Book 5: Ripples.
Series: Light, Water, Muses. An alternate universe for a variety of television series. See disclaimers below.
Category: The continuing saga of Reflections/ Resurgences/Refractions/Rapids. Begins just after the new year, only days after Refractions ended.
Pairings: Olivia/Alex, Dace/Sara.
General Disclaimer: This site contains stories between mature, consenting adult females. All characters are borrowed without permission, but without the intent of infringement. Previously unrecognized characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Disclaimers: See chapter 1.
Summary: We return to Vegas to see how threads get tied off.
++ Dace ++
My life had remained at full tilt since Magda fielded that fateful phone call all those nights ago. Snake-Eyes, Catherine, Sara, Las Vegas, reunited with my old leather pals, blah, blah, blah. Tonight was the first time I had begged off obligations with my new family since that same phone call.
With the setting sun, my divorce lawyer had called my cell phone. With a fax, I had proof that I was once again a free woman. With that legal document, I had to stop holding back.
Because there was a part of me that had been doing just that.
All the years I’d wanted things for myself… and never could.
Staring into the goblet of whiskey in my recently uncasted hand, I was gratified to see that my scarred limb didn’t shake around the perspiring glass. I’d grown to hate Paul because he cheated on me with every jiggle that gave he the time of day. Unfortunately, the man was a charmer. My marrying him was proof of that. I could only guess now, looking back, that he pursued me because I was a challenge.
And I was stupid enough to eventually give in to the pursuit, too desperate for a shot of ‘normalcy’. Disgusted with past idiocies, I downed the glass, wincing at the expensive burn, and sloshed more into the glass. My stomach was still sensitive from months of painkillers, but I had worked my way through half a fifth of whiskey anyway. Kerry was going to kick my ass.
All of this whining was pointless though. I still had yet to figure out exactly how to get my relationships on even footing again.
Starting with that sleepy little voice. Shoving away the alcohol, I rubbed my eyes, still wincing at the sensations in my damaged arm, and looked over the edge of the couch. “Hey Shrimp.”
“You’re drinking,” Lindsey scowled at me, her expression letting me know exactly what had woken her from sleep.
It wasn’t a real answer, but I was unsure how to deal with Lindsey in this mood. Her scent drifted over me, stronger than the older impressions of her, here in the house of her mother. I didn’t spend every night here anymore. The ‘Chicken Ranch’, as Olivia had fondly dubbed our new headquarters outside town, was more like home now.
And the distance between all of us was becoming noticeable.
Now, I liked kids. Really, I did, but one had never been a long-term part of my life. I really felt like I was screwing this up. There was too much for me to deal with on my own. Lindsey moved to stand at the edge of the lamplight, her little face pensive. How the hell was I supposed to help her?
++ Lindsey ++
I don’t like alcohol. Grown-ups were stupid when they drank the stuff, and I didn’t like the expression on Dace’s face. Just ‘cause we were pulled towards each other like magnets, didn’t mean we’d found a way to be real friends. I liked Dace, and I was in awe of her, and I was even afraid of her… and I was jealous of her too.
Both me and mom couldn’t stay away, and sometimes we felt kinda like maybe we didn’t have a say in any of this. But, neither did Dace. I wanted to like her, ‘cause I couldn’t get away from her, and I know we could do this, until I found the girl who was gonna be to me what mom was to Dace.
In the meantime… I needed her. I needed her to teach me, and protect me from too much goin’ on in my head. “I miss you,” whispered my own voice, almost soft enough that you’d hafta be a Sentinel to hear. Her blue eyes, just like me and mom’s, only with that wild gold glittering just under the surface. For a long moment, she stared at me like I was a puzzle, then smiled, slow and sure, and made me feel all warm and fuzzy.
The open arms were an invitation that I jumped on, earning a giggling grunt and a bone-crunching hug. “Sorry to be a pain in the ass, Squirt.”
“S’ok,” I murmured, snuggling into her warmth, noting something that confirmed what my eyes had been telling me. “You gained weight.”
“Gee, thanks,” she laughed, and I swatted at her.
“Not like that. You were way to skinny. You feel… real now. Y’know?”
“I know,” she smiled softly and tucked me up under her chin, holding me like I was still a little kid. Sometimes, I just needed that, and it was sometimes hard with mom and dad.
“So, are you okay? I mean, you and mom and Sara?”
That got a startled look, then a smile like she was making fun of herself. “I forget how observant you are.”
“Hello? Sentinel. Duh.”
We chuckled together, then waited in a warm quiet. “I don’t know if I’ve thanked you enough for helping me out since I got here.”
++ Dace ++
Her look of confusion was adorable on her cute little face as she leaned her head back onto my shoulder to eyeball me. “Like what?”
“You seem to think that you’re only learning from me,” I explained softly. “But it’s not true.”
That little nose wrinkled up. “Really?”
“Really! Sometimes, grownups need a clue. You’re good at that.” We grinned together, and I gave her a friendly headbutt. “Just don’t do it too much, y’know? If you grow up any faster, your mom’s gonna have a nervous breakdown.” Sharing a giggle, we settled into a peaceful quiet.
“Am I ever gonna find her?”
The quiet, vulnerable question needed no further clarification, and I squeezed this child of my heart. “Yes,” I reassured her yet again, completely certain of that fact. Only this time, I went one step further. “You’d know if she was gone.” Startled, Lindsey hung on my every word, blue eyes guileless. “Monica found that insane Sentinel, remember me telling you about her?” A nod was the only reply. “I think that’s what happens to Sentinels that are alone.”
“If their Guides die,” Lindsey whispered in horror.
“Yeah.” I hated having this kind of conversation with kids, but Lindsey needed honesty, not coddling. “We can’t be alone. Alex Barnes was alone and couldn’t handle the senses and the solitude.”
Thoughtfully, Lindsey stared off into space, brain spinning busily. “So… so I’d know if she was gone.”
“Yes.” My quiet reassurance was broken by a squawk as she took me off guard with a guerrilla hug that made me fear for my whole neck.
“I love you Dace.”
“My pleasure, Lindsey. I love you too.”
(Author’s note: Slobbering thanks to mrswoman for the delicious dream sequence below. She wrote this the original draft of this for me, and I liked it so much, that I used it to start this whole chapter.)
++ Alex ++
Lost in Olivia’s loving, I barely registered a third person entering the room.
A hand ghosted over my sensitized nipples, twisting sharply, sending a shiver of pleasure towards Olivia’s hands already playing me expertly.
My eyes flew open.
The tall woman smiled at my gasp; blue eyes flashing violet with something akin to rage as she lowered herself beside me to mutter, “continue Dobie.”
Olivia glanced up with a hint of defiance.
Dace smiled, dared me to pull away, then soft lips took mine in a demanding kiss.
Relenting slightly, she murmured against my trembling lips, “sweet Alex, never keep me waiting.”
Jerking awake, I stared around wildly at my familiar surroundings. It felt so real, the press of hands and mouths and curvy flesh. Groaning, I buried my face in the pillow and once again tried to shove away the lingering images.
This had to stop.
Ever since Olivia bid New York farewell, my brain and hormones were obsessed. Why had she left? She was a died in the wool New Yorker to her core. And she’d just left? It was that damn Dace’s fault. The thought of the enigmatic stranger brought her ghostly voice to me.
“Never keep me waiting.”
Ever since hearing her scratchy voice over Olivia’s ancient answering machine, she’d plagued my thoughts.
And my dreams.
I must have dozed off again, because the phone jerked me awake, once more leaving me disoriented in my own home. Grumbling irritably, I automatically scrabbled for the phone and muttered an incoherent hello into it.
“Alex?” I knew the voice but couldn’t place it. “This is Michael, Olivia and Jo’s friend.”
Brain cells jumped and fired, bringing my memories into focus of a striking brunette with the mysterious and compelling amber eyes. Dammit, it was like acknowledging my attraction for Olivia had suddenly made me wildly aware of women in general. This was insane, really. I was too old to be having this kind of sexual identity crisis.
Startled, I realized that I had been mentally ranting to myself. “Sorry,” I managed to rasp. “Not quite awake yet.” In just three days of suspension and self-induced house arrest, I’d let myself become slothful and depressed. Then my lawyer brain stopped sulking for a moment and perked up in predatory glee. “Hey, how did you get this number?”
Even across the separation of time and electrical impulses along wire, I could hear the smile in Michael’s voice. “Liz Donnelly.” My boss, the woman that I had pushed too far, lying to my detectives about a warrant and very nearly getting the case thrown out of court. Sure, I’d gotten the bastard locked up, but I had compromised not just my integrity, but that of both my department and the SVU squad. “She’s concerned about you and Olivia both. No April Fool’s joke, I promise.”
“That was yesterday,” I answered woodenly, sounding like a petulant and confused child. “Michael, listen. Whatever you have to say…”
“So,” she bulldozed over my weak protest, voice soft, but as implacable as a sword in the gut. “Rumor has it you might have flown the coop, or possibly worse.”
“Yes, well…” I didn’t finish the thought, feeling oddly chastised and incredibly stupid at how I’d been acting. The sigh that echoed up from my gut was not feigned. “Do you know where she is?”
“Yes,” came the easy, curt reply. “And so do you. Honestly, I’m surprised that you haven’t contacted her yet.” Ire was burning through the fog of sleep and depression, and my ass-kicking skills were beginning to growl. “Perhaps you misrepresented your feelings.”
“You wouldn’t understand.” The words snarled out before I realized I’d even spoken. “There are things…”
“What? The Cavanaugh-Barnett case? I know all about it, counselor. I’m not going to judge you on that. Honestly, I probably would have done the same thing, and would feel as lousy as you obviously do right now.”
Stunned by this woman’s presumptuousness, a sharp knock on the door startled me from the rant building in my throat. “How dare…”
“You’ll want to open that,” Michael cut me off once again and I held the phone away from ear in outraged shock at the click of disconnection. Seething, I didn’t even check the peephole, a stupid move, not even wondering who would be knocking without being accessed by the security guard or my phone.
Only to be faced with the voice on the phone, on my doorstep in the flesh. An imperiously raised hand stopped the tirade again, and something pained in her eyes gave me pause.
“I baited you, Alex, and I’m sorry for that. Perhaps I can explain myself?”
Whether it was her placating tone or the cup of Seattle’s Best Coffee she handed over, or the brown paper bag with a fresh, hot croissant and gourmet bagel sandwich, but suddenly I didn’t care. It was nice to have someone go through the motions of giving a damn about me. This enigma settled to my couch to nurse her own paper cup and brood at my false hearth, while I ravaged my unexpected breakfast and waited her out.
“Olivia and Jo saved my best friend from a street gang that would have killed him,” wasn’t what I expected to fall softly from that full mouth. “Then I went and fell head over heels for Jo, even if it took me a good, damn long while to give in.” The self-depreciating smirk made me smile faintly. “I have a serious soft spot for them both. Then Olivia threw in her lot with one of my best friends, and Dace really needs her.”
“Dace,” I heard myself sneer, both of us startled at the venom in my tone. Clearing my throat, I set aside the tattered remains of the food, my appetite flown. “Yes, well…” I hedged, not sure how to move beyond the awkwardness.
“She misses you,” Michael said again, urgency lacing her tone. “And you’re miserable. You only live once, Alex, the old cliché is true.” I still couldn’t bring myself to react, and Michael sighed heavily, staring at me for a moment with those eerie wolf-like eyes. “If you won’t do it for yourself, and you won’t do it for me, will you do it for Olivia?” Confused, I made no reply, but my eyes followed her hands as they went into the satchel at her feet. From it, came an evidence folder, one of the most integral parts of my job. This one was pristine and crisp, and a weird feeling of dreadful anticipation trickled icy down my spine. “The backlog of cataloging some of the older crimes into the new DNA databases got a hit.” The thick paper felt unaccountably heavy in my hands. “They found Olivia’s father.”
Packing was a blur, handfuls of random fabric shoved in a travel case that was going to end up inadequate for a longer trip. Michael herself drove me, talking with someone on her cell to get me a plane ticket, no return date. Now, I was thousands of feet above the Midwest, watching the midnight hour tick down, too wired to sleep even at this ungodly hour.
The folder remained unopened in my satchel, shoved tightly into my bag, safe in the plastic and steel bin above my head. Part of me was dying to open it and see what it contained. I wasn’t supposed to know Olivia’s story, it wasn’t as if she had told me herself, but it was the kind of wild tale that everyone just seemed to know. My scattered thought processes vaguely remembered Michael explaining to me that Liz had been sitting on the unopened file for nearly a month now, completely flummoxed on how to deliver it.
Now, it was in my hands.
Scared, manipulated, and queasy from nerves, lack of sleep and the roast beef with cream cheese on the bagel, I squirmed in my seat. What would happen now?
++ Dace ++
“Oh, come on,” I groused as the lighting crew dropped a second light, something audibly breaking as the heavy light jerked to a halt at the end of its safety chain. “If you fuckers don’t shape up, I’m getting the horse whip,” I bellowed in irritation, stilling all conversation in the hall for a moment, before activity picked up at a more energetic pace.
“Irritable much?” Steph teased where she stood beside me, playing secretary. She was right, I was being irritable, but I had good reason dammit! After spending several days helping my beloved women track down the events that had led to a horrific crash of a Greyhound bus and a car, I had now been separated from them for several more. Lindsey was on a mini-vacation with her idiot father, and Liv had been gone for a day and half with Tessa on some wild errand for Anastasia.
All in all, I was feeling edgy and abandoned.
It seemed like half my time was spent playing gopher for Anastasia, not that I was physically capable of much else, and occasionally it grated my nerves. Then I told the cat and the lizard brain to shut the hell up, because she wouldn’t have us overseeing important events if she didn’t trust us.
In fact, I’d gotten so good at ignoring the cat’s grumblings and pacings, that I almost ignored her shrill warning. Hard to say who looked more surprised, Steph, or the angry blonde whose arm I’d just grabbed in mid-swing. In an instant, I knew her. The looks from a few pictures among Liv’s things, the smell clinging to clothes when she’d come back from New York. The pain shared with my adored Doberman of a pal.
Alexandra Cabot hissed in reaction as I tensed my grip on her forearm, making her open hand relax and curl slightly. “You,” she growled angrily, the sound possessive and pained. Releasing the arm, I mentally prepared myself.
It wasn’t the ringing, open-handed slap across my cheek, but the fact that she had the cojones to do it at all. Shock swamped over the pain and rage in Alex gaze, and she raised her hands to her mouth in horror that she’d actually belted me one. “Feel better?” I asked mildly, impressed with the strength in her willowy frame. Great tears welled up in the expressive eyes, and I sighed internally. Time to save another damsel in distress.
Gesturing gallantly with the plastic and foam splint on my arm, I coaxed Alex to move to a more private location before she melted down. Despite their collective shock, the House of Hearts-based crowd melted away as I prodded Alex to an adjacent room, where the crew had already finished their initial prep. Even as my new pal shook like a dead tree in wind, Steph materialized at my bad elbow, setting down two glasses and melting away again. Bartendering would forever be a part of that girl.
Silence seemed my best bet now, and hopefully she would start talking, because I was at a complete loss of how the hell to proceed. Shaken, and trying to swallow it, Alex vibrated with stress. Hell, she reeked of it.
“Would you like a chance to decompress?” I heard myself ask quietly, gently. “Get in a nap? Shower? A stiff drink?” Those red-rimmed blue eyes glowered at me, fell to where I was quite certain that the side of my face was reddening up spectacularly, and dropped once more.
“You don’t have to be nice to me,” she sulked belligerently and I wrestled down the dual need to roll my eyes or smack her one up alongside the head.
“Yes, I do,” was my calm reply. “You’re family.”
Somehow, I ended up with my good hand wrapped around the back of her neck, leading her to an elevator and heading towards the suite that Anastasia kept on site. The doorman let us in, and I shoved her in the direction of the bathroom, ignoring her for the time being. A quick glance into her satchel revealed that this had been a bigger rush job of a trip than I’d initially thought.
“Slip, suit jacket, t-shirt, and one pump,” I drawled under my breath, amused at the counselor reputed to be icy calm was so utterly unraveled. So, I went to the phone and bailed her out.
++ Alex ++
I was shaking! Literally shaking…
The strength of my reactions were frightening.
That flash of anger in Dace’s eye was frightening as well, not to mention my loss of control, cumulating in the ache in my left wrist where I’d smacked her so hard. Water hot as I could tolerate beat over my skin, easing the stress and disorientation that had me acting like such an idiot. While I enthusiastically scrubbed, I gave myself the same kind of lecture that I would when dealing with a killer case.
In time, I felt calm enough to salvage what I could of the current situation.
Toweling off, and pleased to find a thick hotel robe awaiting me, I stepped out and followed the strains of Mozart. My host was sprawled back, seemingly asleep, in one of the couches in the opulent center room, the plastic and nylon removable cast resting on her belly. She was a beautiful woman, a combination of strength and slenderness, hair grown out sloppily above the angry pink facial scar from Chicago. The handprint on her unbruised cheek stood out lividly against her pale skin.
“I’m sorry,” I breathed to myself.
“You’re forgiven,” her voice made me jump, and I was suddenly facing those sharp blue eyes again. “I’ve had worse done to me. Though you’ve got a mean left hook, Alex.” The hint of a smile made her even more attractive, and the mischievousness suited her. “I hope you don’t mind my forwardness, but I took the initiative to have some clothes sent up for you.” A gesture drew my eye to another couch, where several articles of clothing were laid out artistically. “There are some unusual benefits to my new job,” she smiled for real this time, and I couldn’t help the faint one that ghosted across my face in response.
She was an excellent judge of size and color, I mused to myself back in the bedroom, as I tried on the simple sports bra and underwear, before pulling on the soft blue sundress that had caught my eye and smoothing it over my curves. The color was perfect, just a few tones lighter than my eyes, the shades mottled like fog and water.
The murmur of voices drew me back to Dace, where a impeccably dressed hotel employee was setting out the last of a lavish, light meal. “Hungry?” She asked wryly and I was shocked to realize that I was starved. Chicken and asparagus with a lovely light ginger sauce, garlic mashed potatoes with crispy onions, a lemon soup with egg in it and tiny little pasta, and thinly sliced apples with plump grains in a rich cinnamon glaze.
Neither of us spoke while we ate, and some of my light headed out-of-control feeling faded somewhat.
“She’ll be happy to see you,” was the opening salvo.
“You’re not,” I snapped back, icy control firmly back in place. I would not like this woman! I would not! Dace’s mirror-of-my-own eyes were calm and nonjudgmental.
“I don’t know you well enough to like you or not.”
There was that.
“Michael visited me,” my voice blurted out completely against my better judgment and Dace looked pleasantly surprised.
“Really,” she drawled almost teasingly, and I was shocked to feel an answering jolt of embarrassment and something that just might have been arousal. “Gave you a prod, did she?”
“Of a sort,” I hedged.
“I’m glad. I hated the idea of never coming face to face with you.” Once more, Dace slouched back in her chair, relaxed but utterly dangerous. It was like looking at the indolent zoo lions, appearing so harmless, yet knowing they could still be killers. “There are misconceptions and tangled emotions here,” she said quietly, in that same calm tone that both relaxed and grated. “You blame me for Olivia’s moving. I blame you for her being lonely and not a little confused.”
What the hell did I say to that?
“Olivia is a child of New York,” Dace continued in the familiar tone of someone trying to get their thoughts in order. “But there’s a downside to that. In a very real way, she was never allowed to just be herself. She was always just the pieces of herself. Her mother’s daughter, and constant reminder of the horror that beget her, child of an alcoholic, cop, protector, friend.” Stunned at the words, I was riveted, and the images of my friend and crush in my mind’s eye were vivid. “But she was never just… Olivia.” Stricken at the images Dace was painting, I was nonetheless consumed with the revelations. “I really like Olivia. She’s family to me now. And I really wanted her to get to be whatever she wants, not what’s expected of her.” The blue eyes turned thoughtful, casting down to her plate, before meeting my gaze again. “And that includes her attraction to you. Alex, I don’t hate you or dislike you or any bullshit like that. I just hate seeing Liv suffer, but she’s a big girl and she can handle it. I bolster her up as I can, as do my other packmates, and she’s actually getting pretty good about leaning on us sometimes.”
“So,” I interrupted suddenly, voice cracking with strain, unable to stay silent for an instant longer, and Dace’s head cocked curiously, like a dog’s would. “You want to know my intentions?”
A faint smile and even fainter chuckle smoothed away some of our combined stress. “Only as a friend. I have no control over either of you, but I certainly have an emotional investment. Regardless, she’s unavailable at the moment, off on some wild goose chase with Tessa. I would advise a nap if you can manage it. You look exhausted.” Despite my stress and lingering control issues around this woman, I knew that she was right. In truth, I was so tired that I was borderline delirious. “I’ll wake you before she gets here, I promise,” she assured me with grave seriousness.
And I believed her.
++ Olivia ++
My new life was always an adventure. This ‘quick’ trip out to LA with Tessa had actually been far more entertaining than I would have thought when I allowed myself to be talked into it. I got to wiggle my bare toes into Huntington Beach’s sand while the Pacific said a wet hello, caught a show at the Pantages Theatre, took pictures at the Mann Chinese Hollywood Theater, and several other cliché things to do. Honestly, it had been a ton of fun, and Tessa was a great tour guide. As well as breaking down even more of the few social barriers I still had left, by being quietly persistent about not sleeping alone. Sure, all we did was cuddle, but still…
At the moment, my pal was warbling along with the radio, her faintly discordant voice oddly endearing, hair whipping in the wind, big, glamorous sunglasses making her good looks more like a Hollywood starlet’s. My chuckle made her look over quizzically, but I waved her off as my phone buzzed.
The caller ID showed a Vegas number. Interesting. Not a lot of people had my new number here. Well, not that I didn’t already have programmed into my phone, of course. Curiosity certainly had this cat by the short and curlies. Where the hell had I picked up that expression? God, I’d been hanging around Dace too long already. “Benson,” I barked into the device in my best businesslike tone “Talk to me.” There was a long pause where I could hear breathing and the random sounds of a casino. “Hello?” The noises sounded like any one of the casinos I’d been in since arriving in Vegas, which pretty much killed any hopes of figuring out who this was. “Okay, if you’re not gonna say anything, I’m done here.”
“No, wait! Please!”
Stunned, I actually pulled the phone away from my ear to stare at it for a moment. Then Tessa squeaked fear and I jerked the car back into its lane. “Alex?” I breathed in disbelief. “Is that you?”
There was another long pause. Maybe I’d only imagined hearing her voice.
“Hi yourself.” Relief flooded over me at the confirmation. Despite the onslaught of emotions from our parting, I just wanted to feel her next to me, know she was really here. “How are you? Where are you? Where have you been?” The questions flooded past my lips; I was unable to stop the deluge. “Man, I have a million questions. Where are you? I’ll come get you.”
“Um… I’m at Caesar’s Palace.”
I smiled, biting back an amused chuckle, as I saw the unexpectedly sweet sight of the Luxor Pyramid rise up out of the endless desert, with the rest of the Strip and city sprawled beyond. “You’ll need to be a little more specific than that, honey,” I replied calmly. “That’s a pretty big casino.”
“Oh, right. Sorry.” She sounded almost like she was in shock. Then again, after what Elliot had told me, I wasn’t really surprised. Hopefully, she’d still be able to open up to me and talk about it. She never had done well with holding it in. “I’m out by the Garden of the Gods pools.”
I grinned broadly, gunning the engine a bit as I pulled into the slow lane in preparation to exit. “Okay, you stay there. Have you eaten yet?”
“A while ago.”
The vague answer said a lot about her state of mind. “Okay, honey, you’ve got a choice here. We can eat somewhere in the Palace or we can go somewhere else. But you need to eat. You’re not used to this weather. Hell, I’m not totally used to this weather yet.” Damn, Benson, ramble much? “Okay, I’m on my way over there. Meet me out front in about ten minutes; look for the beige Lexus convertible.”
“Okay,” she replied curiously, her voice soft and kinda sweet, like when Lindsey was feeling shy.
“And, Alex? I’m glad you’re here. See you in a few.”
++ Alex ++
Nine days short of two months.
51 days, 1224 hours, and 2400 miles.
I couldn’t even begin to describe the butterflies doing kamikaze duty in my stomach at the prospect of finally seeing Olivia again. Too much time apart, too many miles, too much unspoken. That brief reunion when she came to pack didn’t really count as time spent together, especially since I’d been such a bitch to her.
Yet… she sounded happy to hear from me.
I wandered through the Palace for a few minutes, lost in thought, memories, dreams. Finally heading outside, I sucked in a deep breath at the change in my usual surroundings. This was the first few days of April, for god’s sake! It was supposed to be cold, crappy, and gloomy. Not bright, warm and dry, without a cloud in the sky. Shading my eyes against the glare of the late morning, I looked for the car and waited, falling back into memories again.
A quick horn blast brought me back to the present, and I blinked against the glare off the champagne-colored car as it eased into the drop off area. And then I saw her. Her hair was starting to grow out a bit, sporting perfect streaks of sun-kissed color, and her skin, normally such a lovely shade of old ivory, was now a deeply bronzed tone. It looked magnificent on her, especially against that white short-sleeved shirt. So caught up in this vision of loveliness, I took only faint notice of the woman in the passenger seat, as I was far to aware of the driver. Then Olivia tugged the dark sunglasses down her nose as the car came to a halt and grinned broadly as my feet automatically led me closer to the expensive vehicle.
My name whispered over my ears as she was suddenly there, and the feel of her strong body broke loose the ice that had accumulated inside. Sobbing softly, I clung back, delirious with the press of her against me, her breath hot on my ear and neck. “Oh Alex. I’ve missed you.”
In that moment, I knew that I had been a fool to let her go.
In that moment, I knew that only honesty and courage would win me a place by her side.
In that moment, I knew that my life was about to change forever.
“I love you and I’m sorry I was so horrible and I can’t live without you and I’m miserable and lonely and I don’t care if I have to move to this awful place, I’ll do it, because I can’t…”
The burning wave of confession made my eyes and throat and lungs ache, her finger on my mouth silenced me, but I couldn’t see her through the scald of tears. The process of unraveling went faster as her mouth pressed sweet kisses to my eyelids, cheeks, nose, forehead, and suddenly I was bawling like an infant, clinging to her as my exile ended.
++ Dace ++
Grinning at the happy reunion, I gestured Tessa over, roughly grabbing her neck to press her temple to the hard curve of my upper teeth. “Hello,” I purred, making the taller woman shudder at the tone. “You’ve been missed. Let’s see if we can get these two somewhere more private, hmm? Go get whatever needs to be retrieved from the car. I’ll wait here.”
“Yes Dace,” she murmured, the thrum of need thick in her tone. Poor thing wasn’t used to going celibate for as long as this latest trip had taken. Silent and watchful, I remained an observer to the reunion of my new best bud and the mercurial blonde that held her heart captive. The valet hovered anxiously at the car until Tessa let him do his job, returning to me with two rolling cases in hand, and a laptop bag over her shoulder. After taking one of the handles, I went to the two New Yorkers, calling up my best ‘cop-talking-to-scared-kid’ persona.
“Come on guys, so that I can give you both some privacy.”
None of us spoke a word as we returned to the suite, Alex still cuddled to Olivia’s burlier frame, Tessa shaking beneath the hand I kept loosely wrapped around her neck. Inside the suite, I shared a loaded look with Olivia, grinning sweet understanding to her. With my bad hand, I gestured at myself, then the room I’d used earlier, then back to her and then to the room Alex had claimed.
With a shared smile of perfect understanding, we parted ways for now. Our saying hello would have to wait. We both had women to take care of now.
Tessa was one of the nicer perks of taking over as the Lady’s right hand. Shoving the tall brunette into the room, I clicked it shut and crossed my arms with my best ‘daddy’ glare. “Well?”
Like the best of career Subs, she was halfway out of her clothes before the single syllable was out of my mouth. Good girl. In seconds, she was naked and on the floor in that excruciatingly difficult pose that Anastasia loved so. Slowly, I paced around her, tread light but deliberate, fingers tickling over the curve of her back. The sharp edge of fingernail over the orchid tattoo made her shake like a leaf, a soundless moan conveyed expertly.
“So,” I said in the silky voice of the torturer, the jailer, the brutal lover. “Your skin is unmarred and clear. What a shame.” Crouching behind her, I trailed those teasing fingers over her perfect ass, tracing outstanding bits of the fauna tattoos. “The best marks aren’t even hidden by these.” Tessa jumped and moaned when I grabbed a good pinch of flesh and twisted it brutally. Instantly, my touch was pure gentleness again. With my physical limitations, I’ve had to be even more clever with my sexual games lately, and Tessa was a perfect canvas to perfect on before tackling the neophyte Sara. “Pretty garden,” I cooed playfully, alternating feather caresses and harsh rakes of nails or rough pinches. “So many secrets. Shall I look for them, hmmm?” Tessa squirmed now, her breathing harsh. I could see that her pubes were glistening with sex juice, the inner lips unfurled in welcome. So I transferred the alternating caresses there, where she dripped in readiness. “What’s the matter, you slut? Three days of celibacy and I could bring the valet boy in here and you’d be on your knees, begging him to fuck you.” There was a beat, one could never be sure when she’d respond to the empty taunt of bringing in a male to the play, but then I got a better idea, my voice even lower and more dangerous. “Or maybe Olivia?”
++ Tessa ++
Oh damn her for picking up on that particular little crush! My wet cunt actually convulsed in response to the taunt, my whole body echoing like an earthquake. “Please,” I whined breathily, groaning in pleasure at Dace’s hard hand cracking across the wilderness of tattoos on my ass.
“You slut! All those nights sleeping beside her, not able to do anything, wanting her hand in your cunt, her mouth on your nipples, that nasty cop talk in your ears,” she growled and I was dancing now, hips arching into her teasing touch, but freezing as she rested the weight of the removable cast on the small of my back. “You want it?” She taunted, rimmed my hole. “You want it that bad? You better convince me, you disloyal brat, needy cunt, slutty whore.”
Now, I really danced for it, hips pumping, shoulders arched, begging and moaning incoherently, “please, please, please.” So, she eased a couple of fingers into the tight grip of my pussy, sawing the rough surface of the plastic cast and its nylon and Velcro straps over the shallow welts where she’d pinched and slapped me. The first orgasm was hard and quick, making my head spin, but she ignored me completely, as my voice went tight and gasping, and adding a third finger stretched my cunt to keep me flying. I babbled incoherently my unexpected adoration for this unusual woman and how she seemed to know exactly how to play me. When the second orgasm rumbled my guts, Dace added that last finger, really stretching me, still growling encouragement, and rocked my clit with her thumb.
Eventually, my arms gave out, dropping my forehead to the carpet, and she finally let up, but kept those talented fingers buried in my pussy for a long moment while I wheezed for breath. Gently, she left my heat, slender arms wrapping around me, sitting me up on my knees, until I was seated on her tight thighs, her torso supporting me, the material of her casual shirt and pants almost rough on my cum-sensitive skin. Wet fingers low on my belly, smoothing my pubes down, the cast a hard reminder across my ribs, she pet me gently for a long minute, nuzzling my hair. “Welcome home.”
“I’ll have to go away on business more often,” I flirted coquettishly, returning the nuzzling as best I could in this position, making Dace chuckle throatily, and my hormones perked up again. “Thank you so much.”
“My pleasure, Sunshine. You’ve been missed. Tired? Hungry?”
Both of us, amused and affectionate, moved to take care of other bodily needs. Teasing caresses, including a swipe through my still-wet pussy made me moan. The welcome home wasn’t done yet!
++ Sara ++
The Ranch was starting to take shape.
Nearly two months of intensive planning from Monica, frazzling her badly, and two months more of actual construction had the place livable and we’d all started moving in. Catherine’s house was sold and in escrow, changes of address had been sent to the post office, my apartment was nearly emptied.
God, I hoped we all knew what we were doing.
Monica’s unusual special unit needed a home, and she had convinced the FBI to pay for it. Mulder had played a part in that, it was obvious when he visited several times. Here, the Sentinels would interact with the world on their own terms. Here, was a safe haven.
The transfer of Alex Barnes was waiting for the completion of the facility, and we were all very curious to meet this insane Sentinel. Perhaps learning from her would help all of our fears. Rubbing harshly at my eyes, I tried once again to chase away the memory of Snake-Eyes trying to kill Dace.
A nose at my ass made me jump and chased away the morbid thoughts as I jumped and whirled around. “What the…!” Just as expected, there was Calamity, panting happily and looking all to pleased with herself. Chuckling, I mock-lunged at her, getting an excited bark and the play posture. Front legs and chest to the ground, butt waggling from her pinwheeling tail, the big pup was hysterical.
“Here,” Lindsey called out from where she skidded around a nearby corner and tossed a tennis ball. Somehow, I dodged Calamity lunging for the ball, laughing as the clumsy adolescent skittered on the dusty ground. From shy big baby, to this playful, protective animal, Calamity Jane had come a long way since moving from Colorado. While Tessa and Olivia had been off in California, Lindsey and I had taken over the bulk of Calamity’s care and interaction.
Laughing at the dog’s antics as she barked and pranced for the ball, I threw it with all my strength and she ripped off like a greyhound after the yellow sphere. All of us winced as Olivia’s Lexus screeched to a halt, making Calamity cry out in fear and cringe in the dust raised up.
Even as Lindsey and I rushed over, the dust cloud cleared, and there was my strong, blonde lover, hugging the frightened dog. “Goddess, but Art wasn’t kidding. Calm down, you goofy idiot.” Then, those icy blue eyes met mine and I felt all those conflicting feelings that
Give me time, and there will be more. I simply ran out of time.