DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Trial By Jury and all its characters are the
property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
WARNING: This story deals with domestic violence in lesbian relationships (not related to our protagonists). If this topic makes you uncomfortable, please don't read this story. If you're upset, I'm upset. The views expressed in this story are not necessarily the views of the author.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to Kate and Hope for beta reading. For C.J.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The patrolman arrived at the scene to find the body still warm, lying face down on a faux hardwood floor, in a one bedroom apartment in the East Village. The back of the victim's head was concave. A metallic black pan lay near her, a dark sheen on its bottom surface. He knelt and looked more closely, seeing the Kenmore brand on the handle. Frying pan. He thought this kind of thing only happened in the movies.
Backup arrived and took a look at the woman and said, "Sex Crimes?"
"She's got all her clothes on," the patrolman said, gesturing at the body. "Looks like a run of the mill domestic dispute." He spat the word domestic as he glanced through the bedroom door at another woman, who was sitting on the bed, weeping into her hands.
The backup officer nodded. "I'll call the A.D.A."
The patrolman kept watching the woman. "I'll call Homicide."
The A.D.A. called her subordinate, who answered the phone only after the machine picked up. Kelly had been dreaming, and in the haze of hearing her boss's voice on the phone, the dream fled from her memory, leaving her with only the sensation that she had been somewhere good, and someone had interfered.
"God, Tracey," Kelly said into the receiver, talking over the recording. "What time is it?"
A chuckle came through the line. "It's only 11:45. Were you asleep?"
"Of course I was asleep. Five hours in court today. Not to mention drinks and steak with you and Branch."
"You didn't touch your wine glass."
"Okay, maybe the drinking was later. Why are you calling?"
"Homicide in the East Village. I'm tied up in the Gerhert deposition and... I don't want to go. Besides, you live in the East Village."
"I live in Chelsea," Kelly said, scowling at the receiver. She had rolled onto her side, cradling the phone under her cheek so she would not have to go through the exertion of holding it to her ear. Tracey couldn't see her glowering into the lonely semi-darkness of her bedroom, but she knew Tracey could hear the annoyance in her voice.
Tracey said, "Whatever. You up to it? I can get--"
"Sorry, Kelly. I know you didn't want to see a body tonight."
Kelly rolled onto her back and sighed. "I never do." The line clicked off. Kelly closed her eyes. "Always good to hear your voice."
The body had been taken away by the time Kelly arrived. She'd walked the ten blocks, letting the fresh air wake her up and soothe her stomach. When she'd taken the post as prosecutor for the city of New York, she hadn't expected to actually see crime. Not this close. She had expected her role to be loftier, somehow. So much for that.
"She'd been hit in the head with a frying pan. There were a couple of fresh bruises, too." The homicide detective said.
Kelly glanced at the tape outline of the body on the carpet, and then at a woman in the bedroom who looked like she'd been crying, who was now wearing handcuffs, dangling like trendy S&M bracelets around her wrists, while talking to the homicide detective's partner. Kelly said, "Seems pretty straightforward."
"Suspect claims the victim was a domestic abuser."
Kelly exhaled. The woman in the bedroom lifted her face and met Kelly's eyes, wearing an expression of anguish that made Kelly nearly stumble back with the force of its pain. The homicide detective put his hand unobtrusively on her back. She wiped her hands on her pants, and said, "Of course."
The bored judge wasn't even looking at the defendant at arraignment as she said, "How are the people on bail?"
Kelly said, "$500,000, Your Honor."
The judge grunted.
"Your Honor, Jennifer Wardle has solid ties to the community, she's no flight risk, and she has suffered in this horrible crime. We ask for her to be released on her own recognizance."
The judge looked up. "Bail is set at $100,000."
The bailiff began to read the docket.
Kelly gathered her briefcase and headed for the back of the courtroom. In the hallway, Tracey was emerging from the elevator. "I've got five minutes before Gerhert testifies," Tracey said, taking a large bite of a croissant and falling into step beside Kelly. "How was arraignment?"
"Defense claims Jennifer Wardle is the victim."
Tracey rolled her eyes.
"I'm tempted to believe them."
"Kelly. A woman is dead. Murdered by someone she trusted. Loved. Try to focus." Tracey brushed her hands on her skirt. "Hey, you were up late last night, arrest and arraignment's never fun... it'll all be clearer when you've had some rest."
"I know." Kelly closed her eyes. "You know, that's the problem with the dead victims. You never get to know them."
"Hey. I'll have Hector do the background on Wardle. Why don't you and Chris dig into the victim's past. Get to know her. We need to do that, anyway." Tracey squeezed Kelly's arm, before heading for the courtroom door.
Tracey looked over her shoulder and winked. "You're welcome. Wish me luck."
Kelly felt herself smile. "You don't need luck."
Kelly sat uncomfortably on a narrow, hard sofa next to Chris. Erica's best friend, Sherry Reston, sat in a wicker chair across from them, looking sad and distracted.
"Tea?" Sherry asked, smiling at Kelly.
"Yes, please." Kelly said. Her throat was dry, and she didn't care if she was violating protocol by accepting a gift from a civilian. A civilian, ha, she thought, wondering when victims and their families had become those people.
Chris declined tea, and pulled out his notebook. "How long did you know Erica?"
"About five years..." Sherry returned with tea in a china cup, which she placed on the coffee table in front of Kelly. "Am I going to have to testify?"
Chris tilted his head. "Testify about what?"
"I don't know. It's just... all so horrible. You don't expect this to happen."
"Why did it happen, Ms. Reston?"
Kelly shot Chris a sharp look. He ignored her, keeping his eyes on Sherry, who looked at her hands as she answered. "I know what Jennifer's saying. But Erica's my friend. She would never--I never saw--" Her eyes filled with tears.
"What did you see?" Kelly set down her tea. "What was their relationship like?"
"Oh, you know. It wasn't perfect. We never really liked Jennifer. But Erica really seemed to. They met at work. And, you know, they had fun. They had arguments, but not all the time... And we never saw marks. Jennifer never came to our parties, but... We never thought it was because she was at home hiding something. She just had her own life. And we really didn't mind. God... should we have? For Erica's sake? We--"
Sherry started to cry again, and Chris leaned forward, putting his hand on her wrist. "I'm sorry, Ms. Reston. I know you miss your friend. Was that the way it always was between them? Did you notice any changes in Erica's behavior? Maybe over the last few months?"
Leading the witness, Kelly wanted to say, to put a stop to the way Chris was feeding her prompts, guiding her to information he wanted to hear. She knew, though, this was a private interview between the police and a witness, not a courtroom, not even an interrogation, and Chris could do anything he wanted as a cop, and it would never make it to court. The thought unnerved her. She took another sip of the tea she was forbidden by New York State jurisprudence from drinking.
"Yes." Sherry inhaled, dabbing at her nose. "Yes, she was... more distant. From us, and maybe from Jennifer too. She stopped talking about having a baby. She talked more about finances. I admit, I wasn't paying much attention. Oh god." She covered her face. "It got to the point where Jennifer was even calling us to keep tabs on Erica."
"She did? Do you remember any specific phone calls?"
"Uh, yeah." Sherry put her hand on her forehead. "Two weeks ago. It was like, right before ER came on, and I wondered why they weren't just, you know, watching. Jennifer was muttering about a credit card being overdrawn. I told her I didn't know where Erica was, and that was the end of it. I didn't even think of it until... just now." She blinked at Chris.
Chris nodded. "Thank you. We'll be in touch. Are you willing to testify?"
"I...guess." Sherry stood as Chris and Kelly stood.
At the doorway, Kelly paused and said, "I'm sorry for your loss."
Sherry nodded, and shut the door behind them.
Going down the brownstone steps, Kelly shook her head. "I still don't know what to think."
"Did you think that would be clarifying?" Chris said, as he tucked his notebook into his trench coat pocket.
After the chamomile-scented warmth of the apartment, the air on the street was cold, and Kelly reached into her pockets for her gloves. She sighed. "I thought it would be... something."
Chris chuckled. "Let's take what we know about the case."
"There've been the accusations of abuse, and conspiracy, and fraud, and--"
"No." Chris lifted his hand. "What do we know? Really know?"
Kelly tugged her scarf into place around her neck. "We know Jennifer Wardle hit Erica Sawyer with a frying pan, resulting in death."
"Bingo." Chris cocked his finger.
"That's it?" Kelly shook her head.
"What do we know from the interview with Sherry?"
Kelly chewed on her bottom lip. "We know that Erica placed a phone call two weeks before the murder, which may point to motive or fear."
"Wait, that's all we know? That's it? That can't be it."
"All the conjecture, the circumstantial evidence, the connections... That's just to make you feel better. To cover up the fact that people sometimes just kill each other, and it doesn't matter why."
"You're not concerned with mercy?"
"People throw themselves on the mercy of the courts. I just hand over the evidence."
"And we twist it up."
"That's the way the system works, Kelly. You seem to be taking this all a little personally."
Kelly sighed. "I just thought, when I joined the D.A.'s office, that I could bring a fresh perspective. That it didn't have to be about the old guard."
Chris smiled. "You say that like it's a bad thing."
"Tracey doesn't like it." Kelly folded her arms.
"Of course she does."
Kelly raised her eyebrow.
Chris chuckled. "I've seen her concede more points to you than either one of you will admit."
"I'll die before I acknowledge that," Kelly said crossly, but she was smiling.
Chris patted her on the shoulder. "See? You're already turning into her. Now, go get your warrant. I have credit card statements to retrieve."
Tracey and Hector arrived at the victim's apartment. She unlocked the door, and he carefully peeled back the police tape so she could enter. Crime scene walk-throughs were a necessity, she felt, in order to remind herself of the hard realism of the act of murder. Eventually, she would have to invoke this reaction in a jury, so it helped if she could feel it herself.
Hector didn't appreciate this part of the job as much as she did, she could tell. He shifted uncomfortably, glancing around the living room, and said, "So, Tracey... Are you seeing anyone?"
Tracey, in the process of setting her purse down in a chair, paused. "Are you going to ask me out?"
"No, I was just... I don't know much about you, and..." Hector rubbed the back of his neck.
"I'm married to my work, Hector."
"Fair enough." He cleared his throat and wandered to the kitchen.
"Did someone put you up to this?"
She heard dishes rattling.
He stuck his head around the corner. "...Kelly was curious."
Tracey raised an eyebrow. "Why?"
"She didn't say."
Hector disappeared again, before saying, "Maybe she wants to ask you out?"
"That would be unlikely, and inappropriate."
"Maybe in the Air Force."
"Can you imagine the litigation potential?"
Tracey rolled her eyes. She walked through the apartment, consciously avoiding the tape outline on the carpet. "Nice place," she said to Hector.
He closed a cabinet door. "I guess. Just like all the others."
Tracey ran her finger over a fat candle on a side table, and then paused to study a picture of Erica and Jennifer. "There's love here."
"There was." Hector came into the living room. "But not anymore. I don't know what you expect to find, Tracey. All of the evidence is down at One Police Plaza."
"I just wanted to get a feel for it. See if Kelly was right." Tracey frowned slightly as she straightened.
"And is she?"
Hector nodded. He sat down on the sofa and picked up the remote control from the coffee table.
"What do you think?" Tracey turned around, watching him.
"Hey, I just do my job."
She chuckled, taking the arm chair across from him. "When you come upon a crime, come upon a victim, surely you form an opinion."
Hector linked his hands. "Sure. She did it. Everything else, I keep to myself." He cocked his head. "I guess you don't keep much to yourself."
"What good is that? I need to leverage my opinion. Get my way." She grinned.
Hector chuckled. "Before I got injured, back when I was a cop, I'd just try and keep my head down. I mean, most crimes, it's fairly obvious who did it, right? No need to get worked up into race or economics or technicality. I see guys do that, try to make a bust mean something, and they explode."
"Does the prosecutor's office change your perspective?"
"Sort of. It's uglier. A guilty verdict doesn't feel the same as a good bust. A plea bargain sure as hell doesn't feel like justice. But I get to see the victims more than the criminals now. I get to see people going on with their lives... That's kind of nice."
Tracey nodded. She looked over his head, at a bamboo fan pinned high on the wall.
Hector went on. "I'm probably a liability, not being legal-savvy. Not having the teeth for it."
"I think you mean fangs, Hector. And you're wrong. You're still a cop. A good cop. That's what I need."
"So what are you going to do?"
"What would you suggest?"
"Manslaughter in the First Degree, 8 to 12."
Tracey smiled. "We're meeting at 3:00. Well, Kelly is."
"Even though she's sympathetic? You're letting her negotiate? Aren't you worried she'll tip her hand?"
Tracey stood up. "I trust her. Like I trust you." She headed for the door. "Come on, let's get hot dogs. I'm paying."
Hector followed her through the door. "You didn't say you trusted Chris."
Tracey grinned. "Didn't I?"
Chris knocked on the glass of the door to the office Kelly shared with Tracey. Kelly looked up from her computer screen. He smiled at her and waved a manila envelope. "Copies of the crime scene photos came in."
She waved him in.
He stepped into the office, Hector following him, and glanced around. "Where's the head honcho?"
"Oh, with Branch," Kelly said.
"Yowza." Chris made a face. He set the folder on her desk.
"Yeah, better her than me," Kelly said, flipping open the folder and glancing at the first picture. She sucked in her breath.
Hector leaned against Tracey's desk and folded his arms. Chris walked around behind Kelly, and looked over her shoulder. Kelly saw the body laid out, blood pooled under what was left of her skull, her head nearly unrecognizable as human. The photographic evidence was unambiguous. "Oh my god," she said, under her breath.
Chris cleared his throat. He put his hand on her shoulder.
"Does this change your opinion?" Hector asked the question from his perch, cocking his head and looking benignly at Kelly.
She didn't answer, just closed the envelope and handed it back to Chris. "Take those to the interns."
"You want the kids to see this?"
Kelly leaned back in her chair. "They're combing through thousands of lines of financial records right now. This might motivate them."
"Motivate them to nail this bitch to the wall," Chris said.
"Or to find out why this crime happened, not just how."
He nodded, and turned around to go through the door. Hector shrugged, pushed himself off the desk, and followed him out.
Kelly put her head in her hands and sighed.
She was still mulling over the case when Tracey arrived an hour later with coffee. Tracey glanced at her legal pad and asked, "How's the Wardle case? Opening statements in a couple of weeks?"
Kelly nodded and swallowed. "Psych evaluation came back this afternoon while you were out. Inconclusive."
Tracey snorted. "What do we pay them for? Eight years of medical school and they can't tell me if there's trauma or not?"
"Because after seven years of training, the law seems so transparent," Kelly said.
Tracey rolled her eyes. "Do you want to go over the opening in case I'm hit by a bus?"
"I don't know." Kelly took a sip of her coffee, and sighed.
"I still kind of believe her."
"It doesn't matter if you believe her. She killed someone. This should have been plea bargained out weeks ago."
Kelly took a sip of bottled water, and said, "I agree there. I pushed the plea, Tracey."
"Damned defense attorney trying to get his name in the paper to make a point."
"Maybe it's a point that needs to be made."
"Oh for God sakes, Kelly."
"You know, Tracey, it's hard enough to be a woman in a man's world. Being a lesbian, too, can just make it harder. When you're marginalized, you--"
"She was financially unstable because she was mooching off the victim, and when the victim got tired of it, she got murdered. She was desperate not because she was afraid things would continue, but because they wouldn't. Fear of loss made her desperate. That's how people turn to the dark side. Fear of loss. Fear of change. Didn't you see Star Wars?"
Kelly's eyes widened.
"You obviously don't have nephews," Tracey said.
Kelly blinked, and shook her head. "There's got to be more to it than that."
"She was telling her friends she was going to dump her."
"Maybe because she was going to the police. The doctor will say--"
"It doesn't matter what the doctors says. You can't just clobber someone with a frying pan. No matter how marginalized you are." Tracey tossed her head back. "Ask the lesbian attorneys around here how marginalized they are. It's about responsibility. And god, some self-control and dignity."
"You voted for Branch, didn't you?"
"Oh, for crying out loud." Tracey scowled. She took a swallow of her coffee and said, in a calmer tone, "We've been working for hours. Our blood sugar is low. Chinese?"
Kelly put her hand on her head. "Let's go out. I need fresh air. Staring at this office is so..."
"Depressing, I know."
"It's a date," Kelly said.
Tracey's face broke into a sly smile. "Oh, a date. Does that mean there will be tequila?"
Kelly blushed. "How about margaritas?"
Tracey opened her bottom desk drawer and got her purse.
Kelly stood. "What kind of dates do you go on?"
Tracey smirked. "Wouldn't you like to know?"
Kelly pulled lime pulp from her teeth. "I can't believe the judge said that." Tracey had been regaling her over taco salads and a pitcher with a story of justice gone horny in the courtroom.
"I think he was drunk," Tracey suggested.
Kelly nodded. "But he was right."
"And soon after that, Harvey transferred to Minneapolis."
"Minneapolis." Kelly laughed and knocked on the table. "Did the snow cool off his libido?"
"Not last I heard." Tracey snickered. "I bet when you got this job you didn't think about drunken judges and crazy attorneys running rampant through the court room."
"No, no, I ignorantly believed justice was noble," Kelly said, and took another sip of her margarita. "This is a good place. And I don't see any lawyers. That's refreshing."
"Hector recommended it."
"He would know. And you would know. You ordered in Spanish. Impressive."
"When in Rome." Tracey waved dismissively.
"Or in Little Cuba."
"Are you drunk?"
"Are we on the clock?"
Tracey checked her watch. "Not for another hour."
"Then I am definitely drunk." Kelly looked around. "I almost want to dance."
"Do you think they have a mariachi band to aid digestion?"
"Will you--" But someone was tapping Kelly's shoulder.
Tracey winked at him.
Kelly looked up and blushed.
The man smiled. "I'm Mark Cannon, an accountant at A.A. And I couldn't help noticing--" He glanced at Tracey and changed gears. "Would you like to dance?"
"Yeah. Yes." Kelly stood up, and wobbled.
He laughed and steadied her, wrapping his arms around her waist. Kelly grinned over her shoulder at Tracey as she was led to the dance floor. Tracey raised her glass in toast, and then took a sip. The band was playing a fast tune, and Kelly and her partner spun around, laughing together, until Kelly seemed to find her footing, and the music. She began to sway, grinding back against Mark's body.
The pounding in her skull made Tracey realize she wasn't breathing, and she inhaled sharply. Kelly dancing in front of her wasn't just a co-worker blowing off steam, it was a vision, and Tracey found herself enthralled. She felt flushed, and an unwelcome pounding began between her legs, echoing the beat of the music, and Kelly's gyrations.
Kelly met her eyes, and she lost her breath again. Kelly was watching her intently, her expression curious, and Tracey feared that Kelly knew exactly what she was thinking. Then Mark spun her around, and Kelly returned to being suspended between him and the music. Tracey thought her movements looked more deliberate, like she was trying to show off, like she was trying to look sexy.
It was working, but what was the purpose? She wasn't making flirtatious eye-contact with Mark, as far as Tracey could tell, and he had a wife to get home to. Tracey just knew he liked a good band. The forbidden thought she was about to have was interrupted by something touching her hand. She looked down to see the leather binder for the bill, and began to fish out her credit card.
Kelly returned to the table a minute later, sweaty and red and grinning. "Is it time to go?"
"Yes," Tracey smiled up at her and steepled her fingers. "You've had too much fun already. That's how rumors start."
Kelly glanced around. "You paid the bill. Let me--" She reached for her purse.
"No." Tracey shook her head.
"You buy enough lunches." Tracey narrowed her eyes, putting on her no-arguments face.
"Fine. But I'll remember this."
"You won't remember a thing tomorrow."
Kelly blushed. "I hope I do. We still have to go over opening arguments."
Tracey walked with Kelly back to the office, hoping the cold air would sober her up, knowing at least two more hours of work lay ahead. Kelly was hanging onto Tracey's arm, and Tracey enjoyed the closeness, the warmth radiating from Kelly's body, the way their breath, white and cloudy, mingled.
"That was fun," Kelly said.
Tracey looked down the street, before chuckling to herself. "Yes."
"I always imagined you as a mean drunk."
Tracey stopped walking. "What? Are you kidding? I'm mean sober." She turned around to face Kelly, and Kelly had to let go of her arm, but she could see clearly into Kelly's face. Kelly's cheeks were flushed, her eyes were wet, and she was grinning.
"I know, I just expected a more concentrated effect." Kelly's cheeks reddened. "Sorry."
"Don't be sorry. A valid expectation. If I hadn't learned to keep my mouth shut while intoxicated a long time ago, I wouldn't be where I am today. Murphy Brown aside, an embarrassing, screeching lout isn't good for the department."
"If you're a woman," Kelly said.
"Yes. I am a woman."
Kelly turned back to their path. "Is this some sort of life lesson for the second chair?"
Tracey laughed. She fell into step beside Kelly. "You don't have anything to worry about. You're vibrant and fun and beautiful when you're inebriated."
Tracey glanced at Kelly. "Stunning."
They didn't touch again on their way back to the office, but Tracey felt Kelly's presence beside her, and a current tingled in her arm. She glanced from time to time at the blonde, and wished she had the courage to embarrass herself, and blame it on the tequila. Somehow, the moment had passed, and she'd missed it entirely. Tracey was unfamiliar with the sensation of regret, but there was, after all, the alcoholic scapegoat. During one of her stolen glances, she caught Kelly looking back at her. Kelly gave her a sheepish smile, and Tracey wondered, dangerously, if she was thinking the same thing.
The only reminder of the previous day was Kelly's hangover, which she attempted to combat with Advil and Snapple. By noon, it had receded to a dull ache, and she felt human enough for visitors.
"Ready for lunch, Kelly?" Chris called toward the office from the hallway, where he was retrieving his coat from the stand. Hector was sitting on the edge of Tracey's desk, flipping through an interview transcript and sipping Diet Coke.
"Yup, I think I'll survive it." Kelly stood, grabbing her wallet.
Tracey, at her desk, peered around Hector, and frowned. "He calls you Kelly? Where does he get off?"
"I'll insist on Miss Gaffney from now on," Kelly said, smirking.
Chris stuck his head through the door. "Hi, Tracey."
Tracey buried her face in her hands.
Kelly chuckled. She left, shutting the door behind her.
"See?" Tracey looked over her shoulder at Hector. "I don't trust him."
Hector, trying not to laugh, choked on his soda.
Tracey debated for a full ten seconds about helping him, before finally feeling merciful and going to get a glass of water. When he could finally breathe again, he said, "Thank you, Miss Kibre."
"Oh, don't you start."
Opening statements had transitioned into the prosecution's case, and two days later, the defense rose to present its story. The accused assailant was on the stand, a risky move unless she was white, sympathetic, remorseful, and on the verge of tears.
Her attorney asked, "Were you afraid for your life, Ms. Wardle?"
"Every day." Jennifer inhaled sharply. Kelly and Tracey watched stoically from the prosecutor's table. If they could show their contempt for the truthfulness of the victim, maybe the jury would feel contempt, too. But too much contempt, and the jury might sympathize with the murderer as a victim of state badgering.
The attorney wore a compassionate expression. "And what happened on this day in particular?"
"She told me she was going to have a baby with someone else. She didn't need me anymore. I was afraid she was going to...dispose of me. So I fought, I fought for my life." A fresh tear slid down her cheek.
The attorney nodded. "No more questions." He returned to his table.
Tracey stood, straightening her skirt. "Were you afraid for life or your pocketbook, Ms. Wardle?"
"Objection." The defense attorney stood.
Tracey raised her eyebrow. "Objection?"
The judge looked at the defense attorney, who said, "She's being unnecessarily cruel."
"Overruled. But that's not a free pass, Ms. Kibre."
Tracey inclined her head. She approached the witness stand. "Did Erica Sawyer support you?"
"And she wanted a child?"
"And you couldn't just have one, could you? Can't just accidentally get pregnant in the usual way. That's not the way it works, is it?"
Jennifer's eyes widened. "No."
"So you were losing your meal ticket, and had nowhere else to go, and no way to trick her, am I right?"
"It wasn't like that. I had friends... my parents. I didn't need her money." Jennifer's tone hardened. She gripped the railing.
Tracey turned to face the jury before saying, "Then why couldn't you go to your friends, or your parents, to get away when she was beating you?"
Jennifer let out a gasping, choked sound.
The defense attorney stood.
Tracey waved him off and stepped back. "No further questions." She returned to the chair, and glanced at a legal pad, where Kelly had written, "Did you have to be such a jerk about it?"
Tracey folded her hands over her stomach.
The defense rested quickly, and Tracey's closing statement came by the afternoon. "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, no matter what your gender, your orientation, your financial circumstances, you do not have the right to kill another human being. If we believe in equal rights, the law must be applied equally. If we are to be more in this society, we cannot expect less of each other..."
The jury had been given instructions, and Kelly found herself out in the hall, waiting for Tracey to finish talking to the defense attorney. Branch rounded the corner, walking with a clean-cut young man, and when he spotted Kelly he moved in her direction. "Closing statements over?"
"Yes. We're done until the verdict."
"Well done." Branch offered her a warm smile. "Kelly, have you met Greg Rorn? He's the mayor's aide. Greg, this is A.D.A. Kelly Gaffney."
She shook his hand. "Nice to meet you, sir."
"And you. This is the Wardle case?"
Arthur nodded. "I was just filling Greg in on the particulars."
"And I was congratulating Arthur on the political delicacy with which he has handled the case. Appointing a lesbian prosecutor was genius, to keep this from becoming an us verses them situation. You know, ten years ago, we wouldn't have been able to maneuver like that. There were no out prosecutors. Or cops, for that matter. I guess progress does have some benefits."
Kelly felt the color drain from her face. She swallowed hard, and tried to keep from fainting at the piece of information she'd been given about Tracey. Like Chris had taught her, she honed in on that one factual moment, and tuned out all of the rest.
Branch was saying, "At least in the realm of social justice." He patted Greg on the back. "We'll leave the financial world to you."
Greg grinned. "I know Michael will appreciate that."
When Kelly caught up with Tracey again at the office, after Tracey had been to file papers on another matter, she closed the door behind her as she entered into the shared office.
Tracey looked up. "So, do you think this'll get our names in the papers?"
"I just heard Branch say the only reason we got this case is because you could play the sexuality card with the public if it came to that."
Tracey turned around and frowned at Kelly.
"What were you thinking?" Kelly panted. "Are you?"
"Am I what? Above getting personal to win a case? Not really."
Kelly hesitated. "So the rumors are true?"
Tracey looked over at her bookcase, saying, "Is that the information you were pumping Hector for? It's New York. Anyone with any social standing has brunch with Kyan at the Rainbow Room."
Kelly leaned against the door. "That's the weirdest metaphor... Did he do your hair? Tracey. Tracey."
"What makes you think it wouldn't backfire?"
"Look at me, strong woman, with sass. You know, some of the jury have had me pegged since opening remarks. It only makes them feel better. But you're right. I don't know if it's worth risking my career over." Tracey shook her head. "Too late now, I suppose."
"Tracey, this isn't the '80s. The backlash is over."
"Oh sure, in the grand scheme of things, there are gay cops all over New York City, gay lawyers, gay politicians. No one cares. But in the microcosm, in this moment, it could win or lose the case. And Kelly, please. Citing Faludi? Were you even born?"
Kelly suddenly grinned. "I took women's studies when I was at Boston College. You know, as an elective."
"In between Jurisprudence and Fighting the Man 101?"
"Let me tell you what I learned in my ivory tower full of Senators' daughters shaving their heads and listening to grunge while the homeless used our libraries to surf the internet." Kelly shifted, rattling the Venetian blinds on the door. "Everyone deserves justice. Even the imperfect. Even the bastards. It makes me feel better to blame the victim or society for the failure, because then a crime makes sense, but it isn't justice."
Tracey closed the distance between them, laying her hand on Kelly's forearm. "No, it isn't. It's mercy."
Kelly covered Tracey's hand on her arm and squeezed gently. "You know, Jennifer Wardle's going to get fifteen years because of your stunt."
"It's a shame. Not for Erica's family or friends, but maybe for justice. They're already calling her a martyr in the papers."
"We don't need any more martyrs." Kelly closed her eyes.
Kelly swallowed. "Why didn't you tell me? We spend 16 hours a day together."
"Why didn't you tell me? How was it relevant? Appropriate?"
"You're my boss. You could ruin me. You could fire me... I thought we were friends." Kelly opened her eyes, only to narrow them at Tracey.
Tracey settled into her chair and turned on her computer.
Kelly shrugged. "Well, I thought we could be."
"Fine, fine. I concede. How about I take you for coffee, and give you all the sordid, inappropriate details of my life that will bond us forever, or make work incredibly awkward for the next six months." Tracey folded her fingers and squinted up at Kelly.
"And stop smirking."
The door opened. Chris's head poked through. "Follow-up on Branson. Coming, Kelly?"
Kelly sighed and followed him out.
Kelly was in her apartment at 10 o'clock that night, pacing, trying to decide between pretending the day hadn't happened and throwing dishes at the wall and screaming. A knock came at the door, and Kelly, in sweatshirt and jeans and barefoot, padded over to keep through the keyhole.
When she saw it was Tracey, she opened the door. "Tracey?"
Tracey looked down the hallway, each way, before raising her eyebrow at Kelly. "Is it too late? Were you asleep?"
"No... How did you get past secur--Do you want to come in?" Kelly ran her fingers through her hair and frowned at Tracey.
Tracey said, "No. I was thinking about what you said and I..."
Kelly bit into her lip.
Tracey took a breath, before finishing, "...Wanted to know what it would be like to kiss you on your doorstep."
"Oh." Kelly felt as though Tracey had knocked the air out of her. The statement was bold, even for Tracey, and as much as she wanted Tracey to kiss her, she hadn't prepared for this moment, and she stared at Tracey, a little open-mouthed.
Tracey said, "If it's not too late."
Kelly shook her head. "I just said I wasn't..."
"I mean, if there's no one else," Tracey said.
Kelly closed her eyes. If Tracey could be bold, then so could she. After all, she attributed Tracey's boldness, Tracey's inspiration, to her own growing sense of entitlement when it came to the law. Maybe it was easier she thought to transmute that into a personal encounter. Kelly opened her eyes, looking slightly down at Tracey, feeling like a giant, not from height but from the power Tracey was bestowing upon her, and said, "There's no one else. Just you."
Tracey leaned in and reached hesitantly for Kelly's shoulder. She slid her hand across the sweatshirt sleeve, up to Kelly's neck, and gently drew her down for a kiss.
When Kelly released a little sigh, Tracey pulled back. "Thank you," she said.
Kelly watched her go to the elevator. "You're welcome."
The rest of the week passed as if the kiss had never happened. Kelly was in court two days, once with Tracey, and they spent their time in the office examining casework. Neither of them mentioned the discussion, the kiss, or the Wardle trial. For Tracey, it felt like a test. She wondered if she could keep her relationship with Kelly professional, and secret, and detached. She often caught herself watching Kelly, the way Kelly's legs stretched beyond her short skirts, the way her breasts shifted under gauzy tops. She'd always thought Kelly attractive. Now that she was accessible, Tracey felt free to notice more. Want more.
Kelly made keeping her distance easier by butting heads with her on the Chan arraignment. Tracey realized, unhappily, that it was possible to lust after someone who infuriated her. She knew how soft Kelly could be, but she supposed this wasn't the same as yielding. On the fourth day after their hallway tryst, as Tracey had come to think of it, she was musing about inviting Kelly out for drinks.
Hector knocked on the glass. She could see him through the window. When she nodded, he opened the door, and called from outside, "Verdict's in."
Kelly trembled as she watched the court reporter's mouth form each word, in careful diction, "...find the defendant, Jennifer Wardle, guilty..."
Jennifer, standing next to her lawyer, looked bewildered.
Tracy sighed. "Another notch on my belt."
"When you hit someone on the head in the heat of passion, and then call 911, you haven't planned to get away with it," Kelly said. She glanced at Tracey. "Drinks?"
A clerk handed Tracey a note. Tracey unfolded it as the courtroom emptied. "Looks like drinks are on Branch. I'll see you at the Hilton at 8 P.M."
Kelly was waiting at the bar with Arthur Branch when Tracey came in. "Sorry I'm late," she said, shaking Arthur's hand and turning to kiss his wife's cheek.
"You're right on time. Our table's almost ready," Arthur said.
Kelly nearly panicked when Tracey turned to greet her. This event was their first social engagement since they decided they liked kissing each other, and Kelly was sure it showed on her face, in front of her boss, an elected official in the largest city in the country, how much she wanted to kiss Tracey again.
Tracey gave her a weak smile and leaned in to kiss her cheek.
Kelly closed her eyes at the contact, feeling Tracey's lips burning her skin, and she tilted her head slightly to brush her mouth against Tracey's jaw before Tracey pulled back and smiled politely at Branch.
"Come on, ladies. I want to hear how you turned this public relations crisis into a victory for gay rights." He offered his right arm to his wife and his left to Tracey. Kelly followed them to a table prominently placed in the center of the restaurant.
"You mean how we saved your butt?" Tracey said.
Arthur chuckled. "Well, that part's always self-evident."
The next morning, an ordinary Friday, Kelly walked into work to find work waiting as usual on her desk, and Tracey, always there before her, tapping away at a keyboard. She offered Tracey a bagel and settled into work. Minutes passed quietly, before Tracey finally cleared her throat and Kelly looked up.
Tracey, gazing at her from across the desk, asked, "Do you want to talk about it? Why you took this case so personally?"
Kelly looked down at her papers. "No."
Kelly heard a crunch as Tracey took another bite of her bagel. She said, "Do you?"
Tracey shrugged, swallowed, and brushed crumbs off her hands. "My parents. A lifetime ago, by now. But just like yesterday... You know how it is, it's New York."
Kelly nodded. Unsure of what to say, she latched onto the apathy New York offered them. "It could have been a different city."
"A beautiful city," Tracey said, looking not at the outside window but at the internal one, and the hustle of the criminal court administration going on beyond it. "Fuck the city. Let's take the morning off."
"Won't that be suspicious?"
Tracey grinned. "I'm sure we could think of something plausible."
"And do what? Walk in the park? Carriage ride? Feminist reading?" Kelly leaned forward, resting her chin on her folded hands.
Tracey leaned back and smiled broadly at Kelly. "Let's go to bed."
"That's what people do in New York."
"Or so I've heard."
Kelly stood in stocking feet in Tracey's apartment. Her shoes, sensible flats, had been kicked off at the door. Tracey's apartment had become the destination after a coin toss. Tracey had tried to insist on her apartment by pulling rank, but Kelly had dispelled her of the notion that rank mattered here, and Tracey went with it, standing in the center of her own living room, waiting for Kelly to make the first move.
So Kelly did. "You always wear a scarf," she said, stepping forward and fingering the silk at Tracey's throat.
Tracey said, "It's cold. I look good in scarves."
"You do... But you have a beautiful neck." Kelly worked at the knot tying the scarf, unraveling the silk in her hands, until the two ends were hanging off Tracey's shoulders.
"Thank you." Kelly leaned in and brushed her lips against Tracey's neck where a tendril of pulse beat rapidly.
Tracey swallowed. Kelly had always been a safe, ridiculous fantasy. Smelling her hair, feeling the softness of her lips, Tracey realized this reality was like reality of a crime scene, blunt, startling, and beyond her comprehension. "Kelly..."
In response, Kelly bit into her throat, and Tracey inhaled sharply.
"I'd like to..." Kelly said. Her hands stilled on Tracey's shoulders.
Kelly straightened, looking down slightly into Tracey's face. "I can't believe I get to touch you."
"Believe it." Tracey looked skyward. When Kelly's touches remained absent, she dropped her chain and said, "Believe it already."
Kelly laughed, and curled her hand around the back of Tracey's neck, to draw her closer and kiss her. Tracey responded, hungry after days of desire. She tugged Kelly's lips between hers, sucked, offered her tongue. Kelly's response was equally passionate, and even more ferocious. "Kell--" Tracy tried to get Kelly to slow down, but Kelly was peppering her face and throat with kisses, hot wet pecks against her skin that almost stung.
Tracey shrugged out of her jacket and dropped it to the floor. Kelly was unbuttoning her blouse with one hand, holding her neck with the other, and Tracey was torn between complete submission and regaining some semblance that she was the boss. She was afraid Kelly would laugh at her.
Then Kelly found a spot on her shoulder and sucked. The vacuum was firm enough to cause pain, and before Tracy could wince, Kelly added teeth, grazing the newly tender flesh.
"God. Kelly." Tracy's knees nearly buckled.
Kelly's lips left her and Tracey's exposed, bruised flesh messed their touch. "Want it softer?" Kelly asked.
Tracy closed her eyes. She took Kelly's face in her hands and kissed her firmly, moving forward, to pin Kelly against the door. "No," she said, between kisses. "Do you?"
Kelly was slightly taller, and she hunched to kiss Tracey's throat, twisting, so that in the haze of kisses, Tracey found her back against the wall. She gasped for air, and had her breath torn away when Kelly's hand slid along her inner thigh, below her skirt. Tracey had imagined this a hundred times, but she hadn't expected to feel so helpless against Kelly's every touch. They'd barely kissed, she mourned. But there would be time for kissing, and softness, later. For now, Kelly's fingers sliding up her panty-hose clad leg were awakening a greater need, and Tracey felt hot, out of control. "I didn't picture--" She stopped, aware of how much she'd almost revealed about her impure thoughts.
"You thought about this?" Kelly asked, drawing back slightly.
Tracey closed her eyes, arching her neck so her head rested against the wall behind her. "Harmless fantasies." Her voice cracked and she licked her lips. She heard Kelly's sharp intake of breath, and she brushed her tongue against the tip of her teeth before continuing, "In the office. In the courtroom. You're a striking woman."
Kelly's hand moved higher, heating her skin. "That's sexual harassment," she said, tracing circles against Tracey's thigh.
"You can't police thoughts," Tracey said. She gasped when Kelly's hand cupped her center, knowing Kelly could feel how wet she was, how wet she'd been, for hours. For days. "And now that you know?"
Kelly breathed against her ear, "It makes you more desirable."
Tracey opened her eyes in time to see Kelly sliding to her knees and pushing a second hand under her skirt, pushing it up. Tracey wanted to push Kelly's hand to where she was aching, but she merely said, "Kelly."
Kelly hooked her fingers into the waistband of Tracey's stockings and drew them down. As Tracey's legs were exposed, Tracey shivered as the cool air in the room raised goosebumps in her skin. Kelly's hands warmed her, pausing in their endeavors to trace paths along her thighs before working the hose past her knees.
Tracey knew if she moved the fabric would constrain her legs and she would stumble, so she stood still, bracing herself against the wall. Kelly cupped the back of her calf. Tracey quivered and let Kelly guide her left foot up and tug the stocking off. Tracey's bare foot sank back into the carpet. She touched the top of Kelly's head, brushing her fingers through silky blonde hair. "Kelly, what are you--"
"Exactly what I want to do," Kelly said.
Tracey inhaled. "You always get what you want."
"Yeah," Kelly said. She reached around Tracey's waist to find the zipper of her skirt. "I'm good at getting what I want." She undid the button and then drew down the zipper.
Tracey shivered. She said, pushing down her skirt, "So I've noticed. Did you learn that in Boston?"
Kelly chuckled. "What gorgeous...um, panties."
Tracey looked down, seeing the red lace panties, bikini cut, that she'd put on in anticipation of asking Kelly out for drinks. Kelly's distractions had put them out of her mind, until now, when Kelly covered her mound with her palm and said, "Were you expecting something?"
"I'm always expecting something. You never know." Her breath caught in her throat as she looked down at Kelly, her partner, her student, her conscience, and thought of how long she had desired, and had never expected, this moment. "You never know," she said again, hoping the meaning was conveyed, because she couldn't say more, not in her apartment in her panties with her subordinate kneeling in front of her. She felt too exposed, and as Kelly's massaging fingers drove her toward madness, Tracey began to suspect that she herself was not the strongest woman in the room.
Kelly sat back on her knees and offered a sly mile that crinkled the corners of her eyes. She said, "Tracey," pressing her hand against Tracey, fingers slowly moving in circles.
Tracey leaned forward, aching for more contact. If only Kelly would use a firmer touch with her. She almost vocalized the desire, almost confessed the pounding in her chest and the aching she felt under Kelly's hand, but her last hopes for self-control stopped her, unsure of how Kelly would face her as first chair in the morning after seeing her undone.
Kelly bowed her head, pressing her mouth against Tracey and inhaling deeply through her nose. "You smell good," she mumbled, her voice muffled by Tracey's panties.
Tracey had heard the compliment before, even from Kelly, but never when Kelly was down there, commenting on the smell that came from her, the smell she tried to cover up with expensive perfume and spicy soaps. Kelly's words made her tremble, and her knees shook with the warning that she might collapse before Kelly really touched her.
She looked down at the woman she desired, wanting to feel Kelly's breasts beneath her blouse, wanting to hear the sounds Kelly made in heat, wanting to taste salty sweat on her skin, but she knew this was Kelly's moment, not hers, and she had to keep standing, because Kelly wanted it of her. At least, Tracey thought, this was less embarrassing than conceding to Kelly in a legal setting.
Kelly's tongue followed the line of her panties as it creased her leg, brushing the skin and the cloth. Tracey groaned, the sound shaking her chest, and Kelly responded, snaking her tongue under the leg of the panties to taste Tracey. "God." Tracey leaned back against the wall. She stopped thinking about what was happening and gave herself over to Kelly's pressure, Kelly's mouth moving against her, tongue against flesh. Kelly was caressing places Tracey rarely let people touch.
"I want more," Kelly said, pausing in her exploration to push her hair out of her face. She slid Tracey's panties down her legs, letting them pool at her ankles. Tracey kicked them off impatiently.
Kelly settled her hands on Tracey's thighs and buried her face against Tracey, inhaling again. Tracey could only see the top of Kelly's blonde head, obscuring her own darker curls. Then she felt Kelly's tongue brush her clit. Tracey spread her legs, resisting reaching for Kelly's head, torn between the desire to feel Kelly's mouth fully on her and her need to stay upright by holding herself against the wall.
The next stroke of Kelly's tongue removed all ability to reach for her, and Tracey whimpered. She hoped Kelly could hear her body screaming for more, because she was breathing too heavily to speak. Kelly's tongue moved between Tracey's folds, and Kelly was pulling them between her lips, dipping into her, and Tracey could only feel the hot, rough tongue against her and inside of her.
Tracey was trembling hard enough that she worried the wall would shake. She wasn't going to cry, not because Kelly Gaffney was on her knees, not because it was less firelight romantic than her fantasies, so much more real, and Kelly's flicking touches against her clitoris felt more obscene and more perfect than Tracey had thought herself capable of feeling, and she wanted to cry at the limits of her own imagination, and the way Kelly pushed her past herself.
She wasn't going to cry because she was just a city employee fucking another city employee in an anonymous apartment after work on a day that didn't mean anything to anyone but her.
"More," Tracey finally managed to say, and once the first word got out more tumbled from her lips. "I'm going to come. Kelly, Kelly, what are you doing to me..."
Kelly increased the pressure, firmly licking Tracey. Tracey felt the orgasm and she collapsed against the wall, shaking, coming against Kelly's mouth, feeling energy race through her spine into her fingers and toes. She panted, feeling Kelly's lips gently brush her thighs.
When she opened her eyes and looked down, Kelly was sitting back and grinning at her. Tracey offered her hand. "Come here."
Kelly took it and pulled herself up, and Tracey tugged her into a hug. "Thank you."
"Want to go again?" Kelly nipped her neck.
"Maybe we should take a moment and take the rest of our clothes off."
"I'm not sure if I'm comfortable being naked in front of you," Kelly said, stepping back.
"Ms. Gaffney," Kelly corrected.
"I'm not Chris. I'm your elder. I can call you whatever I want."
Kelly ran her tongue across her lip, and Tracey felt an answering pull in her groin. She suppressed it, but Kelly must have noticed the tremor because she said, "A woman of your age is just reaching her sexual peak."
Tracey felt her body agree. She hissed and said, "Ms. Gaffney."
"Take off your goddamn clothes."
Kelly chuckled and turned to walk to the bedroom. Inside, she stood near the bed and faced Tracey. "Undress?"
Tracey yanked her blouse over her head, and reached behind herself to unclasp her bra. She blushed as she exposed her breasts to Kelly, and Kelly seemed to stare at them for long enough that Tracey cleared her throat. "Kelly."
"Take off your goddamn clothes."
"In a second." Kelly licked her lips, and Tracey's nipples hardened in response.
"I'll die if I don't get to see you."
Kelly blinked, and began unbuttoning her shirt.
Tracey held her breath.
Kelly shrugged out of the loose material, letting it slide off her torso. Her stomach was lean and muscled. Tracey's gaze traveled up her arms, noticing the strong curve to her triceps, and to her pale throat. She swallowed, not noticing that Kelly had dropped her pants until Kelly sank to sit on the bed. Her bed. Tracey stepped forward. "Move back." Kelly worked herself back on the bed, lying down and propping herself up with her elbows underneath her.
"What are you going to do?" Kelly asked.
Tracey knelt on the bed. "I'm going to make love to you."
"Right now." Tracey pushed Kelly's legs apart and moved between them, sliding her hand up Kelly's inner thigh. The skin was soft enough to intoxicate her, slow her down. Her fingers lingered on Kelly's flesh, until Kelly parted her legs and implored her.
"Tracey, whatever you're going to do, do it."
Tracey leaned over Kelly, face to face, over the full length of her body. "What do you think I'm going to do?"
Tracey kissed Kelly, tasting her lips. Kelly sighed and nuzzled at Tracey's lips. Tracey nipped at her while sliding her hand up Kelly. She brushed Kelly's outer lips, and then slid two fingers inside.
Kelly gasped. "What are you doing?"
"What I want," Tracey said. She saw Kelly smile at that, and the expression became strained again as Tracey pushed her fingers further, testing the tightness of Kelly's entrance, loving the way Kelly clenched down, squeezing her, as if trying to force her out and hold her in at the same time. She thrust her fingers effortlessly, eased by the wetness that coated her hand.
"Tracey," Kelly said again, arching against the bed, thrusting her hips against Tracey's hand. "I don't know if I can take--"
"You can." Tracey kept her voice soothing as she continued to fuck Kelly. "I know what you can take, Kelly."
"God." Kelly's head was tossing against the pillow, tousled hair getting in her eyes, sticking to her lips as she panted.
Tracey watched her writhe, watched the arousal in the pristine skin, felt the heat encompassing her fingers. Kelly squirmed against the sheets. Tracey wanted to cup Kelly's full breasts, run her thumbs over the perky, hard nipples, but they were out of reach, so she settled for meeting Kelly's thrusts as they got stronger, and more focused.
"Tracey, touch me," Kelly begged. "Your thumb, anything, just..."
"You can't come just from me inside you?" Tracey teased. She bent her head to blow against Kelly's curls, parting them, revealing a hint of the swollen need underneath. "Maybe just from a hint of what's to come? Anticipation?"
"Tracey!" Kelly reached down between her legs and touched herself, her fingers brushing Tracey's wrist as they moved purposely, swiftly across her clitoris. Kelly let out a low, incoherent groan. Tracey marveled at her strength, at how Kelly clamped down on her, how her whole body shivered uncontrollably as she came.
"You're just... beautiful," Tracey said. Kelly squeezed her eyes shut, her expression strained, and Tracey said, again, "Beautiful." She gently extracted her fingers, and stroked Kelly's hip, until Kelly let out a gusty breath. Tracey smiled at her. "Control issues much?"
"Shut up. You tortured me." Kelly kept her eyes closed, but her features relaxed. "You--"
Tracey knelt on the bed, climbing up, over Kelly, and kissed her on the forehead. "I know."
Kelly reached for her wrist, drawing her hand up to suck the fingers that Tracey had put inside of her. Tracey moaned as Kelly's tongue traced the tips of her fingers. She drew her hand back and offered Kelly her mouth instead. Kelly kissed her briefly, and then hugged her by looping her arms around her neck and pulling her down into an embrace. Tracey sighed, settling against her body. She wanted to say... something. Maybe thanks, maybe more, but she was unsure of what this all meant. They had made love too soon, she realized guiltily, before they knew where the boundaries were. Or the lack of boundaries. She pushed her nose against Kelly's cheek, and wondered what she could say that would not fuck this all up.
Her stomach growled.
Kelly laughed against her ear. "It's probably dinnertime, you know."
"Where do you want to eat?"
"How about that little Cuban place?"
Tracey smiled. She felt the significance of that. By acknowledging their past, maybe they could also establish a future. "Okay. But let's shower first."
"We should shower together to conserve water."
Dinner was awkward, full of shy grins and kicks under the table, and attempts at light and deep conversation that petered out into blushing smiles. Tracey was about to suggest dessert, just to see Kelly's face dissolve into ecstasy when she said the word chocolate, when Hector and Chris walked in.
"Hey," Hector said, lifting his hand in a wave and heading to their table. "Playing hooky, hah, I knew it!"
Tracey took a sip of her water. "Hey. What are you guys doing here?"
"Going to arrest us, officers?" Kelly smiled, leaning back in her chair and folding her hands over her stomach.
"Nah, I am going to introduce Chris to the wonders of real food."
"I'm so excited," Chris said, winking when Hector jabbed him.
Tracey gestured to her mostly empty plate. "I'd offer to join you, but we're wrapping up."
"That's okay. Maybe next time, after the big case we help you win," Hector said.
Tracey grinned. "Absolutely." She watched the two men head toward the hostess station, and glanced at Kelly. "Dessert?"
Kelly raised an eyebrow.
"Oh, you're right. Who are we kidding? Bed?"
"I'll race you," Kelly said.
Tracey raised her hand. "Check, please."
1 A.M. found Kelly on her back, wide awake and staring at the ceiling. When Tracey's bladder prodded her into consciousness and she saw Kelly, she sighed and propped herself up on an elbow to gaze down at her. Kelly's skin was white and smooth in the dim light, and tempted Tracey, but the constrained expression on Kelly's face prompted her toward a different action. "Kelly, Wardle was just another case. We have ten more on our desks. Four of which we fundamentally disagree on. Try and think of it abstractly."
Kelly exhaled, her lips parting slightly. "Does that really work for you?"
"No." Tracey gave into her desire, and brushed Kelly's lips with her fingers, hoping to be gentle. "It doesn't work."
Kelly shifted, tilting her head and blinking at Tracey with bright eyes. Tracey leaned down, kissing her softly. Kelly lifted her chin, increasing the pressure of her lips. Tracey felt something tug at her chest, not a twinge of desire, but an ache for Kelly's pain, and pleasure at being able to comfort it. The kiss was tender, and Tracey realized that this was not some one-night tryst between employees, but a promise of something deeper, something--
The phone rang.
Tracey kept her mouth on Kelly's mouth, and felt the lips curve into a smile. She sighed.
"You'd better answer that," Kelly mumbled.
"It's your house."
"Oh." Tracey lifted her head, and reached over Kelly for the phone on the bedside table. She drew it to hear ear, and tried to sound sleepy. "Kibre."
"This is Detective Fontana. We need a Manhattan homicide attorney down at 12th and 59th."
"I'll be there." Tracey hung up the phone and looked down at Kelly. "I'll go."
"Tracey, you hate initial crime scene."
Tracey rolled into a sitting position. "Of course I hate it. Who wouldn't?" She brushed Kelly's forearm with her fingers. "I'll come back to you when it's over."
"Like hell." Kelly threw back the covers. "I'm coming with you."
"Okay." Tracey leaned over and kissed Kelly. "I'm glad." She stood up to find her pants, aware that Kelly was smiling at her. Aware that it felt good.
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