DISCLAIMER: The characters from Law & Order & Law & Order SVU are the property of NBC and Dick Wolf. The characters from Castle belong to ABC and show creator, Andrew Marlowe. No copyright infringement is intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: It Takes Two is a collaborative crossover between the shows Castle and Law & Order: SVU. The story takes place after the episode "Ghost" has occurred and encompasses events from Seasons 1 and 2 of Castle and Season 10 of SVU. Parts of the SVU timeline have been altered to fit the needs of this story, but we tried to remain true to the characters and spirit of both shows. Credits: Acathla: Primary writer for Kate Beckett and compilation of the text. Diamond Crush: Primary Writer for Vicky Harrison/Alexandra Cabot, proofreading and final edit.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To CMSVU2010[at]gmail.com

It Takes Two
By Acathla & Diamond Crush


Chapter One: First Contact

October 2008:

It was a beautiful day in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Kate Beckett had woken up in a very good mood. She was on vacation here for two weeks and despite the fact that she was there by herself, she was determined to enjoy her time away. She had arrived yesterday afternoon, so this was her first full day here and she intended to make the most of it.

At about 11 o'clock, Kate ventured out, map in hand, to find the place that she had come here to find. A few weeks ago, her best friend Lanie was cruising the local rental store and by accident she discovered a film that was based on an oddity here in Santa Fe. The Staircase told the story of the famous winding staircase in the Loretto Chapel. The reason it was so famous was because a mysterious carpenter had crafted the miraculous staircase in the late 1800s without using a single nail to hold it up.

Kate was naturally fascinated by the story and she decided to come here and see it for herself. Although she would've loved to bring Lanie with her, her best friend didn't have any vacation time left over after her trip to Cancun. Lanie promised Kate that someday they'd both take a trip to Santa Fe and since she'd already been there, Kate could show her around.

According to her map, the Loretto Chapel was located in the small area known as Downtown Santa Fe, so she looked at each of the street signs she passed to determine her location. She quickly found herself on Water Street and she knew that she was close. As she went east, she took the time to look at all the shops that lined the tiny street and she was truly charmed by everything she saw. She was so wrapped up in the local culture that she reached the corner of Water St. and Old Santa Fe Trail. She turned her head to the right and just across the street there it stood, the glorious little Chapel.

She approached the Chapel and smiled when she saw how beautiful it was from the outside. She stopped on the sidewalk that led up to the chapel steps and took out her digital camera to take a few pictures of the chapel's façade and then made the short journey up the walk to go inside. She was just about to step through the doors when something stopped her. For some reason, Kate had the weird feeling that someone was watching her, so she took a quick look around. She scanned the area casually so she wouldn't attract attention, but when she didn't see anyone, she shook it off and walked into the Chapel.

Across the street at a small gallery, a leggy blonde named Victoria Harrison was sitting on a bench having her lunch when she spotted a beautiful woman across the street standing outside the Chapel. She'd watched the brunette with fascination as she snapped pictures of the building and although Vicky couldn't put her finger on it, she knew that there was something about that woman that she was attracted to. Maybe it was the swagger of her hip or her impeccable style, but whatever it was, it brought a smile to Vicky's face as she ate her salad.

Meanwhile, inside, Kate walked around the Chapel, taking pictures of the interior's intricate architecture and classic styling. The woodwork was beautiful and the staircase was breathtaking. Kate stood behind the velvet ropes that protected the winding staircase and took pictures from several angles. She knew that Lanie would want to see for herself via photo that the staircase was indeed built without nails.

Once she walked through the whole Chapel, Kate left through the gift shop and found herself on the sidewalk once again. She smiled when she felt the warm October sunshine on her face and it once again hit her that she was somewhere new. Things here weren't like they were back in New York City. They were slower, much more relaxed and she let that sink in. She could spend the entire afternoon walking around without worrying about going this place or that place and she felt free. That was until her stomach growled and she realized that it was time for lunch.

Kate took out her cell phone and typed "restaurants" into the map search. A small arrow popped up for a small cafe that was just across the plaza and she sighed happily because it was only about two blocks away. She started back the way she'd come and crossed the street since the café was on the south side of Water Street.

As she was about to round the corner, she happened to walk past a large window with several small sculptures on display. Despite her growing hunger, she paused for a moment to admire each of the unique pieces, but there was one in particular that caught her eye. It was a bronze statue of two women, their arms around each other and an infant cradled between them. She'd never seen anything so beautiful before and though she was considering going inside to get a better look, another growl from her stomach convinced her that food was more important.

Kate forced herself to keep walking and a few minutes later, she walked into the café. The hostess told her that she could take a seat anywhere she wanted, so she found an empty stool at the counter and sat down.

The waitress behind the counter, a redhead with too much makeup, handed her a menu and smiled, "Take your time honey."

The redhead walked away to serve coffee while Kate studied the menu. She settled on a burger and fries with a chocolate milkshake. Kate had decided that since she was on vacation she wasn't going to count calories...she'd deal with the fallout from that when she got home to her gym.

The waitress was the chatty type though so whenever there was a moment when no one needed coffee or service, she was standing in front of Kate, chatting. Kate was polite but didn't know how to tell the woman to leave her alone so she talked to her.

"So you're from New York, huh? I've never been there, but I really want to go sometime. I mean, the Empire State Building, Yankee Stadium, the Statue of Liberty…" she said wistfully.

Kate smiled, "Yeah, it's a great place. Lived there my whole life."

"Really? That's amazing. I've never met a born and raised New Yorker… We get people in here from New York sometimes, but never anyone like you," she said with a grin. There was something about the way she looked at Kate, like she was a very delicious piece of cherry pie.

Kate squirmed a little under the gaze of this woman. She was used to being looked at like she was there to be taken but she was never comfortable with it. She shifted her eyes then asked, "Well, um, are there any really good clubs around here? Somewhere to dance and have a good time, but not a meat market kind of place, you know? Just like, a piano bar or something?" Kate was reluctant to ask if this waitress knew of any lesbian nightclubs, not knowing how such a question would be received.

"As a matter of fact I do…and trust me, there's very little chance you'll get hit on by drooling guys. It's right near here on the corner of Grant and Water St. It's called Rouge Cat. I like to go there sometimes on my nights off and the vibe is awesome. Great music, better drinks, and I know the doorman… you tell him Quinn sent you and he'll let you in, no hassles..."

Kate smiled, "Thanks, Quinn. I'll check it out later tonight." Kate finished her lunch and paid her tab then said goodbye to Quinn and left the café. She took a random left and walked around the plaza for a little while longer before she decided to head back to her hotel and change for her night on the town.

Before she left, she wanted to return to the little art gallery to take one more look at the sculpture that had caught her attention. She was so excited to take a closer look at the statue, but when she got to the entrance, there was note on the door that said the gallery was closed early for a delivery and would open the next day at their usual time. Kate sighed but was content to look at the piece through the window once again.

As she gazed through the glass, she pictured the statue sitting on her mantle at home. Kate could see herself as one of those women one day, though the other woman remained faceless. Kate lightly placed her fingertips to the glass and smiled wistfully before she slowly turned away and headed back to her hotel.

Vicky was standing behind the counter at the gallery when she saw the same woman from earlier standing outside the window. She noticed that she was looking at the statue of the two women with the baby, the one that Vicky loved herself and was planning to buy with her next paycheck. It had just come in two days ago and she'd talked her boss into holding it for her until the end of the week. It made her think back to her old life and how close she was to having the family she'd always wanted.

Before she was put into Witness Protection, Vicky was known as Alexandra Cabot, an Assistant District Attorney for the Manhattan DA's office. She'd had a relationship with Olivia Benson, one of the detectives she worked with while she was assigned to the Special Victims Unit. Alex had always imagined that she and Olivia would get married and have a family, but unfortunately, Olivia wasn't ready to be out of the closet and Alex wasn't willing to start a family with someone who couldn't be honest about who they are.

She stayed with Olivia until the night that she was shot and truth be told, she loved her, but when she returned to New York to testify against Liam Connors, the man who'd pulled the trigger, she found out that Olivia had gone back to dating men and she was relieved that she never brought up the whole family thing with her. She'd never given up the dream of meeting a woman who could be honest about her sexuality and starting a family with her, but for now, the only concrete reminder she had was going to be that statue.

Later that day, Kate was in her hotel room getting changed to go out. She settled on a red halter top with black jeans and 3 inch ankle boots. She wanted to look good but she wasn't looking to meet anyone. Kate wasn't the type to have a fling just because she was on vacation but she was interested in going out, having a drink, and just relaxing for the evening.

Kate left the hotel around 9pm and asked the hotel's doorman to call her a cab because she had no intention of walking around in heels. After a short ride, Kate stepped out of the cab in front of the club and was happy to see there wasn't a line at the door, however there was a bouncer. She smiled at the mountain of a man and dropped Quinn's name. He nodded, knowing Quinn all too well, and let her in.

Kate walked right to the bar, settled on an empty barstool, and ordered a Long Island Iced Tea. The bartender made it a strong one and handed it to Kate. As she sipped, Kate turned to face the crowd and after a quick scan, she realized that this was a lesbian bar. She grinned and took another drink when it dawned on her that Quinn must've known exactly what she was implying when she mentioned not wanting to go out to a "meat market." It was still early, so there weren't a lot of women in the club, but Kate figured it would fill up soon.

After a long day at work, Vicky decided that she wanted to go out for the evening. She hadn't gone to a bar in what seemed like ages and she needed a chance to relax, enjoy some music and have a drink. She went home to get ready, taking a nice hot shower to shrug off all her cares. Wrapped in a towel, she picked out a little black dress that was low cut and fell about 4 inches above her knees. She had a perfect pair of black stilettos to go with it and all she had to do was her make-up and hair. She flat ironed her long blonde locks and then did a gorgeous smoky eye and pale lip to complete the look.

She ventured back across town and arrived outside of her favorite club just before 10. It was starting to pick up, but she didn't have any trouble getting in the door thanks to the fact that she knew the bouncer. She walked in, saw an empty stool at the bar, and admired the woman sitting next to it. She sat down and ordered a whiskey and coke and then smiled when she recognized the woman. She was the same one she'd seen admiring the statue in the window earlier that day.

Kate was getting into the groove of the music, it was a mix of 80's pop music and modern dance music and she liked it. After a while, she noticed out of the corner of her eye someone sit next to her. Not knowing if the woman was alone or not, Kate decided to ignore her and wait to see if the other woman would make a move. The last thing she needed was to get into a catfight with some local woman over her territory.

Vicky got her drink and took a sip to wet her throat. She turned to the woman and gently tapped her on the shoulder, "I'm sorry, I know this is going to sound odd, but were you here in the plaza this afternoon?"

Kate turned to the woman who tapped her shoulder and was puzzled by the question but she answered anyway, "Um...yeah I was, why?"

"I think I saw you earlier. You walked by the gallery where I work and you stopped to look at some of the artwork in the window?" she said, though it came out as more of a question. She had been struck by this woman from afar, but right up close, she was practically taking Vicky's breath away.

Kate thought back to earlier that afternoon and the gallery window, "Oh yeah, there was a piece in the window that caught my eye. You work there?" Kate smiled as she remembered the statue.

"Yeah. I oversee large sales and coordinate showings. I've gotten to know several local artists and they produce some very amazing work." She gazed into the other woman's chocolate brown eyes and nearly lost herself. When she realized that she'd been looking just a few moments too long, she shook herself back to reality and extended her hand, "I'm Vicky Harrison."

Kate smiled and took the blonde's hand. The woman was very beautiful, with an air of almost regal bearing...she reminded Kate of a younger Grace Kelly. "I'm Kate. Nice to meet you Vicky." Kate felt a slight jolt when her hand touched Vicky's and she tried to hide her reaction.

Vicky could feel her face getting hot and she knew that this woman would notice the flush in her cheeks. She chuckled and replied, "Nice to meet you Kate. Are you new to town?"

Kate picked up her drink for another sip and said, "Actually, I'm on vacation. I'm from New York." Kate paused and then asked, "What about you? Have you always lived in Santa Fe?" Kate was curious about this blonde beauty.

She was nearly knocked off her barstool when Kate mentioned that she was from New York and that's when she realized that that's what it was about this woman that had caught Vicky's eye earlier that day. The confidence and style screamed New Yorker. She took a sip of her drink and remembered her cover story, "Um, n-no, not always. I'm actually new to the area. I actually grew up in Nebraska and I spent some time in Northern California before I moved here."

Kate noticed Vicky's reaction to her question but she shrugged it off. She was determined to put aside her "detective spidey sense" as Lanie called it and just have a good time. "Wow, I've never really lived anywhere but Manhattan, though I would love to see California one day. What made you decide to come to New Mexico from there?" Kate was curious to know why someone would move away from California when most people move to California.

"I moved for work. The gallery I was working for closed so I put out some applications and got the job here. It's hard finding opportunities in the art business, especially as a gallery coordinator and buyer."

Kate nodded and smiled. "So do you like it here? I've only been here two days but what little I've seen I like." Kate took another sip of her drink as she kept eye contact with Vicky. The blue of her eyes was mesmerizing and she couldn't look away.

"It's beautiful. There's a lot of tradition and so many different cultures…It's amazing." 'But it's not home', she thought. She missed New York and no matter how wonderful New Mexico was, she'd always miss the big city.

Kate thought about that and she admitted to herself that as wonderful as Santa Fe had been so far, she couldn't see herself living here. Kate smiled at Vicky, "Hey um, I'm not really very into the club scene much these days, so I was wondering if maybe you would want to go somewhere more quiet?"

Vicky smiled, "Sure. I know a little coffeehouse just around the corner from here." She took one last sip and then set her glass down on the bar. She left a $20 to cover both drinks and the tip and then stood, "Shall we?"

Kate thought about saying something about Vicky paying for the drinks but decided not to make a big deal of it. She'd just pay for the coffee later. She followed Vicky out of the club and decided to just walk after Vicky explained that she had parked close to the coffee shop.

As they rounded a corner Kate said, "I like how even though it's nighttime, it's still nice out. Not too cold and not too warm either. Is it usually like this?"

"Um, yeah, it's usually like this. It only really gets bad during the winter. It can get pretty cold, though it's nothing compared to New York," she said with a chuckle.

Kate turned to look at Vicky then, "How um...how do you know what it's like in New York? Have you ever been there?"

Vicky could've kicked herself for the slip-up, "Um, yeah I have, but I'll tell you more when we get inside." They were right outside the coffee shop and she needed some time to come up with a reason why she knew about how cold New York winters could be.

"Oh, ok." Kate followed Vicky inside and they walked up to the counter. She turned to Vicky, "So what do you recommend? It's my treat."

Vicky smiled, "Well, I usually get the white hot chocolate. It's really amazing."

Kate smiled, "That sounds really good. I think I'll have the same." Kate let Vicky order for them, since she knew the place better.

Vicky walked up to the counter and said, "Hey Megan."

The barista turned around from steaming milk and smiled, "Vicky, hey, I wasn't expecting to see you tonight. You look gorgeous."

Vicky blushed, "Thank you. Um, can I get two white hot chocolates, please?"

Megan noticed the woman with Vicky and nodded, "Yeah, sure. Whipped on both?" She looked Kate over and then returned her attention back to Vicky.

"Yes, please," Vicky replied and noticed that Megan seemed to be sizing Kate up. She knew that Megan had a bit of a crush on her, but she wasn't really Vicky's type.

Megan smiled warmly at Vicky, "Go ahead and have a seat. I'll bring it out to you."

Kate saw the way this Megan was looking at her and at Vicky and she didn't like it but she kept her mouth shut. She stepped forward and paid for their drinks then turned to Vicky, "So where should we sit?"

Vicky spotted a couch over in the corner and pointed, "How about there?"

Kate looked over and smiled, "Perfect." Kate began walking towards the couch, sensing that Vicky was walking behind her and liking what she saw.

Vicky sank down on the couch and crossed one leg delicately over the other. She leaned against the back and said, "So, I told you I'd give you the skinny on how I know about New York, right?"

Kate smiled, "Well...I wasn't going to push you but, I am a bit curious about how you know about New York." Kate lightly placed her hand on Vicky's knee.

Vicky suddenly felt like giggling when she felt Kate's hand on her knee, but she resisted the urge and cleared her throat, "Well, I have a cousin that I'm very close to and she lives in Manhattan. I'd go visit her every year, sometimes in the spring or the summer, but several times in the winter. I don't think there's anything more beautiful than snow coming down in New York."

Kate nodded as she remembered the last snowfall. "Yes it's very pretty coming down but, let me tell you it stops being pretty once the plows get to it." Kate smiled.

Vicky chucked, "That's very true, but I love walking through Central Park when the snow is still on the grass. It's like a winter wonderland…"

Kate smiled, "Yes it's a great way to spend a winter afternoon."

"Maybe someday if I'm in the city, we could do that…Walk through Central Park after it snows and then go to some little Italian place and have dinner and an amazing dessert," she said, not sure whether she was overstepping, but she knew for some reason that she'd want to do that with this woman.

Kate smiled, "I'd like that." Before Kate could say anything else, the barista came by and placed their drinks on the small table in front of them with a smile.

"Here you go Vick, hope you like it." The smile was a little bit flirtatious and Kate forced herself not to do something to "stake her claim" on Vicky...mostly because she didn't have any real claim on her.

"Thanks, Meg, they look great." She picked up the cup with more whipped cream on top, the one she was sure Megan had made especially for her, and handed it over to Kate. "Here, I hope you like it."

Kate took the offered mug, noticing that it had more whipped cream and she smiled. She might be reading more into the gesture than was there but Kate preferred to believe that, even if 'Meg' was into Vicky, the feeling wasn't mutual.

Kate liked the thought of that and she said, "Thanks, I'm sure I will." She took a careful sip, being careful not to burn her tongue. Kate closed her eyes as the smooth liquid slid down her throat...it was so good. A tiny moan escaped her throat before she could call it back. She looked at Vicky and blushed, a little embarrassed by the moan and knowing Vicky heard it. "It's really good." 

Vicky smiled to herself, God. That was really sexy. She felt a little tingle between her legs but tried to play it off, "I'm glad you like it." She picked up her own mug and licked a little whipped cream off the top.

Kate smiled when she saw Vicky's tongue sneak out to lick up some whipped cream. She felt her entire body grow warm. Kate knew her self-control was hanging by a tenuous thread. She thought about how she always backed away and deflected whenever someone flirted with her and she realized that it usually stemmed from her fear of outing herself and risking her career. But here, she didn't have to worry about that and Kate suddenly had the urge to break her habit and take Vicky up on whatever she might be offering. 

"Mmm, this is good, better than usual. Then again, maybe it's the company that's making it even sweeter." She took a sip and sat back, re-crossing her legs gracefully, "I haven't done this in a long time..."

Kate smiled, "Done what? Had a decadent hot chocolate? Cause Meg seemed to know you really well." Kate tried and failed to keep the hint of jealousy she felt towards Meg out of her voice. She kicked herself for letting it seep into her voice. "Sorry, that was uncalled for."

"No, no, it's ok. She's had a crush on me for a while, but I'm keeping it strictly friendship with her. Besides, she's not really my type anyway…" Vicky placed her hand on Kate's knee, "I tend to like my women a lot more like you..."

Kate's eyes dropped to the hand on her knee. She liked the sensations it caused. Kate smiled, "Really? And what is it about me that drew you in?" Kate asked, trying to sound flirtatious but probably failing. It was when she saw that Vicky was smiling that she figured she was doing ok.

"I don't know if it was any one thing, but I did find you very attractive when I first saw you and then when I got to look into your eyes earlier, wow…and of course, I'm definitely drawn to your personality. You seem very confident but maybe a little guarded… You intrigue me."

Kate felt a blush steal across her face. She wasn't expecting such a thought out reply. Usually, people mentioned her looks or tried to play it off by saying something equally shallow. Vicky's answer hit all the right notes. "Well, I guess intriguing is better than boring.

"I'd say so. I don't tend to stick around boring people for very often. I like to be around someone who can keep up an intelligent conversation and make me laugh. I could tell right off that you'd be able to offer that."

Kate took another sip of the hot chocolate. "Well I hope I don't disappoint you. Would be a shame to ruin whatever this is before it really got started."

"I have faith," Vicky said with a smile and then took a big sip of her drink. She could feel her own butterflies fluttering at the idea that she had just taken such a major step with someone she hardly knew, but she couldn't help herself. Kate was…she couldn't even put her finger on it, but she knew she was someone special.

Kate smiled then looked around the coffee shop taking in the decor. Her eyes landed on a wall clock and she was surprised when she saw the time, it was already one am! "Wow, I didn't realize it was so late. It seems like we just met," Kate said, surprised at how fast the time had flown by. She couldn't remember the last time she'd stayed up so late talking to someone who wasn't Lanie or about something that wasn't case-related.

Vicky looked over to the clock, "You're right…They're going to be closing up here soon…" She finished off her cocoa and then said, "Look, I really don't want this to end…It doesn't have to be anything you don't want it to be, but I'd like to spend more time with you..."

Kate smiled, "I'd like that too. I would definitely like to see you again. I'm only in town for two weeks but I would love to spend as much of that time with you as you can spare. However, I think it would be too soon to spend the night together tonight. But maybe we could meet for lunch tomorrow? I could swing by your gallery and take you to lunch if you want?" Kate wasn't the type to 'put out' on the first date, if this could be called that, but she definitely wanted to see Vicky again.

"I'd like that. I can go anytime, so you don't have to rush." She stood up and then offered a hand up to Kate. "I know all the restaurants around here, so we can go wherever you'd like."

Kate took Vicky's hand and stood up. She got as close as she could to the other woman and, sensing that Meg was watching them, she smiled and decided to give in to her urge to stake a claim just this once. She leaned forward to kiss Vicky and in that moment, Kate knew that Vicky was going to be more to her than just a vacation fling.

When Vicky felt Kate's lips, it was like a flame ignited within her. She craved more, wanted to deepen the kiss, but she wasn't sure if Kate was willing or ready for that.

Kate pulled away for a moment and looked into Vicky's eyes to see if her kiss was welcomed. What she saw in those blue pools only excited her more and she leaned in again for another kiss, this time letting her tongue slip out and lightly touch Vicky's lips. When those soft lips parted, Kate needed no further invitation to deepen the connection.

Vicky eagerly welcomed Kate's tongue into her mouth and caressed back as her arms wrapped around the strong brunette. 

Before Kate could really lose herself in the kiss she heard the sound of a throat being cleared, loudly. When they pulled apart, Kate saw Meg standing there.

"I'm sorry ladies but we're closing now," Meg said without a trace of apology in her voice. She didn't like seeing Vicky kissing another woman but she knew Vicky didn't see her as anything more than a friend. Still, that didn't mean she couldn't interrupt them to close the shop.

Kate looked from Meg to Vicky, "I guess that means we should be going."

"Is it all right if I take you back to your hotel?" Vicky asked as she walked Kate out of the coffee shop.

"I'd like that," Kate said, smiling as she followed Vicky outside. 

They walked back to Vicky's car and the blonde opened the door for Kate. She knew exactly where Kate's hotel was and drove slowly down the narrow streets on the way to drop her off. "Tonight's been really amazing," she said with a smile.

Kate settled into the passenger seat and smiled, "Yes it has. I had a great time with you."

"I'm glad you're here…I…I really needed to meet someone like you."

Kate liked the thought of that, "Well I'm glad I met you too. I haven't had such a good time as I've had tonight in a really long time. I'm looking forward to lunch tomorrow."

"Me too," Vicky replied as butterflies started up in her stomach again. She pulled up outside of the hotel entrance a few minutes later and sighed, "I hate to see you leave..."

Kate reached out and placed her hand on Vicky's cheek. She caressed the soft skin before leaning forward and placing a soft kiss on her lips. "I'm not leaving I'm just going up to my hotel room. I would invite you up but...we've covered why that's not a good idea," Kate smiled.

"I know and I think it's better that we don't. I don't want to make this about sex, Kate. I want to get to know you better and when the time is right, it'll happen. But for now, you should go upstairs and get some sleep. I'll be waiting for you tomorrow at work."

Kate nodded, "Tomorrow." Kate leaned in and kissed her again before she pulled away, "Goodnight Vicky." Kate opened the car door and let one leg step outside.

Vicky felt something odd when Kate's leg went outside of the vehicle…she was sad. She didn't want to let her go.

Kate turned back to look at Vicky and saw something in her eyes. "Are you ok, Vicky?" Kate was worried she'd said or done something wrong.

"It's…nothing. I'm fine, really," she said, forcing a smile.

Kate could tell that wasn't true so she slipped her leg back into the car and faced Vicky, "Doesn't seem like nothing...what is it?"

"No, you're going to think I'm absolutely insane if I say it out loud," Vicky said as she lowered her head.

Kate once again placed her hand on Vicky's cheek, gently drawing her face up to look into her eyes, "I promise I won't think you're insane. Trust me?" Kate needed to know what was wrong.

"Ok." She took a breath and then looked into Kate's eyes, "It made me sad when you started to leave…" She waited for Kate to jump out of the car at her confession. She knew she'd think she was crazy.

Kate took a moment to think about that, "Let me get this right, you were sad because I was starting to get out of the car?" Kate smiled, "That's...that's such a sweet thought. Vicky, I wasn't, I'm still not, eager to get out of this car and let this evening end but, we can't stay in the car all night...well we could but it would be the same as if you came up to my hotel room. But hey, tomorrow will be here before you know it and we'll be having lunch together. That's something to look forward to, right?" 

"Yes," she said in a mock pout. "Go on. I'll be ok, I just… it's weird that I feel like this about someone that I've just met. I don't think I know how to process it just yet. But like I said, I'll be ok. Go on upstairs and get some sleep. I'll see you tomorrow."

Kate smiled. She liked knowing she wasn't the only one who didn't want the night to end. Kate leaned forward again for another kiss and let it linger for a moment before she pulled back, "Sweet dreams Vicky, I'll see you tomorrow at noon for lunch, ok?"

"Ok. Sweet dreams, Kate." She watched as Kate got out of the car and walked inside. Once she was gone from sight, she put the car in drive and made her way across town to her house. She went inside and changed before slipping into bed, but she couldn't stop thinking about Kate. She was the last thing on her mind when she finally drifted off to sleep.

Kate, meanwhile, let herself into her hotel room and plopped down on her bed. On the one hand she commended herself on her self-control to wait and see if this could be more than just about sex but on the other hand, she was kicking herself for not taking Vicky up on her advances. Kate knew she wasn't a one-night stand person but...right now she kind of wished she was. Kate got ready for bed and as she slipped between the sheets, she let herself look forward to her lunch date. Suddenly, a two-week vacation to visit Loretto Chapel had taken on a much better purpose. The last thing Kate did before she fell asleep was wonder if she was destined to meet Vicky. The events of the day seemed like the Gods had preordained them, which it made Kate smile. She liked that thought and drifted off to sleep with a happy expression on her face.


Chapter Two: First Date

The next morning, Kate woke up with a smile on her face. Her dreams had consisted of a very beautiful blonde, a can of whipped cream, and, oddly enough, handcuffs. Kate had to grin at her subconscious mind. It always went right to the gutter whenever she was attracted to someone. Kate lay in bed for a few moments just remembering the night before. She hadn't exactly gone out looking for someone to possibly fall for but that's exactly what she had found: a smart, funny, beautiful blonde with impossibly blue eyes and a smile that Kate would do almost anything to see more of.

Kate was about to drift off into another fantasy about Vicky when her cell phone buzzed an incoming text. With a frustrated growl, Kate rolled over and picked up her cell phone from the nightstand. Kate thumbed over the button for the text messages and she smiled when she saw it was from Lanie. She opened the message and laughed at the text:

[hey girl! Get ur but outta bed and go have some fun. Ur on vaca for heavens sake! Don't 4get the pics]

Kate had promised Lanie lots of pictures from her trip. Kate decided it was time to get up. She quickly typed out a reply before she got up and headed into the bathroom to get ready for her day with Vicky:

[ok ok I'm up. Keep ur scrubs on! U'll get ur pics. Gtg ttyl off to have some fun!]

Meanwhile in a gallery in Downtown Santa Fe, Vicky was busy hanging up the newly arrived artwork in an empty room near the back. She was getting through it at her usual pace but her mind wasn't on the task. That's why she was glad this didn't exactly require a lot of concentration. She was thinking about Kate and what their lunch date might lead to. She was really looking forward to seeing her again.

The night before had been torturous as thoughts of Kate, that tiny little moan at the coffee shop, and the sweet kisses goodnight kept swirling around her brain until she couldn't handle it anymore. She was desperate to do something about the warmth between her legs, but opted to let it build up so that when she and Kate were finally together, all that tension would be released in what she knew would be the most pleasurable explosion ever. So instead, she got up and warmed some milk, which helped her drift off to sleep. Of course, her dreams only managed to torture her further with images of what she had been denied that night but would have sometime soon if she was lucky. Thankfully, a nice, cold shower before heading to work made the situation bearable for her.

Kate left her hotel with a spring in her step. She was really looking forward to her lunch date with Vicky. Kate had some time so she opted to walk the few blocks from her hotel to the downtown area where both the art gallery and the Chapel were located. It was another warm, sunny day and Kate couldn't help but smile. She stopped at the corner to wait for the light to change and smiled when she looked up at the sky and noticed how blue it was. She left her mind drift into a mini fantasy of kissing Kate with the sun shining down on them, but the changing of the light pulled her from her daydream and she turned away from the blue sky to the street in front of her. Kate couldn't remember the sky being that blue in New York, but then, back home she was always too busy chasing bad guys to really notice anything else.

She came upon the Loretto Chapel first and she stopped for a moment to just look at it. She'd come to Santa Fe to see this Chapel and its famous staircase but now, she'd found another reason to love this town…and she was going to be seeing that reason in just a few minutes.

Kate turned away from the Chapel with a smile as she thought about Vicky. She started towards the art gallery when she suddenly felt butterflies in her stomach. She was nervous about seeing Vicky again, worried that maybe the connection they'd had last night was an illusion, a trick of her overactive imagination and her extra-long dry spell. But Kate was not the type to back down from something she wanted so she squared her shoulders and began walking towards the gallery.

Vicky was behind the counter talking with a buyer, but her eyes were darting to the clock every now and then. She was hoping Kate would show up soon because she really couldn't stand the waiting anymore. Just as she was finishing up the paperwork for the purchase, she heard the door to the gallery open and a smile spread across her face when she saw Kate walk into the building.

Kate stepped into the front room of the gallery, but when she saw that Vicky was busy, she occupied herself by walking around the room to look at the art. She deliberately avoided looking at Vicky, knowing if she did she would do something to give away what she was thinking…namely that she was visualizing pushing Vicky up against the white wall and kissing her senseless. Kate smiled to herself as she indulged in her mini fantasy. She moved slowly from one piece of artwork to the next, putting on a fairly decent show of being interested in them.

She was so engrossed in her fantasy and pretending to be interested in the artwork that she didn't hear Vicky when she snuck up behind her and wrapped her arms around her. "Hey you…miss me?" Vicky asked before she kissed her neck and smiled, happy to be near the object of her desire once again.

Kate jumped a tiny bit but managed to hide it well as Vicky pulled her from her daydream. She smiled when she felt two strong, slim arms wrap around her and she leaned back for a moment to enjoy the embrace before she remembered where they were and she quickly looked around the gallery to make sure they were alone. When she turned her head, she felt Vicky's lips on her exposed neck and melted a little more. She loved having her neck kissed and idly wondered how Vicky had known that. Kate mentally shrugged it off as she let herself get lost in Vicky's arms.

Kate placed her hands on Vicky's and closed her eyes, smiling as Vicky continued her sensual assault on her neck, "Mmm…you have no idea. That feels so good."

"This?" Vicky asked before kissing Kate's neck again. "Or this?" She pulled Kate a little closer, so close that Kate could probably feel Vicky's heart beating hard in her chest.

Kate couldn't stop the light moan that escaped her lips, "All of it."

She enjoyed the embrace for a few more moments before she couldn't stand it anymore and she quickly turned in Vicky's arms and spun the blonde around so her back was against the wall, right next to a painting. She leaned forward, pressing her upper body close to Vicky's, and claimed the blonde's lips in a kiss that held every ounce of the longing she'd felt for Vicky the night before.

Vicky felt a rush of warmth spread all over her body when Kate touched her lips. She had to admit she was also a bit turned on by the aggressiveness of Kate's move and it fed her own desire. She placed her arms on Kate's waist and couldn't help the moan that escaped her lips, which went straight into Kate's mouth. She wanted her so badly, but somehow, she managed to remember that they were in the gallery and anything more that they wanted to do would have to wait until they were some place private.

Kate ran her hands down Vicky's side, getting lost in their kisses, when she felt Vicky moan, Kate almost lost it then. She had a sudden urge to strip the blonde naked and lose herself in the soft curves and the promise of ecstasy, but her libido lost the war with her common sense and she pulled away from Vicky's lips. She rested her forehead against Vicky's as they both fought to catch their breath.

When she was sure she could talk, Kate finally spoke, "Vicky, as much as I want to keep going…we need to stop. Anyone could walk in here…and see us…" Her words came between still ragged breaths and although she hated to stop their make out session, she knew it was the right thing to do.

Vicky was reluctant to agree with her but she did anyway, "That would be the logical thing to do… unfortunately, that part of my brain seems to have stopped working," she grinned. "Look, I know we said we wouldn't make this about sex, but I would love to have an extended make out session later tonight…" Vicky said, letting her voice drift away as she waited to hear Kate's response to that. She held her breath, hoping the dark haired woman would be interested.

Kate grinned, happy that she wasn't the only one affected by their proximity. She lowered her voice, adopting a flirty, suggestive tone as she said, "I think that can be arranged…but right now, we should get going and have some lunch. Somewhere public, ok?"

Vicky nodded and said, "Hopefully that will help my self-control, though I'll be the first to admit that any control I do have will be hanging by a thread." She pecked Kate's lips one more time and then said with a grin, "I know just where I'm going to take you."

Kate's gutter mind gave that line a different meaning and she felt as if someone else, someone bolder, had taken over her mouth because her first words were, "Keep it clean Vicky, I meant what I said: food first then later…you can take me wherever and however you want." Kate grinned at the look her words caused to appear on Vicky's face…she liked this bolder version of herself.

Vicky shook herself free of the images Kate's words conjured up and she realized this might be a very long lunch. She grabbed Kate's hand and led her out of the gallery. They walked through the plaza and then turned down the street that led to the St. Francis Cathedral. At the corner, just across from the church was the La Fonda Hotel, which was home to one of the best restaurants downtown. Vicky walked up to the hostess and requested a table for two.

The woman nodded and led the ladies down two steps into the dining area. It was filled with beautiful trees and flowers along the perimeter and a high stained glass ceiling that cast beautiful colored light on the tables below.

Kate sat down at the table and took a long look around. It was a very beautiful place and she liked the décor. Kate returned her gaze back to Vicky after she'd checked out the entire room and said, "This is a very nice place. Do you come here often?"

Vicky nodded, "Sometimes, but usually just for special occasions. They have a great little candy shop downstairs that I tend to frequent a bit more often." She chuckled, "I thought that we should do something really special for today."

Kate heard the word candy and her eyes lit up. Her best friend Lanie had such a big sweet tooth and Kate figured she would flip for some local candies. Kate made a mental note to stop by the shop and get something sweet for Lanie before they left. For right now, Kate smiled and in a flirting tone said, "Candy shop, huh? I could go for something…sweet after our lunch." Kate's tone and eyes implied she wasn't necessarily talking about candy.

Though Vicky caught the double entendre, she opted to keep things clean and replied, "I'll take you over. They have a wonderful dark chocolate candy that's infused with chili powder. You'll absolutely fall for it."

Kate thought about that and said, "Chocolate and chili powder? That sounds…interesting. I can't wait." Kate held Vicky's gaze for a moment before she opened her menu.

The waitress came over then and took their drink order but gave them a bit more time to look over their menus. Vicky already knew she was going to have the blue enchiladas, but she was curious to know what Kate would pick. "Anything standing out to you?"

Kate looked over the menu. Everything looked good, but she decided to go with something familiar. "It all looks good but I think I'm going to go with the Enchiladas del Norte," Kate said, thinking she couldn't really go wrong with enchiladas. She looked up at Vicky and smiled. She was really enjoying herself so far, and she was really looking forward to later that day when she could be alone with Vicky.

"I was thinking of ordering a bottle of white wine, would you like that?" Vicky asked.

Kate smiled, "Are you sure about that? I mean I'm not the one who has to go back to work after lunch." Kate was concerned that Vicky might get in trouble with her boss if she went back to work intoxicated…not that Kate saw anyone else in that gallery that might qualify as a boss, but still. "I just don't want you to get in trouble with your boss."

"Well, I have a little surprise," Vicky said before taking a sip of her water. She licked her lips and continued, "I just sold $8,000 worth of art to a local businessman, so my boss decided to give me the rest of the day off as a reward!"

Kate took that in and couldn't help the smile on her face and the warm feeling in her belly at the thought of having the whole day with Vicky. "In that case, some wine would be nice."

"Great," Vicky said with a broad smile. When the waitress came back, she let Kate order first and then placed her order and asked for the best bottle of white wine they had on the menu. One thing she knew was wine, which mostly had to do with her breeding as a Cabot, though she knew she couldn't tell Kate that.

Kate watched as the waitress left and looked at Vicky, "Do, um, do you know wines?" Kate's blue-collar upbringing didn't lend itself to knowing about wines but thanks to Lanie, she was learning. Kate smiled at Vicky, struggling not to think about what they would do with the rest of their day.

"Oh, yes, I…I've been wine tasting in Napa a couple of times, but I do most of my research online. I like knowing about things like that. I hope it doesn't make me come off like a snob or anything," she said, nervous that Kate was going to think she was stuck-up. She knew people often had that misconception about her, but the last thing she wanted was for Kate to feel that way.

Kate's eyes widened and she suddenly felt envious of Vicky, "You've been to Napa? That's on my list of places to visit. I would love to go there one day. Oh, and don't worry, I like women who aren't afraid to learn new things."

Vicky smiled again, "I'd love to take you. I think you'd love it very much…we could even drive down the coast to San Francisco and take in all the sights…" Then she blushed, "Oh God, I just jumped the gun a little bit, didn't I? Planning a vacation-slash-road trip after one day..."

Kate smiled. Vicky was just too cute when she blushed. She reached out and placed her hand on Vicky's, "Yeah maybe a little bit but I like the thought of going to Napa with you. It sounds like we would have a great time."

"I'm glad you don't think I'm totally strange for the way I've been behaving. I just…got carried away thinking about how great it would be to do that with someone I think could appreciate it."

"Trust me Vicky, it would take more than that to make me think anything negative about you. I really like you and I like spending time with you. I just wish I had more than two weeks to be here with you." Kate stopped herself before she asked Vicky about maybe coming to visiting her in New York, sensing that it might be too early to make that suggestion.

"I know…I don't even want to think about you leaving, Kate…especially since there's so much we still have to learn about one another."

"I agree, but I think it'll be better if we forget about the time limit and just enjoy our time together, don't you?" Kate suggested, not wanting to think about having to leave this place and most especially, this wonderful woman.

Vicky nodded and then noticed the waitress coming over with their wine. Another waitress, who was carrying their plates, followed her and set them down in front of the women before disappearing back into the kitchen. Their waitress made short work of pouring the wine and said, "Enjoy, ladies," before leaving them to eat.

Once the waitress was gone, Kate lifted her wineglass in a toast and said, "To enjoying our time together."

Vicky raised her glass, "To enjoying our time together." She clinked her glass with Kate's and then took a drink. "Mmm, tastes wonderful." She set the glass down and then picked up her fork, "Yours looks really good."

Kate took a sip of her wine, and found that it was surprisingly good. She studied her plate and picked up her fork, "Let's hope it tastes as good as it looks."

Vicky nodded and then took a bite of her enchilada. It was great as usual and the company made it even better. She looked up at the woman sitting across from her and asked, "So, do you like it?"

Kate swallowed her food and smiled, "Yes it's amazing and the wine is absolutely perfect," Kate said and took another sip of her wine.

They finished off their meal in relative silence, enjoying their food too much to converse, and once they were finished, they left the restaurant. They made a quick stop by the candy shop that Vicky had told Kate about and then made their way out to the street.

Vicky held Kate's hand as they walked back through the Plaza and the two were thoroughly enjoying their time with one another. Kate liked the freedom that came with being out of her comfort zone. In New York, she would never have had the courage to walk down the street holding hands with another woman. She was always aware that anyone from the precinct could see her and then she'd be treated differently at work. But here, so far away from her normal life, she could let go and just be herself.

As they made their way out of the plaza, Kate looked to her left and happened to glance into the window of a rare books store they were passing. There, in the display, was a book Kate had never seen but she'd definitely heard of. It was one of the first books ever written by her favorite mystery writer, Richard Castle, and it had been out of print for several years. Only true fans knew of it's existence and only true collectors had it in their collection. Kate stopped in her tracks and turned to Vicky, "Hey, um...can we go in here for a minute?"

Vicky glanced over at the store and smiled as Kate began to unintentionally veer toward it. "Of course. See something in the window you liked?"

Kate blushed, "Um...yeah I just saw a book that I've been looking for, for a few years. I'm...a bit of a bookworm." Kate waited for the laughter, the derision she had come to expect from people when she told them she liked to read books. Her whole life people had teased and made fun of her for being such a brain, a bookworm, a wallflower. That teasing as she was growing up was what pushed her to pick modeling over waiting tables to pay for school, and was part of the reason she chose being a cop instead of becoming a lawyer or even a teacher.

"Me too. Who's your favorite author?" she asked as they walked into the store. Vicky couldn't believe that she'd met someone who shared one of her favorite pastimes. She loved spending a quiet evening at home curled up on the couch with one of her favorite books.

Kate smiled, at little more comfortable now, "Richard Castle. I like mystery books. What about you?" Kate was curious now, loving that she could talk about books with someone she liked.

"I'm probably going to sound very old fashioned, but Jane Austen. I'm also an Anne Rice fan, though no one really knows that," she said with a wink.

Kate smiled, "I've read a few books by Austen, but I'm more drawn to crime novels. I don't know why. I'm not that into vampire books though, not my thing. But I can respect that there's a market for it. But if you ever want a good mystery novel, Castle is the way to go." She liked converting people to Richard Castle because his work was definitely worth reading.

"I've heard of Richard Castle, but I've never read his work," Vicky replied. Unbeknownst to the brunette, Vicky had more experience with killers than she'd like to admit and although she was sure the books were good, she had avoided them because they were crime mysteries.

"Well, I've read all of his novels and I can tell you right now that he really does a great job of getting into the mind of the killer. His Derek Storm series is just...beyond words and I really hope he keeps going with Storm for a long time," she said and then stopped, realizing she probably sounded like a fangirl with all her gushing. "Um...anyway, I saw one of his early works in the window and wanted to look at it if that's ok?"

"Sure," Vicky said as she followed Kate over to the window where she'd seen the book.

"I think it's this way." She began to walk towards the section excitedly. It was true that she chased killers for a living and given that, one might wonder why she would choose to read about them in her free time but the thing was, she liked happy endings. Sometimes with some cases, there were no winners. Even if she caught the bad guy, there was no guarantee that justice would be done or that a plea deal wouldn't be made letting the killer back on the streets sooner than she'd like. So she read crime mysteries because, in print at least, the killer was always caught, justice was always doled out, and there were no plea deals or technicalities or appeals to give the killers a second chance. She liked that and wished real life could be more like fiction. Kate took a moment to look around, seeing if there were signs that marked the different genres. She found the one that said "Mysteries" and she smiled.

Vicky watched as Kate's eyes lit up when she found the book and stood nearby as the brunette looked over the cover and the pages, inspecting them for damage.

Kate held the book carefully in her hands. She knew she probably looked silly, treating this book like it was an original Gutenberg bible or something equally old, but she couldn't help it. To a true fan like her, this was like finding the Holy Grail.

Between Heaven and Hell was Richard Castle's very first novel and according to online websites that Kate sometimes cruised, there were about 100,000 copies in existence. It seems that when the manuscript got picked up to be published, the publishing company didn't have much faith in Castle's success and they limited the run to such a small number. It wasn't until his second novel made the bestseller list that Castle skyrocketed to fame and his new die-hard fans started snapping up copies of his first book to ensure that their collections would be complete. Since Kate discovered Castle much later, her odds of finding a good copy of Between Heaven and Hell that didn't cost an arm and a leg were slim. That's why this was such a miraculous find.

Despite the fact that there were a few dog-eared pages and the paperback cover showed some wear, the rest of the cover looked smooth, the binding was tight, and the pages showed no signs of yellowing. Kate literally had to hold back a giggle over her unbelievable luck. She knew she was getting far too excited over finding this book, but she just couldn't help herself.

The book she'd seen in the window was Castle's second novel, which she had a copy of. She'd come into the store hoping against hope that maybe they had more Castle books. Kate felt that finding this one was undoubtedly a good omen. She turned to Vicky, who was watching her patiently with a tiny grin on her face. "Um, sorry, I tend to get a little engrossed when I get my hands on a book this rare. This is Castle's very first novel. It was largely forgotten because his second book, the one in the window, really launched his career. But this one...this one is what started it all." Kate paused, "I hope you don't think I'm some obsessed fan or anything."

"Everyone has something that they're truly passionate about and I'm glad I could be here to share this with you. I like seeing you smile like that. It makes me happy. "

Kate blushed again and looked down, "Well, thank you for not...thinking I'm crazy or anything. Come on, I want to get the book in the window too, it's a good one and a first edition." Kate led Vicky back to the window display and took the book. They started to go towards the cashier but Kate stopped, "I'm sorry I'm being so...single-minded. Was there something you wanted to look for here?"

"No, no, I'm fine. I can come here anytime. This moment is for you, honey. I want you to enjoy your finds," she said with a genuine smile. She liked seeing Kate so excited and she was happy to know that it happened while she was here in Santa Fe.

Kate smiled. She liked hearing Vicky call her honey. It made her insides warm. "In that case, let me pay for these and we can get back to our day together." Kate wanted to get Vicky alone, somewhere private but, oddly enough, she also wanted to feel the sunshine on her face while she kissed Vicky. Kate liked the thought of kissing Vicky in broad daylight, though not in full public view. It was a daydream she'd had when they were walking from the gallery to the bookstore.

"Sounds good," she said and watched as Kate paid for the books. She wanted to take her back to her place where they could be alone and get to know each other better. She had a spacious porch where they could have a drink while cuddling on her patio sofa.

Kate paid for the books, not letting the higher price affect her joy at finding the rare books. She turned to Vicky and said, "All set, let's go."

"You know, I had a thought, if you're up to it... I was wondering if you'd like to come over? I have a nice deck where we can enjoy the air and get to know each other...and perhaps pick up where we left off at the gallery."

Kate thought about that as they left the bookstore. It sounded like a great idea. She smiled, "Lead the way."

They walked back to the gallery where Vicky's car was parked and again she helped Kate into the passenger side.

She pulled out of the lot and started across town to her house pointing out areas of interest to Kate as they went. When they arrived at Vicky's house, she parked in the garage and welcomed Kate to her humble abode. It was two stories with three bedrooms and two baths, a spacious kitchen and open living room.

She smiled, "Make yourself comfortable. I'm going to make some coffee."

Kate looked around the beautifully decorated living room and was impressed. She watched as Vicky walked into the kitchen and she smiled, the day was turning into one of the best she'd had in a long time. If someone had told her last week that she would meet someone on this trip, someone that she would end up falling for and wishing she didn't have to leave, she would've told them they were crazy. But here she was, with Vicky, and a part of her wished she didn't have to leave...or that she could bring Vicky back to New York with her.

Kate walked over to the windows and looked out onto a back yard filled with dark green grass that looked well cared for and, idly, Kate wondered how Vicky managed that in such a dry climate. That thought soon vanished when she saw the deck. It was natural wood and very big and Kate saw a comfy looking loveseat against the left railing. It was right in a patch of sunshine and Kate felt herself grow warm as she pictured herself and Vicky on that couch, making out. She had to close her eyes to block out the images...only to have them explode to life behind her eyelids. Kate groaned lightly, hoping she could control herself around the blonde, not wanting to jump her right away and make this all about sex.


Chapter Three: Relaxing at Home

Vicky poured coffee into two matching brown mugs and carried one over to Kate, who was looking out the window. "Do you want to go sit out there? "

Kate turned to Vicky and smiled as she took the coffee mug. "Would you mind? It's just...it's a nice day and I thought it would be fun to sit outside," Kate said, not ready to reveal her little mini fantasy of kissing Vicky in the sunshine.

"Of course." She took Kate's hand again and led her outside. "Front or back?" she asked with a grin.

Kate pondered what Vicky meant by that but in the end she played it safe and said, pointing to the loveseat, "Can we sit there?"

Vicky laughed, "No, I want to hold you, but only if you prefer that. If you like to be in the back, I would be more than happy to be held."

Kate blushed, she hadn't thought of that... "Oh...um...back then...I like the thought of holding you...if that's ok? We can switch positions later."

"Sounds perfect. I'll follow you," she said in encouragement to Kate. She'd be sure to bring up the front/back question again later in a different context.

Kate opened the glass door that led to the deck and made her way to the small wicker loveseat that had overstuffed cushions on it. She carefully settled herself on one end of the couch, taking off her slip on shoes and placing her coffee on the deck floor out of the way. She leaned her back against the arm and lifted one leg to rest against the back of the couch while the other stayed planted on the deck floor. Kate smiled up at Vicky then and patted the empty space in front of her in invitation. "Join me?" Kate smiled.

Vicky smiled and practically glided over. She held her coffee carefully as she settled in and leaned back against Kate. The other woman was so warm and Vicky loved that. She was typically cold, so it was a nice change to feel warm again.

Kate let Vicky settle down in front of her on the small couch before she slowly wrapped her arms around her waist. Kate smiled. She loved the way Vicky felt against her. It wasn't often that she got to have moments like this where she could just relax and hold someone she was attracted to. Kate bent her head and nuzzled Vicky's neck. She let the silence stretch out for a few moments before she whispered, close to the blonde's ear, "This is nice, thank you."

"You don't have to thank me for this, Kate. I wanted to have a really special day with you and so far, I think it's going very well," she said with a smile and a soft sigh. She liked the feel of Kate nuzzling her neck.

Kate smiled against Vicky's neck and then let her tongue slip out to lightly lick the skin just above Vicky's pulse point. She felt Vicky shiver and she tightened her grip. Kate lightly ran her tongue up Vicky's neck to her earlobe and nibbled on it. She heard the hitch in the blonde's breathing and decided she liked the effect she was having on the beautiful woman in her arms. "So far? Hmmm...any ideas for how to keep it going?"

"Um," she took a steadying breath. "I think you should keep doing what you're doing and we'll see how it goes…I'm guessing things are going to go from good to great."

Kate nibbled again on Vicky's ear. She slid her hands a little higher, stopping just under the other woman's breasts. She was in the mood to tease Vicky a little, just to see how close she could bring the blonde to the edge before she reached her limit. "Mmmm you taste so good," Kate whispered, allowing a low moan to escape her lips as she began feasting on the neck that was on display for her.

Vicky chuckled. It came from somewhere deep inside and she closed her eyes, "You have no idea, Kate…just wait…" She placed her hands on Kate's thighs and squeezed softly, showing the other woman just how much she was appreciating her attentions on her neck and abdomen.

Kate enjoyed the rumble that came from Vicky when she laughed. It vibrated through her and she smiled. "I have no doubt you have even tastier...flavors. I can't wait to find out for myself," Kate said and then inhaled sharply when she felt Vicky's hands gripping her thighs.

"And I'm sure you do too…I hope you don't think it too forward of me if I tell you that I had the most exquisite dream about you and what you taste like… Suffice it to say that I didn't want to get out of bed this morning."

Kate grinned lifting her head slightly but still close enough that Vicky could feel her breath on her neck. "Is that so? Well, dreams can come true...if you're a good girl." Kate slipped her tongue against Vicky's neck, tracing the jugular vein in the process.

"I can be very good…" she said in a whisper as her hands trailed up and down Kate's legs. She wanted to turn around and kiss Kate with everything she had, but she didn't want to give up the wonderful attention that Kate was lavishing upon her. How long she'd be able to resist, though, wasn't clear to her.

Kate tightened her grip on Vicky as she felt her run her hands over her legs. Kate pulled Vicky closer, suddenly feeling like she was too far away. Kate idly wondered how she was going to survive the loneliness when she went back to New York and didn't have Vicky with her to hold like this, but she quickly put that thought out of her head and went back to kissing Vicky's neck. "Good has its benefits but...being naughty can be just as satisfying." Kate let one hand drift higher and cup Vicky's breast.

Vicky let out a moan and gently set her head back against Kate's shoulder. "God…" was all she said. It had been so long since anyone had touched her this intimately and Kate's gentleness and curiosity was insanely arousing to her. She wanted to give herself over to the brunette and let her do anything and everything she wanted.

At the sound of Vicky's moan, Kate almost lost the control she was barely hanging on to, but she gritted her teeth and forced herself to hang on. It would be so much sweeter if she waited a little bit longer. She wanted to build up the anticipation...draw out the foreplay and make their first time together unforgettable.

Kate had a sudden urge to wipe every past lover from Vicky's memory forever. Kate felt her possessiveness seep into her thoughts and she fought against them, knowing the line that separated healthy possessiveness from unhealthy obsession a little too well. Thankfully, she'd never crossed the line but she had come close enough to see it. Kate smiled as she said, "God is a little formal, Kate will do fine, baby."

Vicky laughed a husky laugh and turned her head ever so slightly to whisper into Kate's ear, "Smartass." Then she blew a stream of cool air against Kate's ear and again caressed the other woman's legs. She wanted to do more, but she wasn't sure if Kate was ready to take this indoors. If they went inside, things might progress to more than just foreplay and Kate was very clear about not making it about sex. She took a breath, but when the buildup got to be too much, she decided to take a chance, "I want to have my turn…but not out here…"

Kate chuckled at the smartass comment. She took a breath when Vicky suggested going inside. Kate tightened her grip on Vicky, "Then let's take this somewhere less...exposed and see if I can make you scream."

Vicky grinned, "I'm figuring the odds are going to be very good on that." She got up and took Kate's hand to lead her back into the house. She crossed the living room and led her upstairs to the master bedroom. The bed was perfectly made with a soft comforter cloaking a pair of burgundy silk sheets underneath. Vicky figured it was a solid bet that Kate was going to come over sometime before she left, so she'd put the finest linens on the bed and set a fresh bouquet of flowers on her vanity, the scent of which was thick in the air.

As she followed Vicky through the house and up the stairs to the master bedroom, Kate thought about what she was doing, the out of character-ness of it all. This could technically be considered their second date, if you counted their time at the coffee shop last night, and they were already heading to bed. It was a lot faster than Kate had ever moved in her past relationships, but something about this just felt right, felt natural and Kate wasn't going to question it. She looked around the room and smiled as she saw how nice it looked. Kate had a feeling she was going to be spending a lot of time in this room while she was in town. "This is a very nice bedroom."

"Thanks…I…" Vicky blushed, "I wanted to have everything look perfect in case you came over… It means a lot that you like it." She took her by both hands and gently pulled her closer, "I want us to take our time, is that ok? I want to explore your body and find out what you like and what really turns you on..."

Kate smiled as she leaned closer to her soon to be lover, "Slow is good...slow can be very good, especially for a first time." She moved closer and kissed Vicky.


Chapter Four: Their First Time

Vicky wrapped her arms around Kate, her fingers gently tickling the small of her back. She was going to be as gentle or firm as Kate needed and she'd rely on the brunette to let her know what was working and what wasn't. She just wanted it to be as good as possible for Kate. She wanted to show her everything she was feeling inside.

Kate let herself get lost in Vicky's kiss as she wrapped her arms around the blonde's neck. Kate's fingers slipped into Vicky's hair and her nails lightly scratched the scalp. Kate felt Vicky's fingers on her back and she moaned a little at the sensation. After a few moments of kissing, Kate pulled away and began trailing her lips down Vicky's neck, licking and sucking her way down to the blonde's collarbone.

Vicky leaned her head back, her hair draping down over Kate's hands as they rested on her back. She smiled and sighed happily loving the way Kate's lips felt on her skin. They were so soft, like rose petals.

Kate loved how responsive Vicky was and she ran her hands down the blonde's back to her ass. Kate squeezed gently as she began sucking on Vicky's neck. Her movement pulled Vicky closer and Kate could feel her heart beating against her skin. She loved that feeling and she grinned against Vicky's skin.

Vicky looked down at Kate and suddenly it was hard to breathe. She was getting completely turned on and once the brunette grabbed her ass, she thought her knees were going to buckle. She gently caressed Kate's hair and said in a breathy voice, "Baby, I need to lie down..."

Kate pulled away from the deliciously smooth neck she was lavishing attention on and smiled up at Vicky, "A little unsteady there, babe? Come on, I don't want you to fall down before I can have my way with you."

Kate reached around and grabbed Vicky's hands to pull her closer to the bed. Before she let the blonde sit down, Kate grinned, "But first, this has got to go." Kate quickly removed Vicky's white blouse and her bra before she ran her fingers over the blonde's abs, caressing the smooth skin before she reached up and cupped her breasts.

Kate lowered her head and took one of Vicky's breasts in her mouth. She sucked on the nipple for a few moments before she gently maneuvered Vicky to lie down on the bed. Kate straddled the blonde and smiled down at her as she returned her attention to the blonde's perfect breasts.

Vicky was quivering beneath Kate, the warmth on her breasts causing her to moan. She liked having the other woman's weight on her. It made her feel like she was safe, which was something she hadn't felt in a long time. She tugged Kate's button-down up as much as she could and lightly scratched her manicured nails up and down tan skin. She could feel Kate shiver and it made her grin devilishly. She wanted to make her lover feel as aroused as she did.

Kate loved the feeling of Vicky's hands on her skin. It was seriously turning her on. She indulged in it for a few moments before she couldn't stand it any longer and she leaned up, smiling down at Vicky as she removed her own dark purple satin blouse and black lace bra. She loved the spark of arousal that flared in Vicky's eyes as she disrobed and she bounced a little bit before she slowly leaned down again and kissed Vicky's lips, slipping her tongue inside the warm mouth. Kate's hands lightly ran down Vicky's chest and played with her nipples as they kissed.

Vicky sucked on Kate's tongue and tightened her ab muscles, bucking up a little to tease Kate's pussy. She ran her hands down to Kate's ass and pushed her down, encouraging her to grind against her.

Kate ground against Vicky, feeling herself growing wet and aroused and she suddenly couldn't stand the thought of having anything between them. She broke the kiss and leaned back, resting on her knees above the blonde. She ran her hands to the button on Vicky's jeans and unbuttoned it quickly and lowered the zipper. She smiled down at Vicky, "These have got to go baby. I need to feel all of you."

Kate quickly removed not only Vicky's jeans and panties, but also her own. Before long, Kate lowered her naked body onto the blonde beneath her. She sighed as their skin made contact. Kate looked into Vicky's blue eyes, "You have the softest skin and a great body. I am going to enjoy exploring it and finding out what makes you scream."

Vicky's eyes somehow grew darker from not only Kate's words, but also the splendor of her body. She was so beautiful and Vicky just had to run her hands over every curve, from her perfect breasts to her hips to the swell of her ass.

She started from Kate's shoulders, fanning her fingers as she moved down over her breasts, stopping to tease her nipples before continuing her descent downward. She could see the glistening of arousal coming from between Kate's legs and she licked her lips, she wanted to have a taste.

Kate lost her concentration for a moment when Vicky's hands began exploring her body. She loved the feel of those soft, knowing hands on her skin. Kate began kissing her way down Vicky's body, overcome with the urge to taste the skin that was on display.

Kate felt the wetness on her thigh and the idea that she was the cause drove her on. She licked and sucked her way down Vicky's body pausing only to pay some extra attention to her breasts, her navel and the silky skin of her thighs before she looked up at Vicky. Kate smiled at her before she slipped her tongue out and got her first real taste of the blonde. Kate moaned at the flavor and pulled Vicky's clit into her mouth to suck on it.

Vicky groaned and then growled when she felt the pressure on her clit. Her hips bucked and she gripped the blanket, her knuckles turning white as she felt both relief and desire overtake her. Her toes were curling as Kate worked her and she thought she was going to lose it, but somehow she fought back and let her mind control her body again, desperate to have Kate down there for as long as possible.

Kate ran her hands down Vicky's body to her thighs and gently spread her legs apart, giving her more access to the swollen folds she was eagerly enjoying. Kate moved her tongue lower and slipped inside the blonde, humming at the warmth that surrounded her tongue, knowing the vibration would add to Vicky's pleasure. Kate's hands slid over the blonde's skin to her ass and cupped the cheeks to lift the blonde off the bed. Kate moved one hand around and let her thumb press on Vicky's clit while she slid her tongue in and out of the blonde.

Vicky was arching up, forcing Kate's tongue deeper inside, her nipples taut and sensitive. She had to ease that tension, so she relaxed her weight down letting Kate support her and brought her hands up to cup her own breasts. She was already starting to tighten her grip on Kate's tongue and she was dangerously close, a wonderful aching sensation starting deep inside. She was moaning, Kate's name on her lips, as her whole body flushed pink. "Baby, I'm close..."

Kate pulled away for a moment to grin up at Vicky and said, "Let yourself go baby, come for me. I want to hear you scream." Kate then went back to her oral attentions, slipping one finger inside of Vicky as she sucked on the blonde's clit, wanting to push her over the edge and make her come in her mouth.

Vicky whimpered and suddenly, without any hope of holding it in any longer, Vicky exploded, her juices pouring out over Kate's hand. She screamed out Kate's name and pulsed hard, her entire body humming with pleasure. Her chest heaved and it took several moments for her body to relax back down onto the bed. She smiled down at Kate and managed, "Wow..."

Kate helped Vicky ride out her orgasm and she licked up every drop of fluid that spilled forth. She slowly glided her finger out of Vicky and slid her body up the blonde's, kissing every inch of pink skin as she went. Her own skin was sensitized by her intense arousal and she knew it wouldn't take much to make her come.

Kate licked her way from Vicky's neck to her ear and whispered, "I knew you'd taste like heaven...I love being right." Kate ran her tongue over the shell of her ear before she pulled back and kissed Vicky, letting the blonde taste herself as the kiss deepened.

Vicky was still hungry for the brunette and it was her turn to take Kate to the edge of the cliff. She rolled them so that Kate was on the bottom and grinned down at her, the heat still pouring off her body. "I hope you're ready for me, baby. I need you like I've never needed anyone before…"

She dropped her head to Kate's neck, the sweet scent of her skin mixed with the thin layer of sweat that was making her glow filled Vicky's senses and she went to work kissing and licking her, one hand gently massaging Kate's breast.

Kate closed her eyes and surrendered to her blonde lover. "Oh yes Vicky, I am so ready...take me baby, I need to feel you inside me..." Kate gripped the sheets with one hand while the other rested on the blonde's head. Kate wanted to draw it out as long as she could but she knew she wouldn't last very long.

Vicky sat down next to her, her body close to Kate's and placed one hand on Kate's stomach, tickling her by drawing little "S's " on her skin and then circling her navel. She looked down into Kate's eyes and smiled when she saw that her lover was having trouble keeping them open.

She started inching lower and then with both hands, she spread Kate's legs and inhaled deeply, able to take in her scent from where she was sitting. She continued tickling Kate with her index and middle finger, caressing her swollen and glistening lips, chuckling when she saw her quivering.

Kate felt the pressure build inside and she panted, "Baby, please...stop teasing...I need you...please..." Kate arched her hips seeking firmer contact with Vicky's fingers.

Vicky looked at her with a feral gaze and then pulled her hand away, quickly moving between Kate's legs. She parted her lips and slid her tongue over the length of Kate's pussy, feeling her jump at the contact. Without warning, Vicky slipped her tongue inside of Kate and started thrusting in and out of the brunette's tight opening, her hands moving swiftly to add to her lover's pleasure. The left hand sought out Kate's full breasts and the right came to a rest on Kate's soft curls, Vicky's thumb pressing on the brunette's throbbing clit as she worked. Kate's wetness was like sweet nectar pouring out of a juicy peach and Vicky wanted as much as she could get.

Kate's senses went into overload and she gave up trying to hold back in favor of letting go. Kate felt her orgasm crash through her and she couldn't help but cry out, "Oh yes! Yes, Vicky, oh yes baby!" Kate arched her back and her eyes closed so tightly that she saw spots behind her eyelids. When she finally came down, Kate collapsed back on the bed and struggled to regain her breath.

Vicky slowed her tongue and eased off of Kate's clit to help her down. She kissed her pussy and then stretched out next to her, a smile on her face as she licked her lips, "Hmmm, I think it might be you who tastes like heaven, baby. That was amazing…" She kissed Kate's cheek and draped her hand over the brunette.

Kate was too weak from her orgasm to move much less respond with anything intelligent so she just said, "Hmmm..." Kate slowly turned her neck to face Vicky and smiled at the blonde as she looked at her.

Vicky leaned forward and kissed Kate's lips, brushing a piece of hair from her eyes, "I think maybe we should take a nap…you look sleepy."

Kate regained just enough movement to reach out and pull Vicky closer, snuggling into the blonde. "A nap sounds good, when we wake up, I'm going to have my way with you again." Kate nuzzled Vicky's neck and licked the sweat-slicked skin as her eyes drooped.

Vicky pulled the blanket over them and then tickled Kate's arm slowly until the brunette fell deeply asleep. She yawned and closed her own eyes, ready to fall asleep as well. The last thought she had before she drifted peacefully off was how quickly she was falling for the other woman and how ready she was for something like this to happen.

They slept for about a half hour before Kate woke up and began to run her hands over Vicky's body. She felt the blonde slowly wake up and she grinned and moved lower. Kate looked up at Vicky, "You ready for round two baby?"

Through the sleepy haze, Vicky smiled and answered, "Mmmm, yes. I love having sleepy sex…what did you have in mind?"

Without a word, Kate proceeded to show Vicky what she had in mind. Several hours later, they were both completely spent and satisfied and they dropped off to sleep for the night.

Kate's last conscious thought was that if she wasn't careful, she'd fall head over heels in love with Vicky. She knew that would only cause her pain when her vacation was over and she had to leave, but Kate could already tell that it might be too late to prevent it.


Chapter Five: The Next Day

The next morning, Vicky awoke when the sun came streaming in through the window. Her hair was draped over her face but the glow from underneath was undeniable. She and Kate had spent a glorious afternoon making love, exploring each other and making each other feel like there was no one else in the world except the two of them. Vicky couldn't remember the last time that she'd felt this happy and she was grateful for having met Kate. She wanted to stay in that bed with her and just be. No cares, no interruptions, nothing but her and this woman that she was falling for so completely.

Slowly, against her will, Kate's body began to awaken. She kept her eyes closed, cherishing the memories of the night before. Kate snuggled deeper against the warm body next to her, loving the softness she found there. After a few moments, she sensed that Vicky was awake and she smiled as she leaned back to look at the face of the woman she was cuddled against. She melted a little at the look in the blonde's eyes. "Good morning baby."

Vicky smiled, a nice rosy hue in her cheeks, "Good morning." She cuddled closer to Kate and rubbed her back softly. "Did you sleep well?"

Kate grinned, she leaned closer and lightly kissed Vicky's chin, "What little sleep I did get, yes. You?"

"Mmmhmmm. I don't think I've slept this well in…years. Thank you," she said and pecked her forehead. "You were so amazing last night..."

Kate blushed, "You weren't so bad yourself." She smiled as she ran a hand over Vicky's hip.

Kate was so soft and gentle, but Vicky had also seen that she could be powerful and commanding and she liked that a lot. Her hand drifted into Kate's short hair and she smiled, "You're so beautiful."

Kate had never been comfortable with praise about her looks. Her years as a model had taught her that looks were superficial and anyone who told you that you were beautiful usually had a personal agenda. It had made Kate a little wary of such compliments even though it had been several years since she left the modeling world behind for law enforcement. But hearing Vicky say it, the look in her eyes as she spoke the words, made Kate wish she could let go of her past and believe the truth of the words. Instead, she smiled as she shifted her body and rolled Vicky onto her back. Without a word, she hovered over the blonde goddess for a second and then lowered herself down to kiss the lips that had brought her so much pleasure the night before.

Vicky held onto her and kissed her back deeply, her tongue playing with Kate's. She could feel herself becoming aroused again and she knew that it was one choice or the other: stop kissing her and get out of bed or continue kissing her and stay in bed. Vicky was a fan of the latter, but she thought she should give Kate a choice instead of assuming. She pulled back and looked into Kate's eyes, "If you keep kissing me like that, I might just have to have my way with you again..."

Kate grinned down at her, the thought did have some appeal but she felt the need to ask, "Don't you have to work today? I don't want to get you in trouble with your boss, despite your $8,000 sale yesterday." The tone in her voice suggested that she didn't completely believe Vicky's story from yesterday simply because it seemed a little too convenient. At the time she hadn't questioned it because she wanted to spend the afternoon with Vicky, but she couldn't in good conscience let Vicky miss another day of work just so that they could be together. After all, Kate was on vacation but Vicky wasn't.

"Yes, I do, but it doesn't mean we can't make love again before I have to get ready…" she said with a grin before caressing Kate's cheek. "I'm sorry, I just can't seem to get enough to you."

Kate closed her eyes as the words sank in. She leaned into Vicky's touch on her cheek and after a moment she opened her eyes, smiling, "Trust me the feeling is most definitely mutual, but something tells me if we start something, you're not going to make it into work today at all." Kate softened her words with a kiss, "So how about, you go take a shower and get ready and I'll...make you some breakfast?"

Vicky smiled, "Ok, deal, but that's mostly because I think you're a wonderful cook…not sure why, just a gut feeling." She leaned up and kissed her one more time before slipping out from under Kate, "Everything you need is in the fridge…pans are hanging over the center island and utensils are in the drawer to the right of the stove."

Kate felt the loss of contact and fought not to pull Vicky back into bed. She instead grinned up at the blonde who was wrapping a robe around her body. "Well, you'll just have to wait and be surprised. Now go, shower while I make breakfast." Kate shooed the other woman out of the bedroom, oddly shy about her nudity now that they weren't in the throes of passion.

Vicky trudged over to the bathroom and looked back with a pout, missing Kate already, "I won't be long…" She disappeared into the bathroom to take a shower, though she hated to wash Kate's scent from her skin.

Kate grinned at the pout. It was so adorable. She got up from the bed and quickly found her shirt and jeans from yesterday. She didn't like having to put them back on but she didn't think anything Vicky owned would fit her. She walked on bare feet into the kitchen and looked in the fridge. She smiled as she saw that Vicky did indeed have everything she needed to make her favorite breakfast dish. She pulled out the ingredients from the fridge, gathered the pans and bowls she needed, and began working while humming a silly love song under her breath.

By the time Vicky got out of the shower, she could smell a wonderful aroma coming from the kitchen. She put on her robe and towel dried her hair before walking out of the room. She crossed over to the kitchen and leaned against the island, watching Kate as she finished preparing the meal. "Hey beautiful, it smells good..."

Kate smiled as she looked over at Vicky. Over the aroma of the food, was the clean, fresh scent that came from Vicky. She smelled so good. "It's not the only thing that smells good. Come here." Kate used one hand to grip the lapel of Vicky's robe and she pulled her closer. Kate buried her face in Vicky's neck, inhaling deeply before she opened her mouth and began tasting the skin there.

Vicky smiled and chuckled, "I see you're still hungry…do I taste good?"

Kate smiled, "Mmmhmmm...honey you taste so good, you could be the fifth food group..." Kate said, too turned on to care if she sounded cheesy or corny. She slid the hand that had been holding Vicky's robe under the silky material and caressed the soft skin of her abdomen. Kate's other hand turned off the stove so she could concentrate on devouring Vicky without worrying about burning the food.

Vicky moaned, her stomach muscles tightening and relaxing under Kate's touch. "God, you're making me wet again..."

Kate pulled away, grinning. "Good...I like the thought of you, wet, working at the gallery without being able to get relief...anticipating tonight when I get you into bed and make you come so hard you'll pass out," Kate whispered into Vicky's ear before she reached her tongue out to trace the outer shell teasingly.

Vicky shivered and nearly passed out right there in her arms. "God, you have no idea how badly I want you right now…it's going to make work seem like torture. I'll be squirming until I can come home and be with you again…"

Kate grinned at the words, "Then my evil plan is working." Kate leaned in and kissed Vicky, "Now come on, the food's ready." Kate turned back to the stove and began dishing up their breakfast onto two plates and she moved to the table with them.

Vicky sat down and smiled when she looked at her plate. "Nice to see I was right, you are a good cook."

Kate smiled, she knew Vicky was dying to ask what it was and she wondered how long it would take her. In the end she decided she didn't want to wait so she said, "Well, try it before you praise it. It's called Malukuao."

Vicky looked up at her, "Come again?" Then she blushed and said, "Um, forget I said that. What is it? "

Kate chuckled at Vicky's slip on the tongue. She cleared her throat, "Um...it's a dish my mother used to make on Sunday mornings. She gave it the weird name when I was five and I asked her what this weird new dish was. She called it Malukuao and said it was an old family recipe passed down through the generations since the 1600's." Kate grinned, "Yeah I was five and I believed her. When I was 16, she told me the truth, it was a dish she had invented all on her own. It's a carefully chaotic blend of eggs, sausage, peppers, cheese, and a secret ingredient that my mom didn't reveal to me until I was 18." Kate paused as she looked at Vicky, "It was her favorite thing to make for breakfast and it's become my favorite too. I hope you like it."

Vicky could see the sparkle in Kate's eyes and she said, "I know I will." She took a bite and made an "Mmmmm" sound, "This is amazing! Do you think someday maybe you'll teach me to make it? "

Kate's smile faltered for a split second but was soon back in full force. No one had ever asked her to teach them how to make Malukuao. That was probably also due to the fact that she didn't often make it for others. Only Lanie, Ryan, and Esposito had ever had the honor. "Um...yeah maybe, one day." Kate wasn't comfortable making long terms plans when she didn't know if she was ever going to see Vicky again after her vacation was over. But she tried to hide her reluctance, "But if you learn how to make it, you might not need me around anymore."

"Even if I knew, I'd still want you to make it for me. I'd want to learn to treat you to breakfast once in a while. My culinary repertoire is fairly limited..."

Kate smiled, "Well...I happen to have a fairly broad resume when it comes to food so, I'm sure we can come to some...arrangement."

"I like the sound of that. We can trade food secrets for massages. I'm gifted with my hands," she said with a grin and then turned her attention to her food. She was talking in the long term, but realistically she knew that Kate was leaving soon and she couldn't go with her. She just liked to think of what could be possible.

Kate blushed as she remembered just how gifted those hands were. She turned to her food and tried to think about something else. "Um, what time do you get out of work today?"

"About 5:30. What do you have planned for your day?"

"I have to swing by my hotel and shower and change clothes then after that, I'll probably walk around for a bit, find a nice quiet spot in a park with some sun and read my Castle book. Did you want to meet for lunch again?"

"I'd love that. I'll be free from noon to one, so we can go have a nice meal somewhere or even picnic in the park, if you want. "

"That sounds nice. I'll swing by the gallery around noon with a picnic and you can show me where there's a nice park for it, ok?" Kate liked the thought of a picnic in the sunshine. She had already fallen in love with the weather here...and falling for Vicky wasn't too far behind.

"I know the perfect place. I'll take my walking shoes to change into. I don't like wearing my heels on grass, " she said sounding very girly.

Kate just grinned. "Then it's a date. Now hurry up and finish your breakfast. You need to get to work and, maybe drop me off at my hotel on the way?" Kate's voice started out a little bossy but tapered off to questioning.

Vicky nodded and then finished up her breakfast. Once the dishes were cleared from the table, she grabbed her keys and drove Kate back to her hotel. During the drive she kept one hand on the wheel and the other was laced with Kate's hand, maintaining their connection for as long as possible. When they arrived at the hotel, Kate reluctantly left the car after kissing Vicky good-bye. She knew that Vicky had to be at work soon but they both found comfort in the fact that it would only be a few hours before they'd see each other again.

Kate went up to her room and threw herself on the bed. She stared at the ceiling with a goofy smile on her face. Last night had been one of the best nights of her life.

Kate slowly sat up, still smiling, and walked over to the bathroom to turn on the water for a shower. She looked at herself in the mirror as she removed her clothes. Kate blushed when she saw the various tiny hickeys that Vicky had left on her skin. Kate smiled as she remembered exactly how each mark was made on her chest. She lightly traced the darkest mark, resting on her collarbone, high enough to be seen if wearing a v-neck but easily hidden by a t-shirt or dress shirt. There was a moment, just after Vicky had made that mark, when Kate had joked about the blonde "marking her territory." Vicky had smiled slyly but didn't say anything, preferring to resume her oral teasing of Kate's breasts. Kate liked the mark, she liked the thought of Vicky marking her, making it clear to anyone who noticed, that Kate was taken.

Vicky was in a haze as she attended to her work at the gallery. Almost like she was on autopilot. She documented sales, took photos of the new pieces that had come in yesterday afternoon, did a walkthrough to make sure everything was in its place, but none of it really registered. All she could think about was Kate and everything that they had shared the night before. She hadn't felt this alive since before she was put into the program, during the few months that she and her ex, Olivia Benson, were together and still happy. Still, it wasn't anything like this. Kate was ok with who she was, she knew that she loved being with women and Vicky knew it. She didn't feel as though she was an experiment or something to be hidden away.

Kate had embraced her and Vicky felt safe enough to assert her passion and hunger for the other woman, going so far as leaving those marks on her body. She wanted Kate and the idea of having to say good-bye to her was more than she could really handle right now. It just seemed like a cruel torture that Kate lived in New York and that was the one place Vicky wanted to be more than anywhere else…now she had an even greater reason why.

Kate was sitting on the bed in her hotel room in her bathrobe. She had some time before she had to go meet Vicky with the picnic lunch that she had already ordered from room service. They were even providing the basket and it would be delivered to her room just before she had to leave.

For the moment, Kate decided to take a few minutes to relax. She knew things were moving fairly fast between her and Vicky and while, intellectually, she knew they should slow down, her heart was overriding her logic. She felt compelled to enjoy her time with Vicky and worry later about the loneliness that would surround her back in New York.

Kate's eyes fell on the two books that were resting on the nightstand. She smiled as she picked up the first one that Richard Castle had ever written and ran her fingers lightly over the cover. She was such a huge fan of Richard Castle and his amazing writing that she could hardly wait to sit down and read it. Kate idly wondered how he managed to write the law enforcement side so realistically, not to mention how he was able to get into the criminal mind so completely. Kate sighed as she realized that she'd never know so there was really no point wondering...besides, she had much better things to think about.

Kate got up and started to get dressed. She chose a dark blue t-shirt and blue jeans with her black ballet flats. Kate liked how she looked and hoped Vicky would too. A knock on her door alerted her that it was almost time to go get Vicky. She opened the door and let the waiter set the basket on the small table by the wall. She tipped him, thanked him, and he left.

Kate grabbed the canvas tote that she'd bought the day before she met Vicky and tucked Castle's book into it along with her cell phone. She grabbed the basket and the tote and left her hotel to begin walking in the direction of the gallery, the smile on her face showing no signs of going away anytime soon.

She had almost arrived at the gallery when her cell phone buzzed a text. She stopped at a nearby bench and set the basket down to check her cell. It was Lanie:

[hey girl! just checkin on ya. didn't hear from u after yesterday morning. Lemme know ur safe plz!]

Kate smiled, it was nice knowing someone was worried about her. She hit the reply button and typed out her response:

[hey Lanie. Sorry bout the silence, got lost in a book, but I'm alive & well! tnx 4 caring!]

Kate didn't like lying to her friend but knew if she told the truth she'd never get any peace. Kate stood from the bench and started walking towards the gallery again. She noticed a beautiful red head enter the gallery and paused, not wanting to bother Vicky if she was occupied. After a few minutes she realized the woman was going to be a while so she stepped into the gallery, deciding to look at the artwork again while she waited for Vicky.

While Kate was outside texting Lanie, Vicky was busy in the back supervising some moving men when she heard the front door bell jingle. Someone was in the gallery and she hoped it was the someone she was hoping for. She instructed the men to stack some crates over by the corner and then walked out front to see if it was Kate who'd walked inside.

Vicky had to work hard to hide her disappointment when she saw that the visitor wasn't Kate but rather a very attractive red-haired woman. Vicky quickly took stock of the woman and pegged her as a serious buyer, not just one of the browsers that usually ended up being a waste of her time. Vicky stepped closer to the woman and smiled. "Hello, welcome to the Serenity Jones Gallery. My name is Vicky, are you looking for something specific?"

The woman smiled as Vicky approached. "Hello, my name is Catherine. I'm in town for a seminar, but my father asked me to come by and take a look at some paintings he saw here last month. My father owns a few hotel-casinos in Las Vegas and he's looking into replacing some of the artwork in the high roller suites."

"Do you see anything that you like?" Vicky asked politely. It might be another big day for her and the galley.

"Well, there are some very beautiful pieces…but I'd like to have a collection of 5 or 6 works from the artist who created this painting," Catherine said as she pointed to a very beautiful abstract piece.

Vicky nodded and was about to respond when she heard the door open again. It was Kate. Vicky grinned and waved discreetly to Kate before returning her attention to the other woman, "Um, we work with the artist and he has an entire studio full of paintings. If you'd like, I can arrange for him to send over some snapshots of his work and you can pick the ones you like most."

Catherine smiled, "I'd appreciate that. I'm actually on my way back to give a talk, but perhaps I can come in this afternoon and browse the work." Catherine liked the idea of seeing this woman again. She was very beautiful and now that Catherine was single again thanks to Sara running off to God knows where and leaving her a 'Dear Jane' letter as her only explanation, Catherine thought maybe this trip to New Mexico for a forensic seminar didn't have to be a total waste. The thought that this woman might be straight or taken didn't even cross her mind as Catherine turned on her charm. She had yet to meet a woman, straight or not, that she couldn't get into her bed.

Kate watched the red head flirt with Vicky and couldn't help the insecurity that flared up. The woman was beautiful, poised, sexy, confident and she was standing a little too close to Vicky for Kate's liking, but Kate fought down her jealousy, explaining to herself that she was just imagining it.

The blonde, who was focused on her upcoming lunch with Kate, didn't realize that Catherine was obviously flirting with her. She just wanted to get her out of the gallery so that she could be alone with her new lover. She shook the woman's hand and said, "Of course, I'll be here to work with you when you're done."

"Great. I'll see you later then," Catherine said with a slick smile and then she brushed past Kate on her way out of the gallery.

Kate watched the woman leave and got a whiff of perfume as she passed her. She smelled rich, but she reminded herself that Vicky had sent her away in what seemed like a hurry and she smiled once again. When she noticed that the gallery was empty, she walked over to Vicky and kissed her lips, "Hi."

"Hi. Don't you look lovely?" Vicky asked with a smile. "Let me just change my shoes and we'll get out of here." She walked to the counter and slipped out of her heels quickly. She put on a pair of comfortable tennis shoes and struck a pose for Kate, "Ta-da!" Then she walked out with Kate and asked, "Can I help carry something?"

Kate smiled as she walked next to Vicky. "Nope, I got it. The sneakers look nice on you." Kate slipped her free hand through Vicky's arm pulling her closer as they walked. She really liked being close to her.

"Blouse, pencil skirt, stockings, and sneakers, I'm one of the few who can pull it off," she teased. "We're headed up to Hyde Park, there's a large field where we can sit and enjoy the beautiful weather and our meal."

Kate smiled, "Sounds good to me. And baby, you can make acid-washed jeans and tie-dye t-shirts with pumps look good."

"God, I hope I never have to wear anything like that, ever." Vicky loved her clothes and unless someone forced her, she'd never don an outfit like that.

Kate pouted, but she had an idea. "Well...Halloween is coming up...you could dress up as a mall queen from the 80s," Kate suggested, struggling not to laugh at the look on Vicky's face.

"The only way in hell I'd do that is if I could put you in a ballerina outfit, tutu and all…" Vicky said with an evil grin.

Kate took a moment to conjure that mental image and said, "I might be talked into that…given the right, motivation." Kate's voice took on a seductive tone as she grazed her fingernails across the inside of Vicky's forearm.

"So what would it take, exactly, for me to get you into a ballerina outfit?" Vicky asked, her curiosity piqued by Kate's statement. She knew that the other woman liked to tease, but she would seriously like to see her walk into her bedroom in a leotard, tutu, and ballet slippers just for the novelty of it all. Of course, she'd enjoy helping her out of the outfit even more.

Kate faltered for a moment, not expecting Vicky to call her on her comment. She thought about the question and said, "Hmmm...well...it might involve you and me in New York at a Halloween party...in the Village where we won't stand out too much and maybe...just maybe...you letting me take pictures of you in the tie-dye and acid-wash..." Kate said, thinking on her feet but knowing she was coming up with a lame response.

"Really? I expected something much kinkier than that," she said as they arrived at the park. The grass was still very green and lush and any place would be good to settle down for lunch. They walked along the sidewalk until Vicky spotted the perfect place. She led Kate over and said, "Do you like it here?"

Kate looked down at the area Vicky stopped at and said, "Yeah this is fine." Then she chuckled, "And as for your earlier comment, not everything has to be about sex. Besides, I'm not very kinky. Sorry," Kate said with a shrug, her voice holding no trace of an apology.

"Yes, I know, it was just unexpected that it was something so innocent," Vicky said as she helped Kate spread out a blanket and then the food. She sat down and tried to peek into the basket, "What did you pack?"

Kate playfully tapped Vicky's hands away, "No peeking. I had the hotel pack a few things I thought you might like." Kate smiled at Vicky as she unpacked containers of cheese cubes, crackers, and grapes. She also brought out two sandwiches wrapped in wax paper and a bottle of non-alcoholic white wine and two plastic wine glasses. "I hope I made the right choices."

"It looks wonderful Kate, I love wine and cheese and if you'll indulge me, I'd like to feed you grapes..."

Kate blushed. "I'd like that. Um...the wine is non-alcoholic because I know you have to go back to work," Kate explained as she opened the containers and spread the cheese, crackers and grapes on the round plate the hotel had provided.

Vicky took the liberty of pouring a glass for each of them and handed one to Kate. She held up her glass and smiled, clinking the glasses before taking a sip. Then she set it down and reached out for the grapes. She moved closer to Kate and plucked a grape, "Open up."

Kate set her glass down and smiled as she leaned forward and opened her mouth.

Vicky gently slipped a grape into Kate's mouth and then caressed her cheek. She plucked another grape and waited until Kate was ready for another. "Is it good?"

Kate smiled as she chewed the grape. She swallowed then leaned forward and kissed Vicky. The kiss deepened right away and Kate let herself get lost in it.

Vicky could taste the sweetness and moved a little closer to Kate. She set down the bunch of grapes and ran her fingers through Kate's hair.

Kate smiled as she felt Vicky move closer and she shifted closer, wrapping her arm around the blonde's waist.

Vicky loved the way it felt when she and Kate were close like this. It helped her not to feel so alone in a place where she saw herself like a perpetual square peg. She lightly scratched Kate's scalp and moaned into the kiss.

Kate reluctantly pulled away from the kiss. "Baby, as much as I am enjoying this, we should stop. This is a public park and I think getting arrested for public lewdness might be a bit of a mood killer," Kate said, trying to inject a little humor. She didn't want to stop and she didn't want Vicky to think that she was trying to hide anything they were from the world. She just didn't want to get arrested and have to explain that to her Captain...not to mention the fact that she knew Ryan and Esposito would never let her live it down.

Vicky chuckled, "Agreed. Here, open." She held up another grape and fed it to Kate before turning her attention to the cheese. She picked up a cube and popped it in her mouth, thoroughly enjoying the rich flavor. Whoever packed this picnic certainly knew what they were doing.

Kate finished her grape and smiled at Vicky. "So, tell me something about you? Something that most people don't know, please?"

Vicky looked up at her as her blood ran cold and she swallowed hard, "Um…something they don't know… Uh, well, I…I'm a huge Frank Sinatra fan." She smiled, hoping her facial expression wasn't giving away that there was something deeper.

Kate smiled, she sensed there was something Vicky wasn't telling her, but she decided not to push. Everyone had secrets, things they didn't bring out into the light of day, and Kate was fine with that for now. "Sinatra? He had some great songs."

"He did. I also loved his movies. High Society was my favorite though. When I was a little girl, I watched it with my mom and I just loved it. I wanted Grace Kelly to end up with him instead of Bing Crosby," she said with a chuckle.

Kate frowned, "I don't think I've ever seen that movie. What's it about?" Kate wanted to know more about Vicky and she liked classic movies. If the movie had Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra then it definitely qualified as a classic.

"It's about a spoiled socialite who is getting married to her second husband, except her first husband, Bing Crosby, doesn't want to let her go. Toss in two reporters who are there to spy on the wedding preparation, and you've got a classic comedy with some really wonderful musical numbers. Sinatra was one of the reporters and he, of course, also fell for Grace."

Kate tilted her head. "I like the sound of that. I don't suppose we could rent it sometime and watch it together?" Kate asked, curious.

"I own it, so maybe one night after dinner we can settle in on my couch and watch it. I must warn you though; I might be a little touchy-feely while we watch. Nothing beyond PG-13, but the movie always makes me feel romantic."

Kate grinned, "I like the sound of that and trust me when I say this, I won't mind if you get touchy-feely. In case you haven't noticed, I like touching you and being touched by you so I don't think that's going to be a problem. Maybe we could have dinner tonight at your place and we can watch the movie?" Kate didn't want to push or anything but she really wanted to spend as much time with Vicky as she could while she was in town.

"That sounds perfect. We can order out and enjoy a nice quiet evening on my leather couch with the big screen. And when we're done eating, I'll hold you in my arms and shower you with my attentions."

"I like the sound of that...but instead of ordering in, how about I cook dinner...something really yummy." Kate liked the thought of cooking for Vicky. Kate didn't cook for just anyone, but she wanted to cook for Vicky.

"Are you sure? I don't want you to have to slave over a hot stove just for me…" Vicky said and took a sip of wine.

Kate leaned forward and kissed Vicky, tasting the wine on her tongue. "Yeah I'm sure. I want to make you a meal and you can shower me with your...attentions after dinner. Deal?"

"Sure. Is there anything special you need for the meal?"

Kate smiled, "All I need is you. If you can tell me where I can find a grocery store I can get exactly what I need while you're at work."

"There's one near the mall. It's about 2 miles from here. Do you want to borrow my car to go?"

Kate raised an eyebrow, "You would trust me to drive your car?"

"Why not? You have a license right? I have full coverage in case anything happens..."

Kate raised her hand to Vicky's face. "Yes I have a license and a very safe driving record. I can pick you up from work at 5:30."

"Sounds perfect. I'll give you my keys when we get back to the gallery."

Kate and Vicky were walking back to the gallery holding hands. Kate was a little nervous about borrowing Vicky's car, especially when she wasn't very familiar with this town but she was determined to surprise Vicky with a great dinner. Kate glanced over at the blonde and smiled as she traced her profile with her eyes, memorizing every line. She wanted to commit every detail to memory so that when she was back in her little apartment in Manhattan, she could pull out the images of Vicky and keep herself warm at night. Kate stumbled on a crack in the sidewalk and leaned against Vicky to keep from falling. She looked up at Vicky, "Sorry, I'm a bit of a klutz sometimes."

Vicky smiled, "I don't mind being the one to catch you." She squeezed Kate's hand and then looked into her eyes, "You have the most beautiful eyes. I don't think I could ever get tired of looking into them."

Kate blushed, "Um...thanks..." Kate didn't know what to say to that. She never really thought her eyes were anything special. They were brown, nothing remarkable about that. Kate looked into Vicky's eyes and thought that she could drown in them. They were a shade of blue that reminded her of swimming pools she saw in the Olympics. Kate reached up and caressed Vicky's cheek, "You are...so much more than I could ever have hoped for and I...I am really glad that I met you." Kate smiled and leaned closer to kiss Vicky.

Vicky blushed. "I feel the same about you, Kate. I can't tell you how happy I am that you fell in love with the Chapel and came here. I just wish there was a way I could go back with you," Vicky said sadly. She missed New York and the thought of getting to go back with Kate was enough to make her cry. She needed to go home and she wanted to make that journey with this woman who was making her so happy.

Kate rested her head on Vicky's shoulder for a moment. She took a deep breath before she lifted her head and looked into Vicky's eyes, "So why don't you? I mean, you must have some vacation time saved up at the gallery, why not come visit me in New York?" Kate knew she sounded a little excited and maybe even a tad desperate, but she couldn't help it. She really wanted to show Vicky her New York and share with her the little hidden gems the city held that most people didn't know about.

"I…" Vicky sighed, "You have no idea how much I would love that, Kate…but I wouldn't be able to take vacation until the holidays and you know how hard it is to travel to large cities during that time…couldn't we go someplace else? Upstate maybe? We could find a nice little resort and just get away from it all."

Kate looked at Vicky for a moment then thought about what she was asking, "Um...yeah that, um...that sounds good. Somewhere with snow and a cabin with a fireplace, maybe?" Kate smiled as the thought grew on her. She could always show Vicky her favorite places another time. Kate liked the thought of having Vicky all to herself in a cabin, snowed in with a roaring fire in the fireplace, some good wine, and nothing but hours to spend enjoying each other.

"I know a place just like that, actually. It's up in the Hudson Valley. I can show you when you come over later. Its beautiful," she said with a smile as she thought about how perfect that place would be.

Kate leaned forward and kissed Vicky. She pulled away and said, "I'd like that. But now we should get to the gallery so you're not late getting back to work and I can go get the things I need for dinner, ok?"

Vicky nodded and then continued back to the gallery. When they got back, Vicky went to the desk and unlocked the drawer to get her keys. She took them out and jingled them, grinning at Kate.

Kate smiled at Vicky's grin. She stepped closer and reached for the keys. When Vicky moved her hand back, out of her reach, Kate leaned closer and kissed her, deepening the kiss and running her hand around Vicky's waist and down to her ass. Kate squeezed gently, distracting Vicky enough to let her reach up with her other hand and grab the keys from Vicky's limp hand. Kate slipped the keys into her pocket before she pulled away and smiled up at Vicky, "Thank you."

Vicky struggled to catch her breath and grinned again, "You're welcome. Um I have GPS in the car, just type in Albertson's and it should guide you straight there."

Kate squeezed Vicky's butt again, smiling as Vicky's eyes widened. She leaned forward and pressed a kiss to Vicky's pulse point.

"PG-13 is quickly flying out the window," Vicky said with a sly grin. "Now get going before I take you in back."

Kate pulled back and bit her bottom lip, thinking about Vicky's warning. "Not that I wouldn't love to go in the back and let you have your wicked way with me, but this is your job and I don't want to get you in trouble in case your boss or a customer shows up. So I am going to get going and get what I need to make you a dinner that you will love. I will be back here at 5:30 to pick you up, ok?"

"Sounds perfect, babe. Be safe." She placed her hands on Kate's cheeks and leaned in to kiss her one last time before letting her go on her way. She looked at the clock and sighed, she still had a long time to wait before Kate would be back to pick her up and take her home. She chuckled at herself when she realized just how bad she had it for this woman. She'd barely left and she was already wishing it was time for her to come back.

Part 6

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