DISCLAIMER: CSI Miami and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Into the Night
By sinjenkai



Looking around the bar with a critical eye, Calleigh was satisfied that everyone and everything was in place. She had been setting this up for almost a year and this was the only chance that she was going to have at getting it right.

Turning around and looking at herself in the mirror, she was once again struck by the total lack of resemblance to her other life. Her hair and eyes were dark brown, her skin tone had been darkened, and she was wearing tattered jeans and a black tank top with a red bandana around her forehead. This had been her life for the past eleven months and she almost felt that it was actually her real life now, but she knew in her heart that one way or the other, it was going to end tonight. If it didn't end the right way, she was finished. In every way that it mattered.

The bar smelled of beer and cigarettes and if Calleigh was never in another one again, it would be too soon. She had bought this place under the name of Max Porter, an identity that the DEA had set up just for her, complete with a past that would pass through any type of background check. The DEA had agreed to help her out with this as long as they got credit for all of the arrests that came from the operation.

Motioning to Dan to watch the bar, Calleigh went outside to get some fresh air. Going over to lean against her truck, she looked out over the ocean and thought back to the time when she first met Natalia.

Calleigh was jogging after a hard day at work and was nearing her condo when her cell phone rang.

"This is Calleigh."

"Please you have to help me. I can't let him find me. Please help me," a female's voice whispered.

Stopping, Calleigh covered her other ear, trying to hear background sounds. "Ma'am, where are you? I'll send the police for you."

"No! You can't send the police. He'll just buy them off. That's what he does. Please, you must help me. He said that you would."

"Ok, ma'am. Just tell me where you are and I'll come get you."

The phone was silent for a few moments and Calleigh was afraid that she had lost the caller when she came back.

"I'm a couple of blocks away from the Opa Locka Airport at a Texaco gas station. I am in the ladies room. Please come quickly."

"I'll be there in fifteen minutes, just stay out of sight. I'll be in a blue Crossfire. I'll honk twice when I'm outside. Just stay inside until you hear me."

"Just hurry, please."

Taking off at a dead run, Calleigh made it to her condo in less than three minutes and was pulling out of her parking spot two minutes later after grabbing her car keys and her pistol. Traffic was heavier than usual and it took her almost twenty minutes to get to the airport. Luckily, she knew which gas station, so when she pulled up next to the station, she pulled as close to the restrooms as she could and honked twice. The door slowly opened and she saw a pair of brown eyes peer out. Reaching over, Calleigh opened the door, the empty seat was quickly filled with a frightened young woman with caramel hair, and Calleigh's life was changed forever.

Shaking her head, Calleigh brought her thoughts back to the present and noticed that night was rapidly approaching. Going back inside, she looked around and saw that everyone was in place and they were just waiting on the stars of the show to arrive. Walking behind the bar, she glanced down at the special monitors that were below the bar to check the placement of all the operatives. Calleigh had called in every favor that she had out, and now owed twice as many back, to fill this place with people that she could trust. She couldn't keep out the civilians, but she could make damn sure that they were protected.

"Yeah, like you did such a good job of protecting her. All she asked was to keep her husband from finding her and you failed," Calleigh thought bitterly to herself.

A shout went up from the end of the bar and Calleigh looked in that direction. Dan was talking on a phone and gave her a thumb up. They had landed at the airstrip and would be here in about forty-five minutes.

Activating her earpiece, Calleigh turned her back to the bar to key the mike. "Ok, folks, it's almost show time. Codenames only for the rest of the night. Del should have replaced all bullets, but we can't know that for sure. Make sure all civilians are covered. Let's stay with the plan and we can all go home tonight. Max out."

Turning back around, Calleigh signaled the DJ and the noise level increased. All of the operatives were drinking either near beer out of a special tap or very watered down drinks from one end of the bar while the civilians got the real stuff. The solid colored bandanas that the operatives wore marked them to each other from the front or back.

Calleigh had sentries posted along the route to let her know the progress, so she continually received updates while she tended the bar. As she did this mindless work, she allowed her mind to drift back to what had happened once she had gotten the woman back to her condo.

The young woman had cowered as low in the seat as she could get until Calleigh drove up to her condo.

"Just wait until I get the door open and then you can run inside, ok?"

She nodded her head, eyes darting around, checking the shadows.

Getting out of the car, Calleigh jogged up to the door, quickly unlocked it and stepped aside. The passenger side door opened and closed, and then the young woman's body dashed by and inside the condo. Closing, then bolting the door, Calleigh set the alarm and went into the living room to find the woman standing in the middle of the room.

"It's ok. No one can get in here without setting off my alarm and if they do that, the police will be here within minutes."

Taking a step closer, Calleigh saw that the woman was shaking and covered with grime. Talking quietly, she turned and headed deeper into her home.

"Why don't you come with me, get out of those clothes, and take a long bath. I can give you something to put on and then we can talk. Come on."

Leading her into the bathroom, Calleigh grabbed a pair of sweatpants and a zip-up hoodie, and then stepped into the bathroom, turning the lights down low. Reaching into the cabinet, she pulled out a couple of bath sheets and placed them on the vanity.

Turning back to the woman, Calleigh watched as she slowly unbuttoned her filthy shirt and started to pull it off. Noticing the clenching of her jaw and the beads of sweat that appeared on her upper lip, Calleigh held out her hands in a non-threatening manner, and stepped behind her to slide the shirt from her arms. As the woman's back came into view, Calleigh could barely keep the gasp from escaping as bruises and welts appeared, crisscrossing the entire way down. Steeling her face, not showing any emotion, Calleigh walked around to look at the front of her body and was appalled at what she saw. Scars and bruises were evident, as were some burn marks.

The young woman refused to look Calleigh in the face, and carefully stepped out of her pants. As Calleigh held up one of the bath sheets in front of the woman, averting her eyes, Natalia removed her underwear.

Handing the woman the towel, Calleigh softly asked, "Do you need any help?"

The woman wrapped the towel around her, shaking her head. "No, thank you. I can do this."

"Ok, I would like for you to trust me. I'm going to call a friend to come over to look at you. I trust her with my life."

The young woman looked over her shoulder, staring at her savior. "I've already put my life in your hands. I trust you."

"May I ask your name?"

The woman was quiet for so long that Calleigh thought she was going to refuse to answer when a sad voice drifted back to her. "Natalia… Natalia Boa Vista."

"Thank you, Natalia. Take your time, ok. There's plenty of hot water. I'll let you know when my friend gets here."

Picking up the clothes, Calleigh walked out, closing the door. She went into her utility room, grabbing her phone on her way.

"Hey, Alexx… Yeah, I need a favor… Can you come over and check out a friend? No, I'd rather explain when you get here if that's all right with you… And, Alexx… Can we just keep this between us? Ok, see ya soon."

Closing the phone, Calleigh stared at the pile of clothes, knowing that she should run them for trace, but another part of her wanted to earn the woman's trust. So taking a deep breath, she found a large paper bag, placed the clothes in it, and sealed it.

Leaving the bag there, Calleigh went into the kitchen and started to warm up some soup and made a couple of sandwiches. She wasn't sure when Natalia had eaten last, but she was hungry after her run so she figured why not.

After plating the sandwiches, Calleigh turned down the heat on the stove and went to knock on the bathroom door.

"Natalia… Are you ok?"

Leaning close to the door, Calleigh barely heard, "Come in."

She slowly opened the door and stuck her head in to see Natalia standing in the same position that she had left her in.

"Natalia… What's the matter?" Calleigh could see that she was standing there shaking. Moving slowly, she walked over to her.

Shaking her head, Natalia whispered, "I don't know. I know that I am safe here. I know that all I need to do is to get into the shower, but I can't seem to move. It's like I'm expecting someone to come rushing in."

Standing next to the trembling woman, Calleigh couldn't restrain herself and she slowly wrapped her arms around her. Gathering her close, Calleigh just held her, until the trembling ceased.

They were interrupted by a knocking at the front door.

"That will be my friend Alexx. I work with her and I know that we can trust her. Why don't you go into the bedroom and I'll bring her in. I just want her to make sure that you're ok."

Natalia turned and followed Calleigh out of the bathroom and into her bedroom without a word. Walking over to the nightstand, Calleigh turned on the lamp, casting a warm glow about the room.

"Why don't you have a seat on the bed and I'll bring in Alexx? I'll be right back, ok?"

Nodding her head, Natalia walked over and sat on the edge of the mattress.

Going to the entryway, Calleigh turned off the alarm and opened the door, letting in her friend before closing it back and resetting the alarm.

Turning to one of her oldest friends, Alexx Woods, Calleigh fidgeted. "I know what you're going to say, but let me get everything out before you start." Taking a step into the living room, Calleigh leaned against the sofa. "Well, to make a long story short, too late I know, but I got a call for help and I brought her here. I don't know her story, but I know I have to help her. I want you to please, take a look at her. I saw a lot of bruises, welts and scaring, and I believe that she has either torn muscles or fractures. She's in the bedroom waiting for you."

"How did this woman get your number?"

Shaking her head, Calleigh started walking back towards the bedroom. "I haven't asked her yet. I didn't want to push too hard, too fast."

Knocking on the bedroom door, Calleigh opened it and let Alexx walk through. "Natalia, this is my friend Dr. Alexx Woods. She's just gonna check you out. I'll be out here if either one of you should need anything."

Closing the door, Calleigh went back into the kitchen to turn the heat down even lower on the soup.

For the next half hour, Calleigh prowled the apartment, unable to sit still. She tried to figure out how this woman had gotten her phone number, since it wasn't listed and the only people that did have it were family, friends, and co-workers.

Finally, the door to the bedroom opened and Natalia stepped out, with her head bowed, and headed into the bathroom.

Going into the bedroom, Calleigh found Alexx putting away her instruments and shaking her head.

"She's been abused, not just sexually either. She's been beaten, burnt, cut, and whipped. One shoulder feels like it's been forced out of its socket a number of times, but she didn't say one word throughout the examination. Didn't make a noise, just did exactly what I asked her to

do, nothing more."

Calleigh walked Alexx out. "Thanks for coming by. I don't think that I'll be in tomorrow, I'm just gonna play it by ear, but I'll call Horatio."

Hugging her friend, Alexx whispered, "Be careful, baby girl. I hope that this doesn't blow up in your face."

Closing the door, and then setting the alarm, Calleigh mumbled to herself, "That makes two of us."

Ladling the soup into a couple of bowls, Calleigh poured a couple of glasses of ice tea. Placing the food and drinks on a tray, she took it into the bedroom and set up two TV-trays at the end of the bed before she went to the bathroom to knock on the bathroom door.

"Natalia… Whenever you're ready, come back into the bedroom. I've fixed you something to eat and set it up in there."

Turning back the bed, Calleigh sat at the end of the bed, turned on the television and waited for her guest. After a few minutes, she heard the bathroom door creak open and watched as Natalia timidly walked into the bedroom.

"I thought that you might be more comfortable in here…. And if you're tired after we eat, you won't have to walk far."

Smiling shyly, Natalia came in and sat next to her. "Thank you."

"Not a problem. I hope that you like bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches. I have a slight bacon fetish and will eat it any time I can."

Nodding her head, Natalia took a couple of bites. They watched a National Geographic program on dolphins, in silence, until it was over.

Standing, Natalia gathered the dishes before Calleigh could protest.

"Why don't you let me clean up while you bathe? Please, let me do something."

Understanding, Calleigh agreed and got her nightclothes before going into the bathroom.

Calleigh showered, dried off, dressed in her nightclothes and brushed out her hair. Taking a deep breath, she opened the door and walked into the hallway, heading towards her bedroom. Seeing the bedroom was dark, she paused at the doorway.

"My husband is Nick Townsend. Unfortunately, I'm sure that you've heard of him." Natalia's voice came from out of the darkness.

"Yes, he runs drugs, guns, and prostitutes. I didn't know that he was married though." Calleigh took a couple of steps into the room. "May I ask you a question?"

"Go ahead. I'll answer anything that you ask. I owe you at least that."

Coming in even further, Calleigh motioned towards the bed and Natalia whispered, "Please."

Sitting at the end of the bed, Calleigh sat cross-legged and leaned her elbows on her knees.

"How did you get my number?"

"Do you know Eric Delektorsky?"

Frowning, Calleigh's mind ran through everyone that she knew and her eyes went wide as she realized who Natalia was talking about.

"Do you mean Eric Delko? He's about six foot, has dark hair, and dark eyes."Getting a nod from Natalia, Calleigh explained. "We used to work together a while back. He requested a transfer to a special task force that was investigating the Russian mob."

"Yes, he told me that. He's now my husband's right-hand man. Eric's been with him for about eight months, and he's shielded me as much as he possibly could, but there are still things that he's forced to do that he's finding very hard to live with."

Swallowing hard, Natalia continued. "So he started helping me to memorize everything about my husband's organization. I can give you dates, locations, shipments... everything. I know banks, account numbers, and safe houses that he uses. The only thing that I ask is that you make

sure that he doesn't find out it's me. If he does he'll make my family suffer, and Nick is very good at making people suffer. Eric told me to trust you and someone named Horatio Caine, no one else."

With her mind reeling with everything that she had just been told, and started to imagine, Calleigh got off the bed to stretch her cramped legs.

"Horatio is my boss and yes, he's very trustworthy. I'll call him in the morning to ask him to come over."

Walking around the bed to kneel next to Natalia, Calleigh saw the weariness on her face and in her eyes. It took all of her will power not to reach up to brush the caramel colored hair away from her face.

"Why don't you go ahead and go to sleep? You look exhausted and we can start everything tomorrow when you are rested. I'll sleep in the other room."

Reaching out, Natalia grabbed Calleigh's hand. "No, please stay here. I would feel safer just knowing that you're in the room. I tend to have nightmares when I'm left alone and I have enough of those when I'm awake so I don't want them while I sleep."

"Not a problem. Just let me do something really quick and I'll be right back, ok?"

Going into the spare bedroom, Calleigh opened the closet and kneeled down to open her gun safe. Reaching in, she pulled out her off-duty pistol, making sure that it was loaded and the safety was on. Closing the safe, then the closet, she walked through her home, making sure that

everything was locked tight and the alarm was set. She was going to have to be on high alert from now on and didn't want to make any mistakes.

Turning out all of the lights, she made her way back to the bedroom and over to the bed. Placing the pistol on the nightstand next to her, she crawled underneath the sheets and looked over to Natalia.

Her face looked younger relaxed in sleep and Calleigh could finally whisper what she had been thinking ever since Natalia had gotten into her car.

"You're beautiful."

Turning on her side, Calleigh stared at the sleeping woman, seeing past the cuts and bruises to what lay underneath. She couldn't imagine what her life had been like to receive all of the injuries that her body carried. She vowed that Nick Townsend would pay for doing that to this woman and she was going to make sure that she would be there to watch.

Taking a deep breath, Calleigh closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.

A voice in her earpiece announcing that the target was now about thirty minutes out brought Calleigh back to the present. Filling a pitcher of beer, she mumbled her acknowledgement before checking the monitors again. Things looked good and that in itself, gave Calleigh hope. Now only time would tell.



Natalia was dreading this trip, because she knew that Nick would find some new way to degrade her once again. The entire last year with Nick had been that way and she was barely hanging on to her sanity.

Looking out of the airplane window, Natalia thought back to a plane ride that she had taken more than a year ago, trying to gain her freedom. The flight that took her to something so much more, but eventually led her back to where she was right now.

Eric had arranged for her to sneak aboard a flight was leaving one afternoon when Nick had been away. Natalia knew that he was taking a chance of being hurt or worse, but she knew that she had to get away from there or Nick was going to kill her too.

They had gone over everything one final time, making sure she remembered Calleigh's number, and where to go to hide until she contacted her.

When she finally had made it to Oka Locka Airport, Natalia began to breathe a bit easier. Carefully she made her way from the airport to the gas station that Eric had told her about. Once there, she went quickly into the ladies bathroom and called the number that Eric had burned into her memory.

"This is Calleigh."

The voice on the other end of the phone sounded confident, but a little bit out of breath.

Natalia asked for her help, but requested she not send the police. She had seen too many officers paid off by her husband.

"Ok, ma'am. Just tell me where you are and I'll come get you."

Giving Calleigh her location, she closed the phone. Natalia released a breath that she didn't realize she was holding. Alright, the first step was taken. Let's see if Eric's faith was well placed. She started to doubt when fifteen minutes passed with no one showing up.

It was twenty minutes before Natalia heard a double honk of a car horn. Slowly she opened the bathroom door until she could peer out to see a blue car. The passenger side door was opened. Quickly, she ran to get into the car and hunkered down as low as she could get as the car sped away.

Natalia hadn't paid much attention to the passing scenery until they pulled up to a Spanish styled condo.

"Just wait until I get the door open and then you can run inside, ok?"

Nodding her head, Natalia's eyes darted around, looking for threats in every shadow. After rushing inside the condo, she didn't take notice of the natural woods or the brightly colored pillows that made the room very welcoming. She just stood there shaking, trying not to let her fear take over and reduce her to a bumbling fool. She could feel Calleigh watching her.

"Why don't you come with me, get out of those clothes, and take a long bath. I can give you something to put on and then we can talk. Come on."

Following the blonde down the hallway, Natalia watched as she went inside her bedroom and came out with a pair of sweatpants and a hoodie before going into the bathroom and turning the lights on low. She reached inside a cabinet and took out a couple of bath sheets and placed them on the vanity.

Natalia reached up and started to unbutton her shirt, grimacing as her shoulder protested the movement.

Calleigh held out her hands before she stepped behind her to help her remove shirt. Hanging her head, Natalia knew what she was seeing, but remained quiet. When Calleigh came around, Natalia couldn't look her in the eye as she unbuttoned her jeans. While Calleigh held up a towel and looked away, Natalia quickly removed her underwear and wrapped herself in the towel.

"Do you need any help?" was the quiet question.

"No, thank you. I can do this."Looking at the blonde, Natalia could see why Eric trusted this woman. She exuded self-confidence and seriousness that Natalia liked.

"May I ask your name?" Another quiet question floated on the air.

Swallowing hard, Natalia took a moment to catch her voice. "Natalia… Natalia Boa Vista."

Calleigh's voice drifted over to her before she reached down to pick up Natalia's clothes. "Thank you, Natalia. Take your time, ok. There's plenty of hot water. I'll let you know when my friend gets here."

With that, she walked out, closing the door and, leaving Natalia by herself to take a shower.

The plane came in for the landing with a jarring bump, bringing Natalia back to the present. She realized that the pilot was going to get a chewing out, or worse, from Nick. For someone who made his living by smuggling guns and drugs, he really should be used to plane travel, but he was still terrified of flying, and that thrilled Natalia to no end.

"Eric! Tell the pilot if he lands my plane like that one more time, he's gonna see if he knows how to fly from thirty thousand feet without a plane." Then turning to his wife, Nick grabbed her roughly by the arm. "Get on your feet. You're gonna make me some money tonight and make a lot of men happy."

Yanking her to her feet, he all but pushed her out of the plane, leaving Eric to talk to the pilot. Shaking his head, Eric prayed that they all had enough strength to get through the night.

Getting into the back of a waiting Grand Marquis, Natalia looked out at the passing scenery on the way to Nick's meeting, and remembered back to the days following her previous arrival.

Calleigh had been true to her word and called only Horatio Caine the next morning. He had come over to hear what she had to say. Once she had given him a bit of information and it had checked out, both he and Calleigh worked with her for the next few days, getting the details and verifying as much as possible before they went to the DEA.

Natalia had been wary of going to that agency because she was sure that Nick had an insider that kept him informed, but she bowed to Calleigh's insistence. They did, however, take as many precautions as they could think of; the DEA never came to Calleigh's apartment, both Calleigh and Horatio traded off driving Natalia to the meetings and Natalia never went out without a disguise on.

Each night they would come back to Calleigh's condo and collapse on the sofa from mental exhaustion. One night, Natalia looked over to Calleigh and realized that she didn't know anything about her savior other than she worked for the Miami Dade Police Department as their ballistics expert and believed in her work.

"Calleigh, would you mind telling me about yourself? You already know the worst about me, but I know next to nothing about you."

Turning towards the brunette, Calleigh felt compelled to say, "Natalia, I do wish that you would quit cutting yourself down. You fell in love and that's always a good thing. You just happened to fall in love with the wrong guy, anyone can do that. Hell, I've even done that."

Giving a self-deprecating laugh, Natalia replied, "Yeah, but yours didn't turn out to be a sadistic gun and drug runner."

"No, he just turned out to be a dirty cop, but let's not compare. Ok, I'm from Louisiana where my two brothers still live. One's an Assistant District Attorney, the other is a Law Professor, and yes, we are overachievers. Walked a beat in New Orleans for a couple of years before I got the offer to come here and I've been here for five years."

Without knowing what she was doing, Natalia reached out to run her fingers along Calleigh's arm. "Well, I know that Eric thinks a lot of you. He was emphatic that I speak with you first."

Calleigh didn't speak for a moment. "Eric's a good guy. It's hard to imagine him doing everything that you've told us about, but if he needs to survive, I guess that's what he needs to do."

Looking over at the blonde, Natalia could see the respect that Calleigh felt for her old colleague and she had to ask the question that had been bothering her. "Were you and Eric…?"

Green eyes went wide for a moment when Calleigh realized what she was asking. "No…, he's like a brother to me. I've sworn off me… I've given up on finding someone. And besides, in my line of work there are too many chances for life changing events to happen and I couldn't bear to hurt someone like that."

Chocolate eyes caressed the body next to her and the images that sprang to her mind was enough to cause Natalia to blush and rise up from the sofa.

"Are you alright, Talia?"

Nodding her head, Natalia couldn't look at the concerned woman. "Yeah, I'm just a… going to take a bath."

Not running to bathroom was almost more than Natalia could manage since she just wanted to hide from the other woman. Closing the door, she leaned against it and breathed deeply, trying to banish away the images.

Waking up each morning in bed with Calleigh was an experience that Natalia wanted to continue. She also knew that she wanted to take the next step in their new friendship, but realized that what she felt was probably a side effect of what she was going through; that she was latching on to the closest person – which happened to be Calleigh. But Natalia didn't care. Everything that she had seen and learned about Calleigh just intrigued her more, and she wanted the woman. She needed to put her hands on Calleigh's body and learn what she liked, what she craved.

Pushing away from the door, Natalia stripped off her clothes and got into the shower, turning on the cold water.

Leaning her head against the car window, Natalia closed her eyes and tried to prepare herself for the evening. With Nick's latest threat, she knew that this was going to be a long night.



"Fifteen minutes out, Max. Everything looks good," Came through Calleigh's earpiece. Swallowing hard, she turned her back to the bar, closed her eyes, and tried to center herself. It was getting down to the wire and she knew that she had to keep a cool head. Opening her eyes, she looked in the mirror and though of the last few days that they had been together.

Calleigh had convinced Horatio that they could get away for a few days and had made plans to fly up to Lake County to the Lakeside Inn. Mt. Dora was a quiet town with oak tree lined streets and quaint, little shops with antique stores intermingled throughout.

They had enjoyed walking through the streets, window-shopping and just spending time with each other. They had dinner out on the deck of their room overlooking Lake Dora and had listened to live jazz at Tremain's Lounge.

They had been in the lounge, sitting in the back corner and Natalia laughed at something that Calleigh had said when Calleigh realized she was staring at the young woman once again. She had caught herself doing that a lot over the past few days and it took all of her willpower not to lean over and kiss Natalia senseless. Looking down at the table, she started shredding her napkin, trying to get her mind on anything else.

Natalia had placed her hand over Calleigh's. "Would you mind if we went back to the room?"

Shaking her head, Calleigh briefly considered holding onto her hand, but thought better of it.

Getting back to their room, Calleigh did a quick walk through, making sure that no one had been in there while they had been out and only then, did she let Natalia come in, locking the door behind them.

Grabbing a pair of lounge pants and a t-shirt, Calleigh barely looked over at the young woman. "Do you mind if I take a quick shower? I won't take too long." She didn't give Natalia a chance to answer as she almost ran into the bathroom.

Leaning against the closed door, Calleigh tried to get control of her breathing and her thoughts, but they were running rampant. Images of waking up to Natalia, the sight of her wrapped in a towel or the way that she laughed, she had a great laugh. Closing her eyes, Calleigh tried not to imagine Natalia in bed, writhing under her touch, fisting the sheets, and screaming out her name.

Shaking her head, clearing her thoughts, Calleigh put her pajamas on the vanity and reached into the shower, turning it on. Pulling off her clothes, she stepped under the water and let it cascade down over her head, leaning back and enjoying the feel of it against her skin.

As she was imagining Natalia's hands were caressing her body, Calleigh was surprised when suddenly Natalia was actually there, touching her for real/.

"No regrets and no lost chances. I want you for as long as I can have you," Natalia growled before she crushed her lips to Calleigh's.

Threading fingers of one hand in caramel hair, Calleigh used the other to pull the woman against her, groaning at the contact.

"You can have me as long as you want me."

Hands were roamed over bodies, teasing and delving into warm slick spots. Natalia dropped to her knees, and leaned in to run her tongue between Calleigh's slick lips, drawing out her arousal. Calleigh braced herself against the walls the best that she could, while her nerves went into high gear.

Humming, Natalia slid in three fingers, filling the blonde, and Calleigh's body began to thrum in sensory overload. With her hips moving in time with Natalia's thrusts, Calleigh had to keep adjusting her hands on the wall to try and remain on her feet.

"Tal...lia...let's... go...to...bed," Calleigh grounded out.

"Not yet." Natalia stood without withdrawing her fingers. "Not until you come." Flicking her thumb over the tiny little bundle of nerves, Natalia caused Calleigh to jerk and to keen.

Arching against the steady thrusts, Calleigh closed her eyes and wondered at the fireworks that were erupting on the back of her eyelids. She had never felt such intense emotion so quickly. She didn't want Natalia to stop; she needed to be possessed by the woman and to possess her in return.

When Natalia added one more finger, Calleigh lost the ability to stand and slid down the wall.

With the water hitting Natalia's back, Calleigh reached up to pull her head down for another kiss. Tongues slid over one another and Calleigh breathed in Natalia's moan as she slid a thigh up between her legs and came into contact with her center.

With another flick of Natalia's thumb, Calleigh muscles tightened around Natalia's fingers and her nails scored Natalia's back.

As Natalia slowly withdrew, Calleigh felt the tremors subside, but she wanted more. She wanted to take everything that Natalia had to offer.

Reaching up, Calleigh turned off the water and then pulled Natalia down until she could look her squarely in the eyes.

With her look softening, Calleigh gazed up at chocolate eyes. "You're right. No regrets and no lost chances, but I'm not giving you up easily. We are, however, going to bed."

Rising up, she kissed Natalia and then they both stood. After drying off, Calleigh took her by the hand, leading her to their bed and lying down beside her.

She caressed the face that was looking at her with such trust and emotion that it made her heart feel so full. Rising up until she covered the bronze body with her own, Calleigh started nibbling her way down, stopping to suckle Natalia's breasts before moving down toned abs until she hit soft curls.

The scent of Natalia's arousal drew Calleigh like a bee to a flower; she just had to taste her sweet nectar. Using her tongue, she spooned out Natalia's essence and hummed with pleasure. Angling her head slightly, Calleigh began to tongue her center as she slid three fingers into the now squirming woman.

The noises that were coming from above caused Calleigh to raise her head slightly and see Natalia rolling her head from side to side. Dropping her head back down, Calleigh began to lavish attention on the tiny little button of nerves, causing Natalia to arch high off the bed and fist the sheets so hard that they ripped. Increasing the force of her thrusts, Calleigh raised up so that she could draw a nipple into her mouth, never missing a stroke.

Natalia reached down and brought Calleigh's head up so that she could kiss her. She moaned when she tasted herself on Calleigh's tongue. The kiss was hard and hungry, both women moaning, while Natalia reached down to slide into Calleigh's drenched center. Soon both women were toppling over the edge and shuddering in each other's arms.

Carefully Calleigh withdrew from Natalia's still gently throbbing center as Natalia did the same for her, but she immediately drew the sweaty woman back into her embrace.

For the next two days, the two women didn't leave the room; all they did was make love and talk to each other about their pasts and order room service. For Calleigh, those two days were the happiest days of her life... and the last.

"They're here."



Natalia happened to catch Eric's eye in the rearview mirror as he was driving to the meeting and he gave a slight head nod. They had to be very careful with their friendship since Nick was a very possessive man. He would let other people use his possessions only when he wanted and he had taken great pleasure in proving that Natalia, and to a lesser degree, Eric, were his possessions.

Turning back to look out the window, Natalia thought back to the last few moments that she had with Calleigh.

They had finally decided to rejoin the world, so they took a very long shower where they had made sure that every nook and cranny was clean, some several times. They got out, dried off, and got dressed.

After putting on her cap and sunglasses, Natalia came up behind Calleigh and wrapped her arms around her waist, while nuzzling her neck.

"Maybe we should stay in for a couple more days? I'm quite sure that there are some new positions that we can discover or at least practice."

Calleigh had turned in her embrace so that she could wrap her arms around the brunette's neck.

"That sounds heavenly. Let's stay in."

Leaning down so that she could capture Calleigh's lips in a kiss, Natalia made sure that the kiss stayed slow and soft. Moving her lips along the blonde's jaw, she murmured, "However, if we go out, we have to behave in public, and a slow burn can be just as much fun."

Calleigh arched back her neck, allowing Natalia more access to her throat."Mmm, I knew there was a reason I love you, you're devious."

Natalia pulled back to look at Calleigh's face. "You love me?"

Slowly Calleigh brought back up her head until she could look into warm, chocolate eyes that were wide in amazement. "Yes, I've fallen in love with you."

Natalia's eyes softened and Calleigh gasped at the expression on Natalia's face. "Good, because I'm in love with you, too… I love you, Calleigh."

Reaching up to remove the cap and sunglasses, Calleigh threaded her fingers in caramel hair to draw Natalia's lips down to hers. "I love you Natalia," was breathed out before the kiss.

This kiss was neither slow nor soft; it was pure passion, hard and full of emotion. It was only the need for air that broke them apart. Flashing, green eyes melted under the gaze of the warm, chocolate ones.

Taking in a deep breath through her nose, Calleigh sighed. "Slow burn, huh? Let's see how that works for us." Smiling, she handed back Natalia's cap and sunglasses before she turned to open the door to their room. She immediately gasped and pulled her gun.

"No, you can't have her."

Standing in the doorway was Eric Delko.

"I'm sorry, Calleigh. I have to take her back. If I don't, a lot of people will be hurt. May I come in, please?"

Natalia had started shaking the instant that Calleigh drew her gun and she had caught her first glimpse of Eric. He was much thinner than she remembered and he wore an eye patch over his left eye.

"Hello, Natalia, I'm sorry. You have to come back with me."

Calleigh had stood in front of the young woman. "No, Eric… She doesn't have to go back. She has a right to her own life. One without Nick Townsend in it. You know that, that's why you helped her escape in the first place. By the way, how in the hell did you find us?"

Noticing that Calleigh had not put away her weapon, Eric decided just to tell her everything.

"Nick has an insider in the DEA, an Adan Farias. He got in touch with him earlier this week and told us that you were coming up here. It just took me this long to find the right hotel. No one else was allowed to come with me, and since I'm the one that let Natalia get away, I'm the one that has to bring her back. If I don't, Nick will torture Natalia's family…. And you know that he will, Natalia. You have to come back."

Natalia whirled around to walk over to the window that overlooked Lake Dora. She knew that Nick would do what he threatened. Without turning around, she asked Eric, "What does he know about Calleigh?"

"Other than she's the one that is helping you out, nothing. He doesn't know how you met or anything else."

Natalia turned and stalked over to him. "He can never know anything more about her, Eric. I don't care if it means you dying, Nick can never know about Calleigh at all. Do you understand me?"

Eric reached out to reassure her, but she shied away.

"I am not kidding. Now, when do we have to leave?"

"We need to head out in about fifteen minutes."

Turning her back to him and towards Calleigh, she said. "Fine, then you can wait outside. I'll see you then."

The two women stood looking at each other until Eric left the room. As soon as the door closed, Natalia reached for the blonde. "I'm sorry. I have to go, because Nick will hurt my family. He will do everything that he threatens, and more, but I want you to know that I… will never forget you. I want you to forget about me." Tears were rolling down Natalia's face.

Calleigh had been silent for a moment before she swallowed and ground out, "No, I'm not going to forget about you. I am going to get you back. I don't care what I have to go through, but I'm gonna get you back."

Shaking her head, Natalia cupped Calleigh's face. "No, you stay as far away from Nick as you can. I won't last long when I get back anyways. I've damaged his ego and he's gonna make me pay for that."

Reaching up, Calleigh had grabbed Natalia's hands in a fierce grip. "No, you submit to him, do you hear? You do whatever you have to do. You be strong, you survive... You stay alive, no matter what occurs! I will find you. I will come for you. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you. I will get you back."

Drawing the blonde up hard against her body, Natalia kissed her like there was no tomorrow, and for them, there might not be. She tasted their mingled tears and swallowed their moans. She soaked up every piece of emotion, every atom of passion that they each poured into that last kiss, and stored it in her memory.

Pulling away had almost broken Natalia's heart, but she knew that if she didn't do it right at that moment, she wouldn't be able to later. Handing Calleigh her cap, Natalia caressed her face one last time before she turned, opened the door, and strode past Eric. "Ok, let's go." Then she headed outside.

Eric later told Natalia that Calleigh had snarled at him as she grabbed him around his throat as he started to follow Natalia outside. "I don't care what kind of pain you have to go through. You keep her alive, you keep her as safe as you possibly can, and I want to make myself perfectly clear on one thing, Eric, if she dies before I get her back, I'll hold you personally responsible and I'll hunt you down. Oh, I'll get Nick, but I'll get you, too. Now, tell me just one more thing… Is Adan Farias the only insider that Nick Townsend has in the DEA?"

He answered her yes and she shoved him away. "Just tell her that I love her every day, Eric. Tell her that I will get her back."

And he had, every day, as many times as he could. Eric had protected Natalia as much as possible, and healed her when she was hurt. Nick had kept a very watchful eye on them both over the past eleven months, but still they had to be careful.

The car came to a stop in front of a two story concrete building with an old neon sign that read in faded yellow letters, "D E A M E N' S", and the M E N' were flickering. The parking lot in front of the place was full with motorcycles, old pick-up trucks, and custom vehicles.

As Eric turned the car off, Nick rubbed his hands together in glee. "Let's get this show on the road. Tonight is gonna be fun, at least for me and Eric. I don't think so much for you, Natalia, though I may be wrong."

Getting out of the car, Nick reached back in, dragged the woman out, and hugged her to his side.

"Let's go make me some money."



There she was. Natalia was walking through the door right behind Eric, with Nick holding onto her arm. Her hair was longer, she was thinner and looked scared, but Calleigh had never seen anyone so beautiful. She was wearing a full, black, peasant skirt with a turquoise blouse and black sandals.

Eric looked right at Calleigh, but didn't give any sign of recognition, which gave her some peace of mind.

The group made their way over to a table that had been held for them near the center of the small stage that the bar had set up. Nick, of course, sat in the middle with Natalia on his left and Eric slightly behind and to his right.

Calleigh watched as Nick brought up his hand and grasped Natalia by back of her neck, making her flinch. Turning away for a moment, Calleigh closed her eyes and counted to ten in every language that she knew to get her urge to beat the shit out of Nick under control.

Turning back, she watched as Nick said something to Eric, who then got up and headed towards the bar. She positioned herself to take his order and waited.

"Yeah, is Max around?"

"I'm right here. Can I help you?"

A surprised look came over Eric's face as his eyes traveled down and up her body.

"Damn, this is a different look for you, Max. Need to make this quick. Nick has live rounds and there are at least three guys here that came in ahead of us." He gave her their positions. "Nick wants a bottle of Jack and Natalia will probably need a shot soon. He's got something planned

that she's not going to like, but I don't know what it is."

Calleigh poured some whiskey in a couple of plastic cups and handed them to the young man. "Tell Nick that there is no glass allowed onto the floor. I'll arrange a fight to swap magazines in his gun and for the three guys to be taken care of. Where does Nick keep his gun?"

Taking the cups, Eric turned away. "Small of his back." He then headed back to the table.

Turning her back to the bar, Calleigh set up a diversion to swap out the gun magazine and arranged for the three accomplices to get spiked drinks.

When she turned back around, she saw that Nick was striding her way. Coolly she placed her hands against the bar and waited.

Nick started ranting. "Hey! What do you mean that you don't allow glass onto the floor? What kind of place is this?"

Waiting until the man finished, Calleigh calmly answered. "This is a place that turns a profit, has fewer injuries, and is mine. You don't like it... you know where the door is."

They stared at each other for a few beats before Nick nodded his head and glanced away. "Well, what do I have to do to get a bottle of Jack?"

Calleigh quirked an eyebrow. "Tell you what. You give me fifty dollars and I'll let you know when you've drank that much."

Reaching into his back pocket, Nick pulled out his wallet and slammed a fifty-dollar bill down on the counter. "Deal, I like a woman who knows her mind. Nick Townsend, and if I enjoy myself tonight, I'll make this a regular stopping place on my business trips."

Grabbing the money and putting it in the register at her side, Calleigh couldn't resist saying, "Well, Nick, welcome to Deamen's. I can promise you a night that you will never forget."

Then she poured him a triple shot of Jack. "Enjoy."

He grabbed the cup and tossed it back in one shot. Crumpling up the cup and tossing it on the floor, Nick simply stated, "I will."

Turning back, he started towards his table as two bearded men started yelling at each other and throwing punches. Almost immediately, others around them joined in. Nick was surrounded and being pushed around while Eric tried in vain to get to him. Nick was so busy trying to stay on his

feet, that he didn't even feel it when his gun was slipped out of his waistband, then replaced.

Calleigh jumped across the bar with a fire extinguisher and started spraying it at the fighters.

"Damn it! Get the hell outside if you boys are gonna act like children. I've told you for the last time."

As soon as the cold spray hit them, the fighters scattered, shouting indignantly. After a few more spurts, everyone calmed down and got back to drinking and Calleigh once again got behind the bar.

Watching Nick finally make his way back to his table, Calleigh got the heads up that the switch went well and the spiked drinks were being consumed. Smiling to herself, she began to feel a bit hopeful about the evening's outcome.

A half hour or so later, raised voices, once again, caught Calleigh's attention and this time it was from Nick's table. He was standing, holding on to Natalia's upper arm, gesturing to the stage.

"Get up there and show everyone what you've got. I need some entertainment tonight and you're it."

Natalia wrenched her arm from his grasp. "You can go to hell; there is no way that I'm going to do that."

Yanking her against him, Nick growled, "You'd better do this or I'll take it out on your sister."

"Nick… please. No more. I can't take anymore of this. I've paid for what I did."

Reaching up, Nick grabbed a handful of hair and roughly pulled her head back so that he could snarl in her face. "You haven't paid near enough for leaving me. Do you realize what you did to my reputation? You made me look weak because I couldn't keep track of my wife, so no, you haven't paid enough."

Suddenly Calleigh was at his elbow. "Let's not start a family squabble here. If you want entertainment, Nick, I think that I and your companion can come up with something that you might like."

Turning his head so that he looked at Calleigh, Nick coldly stated, "I don't care if this is your place or not. You do not interrupt me again. Natalia here is gonna make me some money tonight and I don't care how she does, as long as she does it."

Taking Natalia by the hand, Calleigh led her towards the stage. "Hi, Natalia, right? I know that you don't know me from Adam, but I do have your best interests at heart. They call me Max and we're gonna give them a show. Now we're not going to expose ourselves, we're just going to imply a hell of a lot. Can you work with me on this?"

Calleigh knew that she was taking a huge risk being this close to the young woman, but there was no way that she could stand aside while Nick forced her to do something worse.

Standing near the steps up to the stage, Calleigh took a deep breath before she turned to Natalia. "You might want to use your imagination to get through this. Ok? So I've got a couple of questions for ya. If you could be any place in the world, where would you be?"

Without hesitation, Natalia answered, "Lakeside Inn in Mt. Dora."

Biting the inside of her cheek to keep the smile off her face, Calleigh replied, "Nice area. And if I could be someone else, who would I be?"

The dark, brown eyes changed under Calleigh's gaze to pools of warm chocolate as Natalia breathed, "Calleigh."

She led the young woman up the steps and positioned her facing the audience, standing behind her. Loud enough for Natalia to hear, Calleigh said, "I'm Calleigh. Close your eyes and imagine it's her touching you."

Briefly hiding her face behind Natalia's back, Calleigh keyed her mike. "Chick? Play 'Buttons' and then something with a sexy beat."

The beat of a dumbek, the drum that is used during belly dancing, along with finger cymbals, floated on air as Calleigh gently placed her hands on Natalia's shoulders, feeling her tremble beneath her fingertips.

I'm telling you loosen up my buttons baby
But you keep fronting
Saying what you going do to me
But I ain't seen nothing

Slowly Calleigh dragged her fingers down Natalia's arms, creating goose bumps in their wake. Once she reached Natalia's hands, she gently grasped them and placed them on her own jean-covered thighs.

Hardly the type I fall for
I like when the physical
Don't leave me asking for more
I'm a sexy mama
Who knows just how to get what I wanna
What I want to do is spring this on you
Back up all of the things that I told you

The feeling of Max's hips swaying against her was almost Natalia's undoing since she was picturing Calleigh in her mind's eye. The sensation of the well toned thighs underneath her hands brought to mind their last day together and she felt moisture begin to pool. Biting back a moan, she lolled her head against Max's shoulder and leaned back, trusting that the woman would not let her fall.

You've been saying all the right things all night long
But I can't seem to get you over here to help take this off
Baby, can't you see?
How these clothes are fitting on me
And the heat coming from this beat
I'm about to blow
I don't think you know

Calleigh breathed in the scent that was uniquely Natalia, now moving her hands along Natalia's sides towards her hips. The beat of the song was thrumming its tempo through her pulse, and when Natalia offered her throat, Calleigh groaned. She wanted to press her lips against the pulse point that was beckoning her.

Take a chance to recognize that this could be yours
I can see, just like most guys that your game don't please
Baby, can't you see?
How these clothes are fitting on me
And the heat coming from this beat
I'm about to blow
I don't think you know

The pressure of the hands that were caressing her hips brought out a heat that spread through Natalia's body, leaving a delightful languor. Max's hands left her hips and traveled slowly down, ghosting the inside of Natalia's thighs until they reached the hem of her black skirt. Max drew up the skirt up along the outside of her thighs, showing nothing, but a hell of a lot of leg. Gradually she moved her hands inward, letting her thumbs lightly graze the silky texture of Natalia's panties.

I'm telling you loosen up my buttons baby
But you keep fronting
Saying what you going do to me
But I ain't seen nothing

One hand left the silkiness and moved to the outside of the skirt, making its way to Natalia's toned abdomen, splaying out her fingers, caressing her through the material. Bit by excruciating bit, Max's hand made its way to cup Natalia's breast, causing another moan to slide out between Natalia's lips.

With her nipples hardening, straining, and aching, Natalia dug her fingers into the jean-covered thighs, anchoring herself to the one real thing she was sure of. She could have sworn that she was in Calleigh's arms; breathing deeply, she let one of her arms rise up and pulls Max's head toward her throat.

Then the music changed its tempo and the strumming of Carlos Santana's 'Into the Night', filled the air.

Like a gift from the heavens
It was easy to tell
It was love from above that could save me from hell
She had fire in her soul
It was easy to see
How the devil himself could be pulled out of me
There were drums in the air as she started to dance
Every soul in the room keeping time with their hands and we sang

Quickly spinning the young woman around to face her, Calleigh placed her hands on Natalia's hips and drew her against her. This time the moan that erupted came from her own lips as Natalia slid a toned thigh between her legs, causing her to rock against it.

And the voices rang like the angels sing, and singing
And we danced on into the night

Natalia had her eyes open, and was trying to concentrate on the woman in front of her. She thought her mind was playing tricks on her because this woman had a strong resemblance to Calleigh, but she knew that there wouldn't be any reason for her to be in a place like this. Still, she couldn't stop her hands from coming up and caressing the shapely pair of breasts in front of her, running her thumbs over the nipples, making the material slide across the sensitive nubs.

Like a piece to the puzzle that falls into place
You could tell how we felt from the look on our face
We were spinning in circles with the moon in our eyes
No room left to move in between you and I
We forgot where we were and we lost track of time
And we sang to the wind as we danced through the night and we sang

They rocked in time with the music, both forgetting that they were on stage in front of a room full of men. That is, until Nick jumped on stage and tore Natalia out of Calleigh's embrace.

"Well, when I asked for entertainment, I certainly didn't expect something this good. Thanks, Max, you've made the next part too easy."

Turning to the audience, Nick yanked Natalia to the front of the stage by her wrist while Calleigh stumbled off the stage and made her way outside to throw up.

"Gentlemen, I know that I have your attention in more ways than one, but I have a proposition for you. What will some of you fine men give to spend time with this bitch? We all know that she is primed and ready to go."

Though the haze remaining from the dance, Natalia was slow to comprehend what was actually taking place and when she did, she tried to yank her wrist from her husband's grip. "No, you can't do this. I'm not a piece of property to be sold."

Men throughout the room stood up, reaching for their wallets, but one man was already making his way to the stage. He stood about six foot two inches tall and was pure muscle with tattoos covering his arms. Stopping at the edge of the stage, he thrust out a huge fist that held a rolled up bundle of bills.

Releasing Natalia's wrist, Nick thumbed through the bills, swiftly counting and was surprised when the total ended up being close to three thousand dollars. "Sold to this fine gentleman. And your name, sir?"

Reaching down, the man brought out a pad and a pencil, swiftly wrote something before tearing the page from the pad and handing it to Nick. 'Stumbles.'

A voice came from the back. "He can't talk, his voice box was crushed."

Smiling, Nick reached back, grabbed Natalia, and pushed her towards this man. "All right, Stumbles. She's all yours for the next hour. Anything that you want to do, the rougher the better."

Stumbles shook his head and furiously wrote before handing him another page. 'No. Three hours.'

"No, but since you did give me almost three thousand dollars, you can have her for two and a half hours. Just don't bruise her face."

Reaching up, Stumbles pulled Natalia off the stage and headed towards a back room as Nick bounded off towards his table.

Once Natalia was thrust into the room, she quickly ran to the far side of the room as far away as she could from the giant. As he locked the door and turned towards her, Natalia held out her hands in an attempt to ward him off. "Please, you don't have to do this. Please, I won't tell them that nothing happened." Tears were rolling down her face.

Holding his hands out to his sides, Stumbles slowly made his way over to the trembling woman. With a very raspy voice, he said, "Natalia… please calm down… it's not what you think." Slowly reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a folded piece of paper and handed it to her, then backed away.

Unfolding the paper, Natalia's eyes went wide as she read. 'Natalia… I don't want you to worry. Stumbles will not hurt you. We are getting you away from Nick. He will be your bodyguard for the rest of the night. He's going to turn on a recording that I secretly made of you one night with Nick. He will not hurt you, but before you leave the room, you will have to be teary eyed and wearing his shirt. Do exactly what he says and tonight will be the end of your nightmare… Eric'

Natalia looked over to the quiet man with tears still in her eyes. "Is this true? Tonight everything will be over?"

Reaching over to a shelf, Stumbles pulled a CD player and micro speakers out of a cubbyhole and turned it on. Moans and groans echoed through the room and Natalia felt her face getting red.

Stepping closer, Stumbled whispered, "Yes, tonight everything will be over. I won't hurt you, but we need to talk about what I need you to do before we go back out. I'm going to give you a bulletproof vest and you're gonna need to put on my shirt like I've torn off your blouse."

Walking over so that he could sit across from her, Stumbles continued. "Then comes the hard part. I'm gonna tell Nick that you offered me money to get you away from him."

Natalia's eyes went wide with that statement. "No… you can't do that… He'll kill me."

The gentle giant took Natalia's hand in his grasp. "That's what we want him to do. His bullets have already been replaced with blanks, and like I've said, you're going to be wearing a vest just in case. We need for him to believe that you are dead by his hand, that way, in case the rest of the plan doesn't work, you'll be free. Now just sit back and try to relax, we've got a couple of hours in here."



Outside, Calleigh was still heaving up the contents of her stomach. What she had just done was the most despicable thing that she had ever done. She hoped that Natalia would forgive her in the end. Making her way over to a water hose, she turned on the spigot and drew in some water to rinse out her mouth. As she spit out the water, her earpiece crackled with the information that Stumbles had completed his part and that they had made it into the back room safely. Wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, Calleigh made her way back into the building and went behind the bar.

Filling a pitcher of beer and setting it on the counter, Calleigh looked up to see Eric standing in front of her. Without a word, she poured a double shot of Jack and handed it to him.

Quietly he asked, "Are you alright?"

Nodding once, she watched as he turned and made his way back over to Nick's table. Turning away from the bar, Calleigh keyed her mic. "Ok, Chick. Where do we stand?"

A voice in her ear replied, "Well, we've got him for prostitution, racketeering, kidnapping, the bribery of Adan Farias, and the night is still young. His client is scheduled to arrive at anytime and then we'll see if we get drug and gun trafficking. It's been a long time since he's been on US soil so let's make it worth our while. The cameras are ready in the parking lot in case they decide to hold business out there, and his car has been wired so we can pick up everything that is said…. Hang on a sec…. Looks like our hook has arrived."

Looking over to the door, Calleigh watched as it opened and in walked Ryan Wolfe. He scanned the room and his gaze settled on Nick and Eric's table. His eyes were cold as he slowly made his way over to stand in front of the table.

"You Townsend?"

Nick looked at the man that was standing in front of him with his feet shoulder width apart, dressed in dark grey slacks, a form fitting black t-shirt and grey loafers.

"Kinda overdressed for a place like this, aren't ya?" Nick snickered.

Looking down at his clothes, Ryan said, "Not really, I'm just comfortable. So, do you want to get down to business or stand here chatting about my attire?"

"Sit down and let's have a drink first. What would you like?"

Ryan started towards the bar. "That's alright. I'll get my own."

Walking up to the bar, Ryan partially turned towards the entrance and leaned his hip against the wood. "Hey, Max, H sends a message. The plane had been searched. We got him on drug and gun smuggling. Now we're just going to let him hang himself. Looks like this is gonna be over soon."

Pouring him a shot of rum, Calleigh muttered, "From your lips to God's ears."

Taking the cup back to Nick's table, Ryan took Natalia's chair, placed it across the table from Nick, and took a seat. "So what do you have to offer me?"

Leaning back on his chair's back two legs, Nick grinned. "What do you want to spend? Or should I say, how much do you want to make? I can get you anything and everything that you need."

"What do you have to show right now?" Ryan threw back at the man across the table.

Reaching back towards Eric, Nick waited as the young man placed a pill bottle in his hand. "I've got xannies, scratch, oxy, x, and perc." The bottle got tossed over to Ryan.

Opening the bottle, Ryan shook out a few pills into his hand. "Let me go test these in the parking lot and I'll be back with an order." Standing, he made his way outside.

Leaning close to his employer, Eric whispered, "Do you trust him out there alone?"

"Who says that he's out there alone? I've had someone out there for an hour before we got here. You think that I'm totally gonna rely on you? You still haven't earned my trust back for letting Natalia get away the first time. No, you've got a whole lot more to do before I completely let you back in my good graces," Nick looked at the young man with contempt. "But you may be able to take that final step tonight."

With a blank look on his face, Eric sat back in his chair and tried to calm his racing thoughts. He wanted to look over to the bar to see if they had heard what was said, but he couldn't risk it.

Static in her ear bud barely registered before Chick's voice got her attention. "Max! Nick just informed Eric that he's got a man in the parking lot. I've already started thermo imaging to see if I can scope him out… Ah, there he is."

"Ok, send out Rat to take care of him, and then let Wolfe know when he's clear. I think that we're going to move up the timeline. Let Stumbles know that he's gonna have to get Natalia ready sooner. As soon as Wolfe gets back in and gives Nick the news, we'll start the show."

Hanging her head, all Calleigh could do was pray that the rest of the night went as planned.

The atmosphere in the backroom was quiet, but there was an air of anticipation floating along the edges. The sounds from the CD had been going on so long that they were now easily ignored. Natalia was looking out of a window when she heard a cell phone chirp.

Turning back to the gentle giant who was opening his phone, she waited as he listened for a few moments before he rasped back an answer. Closing the phone, Stumbles turned to the young woman that was anxiously standing in front of him.

"Ok, the timeline has been moved up. We need to start to get you ready." He started unbuttoning his shirt, pulled it off and handed it to her, before he turned around to give her some privacy. "Take off your blouse, put on the vest over there, and then put my shirt on over that."

Swiftly, Natalia did as she was asked, then walked in front of the man where he stood in his undershirt.

"Can you tell that I'm wearing the vest? Nick is really very observant and he'll know something is up."

Stumbles was quick to reassure her. "Nick won't get close enough to see what you're wearing, I promise. Now, you're gonna have to scratch my face because I need to have some sort of wound on me when we go back out, and don't forget that you need to be crying."

Laying a hand on his arm, Natalia nodded her head before she went back over to the window to await the signal.

Nick downed a couple more shots of Jack before Ryan walked back into the bar. Watching the man stroll over to his table and sit down, Nick was puzzled since he hadn't heard from his employee outside. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out his phone and was shocked to see that he had no signal. Putting the phone on the table, he waited for Ryan to speak.

"This is good stuff. How much do you have?"

Rubbing his hands together, Nick leaned back once again in the chair. "As much as you need. I've got five thousand each on my plane. All it will take is a phone call to get it here, but I don't have a signal right now."

Leaning his elbows on the table, Ryan stared him in the eyes. "Are you sure that you have that much? When was the last time that you were in contact with the plane?"

"What are you talking about?" Nick demanded.

"Call your pilot. Check."

"I told you that I don't have a signal."

Nodding his head towards the phone, Ryan gave a tight smile. "Try it."

Picking up the phone, and flipping it open, Nick was surprised to see that he had a signal, so he quickly punched in the number for the plane and waited. Soon a whiskey smooth voice came through the earpiece.

"Mr. Townsend, you've been grounded for life. Your plane, your accounts, everything has been seized, as you will be very soon. The piper has just been paid."

Nick's eyes began to dart around the room, looking for a way out as the voice continued. "There is no way for you to escape. Enjoy your last few breaths of freedom." And the phone disconnected.

Standing, Ryan brushed off his hands. "Well, it's been real. Have a good evening." With that, he turned and walked away.

Turning to Eric, Nick started to say something when the door to the back room slammed open. Whipping around, he watched as Stumbles stalked out in his undershirt, with scratches on his chest and cheek. He was dragging a crying Natalia, who was wearing the man's shirt and trying to wrench away from his grasp.

Making his way over to Nick, Stumbles tossed him a wad of paper and waited for him to open it and read it.

'This bitch just offered me twenty thousand dollars to get her away from you.'

Snarling, Nick reached behind his back to pull his gun, cocked it, and started to bring it up when one of the few drunk civilians bumped into him, causing the gun to go off.

Wide eyed, Nick looked to where the gun was aimed and saw that it was pointed at Stumbles, who was unharmed. Swearing, he turned to run towards the door when he was grabbed by his arms and turned back to face Eric, who was grinning broadly.

"Well, it looks like you're right. I'll take the final step tonight and will finally be free of you."

Scowling, Nick briefly struggled against his captors before he went completely limp and dropped to the floor. Quickly, he reached towards his ankle, pulled out a small revolver from a holster and fired towards Natalia. He didn't bother to see if she was hit or not as he scrambled towards the door. He was so intent on getting away, that he didn't notice the petite woman that stood near the door.

As he turned towards the door, he was all of a sudden brought to a screeching halt. Max was standing in the doorway with a gun drawn and pointed in the center of his chest.

"Where the fuck do you think you're going? You think that you can just shoot someone and walk away? You think that you can treat people like garbage and just dispose of them?"

Holding his hands out away from his body in what he thought was a non-threatening manner, he said. "Come on Max, I'm sure that we can make a deal." Then he got a good look at her eyes and started backing up. Her eyes were as dull as tarnished silver and the expression on her face chilled his blood.

"You actually think that I would make a deal with you? There isn't a deal on earth that I would make with you. You are nothing but a walking dead man, and I would be more than happy to make that a reality for you." Max slowly advanced towards the retreating man. "So tell me, Nick… How does it feel to have no hope? Feel helpless yet?" Stopping mere inches from the now trembling man, the determined woman couldn't bear to look over his shoulder to see the woman still lying on the ground. "Boys, get this piece of garbage out of my bar."

Calleigh waited until his hands were cuffed behind his back before she lowered her weapon and started to walk away. Stopping when she got to the bar, she waited until she heard the door close before she turned towards the group of people gathered around Natalia. Swallowing a couple of times to find her voice, she finally ground out, "Eric?"

The young man was kneeling over the prone body, and didn't look her way for a moment, but then there was a groan and he looked back at Calleigh with a wide grin on his face.

Leaning back against the bar, Calleigh slid to the ground and rested her arms across her knees. Closing her eyes, she sighed and was finally able to speak. "Get her upstairs to the office."



Stumbles had carefully picked up the young woman and carried her up the stairs into a combined office and bedroom. Placing her gently on the bed, he took a step back and gestured around the room, "There is a change of clothes in the bathroom over there. Someone will be up soon to talk with you."

Getting up off the bed, Natalia wrapped her arms around the man and hugged him, "I don't know how I will ever be able to thank you."

Blushing slightly, Stumbles hugged her briefly, before he stepped out of her embrace and started for the door. "Just have a happy life. You deserve it."

When the door closed, Natalia looked around the room, seeing a well organized office space, and neat living quarters. Walking into the bathroom, she found a pair of sweat pants and a zip-up hoodie. She quickly removed her clothes before throwing them into the garbage. She never wanted to wear them again. Pulling the Velcro away from the vest, she winced as it slid away from her body. Looking down, she gasped at the bruise that was forming right below her left breast; it was then that she realized that she was indeed very lucky to be alive. She knew that she owed Eric a huge debt of gratitude.

Getting into the shower, she turned on the water and let it slide over her skin. Tilting her head up, she mentally and figuratively washed Nick Townsend from her life. No more would she have to be scared or frightened at every sound. After washing her hair and cleaning her body, Natalia turned off the water and got out of the shower before wrapping herself in a thick body sheet to dry off.

Pulling on the clothes, she went back into the living area and sat down on a chair near the bed. Her body began to relax and she was almost asleep when the door to the room opened and Max walked in.

Sitting up straight, Natalia tried to get her thoughts in order as she became more alert.

Max paused for a moment, just staring at the young woman, taking a deep breath before she pulled the bandana from her head. "Give me a little bit to get cleaned up and then we'll talk, alright?"

Natalia just nodded.

Turning away, Max went into the bathroom, but before she closed the door she turned back and said, "If you want to lie down, please do. I know that it's been a long day for you."

Natalia decided to take Max up on her suggestion and lie down on the bed, facing the bathroom. Soon her eyes were closing and she was in a light sleep.

Closing the door to the bathroom, Calleigh leaned against it for a few moments, closing her eyes and getting her breathing under control. As much as she wanted to walk over and take Natalia into her arms, she wanted to be able to talk to Natalia looking like herself, not Max.

Stripping off her clothes, she put them into the garbage before grabbing a washcloth and the items needed to get her hair and skin back it their natural colors. Stepping into the shower, she turned on the water and started with her hair. After a quarter hour of washing the last of the brown dye was washing down the drain and her golden hair was being conditioned. Her skin would take longer to return to normal, but she was looking more like herself than she had in a long time.

Finally getting out of the shower, she dried off and stepped in front of the mirror to began to blow dry her hair. After finishing, she put on the exact same outfit that she had worn the last time that she had been with Natalia.

Putting her hand on the doorknob, Calleigh hung her head for a few moments, trying to get her wildly beating heart to calm down before she went out to face the woman she had been searching for. Even though Natalia had said that she was imagining it was her touching her body during the dance, Calleigh feared Natalia may not want to be with her because of what she'd done.

Opening the door, the first thing that Calleigh saw was Natalia asleep on the bed. She stood in the doorway for the longest time, just staring. When Natalia began to stir and opened her eyes, Calleigh realized that she needed to get something from her desk so that she could return it to Natalia.

Opening her eyes, Natalia caught a flash of gold and quickly sat up. "Calleigh! What? How?"

Grabbing the item from the desk drawer, Calleigh walked over to stand next to the bed, holding out the cap that Natalia had left with her almost a year ago, "Umm… Hi."

Getting off the bed, Natalia reached out to take the cap, only to drop it on the floor. Slowly she reached up to caress the blonde's face, sighing as Calleigh leaned into the caress, closing her eyes.

When Calleigh opened her eyes, Natalia looked puzzled. "I thought that you had green eyes."

Realization kicked in. "Oh, yeah. Sorry, I forgot to take out the contact lenses." Calleigh quickly took them out, dropping them to the floor since she would never wear them again.

A slow smile spread on Natalia's face, "Max… I knew that it was you… Somewhere deep down inside, I knew… Calleigh…You came for me." Tears began to track their way down Natalia's cheeks.

Gently brushing the wetness from the bronze skin, Calleigh leaned forward to breathe against parted lips, "I said that I would, and I always do what I say. I'm just sorry that it took so long." She let her lips glide against Natalia's. The kiss started slow and hesitant, almost like they were saying hello for the first time, but as lips caressed lips memories and the emotion took over and it became a hungry, demanding kiss.

Pulling away a bit, Calleigh rose up on her tip toes and placed gentle kisses on each of Natalia's eyelids. "No more tears, for either of us. Are you ready to get out of here?"

Natalia pulled away even farther, "Yes, but I feel that I should tell you what Nick put…"

"No," Calleigh placed her fingers over Natalia's lips. "No, I don't need to know what happened over this past year. You survived it, we're back together, and that's all that counts. If we feel the need to talk about it later on, we will, but right now, all I care about is that you're in my arms. Now let's get out of here."

Grasping Natalia's hand in hers, Calleigh led them out of the office, down the backstairs and outside to her car.

"Aren't we going to say good-bye to Eric?" Natalia asked as she buckled her seatbelt.

Shaking her head, Calleigh explained, "No, because the fewer people that see you, the less chance that Nick finds out that you are still alive. I know that most of the people in there are on our side, but there are still some civilians in there and I didn't want to take that chance."

Natalia picked up Calleigh's right hand and kissed her knuckles, she asked. "So where are we headed?"

Glancing at Natalia with a smile on her face, Calleigh answered. "I thought that we should finish what we started. I have our room reserved at the Lakeside Inn, but it's gonna take us a couple of hours to get there."

Easing the seatback to an incline, Natalia turned so that she was facing the blonde, still holding onto Calleigh's hand. "There is nowhere else I need or want to be, but with you."

"Lucky for me, because all I want is be with you too. We should be there in about two hours."

The ride was quiet. Calleigh tried to keep her concentration on the road and not on the woman in the seat next to her, while Natalia had all of her attention on the blonde.

Now that she had the chance to look at her, Natalia could see how tired Calleigh looked, and that she had lost a bit of weight, but the sparkle she remembered still shone in Calleigh's eyes. Natalia was still shocked that Calleigh had come after her; she couldn't even imagine everything that she had to go through to set things up or what she had gone through during the past year. Maybe one day they would both be able to open up, but that wasn't important now.

After a while, Calleigh looked over to see that Natalia had fallen asleep, and she smiled, remembering back to the first night that Natalia had slept in her bed. She was still as beautiful as she was then.

Finally, they arrived at the Inn and after Calleigh parked the car, she turned and gently shook the sleeping woman, "Talia… We're here. I'm going to go get the key and I'll be right back, ok?"

"Mm 'k," was all Natalia said as she turned straight in her seat and stretched a bit. Rolling down the window, she let in the night breeze, and leaned back against the seat. Turning, she watched as Calleigh lightly tripped down the steps and got back into the car to park closer to their room.

A few minutes later they were unlocking the door and walking into the same room that they had almost a year ago, but now they looked at each other nervously. Slowly Calleigh approached Natalia, placing her hands lightly on her hips. "What do you say we take things slow? I know that I want to be with you, now more than ever, but I know that we need to reconnect. We both need time to realize that we have nothing at all to worry about, and I don't mind waiting."

Natalia threaded her fingers through golden hair, "I know that I want to be with you too, but I think that you're right. We do need to take it a bit slow, but not too slow." Leaning down, she brushed her lips against Calleigh's.

Both women felt the rush of being with each other begin to flame as they kissed. Pulling away, they smiled and Calleigh went to open the bags she had brought from the car. Inside were the clothes Natalia had left behind the last time she was there.

"We can go shopping and get you some new clothes tomorrow, but at least you have something to change into now."

Changing into their nightclothes, they pulled down the bed, and crawled inside. Natalia opened her arms to wrap Calleigh in her embrace. Soon both women were sound asleep.

For the next couple of days the two women talked, shopped, and walked around Mt. Dora, getting reacquainted with the charming city. They were always touching each other. Little caresses, a hand on the small of the back, something that always put them in contact with each other. At night in bed, they would cuddle and kiss, but never moving beyond that.

Then one evening Natalia came out of the bathroom to get ready to go to dinner, and found Calleigh standing in a pool of sunlight. She was wearing a maroon tank top with black pants that hugged and highlighted her athletic curves. Black boots and a leather belt completed the outfit. Her hair fell about her shoulders like liquid gold and her skin took on a golden hue; it was like she was the essence of the sun.

Natalia must have gasped because Calleigh turned and looked in her direction. Walking towards the golden entity, Natalia murmured, "Do you know how many days I wished I was here with you?"

"Three hundred and twelve."

Reaching out to unbuckle the leather belt, then undoing the button and the zipper of the pants, Natalia continued, "And how many nights I ached to be in your arms?"

"Three hundred and twelve."

Pulling the tank top from the pants, Natalia drew it over Calleigh's head and let it drop to the floor, quickly followed by her bra. "Do you know how many times Eric told me that you loved me?"

Golden hair moved across sun kissed shoulders, "No."

Kneeling at Calleigh's feet, Natalia pulled off the boots, then reached up to remove the remaining clothing, leaving her standing in golden glory. "He told me thousands of times; every time we met, before he left, when he passed me in the hallway. He was always telling me." Reaching out her hand, Natalia led Calleigh to the bed to lie down. Sitting beside her, Natalia drew her fingers lightly up her thigh, trailing goose bumps in their wake. "That knowledge kept me sane and kept me alive. When everything would get so bad, I would have your image in my mind and I handled it all."

Natalia's fingers teased golden curls, the dampness beckoning them in. Slowly she filled her love, only to retreat before she filled her again. With ever-maddening slowness, she delved in deeper, casually letting her thumb glide over Calleigh's clit, causing the blonde to arch against the bed. Leaning down, Natalia drew a hardening nipple between her lips and began to suckle, eliciting a moan from between Calleigh's lips..

Sitting back up so that she could watch Calleigh, Natalia whispered, "I would also remember that you said that you would come for me. Well, I want you to do it again. Come for me." With that, she flicked the little bundle of nerves with her thumb, and began thrusting faster and harder.

Calleigh's eyes rolled back into her head as she fisted the sheets, trying to anchor herself. Suddenly Natalia breathed in her ear, "Come for me again, Calleigh." Her body shook as her nerves went into overdrive and the sensations became too much for her to handle. Crying out Natalia's name, Calleigh's body spasmed around her fingers, wetness dripping down Natalia's wrist.

Fluttering her fingers, Natalia slowly withdrew them, and brought them up to her own lips, letting her tongue clean each finger slowly, watching as Calleigh's slowly opened her eyes and saw what she was doing.

Rising up, Calleigh grasped Natalia's wrist and brought it to her own mouth, savoring the taste of herself on her lover's fingers. Moaning, she rose to her knees so that she was next to the brunette, caressing her face.

"Do you know how many days I kicked myself for letting you go?"

"Three hundred and twelve," was whispered.

Green eyes searched the dark brown eyes, watching her carefully, "Do you know how many nights I wished that I could have taken your place?"

Natalia mouthed, "Three hundred and twelve."

Reaching out, Calleigh slid her hands between the opening of Natalia's robe, slowly parting it until there was nothing blocking her sight of the bronze body, "I had to trust that Eric would keep you safe until I figured out how to get you out of there. I had to believe that you wanted to come back to me, and when you said what you did in the bar, I almost dragged you from the stage right then."

Letting her hands ghost down the side of Natalia's breasts, Calleigh watched in wonder as her nipples hardened and lengthened. Leaning forward, she took one between her lips as her right hand played with the other.

Natalia arched forward, pressing more of herself into Calleigh's warmth. Calleigh's tongue rolled over the nipple, teasing it. She pressed forward until Natalia was flat on her back and leaned over her. Golden hair hung like a curtain, blocking everything from Natalia's sight except Calleigh's dark green eyes.

One of Calleigh's hands made its way down to Natalia's center where she found the slickness and arousal that she had been dreaming of for so long. Watching as Natalia's eyes closed slightly and her lips parted with tiny gasps, Calleigh had never seen anything so beautiful as this woman moving underneath her. Sliding in three fingers, she filled Natalia up so completely that the brunette undulated her hips in time with Calleigh's thrusts almost immediately.

Moving her thumb against the tiny little bundle of nerves, Calleigh growled as Natalia's body seemed to almost shimmer as her inner walls tightened around Calleigh's fingers. Leaning down, Calleigh captured Natalia lips in a hard kiss, tongues wrapped around each other as Calleigh brought Natalia once again over the edge, swallowing the moan as it slipped out.

Slowly, Calleigh withdrew from the still throbbing warmth to wrap herself around the sweaty body, drawing Natalia close with one hand while she drew the sheets around them with the other. Kissing her forehead, Calleigh whispered, "You said the first time that we were together that you wanted me as long as you could have me, and what I said then is still true. You can have me as long as you want me."

"I want you now and forever."

Kissing softly, they talked and loved each other long into the night.

The End

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