DISCLAIMER: At this point, is there any doubt that I don't own Charlie's Angels? They belong to Aaron Spelling, the networks - and Charlie. There is no copyright infringement and I'm not making a profit on this in any way, shape or form.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
New Year's Angels
By Del Robertson
She circled the room, quietly observing, idly sipping from her glass of champagne. As was the custom every year, Charlie had reserved the upper floor of the Wynfield Building, a luxurious suite hotel in downtown Los Angeles. The parking was valet, the food was catered, and the attendance was by strict invitation only.
A large banner hung from the ceiling loudly proclaiming 'HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM TOWNSEND AND ASSOCIATES'. Charlie was no fool. By inviting both previous clients from the past year and potential clients he hoped to woo in the new year, Charlie was covering his bases. Not only was he showing his appreciation to past clients, knowing they would no doubt share their favorable experiences with potentials Charlie was tempting to cultivate, he was doing it in such a way as to secure it as a business venture. Translation: This party was going on the books as tax-deductible.
Very shrewd, indeed, Mr. Townsend, thought Kelly, accepting another shrimp sampler from a circulating waiter. And what about us? What part do we play in your grand scheme?
She casually leaned against the wall, eyes scrutinizing the large banquet room. A flash of bleach blonde hair caught her eye, shining like a beacon amongst a sea of black suits. Jill, she thought wryly, always the center of attention. And, she was. With her bright, white smile and flirtatious manner, it was easy to see why practically every man in the room would set his sights on her at one time or another over the course of the evening. A flirty giggle escaped her mouth, followed by the patented hair toss over her shoulder. And, there it is. The hair toss always gets their interest. That, and the fact that she hasn't worn a bra a day in her life!
Maybe I'm being too hard on her. It's not her fault she's too air-headed to realize why the invitations come year after year after year. She thinks it's because Charlie admires her excellent detective skills. Hah! She couldn't detect her way out of a cornfield if she had a map!
No, the real reason Jill wrangles an invitation every year is because of Charlie's shrewd business skills. Jill was an international celebrity. A fast woman that drove fast cars for a living. It was no secret that every man in the room was smitten with her. Truth be told, Jill's 'skills' are responsible for landing more than half the new clients we receive every year.
Kelly's gaze shifted, zeroing in on the blonde in the slinky red dress perched on the arm of a settee. She appeared to be listening raptly to her handsome escort as he animatedly spoke with her. Only the frequent glances towards the fireplace gave her inattention away. Kelly took notice, knowing the glances were aimed at her sister.
Poor Kris! You're feeling guilty, aren't you? Kelly sipped from her champagne, continuing to watch the pensive look on Kris' face. You love having her back for the holidays, but part of you resents her for being everything you think you aren't. You'll never be as beautiful, as worldly, as desired as Jill. You try to hide it, but I can see it in your eyes. You feel like you'll always be the baby, trying to fill big sister's shoes.
Something was discreetly pushed into the palm of her hand. Glancing down, she noticed the copper coin, laying heads up. Looking up, she met storm clouded blue eyes, a smile and a mass of platinum blonde hair.
"What's this for?" she asked.
"For your thoughts." Tiffany's smile widened. "You know, as in a penny for?"
"I hope you don't expect change back."
"Ouch!" Tiffany grimaced. "That bad, huh?"
"Maybe." Kelly shrugged indifferently. "Maybe not. I don't seem to be much in the party mood tonight."
"Hey, I thought I was supposed to be the serious, reflective one! You're the beautiful, yet vulnerably smart one, remember?" Tiffany's grin widened as she saw a ghost of a smile play across Kelly's lips. "It's a beautiful party with beautiful food and beautiful guests, all wrapped up with a beautifully expensive price tag that will have Bosley moaning for weeks after, the same as every year! So spill, what's got you so moody?"
"What you just said," admitted Kelly. She caught the bemused expression on Tiff's face. "You're the serious, reflective one. Jill's the airheaded sexkitten. Kris was her replacement, pure and simple. And, I'm stuck somewhere safely in the middle."
"And, tonight that's bothering you?" guessed Tiffany.
"Not just tonight." Kelly glanced up to see a dashing figure of a man with a head full of wavy blonde hair, dimples and the physique of a body builder steadily approaching, three champagne glasses balanced delicately in his grasp. A sharp scowl from the brunette sent him hastily scurrying the other way. "I've been feeling this for a while now. Look at us, Tiff. We all meet a certain profile. The smart one, the sexy one, the approachable one. Between us, there's not a single man we wouldn't appeal to."
"Charlie's running a business, Kelly. And, he's selling what they're buying. You know that."
"Yes, I do." Kelly's gaze surreptitiously strayed to the Monroe sisters once again. "Doesn't it bother you, though, Tiff?"
"It certainly does," she agreed, tipping her champagne glass, clinking it against the rim of Kelly's. "That's why I left."
A young man dressed in a waiter's outfit approached the two women. "Ms. Wells?" he asked. At the blonde's nod, he continued. "Ms. Prince left word she would wait for you in the lobby."
"Thank you." With a smile of acknowledgement, the waiter slowly backed away. "I wouldn't want to keep my - " an unsettled look flitted over Tiffany's features, " - acquaintance waiting." Tiffany opened her clutch, extracted a business card. She pressed it into Kelly's hand. "If you decide you're ready for a change, give me a call," she offered.
"Thank you, Tiffany." She leaned in, hugging her friend. Maybe you'll be hearing from me sooner than you think, she mused, absently fingering the lettering of the embossed business card.
Twenty minutes before midnight. Kelly's gaze lingered on the large clock in the center of the room. Guests were already moving towards the banquet table arranged with various hats, whistles and party favors. Couples were pairing up rapidly, no one eager to be left out when the countdown began. She spotted Bosley gathering up two of everything. He placed a plastic purple top hat on his head, popping the string into place beneath his chin. Turning, his eyes searched the crowd, looking for someone to give his spare hat to.
Hastily, Kelly stepped back into the shadows. She edged her way towards the balcony, deftly opening the French doors and slipping out before she was noticed. Her fingers instinctively closed about her upper arms, briskly rubbing.
They were in California, land of perpetual sand and sun. But, when the sun went down and the wind blew in from the coast, it could get downright chilly. Add to that the fact she was facing the ocean on the thirty-second floor with the wind whipping about her, it was no wonder the air was brisk.
Guess that's why the balcony's deserted, she thought, leaning out over the railing, admiring the view.
"Planning on jumping, or just trying to catch your death of cold?"
Kelly stiffened at the sound of the voice behind her. Raspy, like she'd taken one too many shots of whisky, with an unmistakable, uncontrollable crack in her voice. She hadn't heard that voice in years, but instantly recognized it. Bracing her hands on the railing for support, she willed herself to take deep, steadying breaths.
"I didn't know you were on the list of invited guests."
She heard the door softly click shut, the approach of footsteps, the sound of dress shoes upon the concrete balcony. A body pressed into hers from behind, impossibly close. Hands clasped her waist, a chin rested on her shoulder, hot breath tickled at her ear.
Kelly's mind raced. This is a formal affair. Security is tighter than at the White House. No one gets in or out without being searched. "Then, how - " she spun around quickly, her question dying on her lips.
Black locks sprinkled with grey, slightly longer than she remembered, ended in soft curls about the neck of a starched white shirt collar. Russet eyes, the color of coffee with two creams blended in, stared back at her. A familiar, crooked grin made its appearance as Kelly took in the rest of the attire.
"A waiter?" she asked.
"I'm undercover." A nonchalant shrug. "How you been, kid?"
"How have I been?" Anger suddenly flashed in her eyes. "How have I been? You've been gone two years, and all you can ask is how I've been?"
Sabrina ducked the wildly swung purse, took a step back from Kelly. "Whoa!" she said, both hands in the air in a non-threatening manner, "Take it easy, would ya?"
"Take it easy? You disappear in the middle of the night without so much as a word. Not a letter, a phone call, a telegram. Then, you show up out of the blue two years later, telling me to take it easy!"
Sabrina nervously glanced back at the French doors, praying Kelly's voice hadn't carried. She wasn't exactly on Charlie's guest list. And, she didn't relish being asked to leave - by taking a long walk off a short balcony.
"Look, Kel, I know you're hurting. I am, too."
"You're hurting?!?" Kelly's mouth dropped open in dismay. "I had to hear over a speaker phone in front of Kris and Bosley that you weren't coming back!"
"And, what else did Charlie tell you?" Sabrina folded her arms over her chest, meeting Kelly's icy stare with one of her own. "That I'd met some man and run off to get married? Was it something like that?"
"He told us exactly what you told him to tell us," Kelly accused. I just heard from Sabrina, Angels. It seems the honeymoon is over. How many times had that mantra played over and over again in Kelly's mind? She caught the grimace as it flickered across Sabrina's face. Frowning, she said, "You asked if Charlie said you left to get married. You didn't know what Charlie told us?"
"No, I didn't." Sabrina's jaw tightened, her eyes narrowed. A hand clenched into a fist beat out a steady tempo on her thigh. Biting her bottom lip, she averted her gaze, suddenly finding interest in a potted poinsettia on the balcony.
"Bree?" Kelly studied her for several moments, taking in the body language, reflecting on the tone, the words Sabrina hadn't told her. Something's not right here. "Bree, you never made that phone call to Charlie, did you?"
Sabrina slowly shook her head. "I never called Charlie." She lifted her eyes, her gaze meeting Kelly's. "He called me."
Sabrina moved to the railing, propping her foot up, resting her elbows on the cold metal. She leaned halfway over, looking at the street below. "I should have known something was up when he called personally instead of going through Bosley, ya know?" she berated herself. "But, he said you were in danger. And, it was imperative that I hurry to the airport. A ticket was to be waiting in my name at the counter.
After I boarded, an envelope was handed to me. In it, was a map and a letter from Charlie. He said you were undercover at Casa Del Roseze in Monterrey. He had lost contact with you and was afraid your cover had been blown. He sent me in to extract you."
Kelly quietly approached Sabrina, rubbing a hand gently across the other woman's shoulders, down her back. "Bree, I've never been to Monterrey."
A deep sigh. "I know. I realized that as soon as I was arrested for breaking and entering and thrown in a Mexican jail. It's true what they say, you know. Once you get tossed in, they can pretty much keep you forever."
"But, one call to Charlie would have settled - "
"That's what I thought, too." A short, derisive laugh. "They let me make the call. Even got lucky and caught him in his office." There was a long, shuddering pause. Muscles flexing, wrists straining, hands tightened about the balcony railing. "I told him the mess I was in. Charlie - " Sabrina's voice cracked, her shoulders heaved as she hung her head.
Instinctively, Kelly reached out for her. Her fingers wrapped around Sabrina's wrist, feeling each bulging vein beneath her touch. Her hand slid over, her palm covering the back of Sabrina's hand, her fingers compassionately closing on Bree's.
"Oh, Kelly!" Was that a cry wrenching free from Sabrina's lips? "He knew." Moist eyes lifted, turned, looked at Kelly. "Don't you see? Charlie knew."
"About what?" Kelly pressed, running her hand soothingly over Sabrina's arm. As realization hit, her eyes suddenly widened. "You mean, about us?"
Biting her bottom lip, Sabrina nodded. "Seems Charlie keeps close tabs on his angels. He told me practically detail for detail what happened on that trip to Vale, right down to the horse-drawn carriage ride."
"He never said word one to me about that!" protested Kelly.
"He wouldn't, would he?" Sabrina pressed. "You were still his good girl. The one that followed his orders unwaveringly, unerringly, unquestionably. I was the obvious one. The smart one that refused to hide behind the giggly-girl facade. The one that corrupted you. He figured that once I was gone, there'd be no one to influence you."
"Let me get this straight," Kelly folded her arms over her chest, glared at Sabrina disbelievingly, "You're telling me that Charles Townsend got rid of you because you're a lesbian?"
"Look, Kel, I know it sounds crazy - "
"You got that right, sister!" exploded the brunette.
"But, think about it!" protested Sabrina, counting off her points on the fingers of one hand. "He gets rid of me. Then, hires Tiffany Wells. It doesn't take him as long to figure out she's playing for the wrong team, so to speak. Bam! Suddenly, she's gone and this new girl comes in. Hell, she's not even from the police academy! Give me a break! He hires a model as a private investigator?"
"Julie's - Julie's - " Kelly trailed off, not quite sure how to complete that sentence.
"Not like us, right?" Sabrina's eyebrows arched. "Look, Kelly, I know this is hard for ya. I just blow in here after two years with some outlandish tale and for all you know, you thought I'd abandoned you all this time."
The slight glimmer of unshed tears sparkling in Kelly's eyes confirmed Sabrina's suspicions. She inched forward, grabbing Kelly by the upper arms, stroking her arms over bare flesh. She's just as beautiful as I remember, Sabrina thought, taking a moment to take in the cut of the evening gown, the way the color showed off the copper highlights in Kelly's hair. The gown was form-fitting, cut to accentuate every line, every angle.
Her mind took her back to the last time she'd held Kelly in her arms. She'd had on a dress very similar to this. There'd been some case they were working. A strangler case in which Kelly had gone undercover as a lounge singer. And after the act, she'd followed Kelly back to her suite - and fallen right into her arms.
"Look, I know you might not believe me," Sabrina reached out, gently cupping Kelly's chin with two fingers, bringing her face slowly up, "But, I love ya and I would never do anything to hurt you. And, the only thing that kept me going those years in that prison was the thought of getting back to you." She continued to hold Kelly's gaze as she spoke from her heart. "I've got no proof, only my word. But, if that's not enough, I understand."
Agonizingly slowly, Sabrina leaned in, her lips dropping the briefest of kisses on Kelly's. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she thought she heard a bell. She lingered for a moment, then pulled back. Kelly's eyes slowly fluttered open. "I'll always love you," she breathed into Kelly's mouth before lowering her hand from her chin, taking a step back.
"See ya around, kid," she whispered, thrusting her hands in her pockets, turning around. Dimly, she realized the bells she'd heard when they kissed had been the chiming of the clock. In three long strides, she was across the balcony, palm closing about the handle of the heavy French doors.
She stopped as a hand covered hers. Heart beating wildly in her ears, she stared as that hand worked its way up her arm, fingers curling about her elbow. She felt long nails biting through the material of her tux and into the flesh of her arm. An insistent pressure demanded she turn around.
Hesitantly, she let loose the door handle, turned back to face Kelly. Their eyes met, held in a lingering gaze, neither daring to move, to breathe. Another chime from the clock startled Kelly into action.
"Isn't it customary to toast in the New Year?" Kelly asked, raising her glass.
Hands still thrust in her pockets, Sabrina glanced around the balcony. "I seem to be lacking a glass of champagne," she shrugged.
"That's okay. We can share." Kelly lifted her glass, took a generous swallow. "To new beginnings," she said, holding out the glass for Sabrina.
Sabrina took the stem, accepted the toast. "New beginnings," she echoed, quickly draining the glass.
Kelly stepped in, taking the glass from her lover, holding it behind her back, gently placing it atop a low-sitting table. As the clock tolled its last knell, she leaned in, capturing Sabrina's lips with her own. And, amid the shouts of Happy New Year ringing throughout the city, she welcomed home the love that she'd missed.
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