She usually takes care of the place when we're out of town, so that's good."
He smiled at Liz's expression. "This is a small town. If you don't want anyone to know something it's best to keep it to yourself."
She scanned the contract and signed it. She sighed thinking about what they were going to do for furniture. The only furniture they had would be whatever Alex had in her one room apartment. The idea of sharing a bed with Alex was quickly stifled. She would have to go looking for a bed.
She was going to call for a cab when Alex arrived. She grinned up at Liz.
"I hope you don't mind, but I met Dr. Ebbens in the coffee shop this morning. He wanted to talk to me about some pills you had in your possession. It seems he already knew about me as a roommate. Margaret had mentioned to him that she had suggested to you that you needed a roommate, namely me."
"No, as the Doctor said, it's a small town. I think after the first week here I got use to people I don't know, knowing me."
"The majority of people in this town care about the guests that stay at the House. We don't know about anyone's personal life, just that you're all hiding from someone who would kill you if they found you. The people here are a cross between wanting to be a Guardian Angel and wanting some action in their otherwise dull lives."
Back at the House Liz signed out, with Claire glad she had taken the house and Alex as a roommate, telling them both they would get along fine as the place was big enough for two people that liked their private space.
Both women cleared Liz's room in a short time. There wasn't much to pack. Her laptop and zip drive were her most important belongings and those she had safely tucked in her brief case. Her few cloths were already packed into her suitcase along with few toiletries. Genie took her laundry before she left telling her to stop by the next day to pick them up. Which made sense since they hadn't a washing machine or dryer.
Liz was waiting in the Landrover for Alex who had a few last minute words with Claire.
She hopped up into her seat, leaned to push the small lever and her seat moved her into a closer position near the steering wheel.
"Claire has offered to sell us real cheap, a washer, dryer, refrigerator, a stove and if we need it, some furniture. I told her we could use the utilities, but Mai has some furniture that she and Gary don't use anymore. They offered it to us to use until we get our own. I kinda like Chinese furniture so I said yes. Do you mind?"
"No. Any furniture right now would be nice. Does there happen to be a bed in the furniture?"
"I'll check. So, we have utilities being delivered tomorrow. Mais throwing in a rug, for the frontroom. I noticed you don't have any winter cloths. It's gonna start getting real cool."
Liz nodded as the Landrover bounced along the road.
"You know, you're setting yourself up?" Alex asked the tall women that sat quietly next to her.
"Yea. Are you afraid?"
Liz nodded. "So, why are you doing it?"
"Don't like Milton and his type of friends. Those types have been trying to move into Sunrise since before I moved here."
"Why Sunrise? Because of where it's situated and the character of the town. Nice land all around. Hasn't been over developed. People are friendly and it's one town that I know if I kissed the person I loved in public, I wouldn't get fired, spat on or cornered in an alley and beat to death. They hate towns like us."
Liz took that in for a few moments. "Are you saying you're a Lesbian?"
"Yea. Does that make you uncomfortable?"
There was silence for a while more as they approached the house.
"So, why are you staying, Elizabeth Duke?" Alex asked as they pulled into the driveway, where an unmarked car was sitting.
Alex turned off the engine and waited.
"Same reason." She opened her door and slid out letting the left leg take the impact of the drop. She was wondering how far down Alex had to drop. She was amused that a short person would find a Landrover up so far off the ground to be her vehicle of choice.
"Who is that?" Liz asked curiously.
"Mark Scripts, my partner. The tall dark and rugged looking guy that helped you into the car yesterday. He's a whiz at setting up surprises for the unwanted guest. I noticed some stuff was a bit old and wanted him to take a look at it. Hey, Angel." She caught the pointed muzzle of a tall gray haired dog whose hair was tangled like she had run though a field.
Angel came over to Liz and stuck her cold nose into the palm she had open. She sniffed her for a few moments, her long curved tail moving slowly. Liz waited for the dog to finish her inspection.
"Friend, Angel." Scripts' voice commanded. The dog's tail moved back and forth wildly.
"Hi, Elizabeth. We haven't been properly introduced. I'm Mark Scripts." He introduced himself while making a face at Alex who had forgotten to introduce them. She was looking at the work Scripts was finishing. She ignored his remark.
"It's a humdinger of an alarm." He told her.
"Hmm. But is this user friendly. I mean, does it know who it's boss is?"
"Oh, yea. It scans the retina. You don't have to turn it off or on. It's always working on its own back up rechargeable battery. Got one in my house. Of course, I couldn't tell the kids, or they would have the whole neighborhood over testing it."
"Scripts worked for an agency that played with these things, and more, before he decided to find a nice quiet life in a small town."
"Does it bother you to bring your family here to this?" Liz asked curious.
"Nope. It's worse in the cities. There we would never know when a drive by or some crazy neighbor will start shooting up the neighborhood. Here, we all know each other. Everyone is a parent figure to your kid, and the kids respect all adults. If not, then either there's a reason or we know we failed somewhere. Here were take an active interest in the town and what's going on. They also have a hell of a school program."
"Why, then, did you okay the Shelter in your neighborhood? Don't you know what type of people you can attract?"
"Well, that decision was made before I came here. And given the choice, I would vote it in. We can't keep saying we believe in helping others than say only if it's not in our neighborhood. I've seen worse in other countries and realized a long time ago, that there is evil everywhere. The best way to undo the damage it does is to face it, or figure out a way to get around it. Which ever way is for the greater good. You can't rely on the government to help, because they have their own agendas which change like the a canyon wind."
"Geez, Scripts. I've never heard you talk so much. I can see why. Your too dam profound. I'd be draining ya for all that information." Alex teased.
"Hmm. Well, let's get you two familiar with what I've set up here. Now, we know we're facing some pretty heavy gun stuff so the glass we don't have to worry about right away. It's a heavy bullet proof metal. The kind used on the space shuttles. The guy that Dr. Ebbens bought this house from, Rogers, had a brother that worked for NASA and got a chance at some real interesting stuff to make this house. The Doc thought it would help his wife's fear of being so close to the ocean during winter and being so far from neighbors. She was raised in Florida along the coast. Very crowded." Scripts walked them into the master bedroom. "This room is at an angle that makes it difficult for anyone to attack you straight on. If you go outside and look around, there is no real firm footing to be firing some heavy-duty artillery. The person would knock himself, or herself, right off the cliff face.
"It's that close?" Alex asked nervously.
"What, Alex?" Scripts looked at her, then brightened. "Oh, yea. You don't like houses dangling off mountains. Well, this doesn't. This is on solid rock that is a level higher than the…"
"Stop. You can leave that part off." Alex told him nervously. "Just get on with the other stuff."
For about an hour Scripts showed them his work and where to hide if things got too dicy, if they should be invaded. He then showed them his final coup de ta, a hidden exit.
"Dr. Ebbens and his wife told me about this place being built over an old stairway that led down to the beach. It was uncovered when the foundation was being prepared for the house. This stairway is supposed to lead to the ocean below. I was waitin' for Alex to get here before exploring it." His eyes glinted with excitement.
"How many people know about this?" Alex asked.
"Let's see, us, the builder, who's dead, and Dr. Ebbens and Lily, his wife. He wants you to feel safe out here. That's why he's letting ya rent it."
Alex ran her hand along the barely visible crack. It seemed to belong to the other grains in the wood. She pushed and watched the floor in the broom closet move up, hardly noticeable unless looked for. She pressed on the two corners as Scripts had and the floorboard came up on quiet hinges. The smell from the passageway was dusty and damp.
"It's handy to have. Want to check it out now partner?" She looked at Scripts, past Liz who was leaning heavily on her cane.
"So, who do you two work for?" Liz asked quietly.
Both Detectives blinked, taken off guard.
"Sunrise police department." Scripts answered.
Liz looked at Alex's eyes and noted a change. Alex merely nodded.
Liz let it go thinking about talking to Alex later. Suddenly she had a thought. "Well, since my where about is known, I guess I can get a drivers license and my own vehicle."
"Yea. Being out here without a vehicle has its disadvantages. Don’t' let the vision of seeing the shops over there give you the idea that a walk is real easy from here to there. You have a lot of ruts and cliffs blocking you." Alex warned her.
Liz nodded. It was true, while she sat on the bench she could see the house from there, though it was quite small.
"Well, let's go down and see what's there." Scripts handed Alex a flashlight.
"We won't be long. Just want to be sure no one can come up this way without us knowing." Alex explained.
The two disappeared down the stairway with Angel looking up at Liz's face expectantly. "Sorry, Angel. But I guess we're not invited. How about we put away some of this foodstuff on the counter?"
The tall thin dog's tail waved back and forth slowly. Her bearded face had a melancholy expression.
"Yea. Not really exciting." Liz started to unpack what was in the bags that were sitting on the counter, sliding the few supplies in the cleaned cupboards. As she was folding the second bag Angel came alert, from her sprawled position on the floor nearby, looking toward the closet. Her long tail beat a soft thumb on the tiled floor.
Two figures came out of the closet talking excitedly. "Liz, we're going to have to get a better look later, if you want. We didn't go far but it looks like when the tide rolls in, it leaves the bottom of the place underwater.
Alex suddenly realized Liz was putting the food away. "Ahh. Sorry about leaving the clean-up for you."
"We need to get back to work." Scripts explained.
He looked down at Angel. "You need to stay here and watch, Angel." He told the dog that was looking up into his eyes as if she understood perfectly. "I'll pick her up when I drop Alex off after our shift. Come on partner."
Alex nodded and looked at Liz. "Are you going to be al right, alone here?"
"I won't be alone. I got geese out on one side of the yard and a big Irish Wolfhound that was ordered to bodyguard me." Liz lifted an eyebrow as if to ask what more could she ask for. "I don’t think there are many people that will want to take on a dog that’s taller than me when on her back legs."
"Well," she looked at Angel, "I'm competing with a dog. No offense, Angel, but you make my job standards tough. You can faster than me and smell better than me…"
At this comment Liz's pursed her lips but let the banter continue without a comment.
"and see better than me, but can ya drive a car? Go grocery shopping, carry groceries, and move furniture around in a single afternoon? And…can ya cook?" the hairy curved gray tail wagged slowly as she watched one of her playmates face pensively.
"Hey, no fair. I didn't teach her that stuff yet.
"Hmm. Nothing like variety in the company I keep. I’ll take both of ya. As for smells, ehhh. I'll take Alex's smell over Angels any day, provided she bathes regularly." She smiled at the two surprised faces. "Well, don't you think that the person who is being guarded should have a say?"
Her stomach rumbled.
"Let's stop at the coffee shop, Alex." He pulled his partner's sleeve and started down the path.
"I'll see ya all tonight." Liz nodded as the door closed behind Alex's retreating figure. Liz turned back to finish putting away supplies so she could fix lunch. Angel found a corner and after a few turns, dropped herself into a heap.
Liz looked through the foods she put away for something to put in the microwave that was built into the counter. She looked down at the hopeful brown eyes that were pointed in her direction. Her heart clinched painfully as she remembered another dog that gave her the same look when he followed her into the kitchen. Oh, Rusty. I am so sorry. A sob came out from the depths of her stomach and through a tight throat, and as her legs gave out under her she slid to the ground covering her face and letting out some of the pain she had not given time to release. Milton's poisoning their dog Rusty was what had Liz leaving town the day she and Julian were struck by a hit and run driver.
Liz didn't know for how long she cried, slumped against the cabinet with Angel's long thin face resting on her thigh but it was Angel's deep sigh that brought Liz back to the present. She struggled up, hopping Scripts had thought to buy toilet paper, because she needed a good blowing of her nose.
She shared some of her lunch with Angel, who was very polite about asking for scraps. The rest of the time she spent deciding where she wanted to setup her workspace. There was neither bed in the bedroom nor any furniture in the whole place for her to picture where she could work.
She had fallen asleep on the hardwood floor in the master bedroom after admiring the view of the sea. She let the sun from the windows fall on her face, then slowly move across her body as it sunk further into the horizon. The warmth was erotic and the thoughts of her new roommate made her smile. The soft thumping of the tail on the wooden floor brought her slowly back to wakefulness. She opened her eyes to see two very green eyes watching her.
"Had a nice nap?" Alex asked pleasantly.
"Hmm. Just like camping, only no rocks or roots, just the hard ground."
"Oh. So, would a bed be okay or do you want to…"
"You got a bed!"
Liz rolled to her side and looked for her cane. She held it up. It was missing a substantial amount of its length and what use to be it's other half, was in splinters on the floor.
"Doggie chews is a must." Alex stated solemnly.
They both heard a shout from the front door.
"Oh, that's the guys moving in some furniture. I hope you like it. Here let me help you."
The two women, with Liz holding onto Alex's shoulder for support, were giving Angel a silent thanks, thinking the sacrifice of the cane was well worth the exchange of support.
Liz liked the feel of muscles moving under her grip, as they both stood near the door way, watching a large bedframe being carried in.
"It's Chinese furniture. That's the bedframe. Miaran and Gary were storing it because they've changed their taste somewhat."
"It's not close to the ground, is it?"
"Not the bed."
"Angel! What did you do here?" Scripts voice could be heard from the bedroom where he had moved the bedframe. Angel who stuck close to the person she had been ordered to watch moved to stand between the two women.
Scripts came out of the room with the shortened cane. "Geez, Louise. I'm real sorry about that, Elizabeth. It was a nice one too."
"Don't worry about it. I'm depending on it too much anyway. I'll pick one up on my next visit to the shops. Maybe on her next job, you can bring her some chew toys. I think she was bored."
"She's working. She doesn't need toys when she's working." Scripts told Angel sternly. The dog talked by making little noises in her throat and body movements, then sat across Liz's feet.
"Doesn't she get coffee breaks, lunch breaks, a break? Maybe she could play during her breaks." Liz suggested. She looked down at the long face that looked up to her beseechingly. Liz's heart caught and she fought the sob. It was just like Rusty's look when she was scolding him.
"Hey, it's okay. If you need to cry, go right a head." Alex encouraged. Liz looked like she was struggling to not cry. Neither Detective knew what looking at Angel triggered but her sudden look of sorrow, had them both worried. Scripts left Alex to handle it while he and one of the men from the storage area unloaded the rest of the furniture. It wasn't much. One long low couch, a long, low coffee table with lots of cushions was deposited into the front room. The one carpet found its way into Liz's room. Alex's few furniture pieces were also unloaded and moved to the first room to the right of the entrance way with her desk and computer being set up in the center room.
"Thanks guys. See ya at work."
"Hey, you going out tonight?" Scripts asked softly.
"No, too hot. We're gonna have to just be happy with the camera we got in the tree across the place. Don't want to get their suspicion up on how much we know." She told him softly.
Scripts nodded. "Let me know if you need anything." He smiled. "I know of a nice cane in the attic that she can use." He looked down at Angel and affectionately tapped her nose. "Darlin, ya embarrassed me. Ya know better. We're going to have to work on what ta do with yerself while your subject is sleeping."
"That I have to see." Alex remarked dryly. "You talk to that creature like she understands. Do you really think she does?"
"I just don't talk, Alex. I picture in my mind what I want her to do."
'See ya, partner. Take care of her. She looks like she needs a friend right now."
Alex nodded. While the men had unloaded the rest of the furniture and supplies she merely held a silent Liz. She paused to watch the security monitors in a panel near the hall for a while as the dust on the road settled. She sighed and started to look for her roommate. She found her in her bedroom studying the bed.
"Beautiful, isn't it?"
Liz turned to her. "Ya. I like the woodcarvings on the fame. Do you have mosquitoes around here?"
Liz nodded. "A veil over the top keeps them out. There's a lot of mosquitoes near the Ganges." She said softly.
Alex figured she was thinking of China while looking at the bed. "Well, how about if we make your bed? I picked up some linens, towels and new pillows."
Liz looked back at her. "That's some big pillow there."
"Futon. I've heard of them. So this is a futon."
"Well, the mattress is. Not the bedframe. I've been sleepin on one for years. Real comfortable, once you get use to it."
Liz limped around her new bed folding corners of the mauve sheets under the mattress. Each woman covered a pillow and tossed them onto the newly made bed."
"Well, yours is next." Liz told Alex as she hobbled out the door and headed into her room.
"Wow!" Liz had looked into the center room.
As way of furniture, Alex had a futon on a frame, a computer center with printer and scanner, a small television that she seldom watched, as she would usually go over to Scripts' house to watch anything worth while, one rocking chair she used to read in, and a small fold up chair to sit at her computer.
She had her computer center and rocking chair, with the small folding chair set up in the center room.
"Wow for what?" Alex asked curious.
"You have a nice computer."
"I was thinking we could make this center room a study. We both can set up our computers in here and maybe some bookshelves.
"Great idea. You use your computer much?"
Liz remembered her own PC that she had to leave behind for the shelter to pack and store away for her. After over a year it was probably outdated, but it had enough muscle to write on.
"Oh. Yea. I do a lot of research over the net."
Liz pursed her lips.
"Which reminds me. I've arranged the phone company to stop by tomorrow to check the jacks. I'll be here when they arrive. Don't open the door until I'm here. Okay?"
Liz looked at her ready to argue that a phone company usually has credentials when Alex held up a hand.
"It's for Angels sake. Can you image having a big dog like that staring at ya like you were a meal?"
"Oh. I see what you mean. She's probably the first babysitter that has to…"
"Baby sitter? You're going to hurt her feelings, if you say that to her." Alex teased. "The phone company is suppose to be here by noon. They're coming from Dortmund. Scripts and I will be here before they get here. He's offered to help unload the appliances that will also be delivered tomorrow."
"Are you hungry? I can whip up a nice meal?" Alex turned to go back toward the kitchen.
"Hmm. We don't have a stove or utensils." Liz reminded her.
"I brought utensils, plates, and the microwave will do for now."
"Well, day by day, we're getting this place to…be more comfortable." Liz hesitated. The use of the word 'home' was difficult. Would the town want her to stay if Milton got violent? So far, he had been above the law.
"By the way, you didn't say if Chinese furniture was okay with you?" Alex asked as she walked over to the kitchen, remembering she would have to go through boxes to locate plates and utensils.
"Ya. I do."
Liz was restless that night. She had no desk to set the laptop on and sitting it on her lap while in bed was not helping her creative flow or her back. In all the small rooms she stayed at, there always had been something she could use as a desk.
Liz got out of bed and folded up the laptop. She pulled out the plug and limped through the kitchen, through the dinning room and into the front room, using her cane to let her know where the table was. Liz carefully set the laptop on the low coffee table then fumbled for the light switch on the lamp Alex had placed near the couch. In about twenty minutes, Liz had the area arranged close to what she could work with. With a smile she started to work on her story, adding refinements to characters and changing some things around. She took comfort in the familiar clicking of the keys as she settled into a rhythm, where her fingers kept up with her thoughts, or maybe her thoughts slowed down for the fingers that flew over the keys.
Alex was laying awake, thinking about her feelings to what was going on in Sunrise. She had taken a long assignment from her FBI contact, Mel, to find and collect data on a group that operated in this area that dealt in slavery. They thought it would take about a year, and she knew that would mean she would be lonely for that time. No emotional ties until this job was finished. They didn't expect the small group to start branching out and other groups the FBI did not know about start to come out. Or, maybe someone knew but kept the information from being filed in the FBI database. Mel's group worked away from the established Bureau, for there was a leak there, creating their own database. Now, Alex could feel after two years, that things were coming to a head, with her roommate, that she happened to be very attracted to, acting as the bait and apparently stirrer of the pot that was ready to boil over. When Liz had asked who Scripts and she worked for, she knew it was directed more to her than Scripts. Maybe after this job, she would give up the covert stuff and go into the more visible type of police work. She idly played with the idea of asking Chief Harper for a job when this job was wrapped up. She was hopping Liz would not be angry with her for not being entirely honest with her and not kick her out as her room mate.
She returned her thoughts back to Liz's question. By her expression, she wasn't going to let her get away with an evasive answer the next time she asked it, so she was going to have to think about what she was going to say to her. Would she tell her more than what even her partner knew? That was….taking a commitment step. Was that what she wanted to do with this woman?
She turned on her side and glanced at the clock. It was past midnight and she was wide-awake. She sat up and listened. It sounded like her roommate was restless too. Alex grinned as she thought about the image of her roommate that came to her.
Finally Alex got up, unable to take the suspense of not knowing what all the movement had been about. She looked up the hall and could see the door to her bedroom was wide open. Though she walked toward it, she somehow didn't feel she was in there. Walking through the kitchen she could see over the counter a soft light shinning on a dark head that was bent over her laptop busily typing away.
Long bare legs were stretched under the coffee table, except one was shorter than the other. Must have a pillow under her knee. She was using the couch for a back support with pillows adding to the support. Occasionally the small clicking would stop and eyes would flicker back over the work, with a hand that would reach unconsciously toward something on the table. Not finding it she would glance at the space and then sigh. She would then resume her typing.
Alex's mouth twitched. Probably not coffee, but maybe some tea. Alex pulled two cups out of the cupboard and poured some water in both, then heated them up in the microwave. She selected a tea but then thought better of it and decided she would bring the box of mixed teas out and let Liz choose what she liked. Why did she think Liz would like tea?
Finding her little tray she put the heated cups on the tray and came out with it. Liz's eyes drifted up to hers from her typing.
"Thought I heard you up." She mumbled as she stopped her typing and changed her position slightly.
"Hmmm. Something hot…not coffee." Alex found there was no vacant space on the long coffee table. She leaned over and let Liz take a cup and pick a tea bag.
"Am I disturbing you?" Alex asked.
"No, I could use a small break now. It's rather uncomfortable sitting on the floor."
Alex laid the tray to the side of the couch and while letting her own tea steep, watched as Liz pushed the table away from her and used the couch to lift her sitting position up into the couch.
"So, what do you do so late at night?" Alex asked settling in the corner of the couch.
Liz laughed. "You know a lot about me, yet you don't know what I do for a living."
Alex was caught in the blue eyes that glittered out from orbs encircled with dark shadows. .
"What do you know about me?"
Alex sat watching the long fingers pull the dark hair back over a shoulder. Honesty, Alexandra. You can't lie to this one.
Alex let her eyes follow the long hands that cupped around the teacup then lifted to lips that….
Alex took a deep breath and lifted her eyes to see bright blue eyes studying her intently. The thumping of her heart and the feeling it gave her all the way to her stomach had her blinking for a moment.
Alex cleared her throat. "Well, I know you were a single mom, you and your child were involved in a hit and run, you were the only survivor. You became involved in an abusive relationship with an Officer Bo Jeffery Milton somewhere in there and you're running to escape him."
"For a cop that likes detail, you don't have much on me." The blue eyes were sad and Alex wanted to reach out and touch her to reassure her, but refrained. She worked with enough battered spouses to know not to touch unless asked.
"Well, to tell you the truth, I…" She was right, usually she had all the information on everyone involved in a case she was working on. This one though, she was worried that Mike would get to it and wanted to keep everything in her mind. She had been more focused on Milton and his group. "I hate to admit it, but I know more about Milton than I do about you."
Liz nodded. She kept eye contact with Alex who had pulled her legs into a crossed position on the couch and watched the taller woman. After a moment of silence, Liz lowered her eyes to move the laptop further back on the table. "I had a break in about two years ago, and summoned the police. Julian," there was a pause, "my adopted son and I, had been out on a visit to see his biological grandmother." A tear slipped down her face unnoticed by her. "Milton was one of the officers that responded to the call." Liz shivered at the memory. "The moment he walked in the door I knew there was going to be trouble. He didn't waste time hitting on me." Liz’s voice was embittered. "The rest of the officers that arrived found it humorous. No matter where I turned he was there, with that sickening southern hospitality fake grin. I finally made a complaint to his station and then things…got really bad. My car tires were flattened on a regular basis, dead animals were left in our apartment…" Suddenly a horrible cry issued from low in her belly and out through her mouth, finally coming out as a groan. "Rusty, Rusty….I'm so sorry." Liz started to sob and Alex was quickly next to her rubbing her back and talking soothingly to her. "He poisoned Rusty." She sobbed. "And poor Julian was so terrified…Oh, Julian…" She couldn't go on and sobbed with her face buried in her hands.
Alex stroked the shaking back and the dark hair feeling her own tears dripping down her face. That would fit Milton's personality type, she thought with a deep anger. He was why she worked covertly for the FBI. Unofficially, of course.
Far off somewhere, Alex could hear her alarm go off. She wanted to roll over and go back to sleep but there was a heavy weight lying across her. She opened one eye and looked down at the shadowed face of her roommate. A little tingling started up as she rolled the word roommate in her mind. The long body shifted and a mumble Alex couldn't make out came out of her body warmer.
"Good morning." Alex told her softly.
"Hmmm. Aren't you going to shut that dam clock off?"
"I would, but I'm pinned down by someone bigger than me."
"Hmmph." Liz lifted herself and groaned. "This couch is not made for sleeping on."
"Ahhh. Just what type of bed do you have in mind." Alex could feel her body object to the parting of her sleeping partner.
"I use to have a waterbed. More comfortable." Liz gave Alex an apologetic grin. "Not to say your body was too lumpy or uncomfortable. You were very comforting. Thank you, Alex."
"No, problem. That's what roommates do. Look out for each other and listen to each others problems." Alex knew this was not the usual stuff roommates prattled about and didn't want to make light of it. "We're going to get him, Elizabeth. He and his little friends. They're involved in a slave trade and it covers a lot of states. What he did to you and…your family…is unforgivable in my book." Alex's suspicion that he may also be responsible for the hit and run was left unsaid. Things were only in black and white to people like Milton. If he wanted something and couldn't have it, then no one was going to have it. She remembered a stepfather who was like that. She rubbed her forehead.
Liz had risen and turned to give a hand up to Alex. Alex raised her eyebrows but took the hand extended to her. Liz shifted her weight to her good leg and lifted Alex up effortlessly.
"Good thing there are two bathing rooms and we remembered the toilet paper." Alex commented as she walked up the steps from the sunken front room and headed toward her bedroom.
Liz opted to take the route through the dinning room, stopping to look out at the gray mist that surrounded the house, then moved through the kitchen and into her own room. She made use of the toilet then maneuvered her long legs into the postered bed and fell into a deep sleep. She was glad she didn't have to go to work at this hour.
Alex finished dressing, pleased that they were able to move her belongings quickly and unpack them fully. She hated moving, which was why she put up with the small room for so long. It also helped her not accumulate things. If she did….it made it harder to leave when her job was finished.
Alex dried her short blond hair with the towel and leaned out of her bathroom listening for any movements. She slipped her bathrobe on and went looking for Liz. She smiled at the sleeping form framed in the carved four postered bed. She turned quickly least the images of two people lying in the bed become too clear in her fertile mind's eye.
Alex was sipping tea when she heard the small alarm alert her a car was approaching. She laid her cup down on the kitchen counter and opened the door to Angel who came pushing her way through the door with her rope toy. Alex laughed and looked up at Scripts who had a long cane draped over his arm and a small bag in the other hand.
"Good morning, Detective. She leaned out of the door and looked at the clouds of fog that were rolling in.
"When I went for a run this morning it was too thick to see where I was going. Had to give up on it. For a brief moment it rolled back out, but it looks like it's headin' back in."
"Ya. Come on in. Liz just went to bed. She works at night."
Scripts didn't ask any questions he just nodded. In his mind he went over what jobs a person did that was at night. He looked at the low couch, papers scattered over the low table and the laptop that was still open.
"She's a writer?"
Alex returned a thumbs up to him, while taking the bag he had. "Ohhh. Dog toys."
Scripts looked embarrassed. "Yea. Well, it's a good thing I brought them if she's going to be sleeping in. By the way, I didn't hear the geese when I drove in."
"There're on the other side right now. I noticed when the fog rolls in they move to the other side. I guess they don't want to wander off the cliff. Let me get my fanny pack. Where's Angel, or should I ask?"
"She's workin'." Scripts said. "Just like we need to. I won't be surprised if our fellow officers are a bit snippy because they had to get off their duffs and take a call yesterday."
"Tomorrow's my day off. Are you going to be okay with those two." Alex caught the glare from her partner as they moved out the door. "Hey, I was noticing lately you haven't been real nice about them. Usually you can hide your disgust for them under humor."
"I got the report on your roommate from Agent Bricolle. I was reading it last night. Not good for sweet dreams, I’ll tell ya."
"So, tell me." Alex took the keys from Scripts. They took turns being the driver to avoid conflicts. It was her turn.
"He's been stalking her for about two years. She's been trying to get away from him but…he's managed to keep her in that small town. The reports say he was leaving little dead animals around the apartment so whenever they came home, they had nasty surprises. He poisoned their pet dog. It's no wonder she just about choked with Angel giving her those big brown eyes." Scripts took a moment. "She's got nerves of steal or just plain stubbornness. She hid out in some women's shelters, but he found them all. He black mailed the shelters into giving her up. He's a real wacko, Alex. When they got him for stalking her, and attempted murder in another state, his biological uncle was the presiding judge over her court case. No one was made aware of that. They set her up. Anyway, the FBI believes he was the one driving the car that tried to kill her. She was leaving that day. It was right after the dog was poisoned. While she was in the hospital recovering, he tried to take over her finances and personal stuff but she had a very suspicious lawyer who handled her affairs. So the only thing this Bo character was able to do was have her moved into his apartment. For three months no one heard from her. Her lawyer sent over a Federal Marshal from another district to see what was going on. They found her chained to a bed, unconscious and in her own filth. That was not admissible in court, by the way, when they filed charges against him after he made an attempt on her life in another state. Got caught red handed."
Scripts paused. "Are you alright? Do you want me to…"
"No. Go on, the god dam fucker!" Alex released her tight grip on the steering wheel and pulled over to the side of the road, knowing they weren't going to get passed by, by any cars. This road only led to the house.
"Well, she was assisted by the Marshal’s office to a hospital out of town and from there another agency took over her care. Once she was out of the hospital, the agency kept moving her around, but he always seemed to know where she was in a matter of days. The agency is still working on the leak." Scripts studied the face of his partner.
"Anyway, in one of the states she was in, he somehow got into the shelter house and tried to kill her. It was a set up for him. It seems our Elizabeth has more guts than most people and let the FBI use her as the cheese in their trap."
"Anyway, some how he got the trial to be heard in his home town, where it all started. They had enough evidence on him to convict him, but that's a Religious Right town and his lawyer pointed out that the boy she was raising was from an old lover of hers, and that she was a Lesbian. Sealed the case against her. She became the bad guy and he was the knight that was cleaning up the infidels."
"She didn't try for a retrial in another city?"
"His whole family is in law enforcement and…unfortunately…in the slave trade. Her only way to survive was to pick up while she had some protection and get out of Dodge."
"So." Both were quiet for a while. Alex turned the car back onto the road and resumed their slow progress through the fog to work.
"She's working for the FBI." Scripts told her.
"She's not an agent!" Alex told him in disbelief.
"Nope. She's allowing herself to be used as the bait, still. They were moving her around hopping to draw as many of his buddies out as possible, looking for the leak, but Agent Bricolle said she notified them the other day that she was tired of running and wants to make a stand."
"She's making her stand here. Good timing." She drawled. "We got punks that want to start a drug dispensing business in town, we got Mike and his little buddies getting taken over by a bigger and badder group of militia, and now…Do we have any information on the group that's trying to move in?"
"The very thing I asked the Agent last night. She's looking into it. The Chief missed your presence at the meetin' last night, but he understands. By the way, seems Karla disappeared. She didn't show a sign out time but she's gone. Agent Bricolle went over her room last night. Found a few things that need checkin' out. They're going to do a sweep of the House."
"Hmm. I met her in one of the shops the other day. Looked guilty about something. Do you know anything about Larry's Pipe and Tabacco shop?"
"Yea. He doesn't have many customer's."
"Wonder how he stays in business if most people in town don't smoke?"
They somehow found the station in the fog that continued to roll in, without running into anything. Patrolling in cars with the fog as it was, was out of the question so they spent time taking care of paperwork.
The Chief had the usual staff meeting then roll call, where he went over the assignments that day.
"Oh, and one of the women at the shelter is missing. You, know the drill. Mike and Danny, you've been beggin' for a chance to get back into detective work. Let's see if you can do better than your last case. Keep me posted, that means before your lunch, I want to see you two with your notes. Alex and Scripts, both of you are on foot patrol today. Fogs going to hang a lot longer. Okay, dismissed."
The chief looked at Alex as they passed. "I want to see you two in my office."
Mike and Danny smirked as they moved to what they knew was an easy job and that the Chief was more than likely going to talk to them about their complaint that they were using work time for personal business.
"Sit down, sit down. Did Mark fill you in on last night’s meeting?" He asked Alex. He gestured to the chairs, then pulled one up for himself.
Alex merely nodded. The Chief seemed to be waiting.
The door opened and Agent Bricolle came in. She took another chair.
"I had Agent Bricolle wait in the computer room until those two left. We won't talk about their complaint about you two taking personal time off without mentioning it to me, because I already knew where you two were. No problem there. The problem is that this Bo Jeffery Milton, the guy that is after your new roommate Adison, has disappeared. I give him a few days to get here. How's the security at the house you two are staying at?"
"We got it wired for sight and sound." Scripts assured him.
"You need to tell her." Agent Bricolle told the Chief. "She deserves to be kept up with what's happening."
Scripts shifted his weight. "With all that's she gone through, maybe we should give it a day. Let her get settled in."
"No…I'll tell her when I see her later. The phone company is coming over to install some lines today. I also want to pick up some furniture she can sit in, appliances need delivering and installing and all that stuff.
The chief laughed. "I always give ya moving day time off, if the case loads allow for it." He then frowned. "I would also feel better if someone was with her at all times. I just don't have many people to spread around to cover for you."
He nodded to the Agent.
"That new group of paramilitary that's moving in has a contract with Milton. Elizabeth Duke has been marked for the slave trade. But…that doesn't fit in with Milton's profile. Milton is an all or nothing kind of guy." The Agent informed them.
"Maybe it was the only way to get this group to find and kidnap her." Alex offered. "I mean, would they go through all this trouble to kidnap one person just because someone is mad at them?"
"It's a pride thing. They might. But there has to be something more that's coming down for them to have that armored vehicle here." Scripts put in.
"Well, maybe this will shed some light." The Agent leaned forward with an envelope she pulled out of her brief case.
"Geez! That many disappearances in a week!" The Chief glanced up from the report he quickly scanned.
"Ya. Notice that they were all from women's shelters."
"What is happening here?" Alex asked angrily.
"Internet has happened." The Agent muttered darkly. "We stumbled on a site that advertises to spouses that feel they have been seriously injured by their wives or girlfriends, that they have the payback remedy for it. Each applicant is carefully screened. Then presto, the injured party has no more worries as the person annoying them is gone."
"They sell them?"
"Dam!" Both Scripts and Alex said together.
"This group created the idea and are bent on showing the rest of their compatriots that it's a win win money maker."
"Aren't they worried about getting caught?" Alex asked in disbelief.
"Nope. They got contacts…pretty high up in the government, I'm ashamed to say."
"Geez." Alex suddenly looked at the Agent. "Ya know, most FBI agents don't share information with other agencies. It's sort of an anal retentive reflex they got from Hoover."
"Ahh. So why am I being so darn open? The Attorney General. She's set up a group to investigate a certain southern senator whose wife disappeared under questionable circumstances. He happened to be from the same town Milton is from. He raised a few red flags when people who were making headway in the investigation to her disappearance were either reassigned jobs or fired. He had panicked. By the time we got involved, he got himself under control, and had ready answers for everything. Since he's on too many important committees, it would be rather difficult to have an open investigation. She wants him brought down, real bad."
"Fired?" She smiled. "Yep. I'm one of those that got the ax. I'm unofficially still an Agent, but officially a bounty hunter. I work with a group that has severed ties to the Bureau but we do have access to whatever we need."
"Who do you report to?"
"The Attorney General."
"Oh. And she reports to?"
"Probably the President." She smiled. "The senator and he have this thing between them…it's a very deep chasm and filled with a lot of dark nasty stuff."
"Just how many of there are of you here?" Scripts asked.
"Here in town? There are three of us." She held up her hand when Scripts was going to ask the names. "I can't tell you any more."
"All right, for now. So what's the plan?" Scripts looked from the Agent to the Chief. This case was getting better every minute.
For the next fifteen minutes she went over the map on the wall with everyone around it studying where the paramilitary was hiding out and possibly holding their kidnapped victims.
"Dam! Isn't that where your cabin is? Geez. If you go up there on your usual two days off you'd be right smack in the dab of them. Hell! They had to have known that!" Scripts was getting angrier by the minute. "God dam!"
Alex reached up and caught his arm, pulling him back into a chair. "It could have happened…but it's not going to."
The Chief nodded toward the Agent. "Everyone in town knows about Adison's cabin and that she spends her two days off up there."
"Have any enemies?" She asked looking toward Alex.
"I'm gonna cut them shriveled up balls off that sorry piece…"
Alex gripped Scripts' arm. They both thought of Mike. "No wonder he's been grinning so much lately. Too bad we're gonna disappoint him." Alex smiled. Her own heart was beating at the scare it gave her. Would she have been able to sense something was wrong before she walked in too far?
"I'm kind of worried about the other folks that go up there. When I'm up there, there are a lot of old folks that enjoy their place without the sound of the weekend kids."
"It's getting kind of cold up there. People still stay there?"
"It's beautiful, and quiet with wildlife." Alex sighed regretfully. With all the activity up there most of the area would be trampled and the wildlife by now would have been scarred off, if not shot.
"Quiet with wildlife?" The Chief asked. "Well, let's keep an eye out for missing family reports on a daily basis. I'll see what I can do about cuttin off people that want to visit up there, but it's going to let them know we know they're up there. I'm sure they scouted the place out before they moved up there." He glanced out his window. "Well, the fogs lifting and…" he glanced at his watch, "ya got some stuff to arrange for. So get going."
The Agent remained behind with the Chief.
Scripts accompanied the quiet Alex as she confirmed the delivery of the utilities and walked along the shops looking for furniture.
"Hey, how about that desk?" Scripts quickly rapped on the window of the used furniture store they walked by. Walter's thin face was seen behind the closed sign dusting off his belongings before opening.
Waving his wrist in a foppish manner the thin man opened the door enthusiastically. Too enthusiastically for Scripts, but he put on a brave face. Walter had a crush on Scripts.
"That desk over there, mind if I check it out?" Scripts asked trying to put more space between he and Walter.
Alex rescued him by, pulling on Walter's sleeve. "Walter. Remember our talk?" Alex told him softly as Scripts had escaped and was pulling out the chair to the desk. Since Scripts was tall he was able to gage for size than Alex was.
He reached both arms out and was able to touch the ends of the desk with the tips of his fingers. Walter's eye brows lifted and his eyes did some funny things, which an elbow from Alex reminded him about his manners.
"This would be great for her. Geez, Alex. It must kill her to sit on the floor and work."
"From one tall person to another, I'm sure she will appreciate your consideration."
Walter suddenly frowned. "Just who is this tall person?" He knew Detective Scripts' wife was just a tad bit taller than Detective Adison.
"My roommate. So what's the price?"
It was a deep cherry red with the handles on the drawers, looking Chinese. "I sure hope she doesn't mind Chines furniture." Alex murmured.
"Not if it's higher off the ground." Scripts returned.
Walter thought about it for a while. It had been sitting in the window for a long time and was more of decorative piece that a saleable item. As he thought about it he pictured an antique bed he would like to put in it's place. He sighed at the image of two bodies…
"Walter!" Alex called impatiently. "Get your head out of the cloud and do some business here."
Walter looked indignant and Alex was thinking that it was not good to insult someone whose tolerance for self-depreciation was low.
"Well, I'm not sure. I'll have to look in my inventory to see what it's price is."
Alex sternly warned herself not to roll her eyes. Walter didn't have any price tags on his stuff because he made up the prices depending on how he felt at the moment.
Alex looked at her watch. "Gotta get back to the house. Let me talk to Liz and see if she wants to come over and see it. She probably could use some time away from four walls."
Scripts nodded. "Take the car. I'm suppose to be on foot duty, remember?"
Alex laughed. "We'll meet ya at the Palace Gardens for lunch at one. Okay?"
"Right on." Scripts girded his belt and got ready to do some serious talking with Walter. He liked Liz and thought at the same time of his partner Alex. For them, he could do this. He sent a mental apology to his wife.
"Walter, this is for a good friend. You and I know you can sell if for anything you like." Scripts waited.
"For a small fee."
"Walter, I'm married, I'm also not gay, nor have any desire…"
Walter looked shocked. "That's not what I was going to suggest." He reported indignantly, drawing himself up as tall as he could. "I…maybe lunch one day."
"Today would be fine. At one. With two conditions. That my wife be there and you bring someone else along. This town is big on gossip and I won't have my wife endure any side glances."
Walter nodded frantically. He knew just the person. He smiled politely and gave an extremely low price for the table and chair. Scripts refrained from looking surprised. Walter was a retired used-furniture storeowner whose deceased lover had a shrewd head for business and left Walter with more money than he could spend. Walter was not a spend thrift, usually. Walter settled in the small town after his lover had died, because his friend had moved here. They were old cronies who had all sorts of odd bets going on between them. He was going to collect big on this bet. Alfred didn't think Scripts would be caught dead with an old queen like Walter so he bet that he couldn't get Scripts to sit at the same table for an entire meal.
Paybacks were sweet.
Liz felt something wet being pushed into her open palm that was dangling over the side of the bed. The smell of a dog’s chew rag brought memories from another time to her. She groaned. "Rusty, take that dam thing to Julian. He loves to play…." Her eyes popped open and she dragged herself up.
A very tall, shaggy gray haired, thin faced Irish Wolfhound was chewing on a rope toy, occasionally dropping it on the side of her bed, then picking it back up and chewing it some more.
A slow smile etched her face. "Ahh. I take it you want to play." She glanced at the clock that was lying on the floor for lack of a dresser. It was almost time for the telephone repair people to arrive. A bigger smile appeared on her face as she thought of whom else would be coming over. She slowly swung her legs over the edge of the bed. She had done the exercises Mai had showed her the previous night and was happy the knee wasn't as sore as her other exercises left it. She was determined to get back into shape.
"Shower time, Angel. How about after my shower?"
The long thin dog moved from foot to foot and dropped her toy at her feet. Liz recognized it as a plea for a toy to be tossed so it could be scampered after. Liz rightly guessed that Mark didn’t by habit play with the large dog play indoors. Angel would demolish a room in one leap or in this case, on slide, since there were no carpets. Liz looked at the dog suspiciously wondering if the dog knew that she would be sliding after the wet toy if she went after it.
"Hmm. You know, there is no throwing toys in the house." She told her sternly. The beautiful golden brown eyes looked up at her hopefully. Liz's eyes teared up as she gently ran her fingers over the thin skull that placed itself on her thigh. Liz took a deep painfilled breath. Why was all this hitting her now?
Alex found them by the sounds of the sobs and quickly surrounded her arms around the shaking form that was sitting at the edge of her bed. A very upset Angel was whining not understanding why her licks were not helping with the distressed human she was assigned to "watch".
"It's okay Angel. You just remind her of someone else." Alex told the worried dog. Suddenly the dog's demeanor changed and with a growl she was pointing her face toward the side window.
Liz wiped her face and tried to stand up while Alex was already up with gun drawn looking to see what was setting Angel off, hopping it was the telephone crew.
"Wait here you two, let me make sure they are who they appear to be. Angel, good girl, watch."
She was not going to be standing in a room that had windows and few places to hide, Liz told herself fearfully. Angel whined when Liz started to flee the room. She remembered Alex had commanded them both to remain in the room. She was going to have to talk to Alex about limiting her places to hide. She looked toward the practically empty closest. That would be a good place.
She stepped into the long walkin closet and waited for her reluctant bodyguard to follow her, before sliding the door closed. "It's for only a few moments, Angel. I'm not too happy about this either." She whispered.
She placed her hand on Angel's thin head and could feel the dog quivering. She looked down at her in the darkness and thought her teeth were barred. A sound from the bedroom, soft and hardly heard, had the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. She only felt that way when Milton was around. The thought of Milton had her unprepared and she backed up into the corner of the closet. She was surprised when her solid support gave way. She grabbed onto a rail her flailing hand found, to stop herself from falling down a stairway. Angel was pushing at her urgently backward.
She wasn't going down any dark stairways without a light, she thought stubbornly. She pulled Angel close to her and pushed the panel back in place feeling it click shut. Goosebumps ran up and down her arms while a very upset dog was shaking with unvoiced growls, as she leaned against her taller charge protectively in the dark.
* * * *
Alex went out into the yard and met with one of the young telephone crewmembers. Alex didn't recognize him, but they did come out of a neighboring town. She asked to see his ID then asked how many were here and where the rest were. She walked around the building locating one other man who was working on the outside box. Usually only one person was sent. Her hand held communicator had already been depressed three times in a row, then twice. It created a noise on other people’s communicators if they had them on. It was the signal the Chief and Scripts had arranged for emergencies when they didn't want Mike and Danny involved. Alex's heart was pounding when she found the sliding door to the dinning room was opened. She slid in with her gun out in front of her. She moved through the kitchen after taking a quick look around the front room. She found a tall bulky blond haired guy in Liz's room, but no Liz.
They guy looked up at the gun that was leveled at him in the steady hands of a very irritated looking short blond haired woman.
"Hey," He said in a slow southern drawl. He put his hands up in a playful gesture. "I'm just the telephone installer."
"How did you get in here?"
"Back way. The door was opened so I knocked and came in. No one answered and since it was wide open I understood it to mean come on in. Just doin' my job, honey." He noted she fit the description Officer Mike Hobbs had given him as a pick-up for his side business. She was supposed to be up in the mountains getting taken in by his team. He didn’t let his irritation show at the misinformation he was given.
"Next time use the front door."
"Hey, no problem. I'll get Jake to come on in. How's that? Make ya feel better?" He slowly rose to his feet moving toward the door that would take him to the front door.
"This way. Same way you came in." Alex hadn't lowered her gun. She had no intention of offering any apologies. The back sliding door was locked when she left and it was locked when she returned. She had told Angel to stay in the bedroom and she doesn't disobey when she’s on duty. That left the closet, which was still in the bedroom. So she knew it wasn't Liz that opened the door.
She followed the person that was giving her unpleasant feelings out the sliding glass door and back to the truck, noticing the guy that was working on the box was not where she had left him. The first guy she met was working on the wiring, making new connections for the old line that looked like it was hanging on by a few wires. She didn't remember it looking so ragged the previous day.
"Where's the other guy?" She asked suspiciously. She heard the light tread behind her and knew that most telephone workers didn't walk lightly. Not with all the gear hanging from their belts.
She moved so she had all of them in sight. Her gun was loosely held in her hand out of sight of the third guy.
The new face lit up. "Ma'am. Your box out there needs some work. We have a few extras on the truck and can change it now."
"No. Just hook up the line. I'll…" she could hear another car approaching on the road and it was in a hurry. She was hopping it was the Calvary.
The agent and Genie were in the van from the shelter. Both took in the three men and Alex and could probably feel the tension.
"Adison! Thought you could use some help with the furniture. It's just behind us."
The three men seemed to be undecided at what to do. The guy fixing the wire let out an expletive in an exasperated tone. "I need another wire. This isn't the right one. You don't have fiber up here and this is all fiber."
"Well, I guess you'll have to return to your station and get the right one." Alex told him giving them no room for misunderstanding that she knew they weren't the right team.
"We'll be back." The tall blond told her in a soft drawl, before he climbed up into the telephone truck’s cab.
"We'll be here." Alex told him not blinking.
The truck rolled out with the dust of the side of the road churning up as they moved over to not collide with the furniture truck that was delivering their appliances.
Alex looked at the two women. "Was that who I think it was?"
The Agent nodded. "One of your citizens just reported he heard a plane this morning land on the a patch of land near a marsh. Detective Scripts sent us over, said he got a SOS from you. He’s keeping an eye on Mike and Danny to see what they’re up to."
"Well, the gauntlet has been tossed down."
"You couldn't have arrested them?" Genie asked angrily.
"For what?" One of them was the real telephone guy. He could say he was training the others. Dam! Liz!"
Alex ran back into the house not daring to call for her. She didn't know if any bugs were placed. She put a shushing finger to her lips and the others nodded as they fanned out. Alex returned to the master bedroom and found what she knew would be there. She gathered up two more in the carvings. She turned to look at the Agent who nodded. They were going to have to run a sweep through the whole house. Rather than go through this again she decided that, Scripts, a man of many talents, was going to have to help her tie in the phone lines.
She slid the closet door open and softly whispered Angel's name. There was no one in the closet. She was going to back out when a faint whine came to her ears. She stepped further into the closet, up to the end of the wall. She looked it up and down, pulling her small pocket flashlight out and looking for something that might indicate a catch. She found it and pushed it watching the door swing open. A very happy Angel came out followed by a very frightened Liz.
"That was him." She told Alex softly. Her eyes were open wide showing blue orbs filled with fright.
"Yea. Looks like he was too anxious to check out your new residence. He came through the back sliding glass door."
"Don't you have this secured?"
"Thought we did."
"These people have every electronic toy at their disposal. Whatever you have, they'll have." Agent Bricolle told them, who with Genie gathered in the bedroom.
Alex nodded. She was thinking about the geese and how Angel would go crazy with them wandering around the yard and then she remembered that Milton liked to poison animals.
Liz limped over to the edge of the bed and sat down. Her hands were shaking in her lap.
"Are you going to be able to hang in there?" The Agent asked Liz.
"I've gone this far. The good thing about it is, this is going to be my last stand. I'll be fine."
Alex rested a hand on her shoulder and could feel the shaking in her thin frame. She was hopping she was right and they did get Milton. A honking from the front and a yell had Genie heading out the door. "Oh, I forgot to tell them it’s okay to bring the stuff in. It's Kinney with the stuff. I'll see to it."
The agent followed her out leaving Alex with Liz. She knelt in front of the woman and put her smaller hands over the long thin fingers shaking in her lap.
Nothing was said as the golden brown-eyed bodyguard looked from one face to another then rested her head on Liz's thigh with a soft sigh.
"Once we get the stuff hooked up, how about we go into town for lunch? I have a nice surprise to show you. We can also pick up some cheap rugs. These floors are cold." Alex knew she was rattling along and normally she was successful in not doing what seemed to come to her easily, but it seemed to relax Liz.
"Bookcases, and a desk are a necessity for a study, and chairs to sit and read in." Liz welcomed the normal conversation. "Maybe a lamp or two."
"Well, now's a good time to get cleaned up. There's a lot of us here so you'll be safe. How did you find that passage?"
"Well, that was a surprise Doc didn't tell us about. Does it go anywhere? Oh, yea. It was dark. Tomorrow I have two days off, so…we'll be quite busy settling in."
"Waiting for him to make the next move?" Liz frowned. "If all the players are here, why wait for him to make the next move? That's what makes him feel he's got the upper hand." Liz pulled out a change of cloths from her suitcase, underwear and some salve to rub over her knee. "Ahh. I hate to be one of those roommates that's always borrowing things, but…do you have some shampoo?"
"Sure. I'll go get it."
When Alex returned Liz was already in the shower. She dropped the bag of clean laundry Genie had brought over, onto her bed. The shower stall showed the outline of her tall form and it encouraged her hormones to go on a rampage. However, she did manage to calmly rap on the shower door and wait for a dripping hand to take the bottle.
As Alex left the bathroom she gave Angel who was sprawled out on the bathroom floor with her chew toy, a doleful look. This is going to be a rough one, Angel.
Angel yawned widely, showing her breeds famous canines that grabbed onto the necks of their prey, usually wolves that they chased down and shook to death. Right now Alex had Milton in mind.
Alex followed the sounds of the grunting, as two husky guys from the delivery store, Rex and Alan, maneuvered the double door refrigerator so that it fit in the space for a refrigerator.
"Big, huh? The way you eat it’s just the right size." She laughed at the face Alex sent in her direction. "It was our old one for the House. It was okay, but we needed a bigger one so, we retired this one and bought the monster we have now."
Genie happily demonstrated the good qualities of her first refrigerator. The guys plugged it in and then started with the oven. Rex knew how to install electric ovens and that's what they had. It matched the refrigerator, a light tan. When the House moved to a larger refrigerator it also moved to a bigger stove.
They moved Scripts' small frig on wheels to the side. When the larger one was ready they would move what was in the smaller one over to the larger. Then let Scripts take his party frig back.
Liz arrived, dressed and cleaned up, standing near the lunch bar looking into the kitchen at what was delivered.
"I brought you your clean cloths, Elizabeth." Genie told her as they both watched from different perspectives the men dance around the heavy stove to get it situated right.
"Hmm, the brown bag on my bed? Thank you, Genie. Nice and big." She nodded toward the refrigerator. "Great for snacks."
Genie's eyes opened wider. "You and food? That's nice to hear that you're taking an interest. You are looking better." She was speaking the truth. The dark circles under her eyes that made her blue eyes stand out, seemed to be less darker than the previous day. And she found the blue eyes resting on hers longer, before moving off to flicker over her surroundings. She always seemed to be aware of what was going on around her. It wasn't unusual in the women that resided at the House to be hyper vigilant. However, Liz actually took in what was around her and categorized it and knew if something had been moved, even if by a mere inch.
"Looks like moving into this new place has done you a world of good, though…it makes us uncomfortable you're so far out here."
"It's to prevent anyone else from getting hurt." Liz told her tiredly. "He doesn't care who he hurts to get to me."
"I know. I've been there, Hon." Genie told her in a low voice. "Come-on, I'm hungry. Why don't we all go to lunch?"
"I told Scripts I would meet him at the Palace Gardens at one."
They all looked at their watches. "Well we got some time. Maybe looking in stores for some more stuff for this place. Oh." She paused and gave a thick envelope to Liz. "Since you're not staying I think you'll be needin' your funds."
Liz nodded. "How much do we owe you for the appliances?"
When that was finalized, the group jumped into the van and a happy Angel, who got to go somewhere, plopped down over Liz's feet.
The rest of the afternoon was pleasant including the lunch with Walter and his unfortunate gambling buddy. Liz was happy to meet Scripts' wife, Linda, a local artist and teacher. Angel was happy to see both her family members so soon.
The desk and its size brought a smile to Liz’s face. While the price was finalized and the delivery Liz spotted bookcases with doors on them that went with the table. Walter was very happy that his Chinese furniture was finally moving. He threw in a plain lamp to go on the desk.
The Agent didn't accompany them back to the house, which was good, for on the ride back in the van, Genie and Scripts were sharing tunes they learned while in their respective military careers. Army against Navy, and they were not in tune. The delivery truck with the new furniture was following them at a slower pace. Piled in the corner of the van were phone wire and phone equipment that would give them private jacks and outlets for where ever they wanted the lines, and a new outside line.
"I've ordered three lines for the house. They should already be set up."
"Three?" Liz asked surprised.
"Yea, I thought you would like one for yourself and I usually have one for the computer and one for my phone. Dr. Ebbens had three previously, so it shouldn't be that difficult to reinstall them. He had one for his wife, one for business and another for his computer.
"Everyone seems to be into computers in this small town. It's amazing." Liz mentioned as she hopped out of the van. Scripts had talked her out of buying a cane telling her with a dark eye toward Alex who forgot to tell her, that she had a nice cane waiting for her at the house. Alex grabbed Liz's elbow to steady her as she hopped out of the van on one leg.
She rested her hand on Alex's shoulder taking advantage of the situation, and leaning on her when she needed the support.
As they trooped in they could hear the approach of the furniture truck, that was making its second delivery that day. This time Walter was paying.
"Okay, real quick. Where are we…" They heard another vehicle pull in and by Angel's expression it was someone she knew.
"Hi! Anyone home?" Mai's voice echoed through the mostly empty house.
"Mai. Back here." Alex hurried to the front. "She likes your furniture enough to go out and buy more."
"So I heard. I thought Walter was going to die of happiness earlier when he said he sold the desk he bought off us. I saw them loading the bookcases along with the desk and had to come up and see how it was going."
She looked around. Alex had moved over and let Mai look around. Genie leaned over to Liz who was watching Mai with the others, though without a clue as to why the others were waiting for Mai.
"You heard of Fungi Shui?"
Liz smiled. "As a matter of fact, yes."
Mai nodded to herself then started directing the two husky men to move what they had already placed down, to other places.
"That your desk Alex?"
Alex looked embarrassed for a moment. She hadn't gotten anything really nice. It was an old beat up desk that fit her desktop, with her scanner and printer sitting on boxes.
"We're going to look for a desk for her." Liz informed Mai.
Mai smiled and looked down at Liz's leg for a moment noticing how she shifted. "Have you been doing those exercises I showed you?"
"Last night. You're right. My knee wasn't so unhappy this morning."
"Good. Maybe next Wednesday you can start my class. It would help." She turned back to Alex. "The type of desk for you…" she moved over to a space in the room, should go here. You know, Peter's got one in his back room. He has it covered waiting to move it forward when something else in the front area is sold. It's dark cherry wood, plain. Has the space on the sides for your printer and scanner."
"Well, let's go look at the rest of the house." Mai spent thirty minutes giving them hints for placement of furniture and some statues. A dragon here, chimes there, she pointed to a space, a small waterfall would go well. She finally took a good look around and smiled at her audience.
"I shall enjoy your house warming. Well, I have got to go. I told Gary I would be back in time to help prepare for tonight's class."
"Yoga?" Liz asked.
She turned to look at Liz. "No, something more strenuous. Perhaps you would like to one day join us. You look like you once were active."
Liz nodded. "Sure. Soon as my leg is back to holding me up."
"Soon. With those exercises and the acupuncture treatments, it shall be soon." A confidant Mai left the group.
"Well, you have just been given a great seal of approval." Alex chuckled.
"I'm afraid to ask her over to my place." Scripts admitted.
"Why?" Genie asked surprised.
"We have a lot of clutter. Two kids, a dog, an artist and a pack rat like me…oh, boy. Clutter is everywhere."
"You all know about Fungi Shui?" Liz asked as she took the cane Scripts was offering her.
"Hey, this is one very ‘new wave’ type of town. Most people know about it." Alex told her laughing. "Genie and Claire were for it until they got the word about the clutter in their office and decided they were too comfortable surrounded by it."
Genie laughed easily. "We believe in it. We just couldn’t decide what to eliminate in the office without getting into a territorial spat. We make up for it elsewhere in the house though. That's why we have those mirrors and chimes around the place."
Liz nodded. She had wondered about chimes in rooms but didn't think of Fung Shui."
"I got ta get to work on the wires so let me show you a thing or two about this thing." He pushed then twisted the top of the cane and a thin long sword was drawn out. He then slid it back in. "Doesn't shoot bullets, but it sure can hurt."
"It's very nice."
While Liz sat and played with Angel, Genie, Alex and Scripts wired the house for phones and other things, Alex would tell her about. While in the Army, Genie had been in the communication field before she was transferred over to cooking, so she wasn't unfamiliar with what they were doing. Alex knew what they were doing for other reasons, and Scripts was just an all around handy man.
By dark, most of the work was done. Some one had smashed the communication box so Scripts moved it and placed it in a less vulnerable place. It meant if the telephone repairperson came out, Liz would have to let the guy in to the back washroom, that had the main power switch box, and now a washer and dryer, fully operational.
"Hey, nice washer and dryer. Good thing for you that Claire and Genie had to purchase bigger appliances." Scripts mentioned as he wiped his hands.
"Yep. One person's good fortune is passed on to another." Alex told him happily. She was feeling very content and bubbly, regardless of the danger they were in.
Genie, Scripts and Angel piled into the van and waved their good by. Liz was in the kitchen putting something together to eat. Scripts had scanned the entire house and found in the short time Milton was there, his team had managed to plant a lot of little bugs. It made Alex wonder where they were getting their funding to be able to afford the top of line quality goods. Slaving must be good business. Dam scumbags!
They had some tall stools now to sit at the kitchen counter, so Alex climbed up on one as Liz was still preparing their dinner. She looked at her arms resting on the counter. "I think I need to clean up before I eat. Be right back."
When the shower turned off Liz started to ladle out the steaming food and was pouring water into the glasses when she heard a screech from Alex's room. Liz grabbed her cane and hurdled toward the room cognizant that maybe she needed to be more careful. She pulled the thin sword out and pushed open the bedroom door moving through quickly.
Liz’s eyes took in the naked form of her roommate who was holding up an offending chew rag that looked still damp from being recently mauled by two fingers, and far away from her body.
Liz nearly fell over with laughter at the expression on Alex's face. When Liz finally had a chance to breath she looked at the now towel wrapped body and a very contrite expression on her face.
"You wouldn't be laughing so hard if you sat your naked self on it." She told her irritably.
Liz started laughing again. "You sat on it!" She had to hold herself up. She remembered Rusty leaving his favorite rope toy in all sorts of places and her being surprised with it with just as much disgust and chagrin.
Finally she straightened up and limped over to the smaller woman. She pulled her toward her and gave her a hug. Liz couldn't remember laughing so hard for such a long time. Even better, she couldn't remember taking an interest in anything since the accident. She had been too busy surviving.
Arms wrapped around her and hugged her back tightly. "I hope you're not expecting me to be finding Angel's surprises in my birthday suit to cheer you up all the time." A muffled voice informed Liz.
"Hmm." She found herself kissing the damp blond head. "No. I don't think my heart will take those squeals."
"Squeals? I don't squeal. I shout, I have on occasion screamed, but I don't squeal." Alex told her seriously, looking up at the firm jaw line above her. She didn’t want to release her hold around the tall thin form just yet.
Liz looked down in the dark pupils, aware of the body that was pressed against her and the tingles that the contact was generating up and down her spine…and that if she continued to hold her like this, there was a fire that was going to be igniting in her groin area. She reluctantly released the blond.
"Well, while your dressing, you can think of a description for that sound I heard." Liz turned to where she had tossed the wooden sheath to her sword. Alex was quick to pick it up and the sword she dropped when she gave Alex a hug. Liz's eyes rested on the cleavage view she provided her.
Don't go there, Elizabeth Anne Duke. May be after all of this is through, but now is not a good time.
A little flushed, Liz took the cane, reassembled, and limped back toward the kitchen.
When Alex reappeared dressed in a T-shirt and sweats, Liz looked up from the pan she had cleaned.
"You didn't have to wait for me." Alex told her. "But thank you for doing it."
As they ate in silence Alex was thinking of which to explore first the stairs in the broom closet or the passage behind the closet panel.
"Since we're exploring tonight…I would like to check out the space in my room first, if you don't mind."
Alex nodded. "Sounds like a good idea.
* * * *
Armed with flashlights and a first aid kit just in case, they moved into their first intimate exploration of their home. Alex spent a few minutes studying the exterior of the panel then moving in. Liz tried to keep her patience in check by imaging this to be a character in one of her stories that she needed to know. After all, her hero wasn't sloppy, but careful to methodical, practical, and lovely to look at.
Alex caught Liz's sigh behind her. "I just want to be sure there aren't any unpleasant surprises for us."
Liz laid a hand on her shoulder to steady herself, and because she needed to touch her. "I have no problem with that. I'm just impatient."
"Well, think of this as doing research for a book. By all those papers on the coffee table, I would say you do a lot of research." Alex helpfully suggested. She continued to flash the light along the stone wall examining each side then the step before feeling it was safe enough to put weight on it. Five steps then they hit a flat spot. Liz flashed her light to the side of Alex's to give a better view of what they were looking at. Someone had used it at one time. There were pipes that came from the house down the wall, but were capped about two feet from the floor.
"In your writer's fantasy, what would this be?" Alex asked as she turned around. There were not other exits. Is seemed to lead to no where.
"A dungeon. A fake hideaway. Hmm. A dark place could be used for someone interested in photography, but…I think way down here, hidden in a closet is a bit too much." Liz came up with quickly. "Let's get out of here. It gives me unpleasant goosebumps." She suggested hopping Alex would take it.
"Hmm. I'll bring some brighter lights later. Scripts would love to look this place over." She looked over at Liz who readily started the short process of climbing five steps back up. "You don't mind do ya?"
Liz turned around bringing her light to flash to side of Alex's face. "No, of course I don't mind. You rent this place too. You can invite anyone you want over."
Alex grabbed her wrist and held it where she was flashing her light. She moved her own and the mark disappeared. She moved it back and the mark reappeared. She studied it for a few moments then decided that Scripts would be a better person to check this out. The pipes looked like water pipes, sealed off. Why hadn’t the doctor mentioned this room?
"Come on. Let’s take a quick peek at the other one. Chances are the tides in. But, I want to look, just to be sure."
Liz continued up then waited in the closet for Alex to come up. Alex, cautious by nature, listened to the outside before she led Liz out of the closet. The crickets outside were boisterous, and the geese were making their usual occasional squawk as if another moved into them.
"I don't know if I would feel more comfortable with curtains over those windows or just not have so many." Liz admitted.
"A lot of windows, but a beautiful view. At night when the moon is full, the reflection on the waves is nice."
"I guess I'm too use to having a lot of walls and few windows."
"Yea. Does it bother you that you're so close to the cliff?" Alex asked as she maneuvered the floor to open on the broom closet.
"No. Not too many burglars, or other wise would want to be crazy enough to try to enter the house at night that way."
"Maybe we can add some roses with big thorns later."
Alex shinned her light around their next exploration, already having been down it, she let Liz go down first. Their feet could feel dampness of the sand beneath them and they also could hear the pounding of the surf from far away.
Alex read her watch. It was one in the morning. "What time do you normally break off your writing?"
"Three maybe four in the morning."
They didn't have far to walk before finding the water was covering the passageway. We'll check out the rest out in the daylight. If this is a tunnel to the ocean, I want to know just where it opens up to."
Alex went first up the stairs, moving quietly and quickly. She paused before entering the kitchen closet. Then she opened the door slowly and listened. Crickets, geese, and an occasional bird call.
"What kind of bird is up at this time of the morning?" Liz’s sharp hearing caught the far off call.
"Loons. We hear them along the beach in town when the fog rolls in. Every once in a while you get one that just lets out its forlorn call. We have a marsh I could take you to see. It's where the warehouse is unfortunately."
"Yea. Sometimes during the winter the ocean and marsh connect."
"Well, I have a few hours left to write. It's a ritual." Liz explained.
"Want some tea?" Alex offered.
As Alex prepared some tea she also remembered Mai had mentioned Liz needing to do exercises. She walked into their new study. Liz's back was to her but she knew something was wrong and was at Liz's side immediately.
"What is it?"
Liz showed her the note.
"He must have figured out the laptop was mine."
It was a note with a scanned picture of a young boy and a dog. "I take it this is your son and Rusty."
"Julian. Yea. He liked taking things, personal things, when he would make his visits."
"You let him in?"
"No. When Julian and I were out he liked to drop in and leave a calling card. He trashed Julian's room once. By then I was calling all sorts of shelters but they wouldn't take us in. He had already called them, one of the women told me. She gave me a cryptic message too which while I was repeating it while cooking dinner, Julian gave me the clue of where to look for the meaning."
Liz looked at the picture and touched the face gently. "It was from a child's cartoon. Unfortunately for Rusty I saw it a day later. It was about wire tapping only with a child's twist. You know, two cans tied to a string. Kids overhearing other peoples conversations. He must have been listening to all my phone calls, laughing. I had already made the arrangements to leave the next day, so he knew I was leaving town. But I couldn't stay another day after he poisoned Rusty. Julian was so frightened he was wetting his bed every night." Tears were streaking Liz's face.
The whistling of the water boiling made both women jump. Alex left to quickly take care of that.
She returned and studied the woman who simply stroked the top of her laptop without opening it.
"Come-on, one night of interrupting a ritual shouldn't hurt. Besides, I don't think you're going to be thinking of writing right now.
Liz looked up with sad eyes and Alex stepped in to embrace her. They held each other for a while before Alex stepped back. Liz looked down at the laptop and was going to push it back on the table when she noticed there was a floppy in the drive. She frowned.
"I don't leave floppy's in my drive. I'm too paranoid." She explained to Alex. Alex pushed the button and a floppy came out.
She laid it on the bookcase near her computer that was for now, sitting on her junk table, then thought better of it. She didn't want to accidentally put it in hers. She found a small container for floppies and clicked it closed sticking a small reminder note on it without writing on it.
"Maybe you should check yours." Liz suggested uneasily. She suspected that if Milton was in her room, then he had visited the others. How would he know which room was hers. Her writer’s mind supplied her with the answer. Smell. She shuddered.
Alex's curse brought her attention back. "I know I didn't have a floppy in the drive. I checked it before I moved my stuff here, and haven't had a chance to use it."
"Maybe he's pissed at the copied diskette Karla took with her. She made a copy of my files. It had a virus that when the infected PC logs on to the Internet and goes to target WEB sites, it sends it’s babies off to others on that page."
"You created a virus!?"
Liz smiled wanly. "I have many skills…but that I haven't attempted. Agent Bricolle and her team created it. They wanted to find out who all was interested in the slave trade so it's earmarked to pick up certain phrases."
"Remind me then, to not be signing on to any." She caught Liz's uplifted brow. "I monitor them. Scripts and I take turns, along with the team from LA"
"Maybe you should warn them."
"Hmm." She booted up her PC watching Liz's reflection in the monitor.
"You're not going to call him?"
"No. Somewhere along this road, someone might have a tap on the phone. More difficult to monitor through the Internet, unless you're a real whiz."
"What are you going to do?"
"Send a message that the FBI is a fat bitchen idiot."
"What kind of code is that?"
"It was all that Scripts ten year old son could think of."
"Bitchen." Liz pulled the desk chair from her desk and rolled it over to Alex. "Here. Sit down. This is a far more comfortable chair then that fold out you’re sitting on."
"It won't take long." But she got up anyway and exchanged chairs, realizing how nice the change was when she sat down. The padded seat was so much friendlier to her bottom. "Dam. I gotta change my numbers and stuff here." While Alex changed her Internet location Liz went to the kitchen and poured some water over tea bags and brought them back in. Alex was deep in her typing and moving through different hate sites so Liz thought to leave her to her work and do her exercises. She didn't feel like writing now.
Liz was lying in the soft carpet Mai had sent over for them to use, her eyes closed as she let the tingling in her legs settle down from the exercise. She felt someone kneel next to her and she felt a smile form on her lips. It's the smell. It was the smell of Alex's shampoo and the scented soap she used.
"Hey, are you sleeping?" A hand brushed her long hair out of her face.
"No, just resting after my exercises."
She moved to get up and felt Alex's arm move around her waist to support her, as she moved awkwardly toward her bed. Her T-Shirt came just below her panties and her bare legs brushed against the bare legs of Alex's. She had also changed into her longer T-shirt that almost reached mid thigh.
Liz turned in her arm that was around her waist to sit down and felt a shiver as Alex brushed her breast. For a moment Alex froze.
Liz put a hand on Alex's face and lifted it to look in the shadowed face. Since there were no lights on, it was by instinct, and by the trembling in Alex's body that she knew she was right.
She leaned down and brushed her lips against Alex's then again teased the lips with her own. She heard Alex moan and took a more serious possession of her mouth. Liz could feel hands roaming her body as her own sought to know who she was holding.
Both sought the interiors of the others mouth, passionately looking for something.
Liz lay back onto the bed pulling the smaller figure with her. If her leg wasn't so stiff she would have rolled on top of Alex, but Alex had other ideas and parted the legs of the woman below her while exploring her neck with her mouth. Liz felt her body come alive with goosebumps, and shivers that hit her hard in her belly, and radiated out to her lower lips, engorging them with blood and her sticky wet essence.
Alex groaned as she could smell the release of both their excitement. She sucked on an ear lobe as she felt long fingers wrap themselves around her butt and squeeze. She groaned and felt another release of hot fluid that coated her neither lips and panties. She bit the base of the long neck and sucked relishing the movement of the body beneath her.
The two women continued they love making until Alex's alarm went off, causing both women to laugh. Alex had forgotten to turn it off on her day off.
* * * *
Later in the day, when both were up and about, Alex heard the monitor alarm go off, announcing a car and went to the monitors to see who it was.
Scripts was driving his own four wheeler with Angel riding shot gun.
She waited at the opened door as they pulled up. "Hey, what are you doing off?"
"Not off. Our car has a couple of flat tires. Thought you could do with a visit from Angel. Linda told me Angel was driving her crazy. I think Angel likes working too much."
Angel was happy to get out of her taxi and pushed past Alex with a brief nose press against her palm.
"I think its her chew rope. I had the unfortunate discomfort of discovering it last night."
"How bout lunch at one?"
"Great. Get any information yet?"
Scripts smiled. "Check you E-mail. Talk to ya at lunch." He waved and backed out his truck and disappeared down the road.
She went back into the house after taking a glance around the yard. She stopped at the row of monitors and studied them for a few moments. The geese were ranging along the South fence waddling in contentment from a morning feed. The other monitors didn't show anyone.
She found Angel next to Liz who was making coffee. Angel's toy rope was at her feet.
"Now she finds it. I'll be in the study." She kissed the shirted back and let her hand rest momentarily on her lover's hip. There was something else she would much rather do, but business first. Something important was in her E-Mail basket.
She booted up her computer after making sure there was no diskette in the A drive. She wasn't taking chances.
She opened up her Internet connection and when she connected she pushed her mail button at the top of the keyboard.
Liz had quietly come in with two cups of coffee with a not so quiet Angel who immediately plopped down near the two women. Liz sat in the fold up chair next to her.
"You certainly have a lot of fans out there." Liz told her.
"Strickly business." Alex turned around and kissed Liz's neck. Alex smiled at the mark she had left on Liz the previous night. "Hmm. Looks like a big bad bug bit c'ha." She teased.
"No, it was a little blond Bacchae." Liz teased back. "Your pen pals have some real strange names." Liz remarked. She had a hand resting on Alex's thigh.
"They are strange people. Here's the one." She opened it and then opened the attachment.
"It's on this house." Elizabeth recognized the layout.
"Yea. The architect's son. He works for NASA too. So, looks like we have a few more places to find. How about looking at the tunnel to the sea in about a few? Scripts can't make it, but he's left us Angel."
"Great. Let me change."
Alex watched her leave the room, noticing she had less of a limp and remembering what it was like to run her hands over her body. She sighed. Angel had left the room with her assignment. She looked down at her feet. Angel had left her chew rope behind.
Picking up the toy she laid it on the folding chair in plain sight, to avoid any surprises and went to her own room to get ready.
Alex let Angel go down the stairs first. Then they followed. They found a very happy dog waiting for them at the bottom. The first part of the tunnel they needed flashlights, but once they turned a corner, light from the entrance gave them enough light that they didn't have to use flashlights.
The tunnel was about five feet wide, and seven feet high. The opening to the tunnel was well protected by large rocks, though there was enough of an opening to one side to allow for a small boat to be moved in and out. Near the opening were two metal boats tied to a metal ring implanted in the rock wall. Both boats had oars, emergency kits for water, a small sail with mast secured to the bottom of the boats and life jackets for four. Since the tide was out, both boats rested in the sand.
Alex peered out of the cave trying to see how far someone had to drag the boats over the rocks until they got to the water. If someone was wounded, it would be pretty far. She looked closer and noticed a pattern. She was tempted to go out and see if those were really rocks. If the metal bottom was dragged along them, she had a suspicion it would easily move toward the ocean. She thought better of going out onto the beach that may well be under someone's eye.
"There's a camera."
Alex looked up to where Liz was pointing. "Scripts found some interesting cables he couldn't figure out while he was moving the outside phone box. Strange that all those monitors and not one to here. In the E-mail Scripts said that Dr. Ebbens let the architect set the house up. Dr Ebbens would sometimes rent it out to Roger's paranoid brother from NASA. Seems he felt more comfortable in this house than his brothers new one. No wonder Dr. Ebbens doesn't rent it out to just anyone. But…I can't figure out why he hasn't told us about everything."
"Didn't Genie say they traveled a lot and only stayed a few weeks a month? Not much time to get to know your house." Liz mentioned.
"Ya. Guess so. But he must know enough to let us stay here. Come on. Let's get back up stairs.
* * * *
At lunch they met Scripts who didn't have good news.
"The FEDs have been watchin' the group that's up around your cabin for some time, not bothering to tell us till today. They want to do a bust tonight. That means we have got to make sure Milton's caught and some how tied in with the group."
"Great." Liz mumbled.
"Are ya ready?" Scripts asked.
"As I'll ever be."
"The FEDs were kind enough to let us know of the bust. That ain't good. If this Senator is involved, that means they'll get a tip off. It means Milton's going to be real pissed off and Mike and Danny are going to be too nervous to have a BM."
"He'll head for the house."
"Yep. The L. A. team isn't happy with this FBI thing. They're wondering what's going to happen to their gang stakeouts, if the FBI messes this up. Word will get out. This town will be a set up. So, they wanna be a part of this. I guess they're bored with our small town business. Gawds, we're all going to be tired tonight."
"Excitement is better than coffee, Scripts."
"Listen. Milton's unpredictable. After the other day, he would have already started something by now." Liz told the two seriously.
"Well, there's some binoculars that are keeping an eye on the house during the day time. They would alert us if anyone was snoopin while we were gone." Alex told her.
Alex smiled at Liz's look of surprise. "Genie has a great view from her balcony in the back of the house. She and some of the other women in the shelter have been keeping an eye on the place. Gives them something to do and makes them feel better about this stalking business." She patted Liz's hand trying to comfort the blue eyes that suddenly became unreadable.
"Right. Well. Didn't Mai say Peter had a desk you would like?"
Alex looked surprised at the sudden change of subject. "Oh, yea. Walter's rival. They speak only on holidays. You would think they hated each other."
They spent a short time there. Mai had already spoken to him and yes he had it ready for her to look at. Alex pulled out her checkbook and wrote him a check. The price included delivery. "Peter. How about holding off delivery until maybe tomorrow?" Alex was thinking about the danger at this time of anyone approaching the house.
High noon at the OK corral must be drawing near for Alex's little mental red lights were going off. It didn't help when Mike and Danny were standing in front of the Landrover. Mike put his foot on her bumper setting the alarm off when they saw the two approach.
"Like a dog pissing on a fire hydrant." Alex muttered loud enough for them to hear after she shut the alarm off.
Mike swaggered over to her. "Bitch." he said softly.
"What's wrong Mike? Someone steal your toy soldiers?" Alex asked.
He snickered and walked off with Danny laughing with him.
"Obviously they think something is going to change so much, they can move around openly. Come on. I want to see what's going on in the office."
* * * *
A furious FBI agent was screaming at Chief Harper.
Alex walked in with a soft knock. "You don't lower your freakin' voice and I'm gonna call y'er mama and tell her she's got a rude dickhead for a son." She told him softly. She didn't like the look of the impeccably dressed agent that had mud on his shoes.
"Who the hell are you?" He turned to face her, his face red with expressed anger.
"Let me guess." She told him not fearing reprisals. There was noting he could really do to her since she worked for another organization. "You had a leak, probably from the Senator's office, and you have no one to wrap your fingers around, which was the plan all along. Right?"
"What the hell you talkin' about?"
"Who over sees this operation?"
"None of you fuckin business."
"Chief, either his pants are too tight, or he's faking an interest in gathering up this group. What d'ya think?"
The agent sputtered and was about to continue but the Chief and Alex left the office.
"He's in with them." Alex nodded to the Chief. She had his picture in her mind from her own contact.
The Chief nodded. "Not worth hearing his worthless threats. Waste of time. Thanks for reminding me we got serious business to take care of." He smiled at down at Alex. They're gonna hit this town when the FED team moves out, is my thinkin'." The Chief frowned. "But, we got it covered. Dam city types. They think we're helpless without their help."
"Where did the quarry go?"
"Up to the Mill's farm. Mike must of told them that he's locked up and it's deserted."
"How many of them?"
"Bout twenty. Heavily armed. It'll be okay. We'll keep them contained. Got a buddy over in the next county that has a few tricks up his sleave. Pays to know a few people in AFT who want to see mud on a few FBI faces." He nodded to Liz who was waiting by the coffee machine.
"You need to get settled in your place."
Liz nodded feeling the chills run up and down her arms. It was time for her to be the cheese in the trap.
"Come on. Let's borrow a car." The early night fall of winter was already bringing gray shadows over the town.
Alex procured one of the marked police cars and headed out toward the house.
"He's not going to wait for tonight, Alex."
"Nope. Didn't think so."
* * * *
The car started to swerve on the road as if it had a flat tire. It was too coincidental and when it came to a stop in the soft sand both women were out of the car, with Alex's gun already in hand.
Alex slid across the seat, following the slower moving Liz out of the passenger side using her hands to encourage her to make her tall form smaller, by crouching lower behind the car. It was dark and Sunrise didn't have that many night lights preferring the natural darkness. Alex was sure their hunters had night vision goggles.
Neither said anything as Alex's eyes sought familiar landmarks; she started to move when a puff of sand stung her face.
She pulled Liz back behind the car and decided to take the rougher route to a gully she was very familiar with. It took them away from the beach but it did circle back eventually. But she wasn't planning to follow it to its end. She was grateful that Scrip's training, which had her roaming all over this area at night in mock battles, gave her an idea of where to double back to their destination, the house.
Their progress wasn't as fast as Alex would have liked it, and she found herself wishing for some of the high tech toys she knew their hunters were using.
"I want you to stay here." Alex whispered in Liz's ear.
Bright blue eyes turned her way. It was all that shinned in the darkness.
"I would like to even the odds with night goggles or a big gun." She explained. She didn't want Liz to think she was using her as bait.
A hand touched her leg in acknowledgement.
Alex listened and sniffed the air, waiting for something to betray one of their stalker's presence. She saw a shadow shift up ahead. They didn't realize their prey had moved behind them.
She used the lower part of the sand cliff to hide her from his night goggles, careful to not trip anything that would give her presence away. This was…too easy, but she needed something to even the odds. As she paused to look around her again, the uneasy feeling that it was too easy bothered her.
Dam, Adison! You better be right about this. Reluctantly she retreated back the way she had come.
As she approached where she had left Liz she found Liz wasn't alone. Cursing silently she moved closer to the dark figure that appeared to be keeping guard over Liz. Alex moved so that she was behind him, as he kept his attention fixed on Liz with a rifle pointed at her head and the little red dot on the bridge of her nose.
Alex breathed slowly, trying to quiet her loud heartbeats. She needed to concentrate on the sounds around her. Their stalkers were obviously expecting her to be creeping after their bait. Her hand moved quickly in a cutting motion, right where Mai had said would stun, if not knock out someone from behind.
Liz had seen her and moved her sore leg to bring the attention of her guard on her. The man slumped over unconscious. Alex quickly stripped him of his gear, including his communicator, while Liz undid the handcuffs they had around her wrists. Alex quickly clamped one cuff around the man's wrist and the other around his ankle. The two women hurried back across the road, down to the beach. Alex was thinking of reaching the house through the tunnel in the rocks at the foot of the cliff.
As Liz limped over the rocks, her progress was getting slower. The tide hadn't moved completely in, so it left them a thin dry stretch along the cliff face. Both women refrained from speaking, not wanting their voices to be overheard. Alex suddenly stopped and whirled around pulling Liz down onto the rocky ground, and the water. She angled her head so she could see through the night goggles what was behind them.
Dark shapes were running toward them, growling as if they meant business, and they were their business. Dogs!
"Put the weapons down and they won't kill!" A familiar voice told them. The voice brought a small cry in Liz's throat.
"And if they don't kill you, we will."
Alex was going to go down fighting but dark figures dropped to their side grabbing the weapon from her hands and knocking her and Liz to the ground. Alex didn't see what happened to Liz as she was roughly pulled up, bound, gagged and a hood was placed over her head. She was tossed over someone's shoulder and was carried back to what she thought was the road. Alex strained to hear what was happening to Liz but she only heard the breathing of the soldiers and the dogs that were panting at their sides.
Alex heard a door open and she was tossed unceremoniously onto a hard floor. Armored truck? Another body fell against her. The vehicle moved as the door was slammed shut, and she could hear the tires try to spin on the dirt at the side of the road.
She tried to move her bound hands but the binds on around her wrists only grew tighter as she moved. She could already feel the tingling in her hands from the loss of circulation. Voices in the front cab occasionally made it through the walls as the voices fluctuated in an argument.
Alex stiffened as she felt fingers feeling the tight bands on her wrist, then a tug and they were loose. Alex didn't waste time as she pulled off the hood from her head. The interior was dark and she felt the other person moving away from her. Painfully she pulled the tape that was across her mouth off.
The voices continued to argue in the front as the vehicle moved faster than what Alex wanted to think was safe. The fingers, that she knew not to be Liz's touched her wrists again. A mouth was placed close to her ear.
"There's four of us in this one. Five in the other, with your friend."
Alex realized these were the women that were kidnapped. "What's your plan?" She whispered back in the ear of her rescuer.
"We were hopping you had one." Was the return.
Alex thought for a moment. She didn't know if this one was the one with the homing device she had planted.
"Let's wait until they stop." She whispered against the ear.
The other put Alex's hand on her head and nodded.
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