DISCLAIMER: Karen Sisco and its all characters are property of Jersey Television. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Home for the Holidays
By Ann


"Marley, tell me again what your mom had to say when you told her you're bringing a friend home for the holidays," a nervous Karen asked, shifting the seatbelt for the millionth time. The ride from Florida to Mississippi was seemingly endless to the usually unflappable marshal, and the closer the pair got to their destination, the more anxious she became.

Patting her lover's hand, Marley moved to the passing lane and replied, "Karen, my mother is well aware of my sexual orientation. She knows you're not just a friend. Relax; it's going to be okay."

The two women had left Miami yesterday morning around ten a.m. Stopping in Tallahassee for the night, they spent a leisurely morning in bed before heading for their final destination, Yazoo City, Mississippi. Well, actually, Marley explained that her parents lived miles from the city, but Karen didn't ask any more questions. She was having a hard enough time accepting the fact that there was a town named Yazoo.

Karen sat up straighter in her seat when she noted the city limit sign of the great metropolis of Yazoo City. Squinting she glanced at the population and wasn't a bit surprised to see the estimated number to be 14, 550. She wondered, if perhaps, they needed to go by city hall to let them know there'd by two more for at least another couple of days.

The marshal watched the town grow even smaller in the side view mirror when Marley took a right on highway 3. Leaning back in the seat, she closed her eyes and tried to settle her nerves. She'd not been happy about driving instead of flying, but she quickly changed her mind when Marley pointed out that it would take two days to get there and two days to return. Four days alone with Marley was incentive enough for Karen. Besides, that would also be four fewer days with her family.

Yes, arriving on Christmas Eve would be perfect. Surely, everyone would be on their best behavior. Karen didn't know of too many people who could be rude on Christmas Day, so even if Marley's family didn't care for her, they'd more than likely be civil. Finally, Karen's overactive mind shut itself off, and she nodded into a peaceful sleep.

When the car rolled to a stop, Karen snapped awake. Marley smiled at her lover and announced, "We're here." Looking out the windshield, Karen noted the rather spacious looking log home and relaxed. She'd been afraid to ask Marley about the accommodations, but it looked as if the house sported several rooms. Opening the door, she stepped out and was immediately bowled over by three excited bloodhounds.

From the porch, a male voice yelled, "Archie, Veronica, and Jughead. Get back here this instant." The dogs quickly turned tail and ran back to their owner while Marley hurried around the car to help Karen from the ground.

Stunned, Karen took her lover's hand and was yanked up into Marley's strong arms. "Hey, you okay?" The detective asked, brushing the leaves from the marshal's clothing.

Karen slowly got her bearings and asked, "What's up with those names?"

Marley laughed and replied, "My dad loves comic books. Now, c'mon, let's get our things and go meet the family." The redhead turned toward the trunk, leaving Karen frozen in her spot. There was no place to hide now, and besides, the damn bloodhounds would probably find her.

Coming out of her stupor, Karen joined her lover and shouldered her bag. Marley reached for her partner's hand, and together the two women walked toward the porch where a tall man and an attractive, older woman were waiting.

Stepping over the bloodhounds, who had decided that the steps to the porch were as good a place as any to lie down, the two women eventually made their way to the waiting couple. Karen took a deep breath and smiled at the man and woman.

Marley placed her arm around Karen's waist and said, "Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad. I'd like for you to meet Karen Sisco, the love of my life." Surprised by the detective's straightforwardness, Karen still managed to extend her hand to the older couple.

Mrs. Novak was the first to introduce herself. "Hi, Karen. I'm Earlene, and this here is Sam. We're so glad you could join us for Christmas. Why don't you join me in the kitchen with Marley's sister and my two daughter-in-laws while Marley joins her dad and brothers on their annual Christmas Eve hunting trip? Marley, your brothers and Jeremy have been waiting for you."

Rolling her eyes, Marley said, "Mom, I think I'll skip hunting this year."

Sam started toward the steps and replied, "Nonsense, Marley. Your things are in your room. Go get changed and meet us out front in ten minutes. I'll get your gun."

Together, the two women stepped into the house, but quickly went their separate ways as Earlene ushered Karen into a side room. Karen almost tripped over her feet when she walked into the huge kitchen. She'd never seen so much counter space in all her life. The occupants in the room quickly made their way over to the marshal to introduce themselves.

A few minutes later, Karen was standing in front of a chopping board with six green peppers and a very sharp knife. A few minutes after that, Earlene was placing band-aids on the marshal's multiple cuts, and she wisely changed Karen's task to setting the table for tomorrow's feast.

With that task completed, Karen made herself useful by cleaning up after the other women, but Earlene had instructed her to keep her cuts dry, so she took a seat at the bar and watched as the others prepared Christmas dinner.

When the hunting party returned, Sam came into the kitchen to give his wife a report. He kissed her on the cheek and said, "Robert bagged a five point, and John got a three point. Jeremy saw a doe and goaded Marley into taking the shot. She lifted the rifle and looked into the scope. I don't know what she was thinking because she then aimed at least twenty feet away and pulled the trigger. The doe took off, and we never did find her again. Jeremy and the boys gave her hell, and well, I did too, for that matter. I don't think she'll be joining us for dinner. She gave Robert her gun and walked away. I guess she's off pouting like she used to do when she was little. Some things never change."

Karen quickly rose from her seat and walked to the back door. Stepping outside, she went in search of her lover, but it soon became apparent that she had no idea where to look so she sat on a tree stump and sighed, clearly disappointed in her failed efforts. Archie, who'd been following, put his head on her knee and looked up at her with sad eyes.

Smiling, Karen patted the dog on the head and said, "Archie, where did she go, huh? Where did Marley go?" At the sound of Marley's name, Archie perked up and ran off down a side trail. Stopping he turned and bayed at Karen. She quickly got up and followed the dog, trusting that he knew where in the hell he was taking her.

Fifteen minutes later, Karen caught up to him and found him standing under a tree looking up at a deer stand. Patting him on the head, Karen praised, "Good boy."

Stepping next to the stand, she began to climb to the top where she spotted Marley looking out across the heavily wooded forest. Taking the final step onto the platform, Karen moved to stand next to her lover.

"Wow, it's beautiful up here," Karen remarked, taking Marley's hand in her own.

Marley glanced at the marshal and smiled sadly. "I guess Dad let everyone in on my little hunting stunt."

Reaching up and caressing her lover's face, Karen replied, "Yes, he did, and I was probably the only person in the room that was glad you did what you did. Personally, I don't like hunting."

"You know, I really love you, Karen Sisco," Marley stated as she leaned down and sweetly kissed her partner's lips.

Reluctantly, Karen pulled away and said, "As much as I enjoy kissing you, I think we'd better head back to the house. You can fill me in on the details on the way." Marley nodded her head and started for the exit. Turning, she allowed her lover to lead the way down the makeshift ladder.

Both women stepped to the ground to find a waiting Archie, and the three of them slowly made their way back. Marley explained that she no longer wanted to point her gun at anything or anyone unless it was absolutely necessary. Karen nodded her head in understanding, and the two women returned to the Novak home in silence.

"Well, look who's back. The yellow-bellied hunter," Jeremy stated when he saw the women step into the house. Marley took a menacing step toward her brother-in-law, but stopped when Karen squeezed her hand. The two women quickly detoured into the kitchen to avoid any further confrontation.

Later, the dinner conversation eventually turned to the morning hunting trip, and Marley decided to explain her reasons for intentionally spooking the deer. "When I had her in my sights, I thought back to the times I've had to aim my weapon at a suspect, and it made me nauseous. I just don't enjoy shooting innocent deer anymore."

"That's okay, Marley. You don't have to go with us anymore," the elder Novak replied.

"Yeah, especially if you're going to scare anything within a hundred yards of us just because you've turned chicken," Jeremy muttered as his wife reached over and poked him.

"Ow, what'd you do that for?" He asked his seemingly innocent wife.

Earlene quickly moved the topic to the next day's activities, and the mood changed for the better. Karen winked at her lover, and Marley smiled her first real smile since the hunting incident. Right then and there, the marshal vowed to keep Jeremy away from her detective for the next two days of their stay.

Karen was relieved to find their room on the other side of the house. In fact, their bedroom was the only one on this end, and they each took advantage of the distance from the rest of the family. Karen was more than happy to relieve Marley's stress from the day's events.

Early the next morning, Marley joined her brothers and brother-in-law in yet another holiday ritual. Ever since the Novak children were able to learn how to make biscuits, eggs, and pancakes, they've prepared the Christmas morning breakfast for their parents. Now that there were wives, they, too, were treated to a breakfast feast. Jeremy had been forced upon the siblings by marrying their sister.

Marley glided around the kitchen as if she were floating on air. The perpetual smile on her face caused her brothers to smile in return. They had been waiting for their sister to find the right woman, and it looked as if their prayers had finally been answered.

As Marley reached for the silverware drawer, Jeremy said, "Well guys, by the look on Marley's face, I'd say she's been properly fucked. I tell you what, with that fine piece of ass she brought home, I wouldn't mind a sampling myself."

Marley stalked toward her foul-mouthed brother-in-law, but she was intercepted by Robert, who bodily wrestled her out the back door. John turned his attention to Jeremy and threatened, "If you ever say anything like that to my sister again, I'm going to kick your ass from here to Yazoo City and back."

Sam stepped into the kitchen just as John had issued his ultimatum, and both men quickly turned to the elder Novak and wished him a Merry Christmas. Sam returned the sentiment but made a mental note to find out exactly what Jeremy had said to his daughter.

Robert and Marley returned a short time later, and Marley's earlier cheery mood was noticeably absent. She forced a smile when the rest of the females joined them for the meal, but just in case, Robert made certain that Jeremy was seated as far away as possible from his sister and her lover.

After breakfast, the men and Marley were exiled from the kitchen, and several minutes later, Karen joined them. Shrugging her shoulders, Karen explained, "Earlene said it would be best if I waited with you."

Soon the six of them were outside ready to begin another annual tradition, two below football. John, Karen, and Marley were pitted against Robert, Jeremy, and Sam. The game progressed at a leisurely pace until Jeremy once again stepped over the line, way over the line.

Karen had just broken free and was heading toward the goal line when Jeremy got an angle on her and leapt into the air, tackling the unsuspecting marshal. Leaning down, he whispered into her ear, "One time with me, and you'd never go back to Marley. I can give it to you good, honey."

Marley grabbed Jeremy by the collar and threw him off her lover, but once again, Robert got between his sister and brother-in-law. "Marley, I'll take care of Jeremy. You check on Karen."

Taking a second to gain control of her temper, Marley knelt down beside her lover. Karen looked up in obvious pain as she tried to keep the tears from falling. Gingerly, Marley touched her lover's side, and Karen screamed out in pain. Sam and John quickly moved beside the two women to render additional aid.

An hour later, Marley paced up and down the hospital corridor waiting for news on Karen's injury. Karen had insisted that the family stay and enjoy their meal, but John persuaded the two to let him drive them to the hospital. When the marshal realized she could only sit up if she leaned against her lover, she finally acquiesced to John's request.

The admitting doctor found Marley leaning against the doors leading to the parking lot. "Ms. Novak?"

Turning quickly, Marley asked, "How is she?"

"Ms. Sisco has given me permission to fill you in on her injuries so if you'd like to come to my office, I can show you the x-rays." A shaken Marley followed the doctor down the corridor and around the corner where two x-rays were currently being displayed on the side wall of the office.

"If you'll look right here, you'll see a very fine line. Ms. Sisco suffered a hairline fracture. She's experiencing a great deal of pain now, but it will subside. Try to keep her from moving around too much, laughing, or coughing, if at all possible. She's told me that you've got a long drive ahead of you in a couple of days; however, she really needs to stay put for at least a week," the doctor explained to Marley who hadn't taken her eye off the injured rib.

Nodding, Marley replied, "I'll do whatever I need to. Um, does she need to stay overnight?"

"No, I've given her some pills for pain, and I've wrapped her ribs. She'll need to use an ice pack for about twenty minutes every three to four hours for the next day or so. I've got a nurse with her now, so she should be able to leave as soon as I sign her discharge papers. I needed to be sure that she wouldn't try to make that long drive before I released her," the doctor stated, motioning for Marley to follow him back down the hall leading to Karen's room.

Marley stepped into the room to find Karen lying on the bed with her eyes closed. She looked a bit pale, and Marley wondered, if perhaps, her lover should stay at least one night. Moving toward the bed, she looked her lover over closely.

Opening her eyes, Karen asked, "Did you come to bust me out of here?"

"Hey, how're you feeling?" Marley questioned, still upset at herself for Karen's injury. She should have realized Jeremy would try something.

Slowly reaching out her hand, Karen grimaced slightly and ordered, "Come closer."

Marley took her lover's hand and apologized, "I'm so sorry you got hurt."

"I love you, Marley Novak," Karen replied as the detective knelt down next to her lover and cried.

At Marley's insistence, John drove the two women to a local hotel and waited with Karen while Marley checked them in. He promised to return to the house and get Robert to drive back with their car and luggage; however, he drew the line at telling his mother what was going on. Marley said she would call after they were settled in.

Helping Karen into the room, Marley walked her lover to the bed and gently supported the marshal as she lay back on the bed. Once Karen was sleeping, the detective pulled out her cell to phone her parents.

Hours later, a groggy Karen awoke to the soft sounds of the television. Turning, she spotted her lover sitting in a nearby chair. "Hey, what time is it?

"A little past five. John brought some food. Would you like to eat something?" Marley asked, standing and walking toward the bed.

Smiling, Karen replied, "I am a little hungry; maybe just something light."

Marley dished out a small portion of turkey and dressing along with some green beans and a roll; pouring some water into a glass, she put the food on the nightstand while she assisted her sore lover into a sitting position.

Both women slowly ate their meal in silence before Karen finally asked the question she'd been avoiding. "What did your mother say about us staying in a hotel?"

Placing her fork down, Marley replied, "She wasn't happy until I explained the reasons involved. Jeremy and Susan are leaving tomorrow after lunch so I promised we'd return around four or five. I think you'll be much more comfortable at my parent's house."

Karen nodded and said, "I'd like that. I feel bad enough that I'm the reason you're away from your family on Christmas Day."

Jumping from her chair, Marley shouted, "It's not your fault! It's that asshole's! I've never liked him, but I always tried to get along for Susan's sake. Not any more, though. I'm going to punch his lights out if I ever see him again."

"Okay, okay. Calm down, sweetie. Come over here for a minute," Karen cooed to her lover.

The tall detective blew out a breath and slowly walked toward the marshal. Taking the empty plate and setting it on the nearby table, she lay down beside her partner, and Karen gently kissed the top of her lover's head and softly ran her hand through the red tresses.

"I called Amos and let him know I'd been injured. He said to take the next two weeks off. Now, how about you?" Karen asked.

The soothing motion seemed to do the trick of calming the detective. She quietly replied, "Um, me too. Only I've taken the next three weeks. I haven't had a vacation in over a year."

"Then it's settled. We'll sleep in tomorrow, and you can go over and get us breakfast at that McDonald's we passed on our way here. We'll get us a snack later, and then head for your parents," Karen offered, still stroking Marley's hair.

The marshal continued the gentle motion until the detective appeared to be sleeping. With just a little pain, she was able to lean over slightly and kiss her lover's brow.

"Rest, baby. We'll get you home to see your parents tomorrow."

Sighing, Marley sleepily replied, "I'm already home." The next sounds heard were those of light snores coming from the sleeping detective.

Karen slowly closed her eyes to join her lover in slumber. Just before she nodded off, she answered, "Me too, sweetie. Me, too."

The End

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