DISCLAIMER: CSI and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS.
SPOILER: Brief mention of the final scene in "Way to Go".
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

The Abduction
By Ann


Part 9

After a few minutes of taxiing, we finally come to a stop. I quickly jump up and head for the door leaving a bewildered Sofia behind. We're going to be alone in the limo soon enough as it is, and I really need to get my bearings not to mention work on my apology.

I find Aaron at the rear of the plane where he is in the process of opening the door. He efficiently swings it back and secures the steps to the inside of the plane. I step out to find our limo driver waiting patiently at the bottom of the stairs. He instructs me to deplane, and he will take care of our luggage. It's at this point I realize Sofia is not behind me. Where the hell is she?

Stepping back into the plane, I walk back toward our seats. Sofia is standing in the middle of the aisle with her hands on her hips, and she has her classic pissed off face on letting me know that I have screwed up royally. Before I can say a word, she says "Sara Sidle, don't you ever run away from me like that again. Get your ass over here." Damn, she's sexy, a little bossy, but definitely sexy.

Moving slowly toward Sofia, I stop several paces from her. She tilts her head and raises her eyebrow so I take another step and another and another until I'm toe to toe with her.

She smiles and wraps one arm around me pulling me close while she places her hand behind my neck. I put my hands on her hips, and she shows no sign of hesitation as she leans forward and kisses me. I hold on tightly to keep from passing out from shock.

Seconds later, I relax and let Sofia control the kiss. This moment can only be described as pure bliss. Sofia doesn't hurry, but merely allows each of us to revel in the contact. Keeping the kiss sweet and gentle, she slowly pulls away and says "Mm, that was nice, and we needed to get it out of the way. Maybe we can concentrate on both the case and each other for here on out. What do you say?"

I say this is the best moment of my life, and I had better not wake up to find out this has all been a dream. Aloud, I reply "I think it's a great idea." She smiles her agreement.

Wordlessly, I reach for her hand as the two of us walk toward the exit. This was more than I could have ever hoped for. Best of all, I won't have to come up with an apology now.

Aaron is grinning from ear to ear as watches us approach. He offers his goodbyes and informs us he'll be ready for the return flight. Patting me on the back, he whispers "way to go, Sara, way to go." Turning red, I descend the steps with Sofia in the lead. Looking down, I watch Sofia's blue-jeaned clad ass as she sashays down the steps. Oh yeah, way to go indeed.

Our limo driver secures our luggage in the trunk and opens the door for us to climb in. I motion Sofia to enter first, and I take the seat directly across from her. The driver tells us where the refreshments are located and then closes the privacy partition.

Aaron had said the drive to the hotel should take about thirty minutes. I worriedly begin to wonder if there is going to be an awkward silence between the two of us.

My fears are relieved when Sofia moves over next to me and cuddles into my side. I put my arm around her and grin like a Cheshire cat. The rest of the ride is filled with discussions and conjectures of the case and how I'm going to pull off my role. I'm just thankful no one at the bank has ever met Linda.

Arriving at the hotel, we are expeditiously greeted by the manager. He fawns all over us and personally escorts us to his best suite where he gives us an in-depth tour of the facilities. Sofia diplomatically gets rid of him by promising to personally contact him if there is a problem.

I am so very grateful for her intervention because I'm relatively sure I wouldn't have done much for Linda's reputation by telling him to 'please fuck off,' but, jeez, for awhile there, I thought he was going to room with us.

Plopping down on the couch, I lean my head back and look up at the ceiling. Exhaling loudly, I say "How does Linda do this all the time? It has to be frustrated to have people groveling at your feet. I don't think I could stand it."

Sofia takes a seat next to me and replies "She's probably used to it by now. Besides, I'm sure she's quite adept at getting out of these types of situations." Pausing, she adds "Hey, don't you think you better give Catherine a call to let her know we got here safe and sound?"

Glancing at my watch, I mentally do the math. Eleven o'clock here means two a.m. in Vegas. I grab the phone hoping Catherine didn't take time off to get some sleep. Oh well, I'm too far away for her to come after me so I think I'll give it a try. I'm relieved when she picks up on the first ring.

"Hey, Cath. We just got in and thought we'd see how things are going on your end. I hope I didn't wake you." She laughs on the other end and replies "You better be damn glad you didn't wake me, Sidle. Paybacks can be such a bitch. Okay, here's what's happening back here. Linda has made arrangements to meet with her banker at 7:45 a.m. Lucy will accompany her, and Brass will follow them keeping his distance. He will be on the lookout for any possible accomplices."

Catherine maps out a few more details before promising to check back later. She still won't tell me how she took care of the lawyer. She just said everything was a go, and he would not pose any problems.

All I know is that I don't ever want to get on Catherine's bad side if she has connections that can make people temporarily disappear. Hey, I wonder if she could find someone to take Ecklie away for awhile.


Part 10

Sofia finally talks me into taking advantage of Linda's generosity by ordering from the room service menu. I have always wondered what kind of people would pay the prices and extra fees for these meals, and now I know. Never in a million years would I have believed I would be included amongst the group.

In my defense, I feel its use is justified this time since Sofia prefers we not leave the room until it's time to go to the bank. Even though everyone is ninety-nine percent certain there is not an accomplice in Zürich, she said she would feel better staying in the suite unless it's absolutely necessary to get out. I wholeheartedly agree with her assessment especially if it means we will have more time alone together.

Perusing the menu, I decide on the fresh fruit and salad while Sofia goes with a sandwich and chips. We have a short discussion on vegetarianism, but Sofia could only promise to avoid red meat when with me adding she had to have her white meat. I glance down at my fair skin and grin lasciviously which earns me a slap on the arm as well as a reminder to get my mind out of the gutter.

Fed and somewhat sated, Sofia suggests we rest up before getting ready for our bank visit. She lightly kisses me before heading for one of the three bedrooms. When she closes the door behind her, I realize she really does mean rest. Shuffling my feet, I walk to the nearby bedroom disappointed that my thirst for her will not be quenched, at least not for today.

Slipping off my jeans, I crawl into bed alone; however, thoughts of Sofia quickly ward off my loneliness, and I can't help but smile at how well we seem to fit together. I know she's right about not jumping into bed together, but my attraction for her grows every second I'm with her. It's just that I have never felt so strongly about someone so . . . well . . . quickly.

Now I've got to concentrate on taking it slow, and somehow talk my body into cooperating. It looks like there may be a plethora of cold showers in my future or maybe I can conjure up some less than desirable images. Hmm, Grissom in that horrendous shirt, Hodges in a speedo, Ecklie nude, or the ultimate 'ew' vision of a ménage à trois between the three of them. I think I'll use that last one only in case of emergencies for fear that it will scar me for life. I begin to nod off as I clear my thoughts of the scary images.

Sofia awakens me a few hours later to shower and dress. The suite has three bathrooms so we don't have to share, damn it. I grumpily get out of bed and head to my bathroom when Sofia closes my door. Armani and Prada, here I come.

I have to admit this black suit looks pretty damn good on me. Linda had added a silk scarf to the ensemble when we were deciding what I should wear. The green color truly makes a tremendous difference when added to the black. I still can't get over how well everything fits. You would think at this age; we would be different sizes.

I finish putting on a bit of makeup and slip on my shoes. Satisfied with my appearance, I leave the room with the intent of finding Sofia. Lucy had brought in some clothes in a hanging bag right before we left. She said Sofia needed to dress the part as well. I can't wait to see how she looks.

When I round the corner, I am met with a vision of loveliness. Sofia is dressed in a charcoal grey suit that fits her like a glove. She makes her way toward me as I step into the room. Lucy, in her infinite wisdom, chose a skirt for Sofia. My eyes immediately go to her legs, her legs that go on forever. The same legs I can just imagine wrapped around me and . . . Oh, God. I quickly shut my eyes and visualize the Ecklie, Hodges, Grissom ménage à trois. This definitely constitutes an emergency.

Somehow, I am able to keep the drool to a minimum so as not to mess up the Armani. Sofia calls down for the car while I make a phone call to Catherine. Satisfied all is going well, Sofia and I make our way to the lobby where the brown-nosing manager is there to greet us and walk us to the door. Thankfully, the limo has arrived so we don't have to make small talk with him.

We receive the VIP treatment when we reach the bank. News of our arrival has spread like wildfire as we are quickly greeted by the president of the bank and ushered into a posh lounge area. Hell, I'm lucky if I can get the attention of the teller at my bank.

The bank president thanks me over and over again for choosing his bank for the transfer. I graciously accept his thanks and ask if we could move on to the transfer. He nods his head and says "Oh yes, everything is in order. I have been in contact with your bank; we have just been waiting for your arrival to meet the requirements set forth. If you will follow me, we can get underway."

Twenty five million dollars is transferred in the blink of an eye. I try not to show any astonishment as I thank the president for taking care of matters so efficiently. Sofia immediately says "Honey, we need to be back at the hotel for that conference call in about thirty minutes." My eyebrow rises at "honey," but I maintain my stoic expression.

Within twenty minutes, we are on our way back to the hotel. I still can't get over how fast and easy this was. Hopefully, the accomplices are taking note as well and will give Linda the much anticipated call.

The phone in the room is blinking as we walk in. Sofia goes over and punches in the necessary sequence to retrieve the message. She listens for a few minutes before smiling widely. Turning towards me, she says "Natalie is with her grandparents in San Francisco. Linda is on her way there as we speak. She had her jet ready to go at a moment's notice. Catherine doesn't think the grandparents have any idea what is going on."

She adds "There was a vice president of the bank taken in for questioning. The president met Linda and Lucy, and the three were interrupted when Tom, the vice president, came into the building. The president remarked how unusual it was for Tom to be in so early. He just shrugged it off and moved the two ladies into his office. After the transfer, Linda and Lucy informed Brass of the unusual behavior."

Sitting on the couch, I reply "That's not much to go on. How did Brass talk the guy into going down to the station?" Sofia takes a seat next to me and says "The dumbass never saw Brass walk into his office because he was talking to Linda at the time informing her of the whereabouts of Natalie. Brass overheard the entire conversation. Catherine said she'd call back with more details later."

Un-fucking believable how this plan came together. I was hoping it would be this easy, but I thought surely there would be problems along the way. Don't get me wrong, I'm ecstatic with the results; however, things don't usually go this well for me.

Sofia reaches over and rubs my neck saying "Hey, what's got you so tense? Everything has worked out fine. Linda and Lucy will have Natalie back in their arms in no time."

I lean into her touch and answer "Yeah, you're right. I am happy Natalie is safe, and I can't wait to meet her."

Pausing, I add "Hey, guess what, I'm an aunt. Now all that's left to do is figure out how Linda and I got separated."


Part 11

Sofia continues to lovingly stroke the back of my neck, but her expression belies her seemingly calm movements. I bask in the attention for several more minutes before saying "You seem a bit preoccupied. Is there some piece of information I'm not privy to?" Jokingly, I add "You're not bored with me already are you?"

Angling towards me, Sofia bends her knee so she can move closer. She moves her hand down to mine and says "I hope you won't be upset with me, but earlier when you were sleeping, I called one of LVPD's top computer operators and asked her to conduct a little research on your birth. Within the hour, Melissa had called back with some interesting news. She checked the hospital records and found the record of your birth, and there was no mention of you being a twin. However, there was another birth recorded on the same day. The birth mother's name was June Cleaver, and she was listed as delivering a baby girl."

June Cleaver, as in Beaver Cleaver's mother? Before I can ask the obvious question, Sofia continues with "Yes, the father's name was listed as Ward, and Melissa can not find any piece of information proving the two ever existed. The records of the baby were sealed because, get this, she was put up for adoption. Melissa was also able to find out the names of your mother's attending doctor and nurse."

This whole thing is just too weird. I wonder if we can locate the doctor and nurse. I would really like to speak to them especially if I can avoid talking to my mother.

Curious, I ask "Did Melissa say anything else?" Sofia answers "Just that the doctor is deceased, and the nurse is a patient in a health care facility specializing in Alzheimer's."

Well damn, there goes my chance of talking to either of them. I guess we're back to square one, and a visit to my wonderful mother is in my future. Maybe Linda can use her clout to find out a few things.

We are interrupted by a persistent knock at the door, and Sofia graciously offers to answer it as I continue to work through the different reasons for the possible separation. Someone at that hospital has to know what happened; we just have to keep looking until we find them.

Glancing at the doorway, I see Sofia engaged in conversation with . . . son of a bitch. What is he doing here, and why does he appear to be flirting with Sofia? I rise from the couch and walk toward the hotel manager and Sofia. All this time, I thought he was sucking up to me and my 'money' when it was Sofia he was interested in.

I catch a few words here and there on my way to the pair. He is blatantly flirting while Sofia is doing her best to ward him off. This dude has just lost any hope of a tip. Now, he'll have to settle for another kind of tip, one which involves showing him the error of his ways.

Wrapping my arms possessively around Sofia's middle, I pull her so tightly to me that a ray of light would be forced to bend around us. I nip the side of her neck and say "I thought we were going to check out the Jacuzzi in the main bath. What seems to be the hold up? Is there something wrong?" The manager takes one look at the way I am stroking Sofia's midsection and instantly turns red. He fumbles at the door knob and offers a mumbled goodbye. The door shuts on my whispered "good riddance" reply.

Sofia turns toward me as my arms slide around her back. Grinning, she says "Why Sara, I do believe you have a little jealousy thing going on." I start to deny her allegations, but the obvious flattered look on her face keeps me in check. Instead, I lean forward and kiss her. Judging from the return kiss, I decide jealousy can be a good thing.

Catherine calls back some time later with wonderful news. Natalie has been reunited with Linda and Lucy. The three of them are going to fly back to Vegas and stay until all charges against Terry Silverton have been filed. Linda also said she wanted to be sure the case is a slam dunk before she flies back home.

As the conversation comes to a close, we inform Catherine of our plan to fly out in the morning. Before she hangs up, she says "Listen, Linda would appreciate it if you could swing back by the bank on your way out. She wants you to authorize the money transfer back to the states."

Promising to take care of the problem, I remember to ask about the lawyer. Laughing, Catherine answers "Funny thing about that. Thirty minutes after Linda and Lucy retrieved Natalie, he showed up at the police station claiming he had been kidnapped." Her laughter is silenced as she hangs up the phone. After a chuckle or two, I do the same.

After another visit from room service, Sofia and I decide to call it a night. I've called the number supplied by the bank president and requested an 8:00 a.m. appointment. He was most gracious in granting my request. I wonder how accommodating he'll be once he finds out what I have planned.

Aaron and the pilots have also been called. The plane will be ready for departure at 9:00 a.m. It's amazing how quickly things come together when you've got money or in this case, pretend you have money. I guess the saying 'money talks, people listen' is spot on.

After a lengthy make-out session, Sofia and I retire to our rooms, plural. I just hope I'm able to get some sleep between craving Sofia's touch and obsessing with how my twin was taken from me. I can't help but wonder if my life would have been different if I would have had Linda by my side. I think the two of us may have made an unbeatable team.

Morning comes much too quickly as I have only slept a few hours. My mind just wouldn't shut down no matter what I tried. I vacillated from images of a naked Sofia to Linda and me playing together as small children. I just hope I won't need a shrink before this is all over.

Showering and dressing, I make my way into the main part of the suite. Sofia is lounging on the couch comfortably dressed in a pair of jeans and a long sleeve cotton shirt. She takes one look at me dressed in full Armani attire and says "Sara, change out of those clothes. As much as I love seeing you dressed to the nines, you don't need to impress anyone anymore." I don't need to be told twice as I turn on my heel and head back to the bedroom.

We arrive at the bank at 8:00 a.m. sharp. Mr. Merryweather greets us at the door and once again ushers us into the VIP lounge. He doesn't even bat an eye at my casual attire. I'm sure he'll change his tune the minute I make my request known.

Twenty minutes later, we walk out of the bank. Laughing, Sofia remarks "He sure turned into Mr. Stormyweather when you made the transfer. I loved your parting remark about telling all your friends how well you were treated on the second transfer as opposed to the first one. I didn't know a person could turn so white without actually passing out."

I take her hand as we stroll down the sidewalk to the limo. The driver opens the door as we climb into the car. Closing it behind us, he moves to the driver's seat. Sofia leans into me as we pull away from the curb. I could really get used to this.


Part 12

Our flight takes off around 10:00 a.m. which should put us into Vegas at roughly the same time. I guess I will get the opportunity to live out my own "Groundhog Day." The nice thing about my version is Sofia will be with me the entire time, and we will both carry the memories into the repeated time frame.

I truly need to take this time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the company on this return flight because I have the feeling my stamina is about to be put to the test both physically and emotionally. Now that Natalie is safe and sound, all attention will shift to the 'twin situation.'

Grissom will probably pass out when I tell him I plan to take some of my never used vacation time effective immediately. I just wish Sofia were able to take time off with me, but there's no way I'd ask that of her.

Two hours into the flight, Aaron serves us a pasta salad and tea. He asks if we'd like to see a movie after lunch, and we both agree leaving the movie choice up to him. I'm a bit afraid of what he will come up with, but Sofia assures me it will be okay.

Aaron sets us up with soda and popcorn before starting the movie. As the credits begin to roll, I glance around to comment on his movie choice, but he is nowhere to be found. I'm sure he is quite proud of himself. I settle back in my seat for the beginning of "Better Than Chocolate." I have to wonder if there is a copy of "Bound" lying around here too.

It's amazing how comfortable and spacious these chairs are. Good thing since Sofia decided to 'share' mine half-way into the movie. The love scenes have definitely gotten a little more interesting especially when I discovered Sofia, much to my surprise, has turned out to be quite the snuggler.

Finally, the two characters kiss in the middle of the street signaling the end of the movie. Neither one of us see the credits roll by since we are engaged in a kiss of our very own. We don't even notice Aaron turn off the DVD and leave the area. The tray of cookies on the table is the only evidence of his presence.

The rest of the flight goes by quickly, and before we know it, we are on approach to the Las Vegas airport. We took advantage of the return trip to discover more about each other. I found out Sofia likes hiking, camping, walks on the beach, and lazing around watching movies. My workaholic nature was confirmed when I could only list researching cold cases and listening to police scanners as my pastimes. Appalled, Sofia vowed to teach me how to have a good time. I can't wait for my first lesson.

We are met at the hangar by Greg, and I find myself pleased by the gesture. Don't get me wrong; all this VIP treatment has been nice, but it's time I get back to my everyday life. Greg smiles and reaches out to hug me as we approach the Denali. He seems to know exactly when I need friendly reassurance. I smile when he whispers "You're looking good, Sara, and from the way Sofia is looking at us, I'd say you and I have plenty to talk about."

I release Greg and turn to find the blue eyes of my girlfriend have taken on a bit of a green tint. I wonder how long it will take us to get over these minor bouts with jealousy. Taking into account both of our personalities, I have a sneaking suspicion never is the answer to that particular question.

After another heartfelt thanks to Aaron, we are on our way. Greg will drop Sofia off at the police station to get her car and then take me to pick up mine at CSI headquarters. Sofia and I have been practically joined at the hip for the past few days, and I am not looking forward to our separation. Sighing, I watch the familiar sights as we drive into the city.

Sofia jumps out of the SUV and retrieves her luggage before I can get my door open. She promises to call me later this afternoon as she winks and walks toward the parking lot. Sulking, I climb back into the vehicle. As we pull away from the curb, I realize she doesn't even have my number. Greg begins the rapid fire questions before I have time to put on a good pout.

When we arrive at the lab, I grab my bag and throw it into my nearby car. I thank Greg with another hug before heading to Grissom's office to leave a note about my time off. If I do this face to face, he'll probably say something to talk me out of it. This way he'll have to call me if there's a problem.

I finally arrive at my apartment around noon. Checking my messages, I find one from Linda. She would like for Sofia and me to join her family for brunch tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. If she doesn't hear from me, she will assume I will be there. I pick up the phone to call Sofia and immediately put it back down. Great, I've already got a major case of the insecurities.

Spending the afternoon cleaning house and washing clothes, I am amazed to find it is already six o'clock. My pleasure at keeping myself occupied vanishes immediately as I realize Sofia hasn't called. I glance at the phone to see if perhaps she left a message when I was vacuuming. I slump down on the couch when my eyes do not detect a blinking light.

Crap. I don't have time for this moping around stuff. I need to channel my energies into Linda's abduction, and it has to be an abduction case because I don't think I could handle knowing my parents may have sold her.

The knocking at my door pulls me to my feet. I shuffle over and peer through the peephole to find a glorious sight. Sofia is leaning against the wall with a pizza box in one hand and a six pack of beer in the other. As I open the door, my gloomy thoughts flee the moment Sofia turns her full wattage smile at me.

Stuffed to the gill on vegetarian pizza and beer, the two of us relax against the back of the couch with our feet on the coffee table. I relay Linda's invitation to brunch, and Sofia agrees to accompany me. She also casually mentions she has taken off the next two weeks to assist me in any way even if it's only to offer moral support.

I offer my thanks in the form of a kiss. I do believe I love this woman.


Part 13

Around midnight, I wake up slightly disoriented. I know I'm on the couch in my apartment, but apparently I am not alone as I seem to be wrapped around someone. Taking stock of our positions, it is difficult to distinguish between the two of us. With me against the back of the couch and her in front, our arms, legs, and torsos fit together perfectly.

Inhaling deeply, I smile as I am able to identify the unique scent of Sofia. We must have fallen asleep watching TV, but I certainly don't remember turning it off. I glance down to see the remote still clutched in Sofia's hand. Gently, I remove it and pull her close. Within minutes, I am back in the land of dreamless sleep.

In the morning, we both awaken at the same time. Sofia stretches that glorious body of hers and then relaxes back against me. I think I may have found a new reason to get up in the morning as long as Sofia is part of the awakening process.

We are both surprised to find it's nearing 9:00 a.m. Sofia untangles herself from my body and rises from the couch. Looking around for her shoes, she apologetically says "Sara, I'm so sorry I fell asleep. I should have gotten up when I realized you had dozed off. I didn't mean to stay the night." She locates the missing shoes and nervously begins to put them on.

Sofia is always so cool and in control that I am a bit amused by her uncharacteristic skittish behavior. I sit up on the couch as I watch her continue to fumble with her shoes. "Hey, why don't you come sit down to put those on? You don't have to be in such a rush to get out of here. We have plenty of time before we have to be at the penthouse, and for the record, I am not the least bit upset you stayed over last night."

Hell, I'm beyond ecstatic and hope this will be an activity that will be repeated several times a week. Daily would be even better.

I suggest she wait here while I jump in the shower and get dressed. Afterward, we can head over to her place for her to change before driving over to meet Linda, Lucy, and Natalie for brunch. Sofia seems to like the idea so I walk to the bedroom before she changes her mind. Too bad we're not in any hurry, showering together would definitely save some time. On second thought, it would probably make us very late.

We manage to both shower and dress before driving to the hotel with time to spare. Sofia suggests dropping off our borrowed wardrobe at the hotel's laundry, and then the freshly cleaned items can be returned to Linda. I don't dare mention that the clothes Lucy purchased for her to wear probably won't fit Linda and definitely will be too large for Lucy.

As I knock on the penthouse door, I hear the patter of running feet approach from the other side. The door swings open to reveal a dark haired, brown eyed little person, in other words, a mini me. Before I can introduce myself, I am engulfed in a bear hug around my legs. I lean down and return the hug as best I can.

The child's voice shouts out "Hi, Aunt Sara. Maman said you look just like mommy, and she was right. You are both beautiful."

Oh God, I'm not ready for this. I clamp down on my jaw tightly to try to keep control of my emotions. Falling apart in front of Natalie is definitely not the first impression I want to make. Sofia moves next to me and lightly rubs my back as I continue to hug my niece.

After a few moments, I have regained my composure thanks in a large part to Sofia as her touch has a grounding effect on me. I kiss Natalie on the top of the head and kneel down to her level. Smiling, I say "Thank you for the compliment, but you are the one who is beautiful."

Her response is interrupted by the arrival of Linda and Lucy. The two of them are absolutely glowing especially when Natalie rushes over to give them each a hug. Sofia takes my hand as we watch the reunited family interact.

The conversation during brunch is kept light due to Natalie's presence. There is no discussion of Terry Silverton or Linda's obvious relation to me. Instead, Natalie regales us with stories of her 'vacation.'

Apparently, neither Linda nor her in-laws have told Natalie the truth behind the visit. She truly seems to believe Linda and Lucy were aware of the trip because her Uncle David took her to visit her grandparents. I need to ask Catherine about this Uncle David.

I certainly hope someone fills Natalie in on the details in the very near future. This kid is too smart not to figure it out, and I have a feeling it will be sooner rather than later.

As we move to the den area, a buzzer sounds signaling another visitor. I look to Sofia and shrug my shoulders as we take a seat on the couch. Lucy moves to the door and looks through the peephole. Smiling, she opens it to reveal Catherine and her daughter, Lindsey. I guess the talk Linda and I need to have is going to be put on the back burner once again.

Natalie runs over and excitedly joins the group. Conversation is exchanged before Catherine, Lindsey, and Natalie walk out the door. After saying their goodbyes, Lucy and Linda move over to sit on the love seat across from Sofia and me. I think I may have been setup with this strategic move.

Looking over at the couple, I ask "Where's Natalie off to?" Lucy leans back and places her arm behind Linda as she says "Catherine offered to take her to see 'Over the Hedge.' I think Lindsey wanted to see it too, but she needed a good excuse to be seen in the theater. Natalie supplied the perfect reason."

Oh, I get it. Lucy and Catherine probably got together and came up with this particular stratagem. I make a second mental note to keep the two of them apart from now on. There is no telling what possibilities they can come up with

Although, this time I am grateful they managed to create some time for Linda and I to discuss things. I am also thankful for the presence of both Sofia and Lucy. I think Linda and I are going to need all the moral support we can get. Besides, I don't want to have to relate this story again.

Now that we're finally alone, I find myself speechless. How can I tell Linda about our parents? She has accepted me with open arms, but I wonder how she will feel when she learns the truth.

Vague may be the way to go. I could just say our father was an abusive drunk and mother wasn't much better; however, the murder is a different story. I don't think there is any way I can gloss over that particular item.

Linda evidently picks up on my dilemma as she moves over and sits next to me on the couch. Before I can try to explain the situation with our parents, Linda says "Sara, I have done a bit of research. I know all about the abuse and subsequent murder of our father. I am so sorry you had to go through such a horrible experience on your own."

Pausing, she adds "Knowing what you went through, I am a little hesitant to tell you what I have planned, but Lucy insists you need to be apprised of my intentions. Tomorrow morning, I plan to fly out to visit our mother at the state prison in San Francisco. If at all possible, I would like for you to come with me."


Part 14

Funny thing about hyperventilation; one minute you are breathing like a perfectly normal person, and the next, you couldn't catch a breath if your life depended on it. As I sit here gasping, I suddenly realize my life does indeed depend upon it.

Closing my eyes, I allow myself to be guided to the classic head between the knees position. I focus all concentration on my breathing cadence to try to gain back control of my runaway breath. In the background, I can barely make out Sofia's voice urging me to relax.

A feeling of déjà vu surrounds me as I realize this is the second time Sofia has helped me through this type of emotional reaction. Next time we are alone, I need to let her know only earth shattering news or thoughts of a face to face with my mother elicit this kind of response. Normally, I just take things in stride until I can have some time alone to deal with the situation.

Finally feeling comfortable enough to look up, I find Lucy standing in front of me with a huge paper bag. She shifts nervously from foot to foot and asks "Are you okay? Do you need to breathe in this bag?" I smile my thanks and assure her I'm okay.

Unless she planned to put that monstrosity over my head, I don't think it would have done me much good because there is no way I could have cinched it tight enough to try to blow into, and I definitely would have passed out if I had to fill the entire thing. Oh well, it's the thought that counts.

Sofia continues to soothe me by rubbing small circles on my back. Although it's not necessary anymore, the contact is much appreciated. Turning my attention to Linda, I say "What exactly do you hope to find out from mommy dearest? She's not exactly the kind of person to divulge any kind of helpful information unless she stands to profit from it. The minute she finds out how much money you have; she will tell you anything, most of which will not be true."

Linda calmly sits back against the love seat and replies "I don't plan to tell her who I am, at least not in the beginning." Wrinkling my brow, I attempt to decipher her meaning. Mother doesn't talk to people she doesn't know. She merely . . . oh, oh, . . . no, no, no. Mother will tear her to shreds.

Shaking my head back and forth, I forcefully remark "This is not the same as when I took on your role. Mother is the devil incarnate. She gets off on other people's misery. There is no way I'm letting you go into the room alone with her. If anyone questions her, it should be me." All eyes turn toward me, and you could hear a pin drop from the next room.

After what seems like an eternity of silence, Sofia very quietly says "Sara, I want you to listen to me for just a second without replying. Can you do that?" I pause before answering yes. I just hope I can follow through.

She turns slightly so that she is face to face with me before saying "Just the thought of seeing your mother made you so upset you hyperventilated to the point of almost passing out. What's going to happen when you actually see her? She seems to have such a hold on you, and her power comes from that knowledge. Linda will have the advantage in the encounter. She may even be able to trick her into revealing something about the birth."

These people don't get it. My mother always has the advantage. She will just think Linda is me and berate her like she's done to me my entire life. As for the story of being twins, she won't believe a word Linda says. She'll chalk it up to storytelling, the mechanism I used growing up to try to get out of trouble.

What we need is the element of surprise or something to shock her right away. Something that will get her attention and that she will notice immediately. Something like the two of us walking in together, side by side, unannounced. Grinning maniacally, I visualize the initial encounter between mother and her two girls. Now, that just might work.

About an hour later, I have convinced the others of my plan. We should at least be able to tell if dear old mom knows something by her reaction at seeing the two of us. Maybe then we can negotiate with her.

Linda is somewhat surprised when Sofia mentions she will be accompanying us to the facility. Lucy, on the other hand, is absolutely ecstatic. She will be staying behind with Natalie and was worried about Linda and me going on our own. I also think having a member of law enforcement will make things run more smoothly. Oh hell, who am I kidding? I don't need a reason to be glad she's going.

We finalize our plans before Sofia and I take our leave. The meeting at the prison is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. so we need to depart by 7:30 a.m. The flight will take just over an hour and a half, and we need to plan for traveling time to the prison. I'd also like to get there a little early to familiarize myself with the facility.

Sofia and I inform Linda that we will meet her at the hanger at 7:00 a.m. We say our goodbyes and get last minute instructions from Lucy. Well, actually she gave us last minute ultimatums. Suffice it to say, Linda better be well protected or our ass is grass.

As we head for my apartment, I can't help but notice Sofia is taking the long route. Looking out the side window, I try to hide my pleased expression. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who doesn't want our day together to end.

When we arrive in the parking lot, Sofia pulls into the closest space and turns off the engine. She hasn't said too much on the drive over so I have no idea what she is thinking. As I place my hand on the door release, I contemplate asking her to come in for a drink.

Before I can pose my question, she turns to me and says "Sara, I'm worried about you. I know you can handle yourself, but you have had quite a bit added to your plate these past few days. I'd like to stay with you tonight if that's okay. I just want to be near if you should need me."

Halleluiah! I do believe she is in for the long haul. I have had so many promises and subsequent disappointments in the past, but Sofia is the real deal.

Leaning over, I gently kiss her lips and reply "Sounds perfect. Why don't you go pack your things for the trip and bring them over when you're ready? I'll be waiting for you."

Sofia graces me with one of her beautiful smiles and promises to return soon. I watch her drive out of the complex as I make my way up the stairs.

Sprinting to the top, I giddily open my door. Once inside, I pump my fist in celebration.

'I've got an actual bona fide girlfriend!'


Part 15

Sofia returns within the hour with all her things plus a few DVD selections. I wonder how her choices will compare to Aaron's. I guess I'll have to wait to find out since she wants to discuss a game plan for tomorrow first.

We relax on the sofa facing each other with our backs against the ends. I pull my knees up to keep our feet from tangling together. It's a little too early in our upcoming discussion to be playing footsies, and I'm afraid I might be tempted to take it further. More importantly, I don't know if I can venture into the past without breaking down if Sofia is touching me.

I briefly outline my childhood leaving out the more painful memories, and Sofia is letting me get away with it for now anyway. She seems to be more interested in my mother's personality than anything else. I think she may be looking for any telltale sign mother may give during the interview. It's probably a good thing too since I'm not exactly sure how sharp my senses will be tomorrow.

As we talk about the hospital where I was born, Sofia mentions that we may want to go talk to the nurse listed in the hospital records. She says many times an Alzheimer's patient will remember things in the distant past as if they happened yesterday. Interesting, I hadn't thought of that avenue, but I think it is something we may want to pursue.

Soon afterwards, Sofia suggests we lighten things up with a little entertainment, and I am somewhat disappointed when I realize she means to watch her DVD's. I could think of a few other ways to keep us 'entertained,' but I will yield to her choice.

I settle back against the couch and wait for Sofia to insert the DVD into the player. As she bends over, I can't help but admire her nice, firm backside. Personally, I don't care what movie she has chosen for us to watch. I now have one more image I can evoke whenever the urge arises.

When she returns to the couch, she once again takes her seat on the end, but this time, she faces forward and motions for me to lie down with my head in her lap. I don't hesitate to abide by her wishes as she leans down and pecks my lips before hitting the play button. I turn to face the TV with a giant smile on my face.

The first scene opens up in some sort of hotel. I open my mouth to question the name of the movie when I hear a very British accent coming from off camera. I don't have to wait long to discover the man behind the voice as the image of John Cleese steps into view. Oh my God, it's "Fawlty Towers." I absolutely love this show. Settling in on Sofia's lap, I turn my full attention to the TV.

Sometime later, I focus in on Sophia's voice. "Sara, we need to stop this marathon for awhile and get something to eat. Aren't you in the least bit hungry?"

I force my attention away from the screen and answer "No, not really, but we can take a break when this episode is over." She sighs and returns her gaze back to the TV. Promising to make it up to her later, I turn back just as the moose-hanging sequence is about to begin.

As the episode ends, I rise from the couch chuckling and wiping the tears from my eyes. Sofia seems to be more amused at my response than she was with the show.

Grinning, I say "Sofia, a little comic relief was exactly what I needed. I just love British humor and especially John Cleese." Pausing, I add "You deserve to be rewarded for taking my mind off tomorrow. Why don't you relax on the couch while I run to the deli down the street?"

Sofia poutingly replies "Although a sandwich does sound good, I would rather have my reward in kisses." I graciously acquiesce to her desire as I lean down and take her face in my hands.

After consuming our meal, we head back to the couch. This time Sofia lies with her head in my lap. I love this role reversal thing we have going on. It seems each of us is comfortable in any position just so long as we are touching each other.

Our conversation revolves around work this time around as Sofia enlightens me on her stint as a CSI. She was mostly content as acting supervisor of the day shift but felt there was something missing. When she was demoted for her candor and truthfulness, she admits she lost a bit of confidence in her abilities.

I push the hair from her face as she looks up at me. Smiling sadly, she says "I think I could have been happy with you guys on the night shift, but there was no way I would have been accepted. I was viewed as one of Ecklie's cronies and even though I was basically fired from my previous position, no one wanted to be friends with me. I really believe my unhappiness at the job led me to where I am today, and I am truly happy now."

Shit, she's right. We never gave her a chance because we were too busy being pissed off about the split. Catherine, Warrick, and Nick were placed on the swing shift, and I was furious at anyone and everyone.

Feeling very guilty, I try to come up with an apology for my rude behavior toward her. Sofia reaches up smoothing my wrinkled brow and says "Hey, I didn't tell you all that stuff to make you feel bad. I would have felt the same way if I had been in your shoes. Besides, we wouldn't be where we are at this moment if things hadn't worked out the way they have. Everything's wonderful so let's enjoy it."

It takes a marathon of another kind to assuage my guilt. I imagine my lips are quite swollen from our lengthy make-out session, but I am certainly not going to complain. I'll just pretend I have had a collagen injection. Now, if I can only figure out a way to get the crick out of my neck.

The sleeping arrangements are decided upon without any argument from me especially since my crick has been taken care of in the process. Sofia noticed how I was gingerly turning my head every now and then so she offered to work it out in the form of a massage.

After my wonderful masseuse completed her job, I offered to sleep on the couch and let her have the bed. Sofia maintained the two of us could share the queen size bed. I gladly accepted her counter offer.

In fact, I didn't even bat an eye when she asked if it would be okay for her to hold me while we slept. I just smiled and turned on my side so that she could cuddle from behind. I'm definitely not crazy enough to look a gift horse in the mouth.


Part 16

The alarm blares with the music of Five for Fighting's 'Superman.' How appropriate since it's most definitely not easy being me today. I just wish I had a red cape to fly away if the need arises.

Arms around me tighten reminding me that I am not alone in this quest of mine. With both Linda and Sofia by my side, I'm hoping the need for flight will be not be necessary. Only time will tell.

A kiss on my shoulder confirms my sleeping partner's wakefulness. Rolling over in Sofia's arms, I greet her with a soft kiss which rapidly turns into a heated exchange. She alone has the presence of mind to slow things down since we don't have time to take it any further, short of a quickie that is, and this relationship requires the first time to be slow and easy.

I offer for Sofia to take the shower first while I brew us some coffee. We are running a little late to eat breakfast so I'm hoping for Sofia's sake that Linda serves something on the plane. As for me, I'm afraid my stomach will barely be able to keep the coffee down.

We arrive at the airport with five minutes to spare. Parking our car in the nearby hanger, we grab our things and head toward the plane. Imagine our surprise when Aaron greets us at the top of the steps. It seems Sofia had told Linda about how wonderful he was to us so she hired him away from the other private airline by offering a very nice employment package. Her previous flight attendant had resigned just last week, and Linda said if Aaron was good enough for us; he was good enough for them.

As we board the airplane, we are greeted by yet another surprise. Lucy and Natalie are going along as well. Linda pulled me aside and explained Catherine has more than enough evidence to indict Terry, his brother David, and Tom, the vice-president of the bank, who as it turns out happens to be Terry's best friend from high school.

Lucy and Natalie will be dropped off at the hotel before the three of us take our trip to the prison. I know Lucy wants to go with us, but right now, she is just happy she'll be in the same city. I'm sure she'll change her tune the closer we get to the hotel.

The others are served a breakfast of French toast, coffee, and orange juice. I find that even the thought of coffee makes my stomach queasy. Politely excusing myself, I move toward the rear of the plane to lie down. It's time to gather up all my defenses in preparation for seeing my mother for the first time in over twenty years.

Aaron makes an appearance after a few minutes with a glass of sprite and a few saltine crackers. He informs me that it always settles his stomach so I might want to give it a try. I thank him as I take the glass and begin to nibble on a cracker. I slowly sip the liquid with each bite. Sitting in a nearby chair, I watch the clouds go by as I plan my strategy.

My crackers and soda are long gone by the time Sofia comes back to check on me. If I wasn't so attuned to her, I would have never known she was watching me. I allow her several minutes of 'looking after me' before turning in my chair to greet her. My smile and calm manner make her to feel comfortable enough to approach me. I value my privacy, but I don't want her to ever feel she has to stay away no matter what emotional stress or turmoil I may be in.

Returning my smile, she squats down in front of my chair. She reaches out and strokes my face asking "Hey, you doing okay?" I lean into her touch and answer as honestly as I can. "No, not really. I am dreading seeing my mother. I have put that part of my life behind me for so long in hopes it would not resurface again. A few cases here and there would cause me some turmoil, but I was always able to keep things bottled up. I'm afraid to 'uncork' this particular part of my life."

Sofia takes my hand and leads me to the nearby couch. Sitting down, she pulls me close and says "I'm here, and I won't let anything bad happen to you. I promise." I lean into her and allow myself to be strengthened by her words.

As the captain announces our approach, I find I am feeling much better. Between Aaron's remedy and Sofia's reassurance, my queasiness has disappeared. The two of us rise and head for the front of the plane to prepare for the landing. Sofia holds my hand and leads the way.

Another limousine awaits us as we deplane. Natalie runs over and hugs the driver tightly. I think this must be Linda's regular driver or else I'm going to have to have a chat with Natalie about being too friendly to strangers.

Linda introduces Jerry as her personal driver letting Natalie off the hook. He tips the bill of his cap toward us and then efficiently loads our things in the trunk. After a good-bye to Aaron, we are on our way.

I am a bit confused as Jerry takes the Interstate highway away from San Francisco instead of heading directly to a hotel. Linda explains she has a house in San Francisco since Lucy has to spend quite a bit of time here on business. She didn't say anything earlier because she was worried I would insist on staying in a hotel.

Great, I've been kidnapped by my twin. After our visit to the prison, I need to clue Linda in on my feelings about manipulation. I know she means well, but all she had to do was let me know what was going on. Truth be told, I will be much more comfortable in her house especially since there won't be any hotel managers around who can flirt with Sofia.

We arrive at Linda's house or should I say mansion in about twenty minutes. Linda informs us the prison is another twenty minutes away so we need to leave immediately. Sofia and I stay in the car while Linda steps out with Lucy and Natalie. A couple of minutes later, we are back on the road.

The ride to the prison is silent. There really is nothing left to say. Linda and I will walk in together and face our mother. What happens from there is anyone's guess. Glancing at Linda, I am pleased she chose jeans and a top similar to mine. If she had worn Armani, mom would have been able to pick me out immediately.

Upon our arrival, we are greeted at the front entrance by the warden. Sofia is not too happy about having to leave her gun at the checkpoint, but she reluctantly agrees. As we walk down the hall to the visitation area, my hands begin to slightly tremor. Sofia reaches down and takes the nearest one in hers and gives a slight squeeze.

The warden stops in front of the last door on the right and informs us that mother is already in the room. As I reach for the doorknob with my shaking hand, Sofia says "Linda, could you give us a minute? There's something I need to show Sara." Linda nods her head in assent.

Confused, I follow Sofia into the adjacent room. She takes my hand and guides me toward the viewing glass. Stepping behind me, she wraps her arms around me and whispers in my ear "Sara, in your mind you are a little girl who is afraid of the monster who is your mother. You are no longer that little girl; you are a beautiful, strong woman. Your mother isn't the powerful woman she once was."

Reaching out with her right hand, she pulls the blinds up to reveal a room with a table. A feeble looking older woman is sitting at the table with her hands folded. I focus in on her face and am surprised by what I see.

I utter a single word, "Mother."

Part 17

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