Book 4: Rapids.

Series: Light, Water, Muses. An alternate universe for a variety of television series. See disclaimers below.

Rating: R, due to some of the unfolding themes. Remember that I warned you about breaking taboos!

Category: The continuing saga of Reflections/ Resurgences/Refractions. Begins just after the new year, only days after Refractions ended.

Pairings: none exactly...

Personal disclaimer: Sylvia and Racheal are mine.

Disclaimer: "ER", see Chapter 1.

Disclaimer: "The Division", see Chapter 1.

Disclaimer: "The X-Files", see Chapter 1.

Spoilers: None that I can think of.

Summary: CD is required to deal with some of her past to step forward into her future.

Chapter 2 Opening Gambit

++ Sylvia Ventura, The Red Queen ++

When the door to my office burst open, I jumped in surprise despite myself. Very little fazed me anymore, as I had seen and done far too much to be easily shocked.

But, once again, she took me completely off guard the way a bullet might, shredding through flesh. Or a wild dog from a dark alley, sharp teeth flashing in the streetlights.

She stalked in like an arrogant and hungry predator, utterly self-assured of her own prowess. Even after all these years, my body shivered with the electric thrill of her presence. A motorcycle helmet dangled from one gloved fist, and my favorite pet was firmly scruffed in the other.

"My Lady Red Queen," Dace intoned formally and shoved Racheal into a kneeling position. I knew that her co-workers called her CD, but the initials were ridiculous and I refused to use them. She had always been Dace to me and those that knew her well. Or Leonacouer, the lioness-hearted, when she was in character like this, a name I had given her all those years ago... My Lioness Heart's deep bow was flawlessly executed and the well-honed perfectionist in me was pleased, despite the situation. "We need to talk." My shock finally morphed into livid rage, admittedly a bit tardily. How dare she waltz in here as though she had some right to my personal domain! Racheal cowered in fear, nearly huddling behind Leonacouer's legs. While my emotional explosion built red and violent behind my eyes. Dace fought with herself for a long moment. I was perversely amused to watch the familiar struggle. There had been much of it that finally cumulated in her leaving me three years ago. It cleared suddenly and she shoved her helmet into Racheal's arms. "Hold that. And stay put. I'll need your two cents about this."

That was the last straw and I snapped to my feet to snarl at her with a voice that shook with suppressed rage. "How dare you come in here and though you have some right to my presence and speak to my personal body slave without my permission!"

Something intensely feral and dangerous flashed tawny in crystal blue eyes. Once again, I was thrilled and terrified at the silent threat. Damn her...

It took some effort, but Leonacouer swallowed the beast down and I could see that the effort cost her.

This striking woman was the finest challenge that had crossed my path. We had made magic together. A dizzying mix of feral wildness and rigid control, like a tornado inside of an ice cage, my first and finest Ace was unforgettable. I may have tattooed her flesh with my mark, but the imprint of her soul on mine was just as permanent. Even now, after years of separation, she drew me in like heat.

Again, Leonacouer bowed, abruptly all manners. "My apologies, my Queen. I'm not here about you and I, but something bigger and more important."

I hated that I was disappointed.

++ CD, Dace, Leonacouer ++

After all this time, she still thrilled me. Physically, she hadn't changed noticeably, still tall and whip-cord lean with heavy breasts and classic legs that stopped traffic. She still wore crimson in defiance of fashion saying that the color did not match her expansive mane of sorrel hair. Her bright blue eyes still flashed almost green when she was emotionally charged.

The skin stretched tight over my heart and back burned.

In shades of black and red, I still wore the symbol given me by my Queen with mixed emotions. Unlike the other sexual slaves that passed through Sylvia's care, I bore not the pawn, but the king himself, shadowed by his powerful queen. The glittering jewel of the crimson Diamond surrounded the chess pieces in glittering backdrop. I was the only one that I knew of to ever bear this mark. Sylvia had spent months perfecting the design and even more time learning how to apply it herself.

Even eighteen years later, I remembered being lashed to the horizontal cross, begging for her mark. Both of us were bone-weary by the time the masterpiece was finished.

It was still frighteningly beautiful to me.

The electric stare had grown sly while I reminisced. I could never hide the way she made me feel... and our years apart had not lessened the effect. All I could do was get down to business and pray for my sanity. "I'm joining the FBI on a case and I need your help."

"My help?" She purred condescendingly, knowing that she suddenly had the upper hand. But not for long.

"There's a serial killer preying on the leather community."

A heavy silence descended over the office, our triple breathing heavy in the sudden quiet. Sylvia was brilliant, but stubborn. It was that impossible bull-headedness that had finally driven me off. The woman found it impossible to admit that she was wrong about anything.

"There's been little communication between cities anymore. He kills in pairs, gay couples, two men and two women. All of them in the Scene." The words sank in like mercury through the skin. "Ring any bells?"

All of Sylvia's energies were focused inward now, her mind engrossed in the mystery I had brought her. Respecting the process, I waited patiently and glanced down at Racheal. I remembered the woman, a shy wallflower with a subservient hunger that burned wild behind her eyes. I'd been so jealous and irritated over my Queen's fascination wither her... Given permission to help train her, I'd been merciless.

Thankfully, for Racheal's sake, I'd left before ruining her completely. Sadism was fine, but a Bottom should be rewarded for a job well done and I could barely bring myself to do that.

Racheal wanted to meet my gaze, she nearly vibrated with the need. But her training won out and she remained kneeling beside me, clutching my helmet as though it was a lifeline. I could see that her thumbs minutely caressed the shiny black surface. It seemed that Racheal remembered me after all.

++ Racheal ++

Her blue gaze was like a physical weight on my head. I almost expected to feel her hand caressing over my hair, yanking my head back, forcing me to her will... Shaking off my familiar needs as best as I could, I gripped the inky helmet crushingly tight, liking the hard press of it into my softness. Even with my Mistress paying me no mind, I was shaking with fear. The tall woman towering over me had always terrified me in ways I had never been completely certain I liked.

My heart was racing like a rabbit's.

Watching the familiar boots on Leonacouer's feet wasn't helping. The boots were a heavy standard motorcycle style with thick wooden heels and squared off toes. Only, instead of the usual straps and buckles decorating the inky leather, the original Ace of Diamonds, the mighty Leonacouer, had custom boot bracelets. Goddess above, but she was sexy. Two bright silver chains hooked to diamond-shaped rings on the sides of her feet and a pigskin strap held them snug to the heavy boot leather.

But not snug enough that the woman didn't send up the faintest chime when she walked. It was a maddening tease to someone of my station and fetish.

I was shaking with the need to worship those boots.

"How does he kill?" Sylvia suddenly barked into the thick quiet and the crushing tension was gone as Leonacouer raised her gaze and I could breathe once more.

"The FBI hasn't given me all of the details yet. The profiler I spoke with made it sound like this was a long term and personal vendetta."

"How long?"

"Just over three years. Once in autumn and once and spring."

Just over three years. The same time that the Four Suits had fractured apart. The same time that Leonacouer had left for the last time. My Queen's gaze was sharp and hurt, like blood on a razor blade. Those were not good times and the memories were still raw. Leonacouer might try to act nonchalant, but her body was tense, her hands thrust roughly into her jeans pockets. Wounded and all to human, Sylvia leaned back from the computer and was strangely vulnerable for a long moment. "When I ceased speaking with Jesse and the others, this freak started attacking?"

"Yes ma'am."

The green-blue eyes narrowed and I cringed in terror. Most of the Red Queen's psychological power came from her icy control. But she owned a ferocious temper that matched the color of her hair. Leonacouer had always been a very powerful trigger for my Mistress. Especially when their roles were reversed like this. It was fascinating, seeing Leonacouer calm and cool with my Queen seething and flushed. I wisely remained motionless beside Leonacouer, breathing shallowly and willing myself to be invisible.

"You think this is somehow my fault."

"Not at all ma'am," Leonacouer soothed placidly and her body relaxed. "I merely said that the breakdown in communication between cities attributed to the killer moving unchecked all this time."

Which meant that, yes, it was partially Sylvia's fault. I remembered the days of the Four Suits, each of the four naming themselves from the deck of cards. Each of them in a different major city and watching over the four sectors of the United States. My Mistress had been the keeper of the west coast, while the others watched over the east coast and the middle states split from west to east. An emotional falling out had led to communication drying up between the superpowers and this killer had appeared.

This was horrible.

Visibly controlling herself, Sylvia leaned back into the computer and was back to business. "They're certain that it's one attacker?"


"If it's personal, he would beat his victims to death, so that he was directly involved. He may also shoot them execution-style, but that's usually more business-like."

The conversation was making me queasy with the implications. Sylvia's tone was grim and shaken, Leonacouer's boots chimed softly as she shifted her weight from foot to foot.

"No, I believe San Francisco was spared. Honestly, I haven't heard of anything out of the ordinary all along the west coast. If the FBI can be persuaded to spare a few more details, I can check more closely."

"Good," Leonacouer breathed in relief and abruptly sounded like just a relieved police inspector. "The quick search that I did pointed to a 'no' as well."

In the quiet that followed, my Queen leaned back in her chair, impenetrable and icily watchful. This was how she was her most magnificent and Leonacouer's anxious fretting quieted. "You could have just called. Why did you come here?"

Why indeed.

++ Sylvia ++

Years ago, young Candace Bogart had come to me, and I to her. I had been immediately ensnared by her intensity. Even then, as a coltish adolescent prowling the dark underbelly of Los Angeles like a hungry lion barely into his mane, she had been electric. Old before her time, lean and quick, I spotted her standing at the chasm that so many youths like her were forced to face. Only a step away from disaster of one sort or another. Drugs, promiscuity, the thrill of criminal life, the choices were many.

I liked to think I had a hand in saving her from herself.

All that blast furnace intensity drew the darkness to her like hungry sharks. Heart pounding in terror, I carefully reeled in my young lioness before a truly dangerous sort destroyed her. It was a more difficult catch than I had expected. Looking back, I was hooked long before I had her safely in my net.

The wholesome good looks and fierce blue gaze harmonized with her loose, aggressive body. Childish social training was giving way to adult needs, but my lion cub had no focus. I gave her that. Trained her body and honed her intensity. By giving her goals, My Lioness Heart became focused and driven. It wasn't easy to keep her doing the things that fifteen-year-olds were supposed to be doing, like going to high school. She could be a ferocious little rebel.

Like now.

Bringing all these old hurts to light, was like lancing a painful wound I barely acknowledged. When I fell out with my old group of friends, only denial had kept me sane.

But I was incomplete without them.

A strange expression flashed over Leonacouer's face, and I was shocked that I could barely read her anymore. There was a time when she had been capable of hiding nothing from me. No longer. Not that I was disappointed with her. In the past, as a rebellious teenager, I could see hints of the woman she had become. No matter the history between us, she had grown up magnificently... when she wasn't pretending to be something she wasn't.

"I came here," Leonacouer began slowly, wary of my reaction to her words. "Because I need your help to stop this guy." Aw, crap, I could make a damn good guess where this was going. When she looked up through her lashes at me, nineteen years fell away and I was starkly reminded of my young love.

Shaken, I gripped the edge of my desk. Damn her for having such an effect on me...

"I'm here, as far as anyone needs to know, to beg you to take me back. To test me, you send me to Chicago as ambassador to Silverback. Once he's satisfied that I'm serious, he sends me back. My captain is in on this and the paperwork for an indefinite leave of absence is already filed."

"I don't speak with Jesse anymore," I spoke woodenly through my murky emotions and hurt flashed through her pleading gaze.

"I know," she whispered. "Let me do this for you. By reconciling with the others... perhaps this won't happen again."

I wasn't certain I could face Jesse.

Or Anastasia.

Or, worst of all... KC.

My old leather buddies had been a fixture in my life for so many years that losing them... and Leonacouer... had very nearly destroyed me. If not for Racheal's steady presence, I would have gone insane.

My pride had kept me from my family for nearly three and a half long years. Leonacouer had left me for the final time because of my falling out with the other Suits. How ironic that she would also be the catalyst to heal the rift. She had even managed to find a way to do it without damaging my insufferable pride.

People were dying and I could help stop it by apologizing to Jesse. I had a responsibility and a duty to get involved, and I understood responsibility and duty all to well. So, I took a deep breath and rubbed my eyes, uncaring that I was ruining my careful makeup. Then I picked up the phone and hit the speed-dial number that was still his after all this time.

It was picked up on the second ring and a familiar bass voice rumbled through the line. "Madame Red Queen. How may I serve you?"

Good ole' caller ID... Tiny knew it was me even before picking up. Bless his heart for not even sounding surprised that I was suddenly on his Master's phone. So I pulled the armor of my icy persona around me tightly. "I require a moment of Silverback's time."

"Yes Madame. I will attend to that immediately."

Tiny was the kind of Sub that made Tops sigh with envy. He was a massive mountain of man, nearly seven feet tall and built like a blacksmith, with manners to put the finest house servant or maitre d' to shame. Jesse adored him utterly and it was mutual. Faint sounds of the Chicago club filtered tinnily through the cell phone Tiny carried. Bottles clinked, voices murmured and things scraped across cement and wood. How I missed the domain of the King of Clubs. It just wasn't a party without my old friend in attendance. Then the voice of the man himself filtered to my ears, irately berating some fool who'd made the mistake of displeasing him.

Tiny's footfalls halted as he waited patiently for his Master's attention. There was the crack of a heavy smack and a boy whimpered pitifully.

"The Red Queen," Tiny intoned somberly and the sounds of the cell trading hands reached me. Long seconds ticked by with only the sounds of the distant club and my own breathing harsh in my ears. Finally, I heard the brush of Jesse's heavy beard over the microphone and the sound of his breath.


I wanted to cry at how wary and distant he sounded. The man had once been a brother to me and now...

"Jesse," I managed to husk around the lump in my throat and fought to swallow my tears. "The Ace of Diamonds has returned to me with an offer to act as an ambassador between us."

Again, that heavy silence, making me squirm. "Oh?"

It was unlike him, to be a man of so few words. I had often teased him about being the reincarnation of Shakespeare or Homer. It was proof that I had hurt him deeply. So, I did something I never did. Ignoring Leonacouer and Racheal, I reached deep into my soul for strength.

"Please Jesse, I want to apologize."

To be continued…

Return to the Information page
Go back to the last chapter
Go on to the next chapter