DISCLAIMER: I do not own CSI. I am borrowing the characters and promise
not to damage any outfits with blood. Sweat and tears may occur, but can be
washed out with any good cleaning powder.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
By Corbeau's Alcove
PART TWENTY ONE
I've managed to unpack everything without thinking too much about Sara. Instead I'm concerned about Lindsay, how she's going without me and without Sara. Perhaps it's vanity speaking, but I don't think she can live without us being there for her. I know I need her and Sara in my life for it to be a fulfilled one. Seems only reasonable she'd feel the same.
Linds was mad when I called, in fact her Willows temper could rival my own. She was hurt, and I understood that. I knew that the way I'd left things was awful and, in a twist of irony only now making sense, almost the same as when Sara left. I managed to get her forgiveness though, by coming clean and promising not to treat her like that again. I told her as much truth as I could without betraying Sara and Linds listened, offering her own words of support. I hung up telling her I loved her and thankfully, she replied in kind. Now I just had Sara to worry about.
My heart is telling me to curse her name and kiss her senseless. I'm not sure if my mind can figure out if it needs to do both at once or one at a time. I've spent plenty of time since her abrupt leaving wishing her all kinds of harm, wishing I never loved her.
Even after finding out why she was here I still hated it. I hated that she was suffering and couldn't come to me. I wanted to support her yet I had been ignored. It was driving me crazy because then I remember how small and sacred she looked when giving her statement. My Sara, my sweet angel.
I lied to her so she didn't take my disappointment with her. I wanted to stay with her, sleep in the same bed as her. I knew it would break her heart if I was to be upset that she needed space so I let her hear what she needed.
But what about what I needed?
My cell phone vibrated loudly on the bedside table startling me as I tried to drift off to sleep.
"Sorry, I wasn't sure if you would be sleeping," Sara says apologetically.
"Hey, no it's alright." I say sitting up and realising I'm still in the clothes from before.
I look around the darkened room for my sleepwear while I wait for Sara to speak.
"I was looking for some company," she says shyly.
"Want to come over?" I say smiling as we are staying only a floor away from each other.
"Should I let you get some sleep?"
"Nah, come on." I'm not sure why I am smiling but I can't seem to stop myself from doing it.
"I'll be there as soon as I can."
I decide to change into my daggy old pajamas figuring Sara has seen them many times before. She had once joked that whenever she saw me get into these it meant I wasn't interested in sex. I quickly changed her thinking on that. Which is how two of the button holes ripped beyond repair exposing a little more flesh than usual.
They were comfortable and held many special memories. Lindsay had bought them for me, saying the blue and grey strips were her favourite colors. I had no one special to impress with sexy lingerie so they became my favorite. When Sara came along I pulled out all my sexy lingerie and even bought some more racier numbers. I wanted to be sexy for her but I soon found that she too liked these pajamas.
A gently knock broke me out of my nostalgia. Sara stood at my door dressed as she was when I last saw her. I suddenly felt a little silly even if it was past the time I usually slept.
"Come in, want something to drink?" I ask her as she drops her jacket onto the bed.
"No, I had about ten cups of tea with Martha."
I smile and sit on the chair near her.
"Silly question but how is she?" I ask softly.
"It's not silly." Sara says shaking her head. "It just shows you care."
Of course I care.
"She's not doing too well. All this has brought it up again." Sara says sadly.
Something tells me she's not only talking about Veronica's mother.
"I can't seem to find the right thing to say," she admits.
"Being there for her could be all she needs right now," I offer. I certainly know the feeling.
"Maybe," she says shrugging.
We sit in silence for a few minutes but it's not as uncomfortable as it has been. I see her looking at me and I can't resist but sit up a little straighter, look better for her.
"You bought those pajamas," she says smiling slightly.
"Remind me of home," I reply, shrugging.
"You look so tired," I say motherly. I'm too scared to sound like her lover. Whatever that means, I scoff to myself.
"Want to get some sleep?"
"No. I can't." Sara says looking at her hands.
"Stay here," I offer. I needed to take a chance.
"I'm not, I can't," she mumbles.
"You can. Come on," I say in my best mother tone. I pull the sheets back and pat the bed.
She sighs and gets off the edge of the bed. She starts undoing her shirt so I turn my back to her.
"I have nothing to wear," she says.
"I have one of your shirts in my bag. You can throw that on." I say rummaging through my suitcase.
"One of my shirts?"
"Yeah." I can't say anymore than that. I don't want her to know I've been carrying it around like a blanket.
"You can turn around Cath."
"I wanted to give you some privacy," I reply, pretending to ignore the slight tease in her voice.
"You've seen it all before," she says shrugging as she takes her top off.
Yes I have and I know every inch of that beautiful body. Which is why I can't look at it.
"I've got to go to the bathroom," I say quickly. When I get back Sara is already in bed.
"Night Sara," I whisper, careful not to wake her if she's asleep.
"Night Red," she mutters.
Once again I'm relegated to the uncomfortable one person couch.
PART TWENTY TWO
"Catherine, wake up."
"What?" My voice is slightly slurry along with my mind.
"Sorry, your phone was ringing," the woman I'm thinking is Sara informs me.
"Okay," I say putting the phone to my ear. I don't hear anything.
A small chuckle wakes me up a little more.
"No, Red, there was someone calling you. They hung up."
"Sorry," I mumble. Man my mouth is dry. "Ouch." Turns out, my body is sore also.
"That can't have been comfortable, sorry," Sara says.
"It's okay," I say waving her off before she apologies again.
"I took your bed."
"No, I gave you my bed. There's a difference," I say firmly.
"Why do you continue to put up with this shit?" Sara says in what I can only assume is a reference to herself.
My answer is simple, "Because I love you."
It seems to make her uncomfortable so I decide not to say anything else. I think the damage was done with that one line anyway.
"Go have a shower, I'll order some food," I say changing the subject before Sara flees.
"No, you shower."
"Sara, we could continue to say 'you, no you' until dinner time or you could just go," I say a little frustrated. She finally nods and closes the door. At least this time I didn't hear the lock click.
"Hey, sorry I took so long," Sara says coming out of the bathroom wearing my robe.
"No, it's okay," I say, my mind flashing back to the many times we'd been here like this. Though now it feels like they were two other people, like a story I'd once heard.
"You only had this and my clothes were out here," she says as she notices I'm looking at her.
"That's okay," I say smiling.
"So, who was it that called?" Sara asks as she pours herself a coffee.
"Huh? Oh that. Nothing important," I say.
"Really? They kept ringing and ringing, I was going to answer it but wasn't sure if you'd like that," she admits.
Have we grown that far apart?
"Why would I mind?" Try to act, casual I tell myself.
"You know, because of, well I was just wondering if maybe it was a date or something."
If I had been sitting I would surely be needing Sara's help to get up off the carpet.
"A date?" I ask amazed she'd even think that.
Okay, so I did try to get some meaningless sex that one night but nothing ever happened. Oh shit, and then there was Jesse.
"No Sara, it wasn't a date."
"There has been no one?"
"It's only been a few weeks Sara, do you think I need sex that much I'd already be fucking someone?" I ask, partly angry at her damn ability to know me too well.
"Maybe just something to take the edge off," she admits.
Come clean Catherine.
"I was mad one night but nothing happened. I went to a bar and thought about picking up. All I could see was you. "
Her expression hasn't changed at all.
"I certainly wouldn't hold it against you Red, after all I have no claim to you."
Well she's calling me Red so that's good.
"Sara, you have claimed my heart, my whole existence." I say reaching over to touch her hand. Tears almost well up when she doesn't move away from me.
"I shouldn't," Sara says shaking her head.
"Touch luck. You're my girl Sara. Sorry," I say jokingly.
"I have to say this okay, let me do it," she says and suddenly I don't feel so good. "Catherine, I think we should just be friends right now. Nothing more. I can't give more than that and I don't want you living your life waiting and hoping to see if I'll ever get back to that place. I don't know when it'll be, I don't know how to get back there."
No, no, I have to stand up. Leave the room. If I don't hear it it's not real right?
"I need you here, I can only admit that as friends because the urge to be more is too strong. I want to fuck you." She stops, as if contemplating that idea of simply having sex, hard and fast, with no connection beyond the release she was looking for. "I want you to take it all away. But what good would that be? After it I'd still be who I am. How could we ever make love again when you knew that I had only used you to release a little tension?"
Hell, I wouldn't care if I had her back in my arms. We'd often used each other as outlets in the past, I don't understand how this would be different.
"I have to be with you one hundred percent and to be truthful, I'm not there. Please stay with me as my best friend. I want to be able to let myself go and not have to worry that you'll take it to heart. I want to cry and shout and have you just be there." She says looking up at me.
I want to tell her she's stupid, that I'd do all that even if we were lovers because with Sara that's all I know. I want to tell her that being her friend will only make it worse for me. I want to tell her I love her and I want to take her to bed, make her feel loved.
But I won't. I would follow Sara into the very depths of her inner darkness if she asked me too, so for now I'll do as she asks and pray she won't hear my heart crying.
"Okay Sara, okay. For you," I say sighing as she pulls me into an embrace.
PART TWENTY THREE
God she smells good. I wish I could stay in this embrace and click my heels so we can transport ourselves away from here. But I pull away, not finding the same comfort she is obviously finding.
I guess it's easier for her, she's just broken up with me.
"I'm starving," she says smiling. She looks so calm, so much better than she has.
"That's good," I say my smile nowhere near as wide as hers.
We sit, and I simply watch as she eats. My appetite left when Sara suggested we only remain friends. She doesn't even seem to notice and I think that just compounds the enormous amount of hurt I'm currently experiencing.
"Will you come meet Martha?" Sara asks me as I pour myself more coffee.
"I'm sorry?" I ask shocked. Is this the same Sara from yesterday?
"She wants to meet you. I said no before but I'm not sure why I did it. Actually, yes I am. It was silly," she says taking another bite of her croissant.
"Why?" I ask.
"I didn't want to mix that terror with the present. I thought if you and that life crossed over it would contaminate us."
Seems it has.
I don't say that, I just smile. I'm getting pretty good at this smile now, I think I'll need to be a master at it now.
"I would be honored," I say humbly. It's an honest reply, but I wonder if I should be concerned that only after she broke off our relationship she asks me to do this with her.
"Martha? It's me, Sara." Sara says opening an old wire door before keeping it open for me. I follow her, my investigative mind scanning the rooms we pass.
We stop in the kitchen. It's small but it has everything in it. The paint scheme is a cool yellow shade, with a white trimming peeling off a little on the window sills. The cupboards, while elevated, aren't so high that it would cause problems to reach for something. The sink is empty, three mugs; all fine china and all matching patterns are lined up near the kettle.
"Sweetie, thank you for coming," a voice says from around the corner. I stand back and watch as Sara kisses Martha on the cheek, whispering something in her ear.
"This is Catherine Willows," Sara says moving to my left.
Wow. I know it's bad but I expected a frail old woman dressed in purples, wearing shawls. You'd think in my kind of work that I would be above that but I suppose I've been thinking in terms of personal opinion because of Sara.
The woman in front of me is dressed in a navy blue suit, skirt and jacket with a white blouse. She wasn't much shorter than Sara, her hair short, curly and black. She came towards me, her hand outstretched.
"Catherine, lovely to meet you."
"Thank you ma'am," I say.
"Sorry we had to meet like this," she says turning the kettle on. "Coffee?"
"Yes please," I say. "I'm sorry too," I add.
"So you flew all the way here for Sara?" Martha asks smiling.
"Yes, I did," I say looking right at Sara, my eyes almost welling up when she looks away.
"You're a godsend for Sara," Martha comments.
"Martha," Sara says embarrassed.
"Come on now Sara, I'm allowed to speak the truth in my own home."
"I just came because she's my," I stop, almost about to say partner, "friend."
"I know about you and her Catherine, no need to try and shelter me." Martha says handing me a plate of brownies. It seems so normal, in the midst of such sadness and worry, that I almost wondered if I was dreaming
"Martha," Sara says again.
"I'm not trying too ma'am," I say trying to help Sara. "We are best friends first and foremost." I feel like I'm a teenager.
"Okay I get the idea here, it's none of my business," Martha says laughing.
"Catherine has a daughter," Sara blurts out.
"So I hear. How is the little one?" Martha asks handing me a coffee.
"I'm calling her later, I miss her. Other than that she's fine." I say brimming with pride. I can't seem to stop smiling radiantly whenever I speak about my daughter.
"She once did this wonderful plaster cast of her hands and feet and painted it. It was so amazing, she was able to use all the paints and painted a rainbow pattern over them. Her teacher said she took two days and even did it in her lunch break." Sara says smiling widely.
"Someone sounds proud," Martha teases.
"Lindsay loves Sara," I say softly.
"Well whenever we chat, be it on the phone or in a letter I'm always hearing about her and you," Martha tells me. "It really makes me glad to hear she's made a life for herself. I just wish she'd leave some of that blame I know she carries around," Martha says running her hand up Sara's arm.
"Please Martha," Sara says turning away.
"I know, I say too much all the time," Martha says moving away from her.
"Excuse me," Sara says fleeing.
"I think she'll need you," Martha says smiling softly.
PART TWENTY FOUR
I don't know my way around Martha's place so I manage to find Sara in the very last spot left: the bathroom. By that time about fifteen minutes had past in my exploration, Sara had lit up a cigarette, and was now taking a drag in-between sniffles.
"Hey," I say shyly.
"Hey," she says, her back still to me.
"Mind if I sit?" I ask.
"No," she says turning around to face me. Her eyes are red, an indication of heavy crying.
"She speaks her mind," I say smiling in reference to Martha.
"She always has," Sara says taking another drag.
"It was nice to hear you speak about me and Lindsay," I say honestly.
"I know it was a secret at work Cath but I never shied from letting people know." Sara says a little defensively.
"I know. I was just saying it made me feel special," I say. I'm not too sure if I should be talking like this considering our current downgrade in relationship status but I can't seem to stop it from flowing out. "I just wish I had been able to meet this woman who means so much to you earlier."
"There was no need to meet her before," Sara says.
"Why? Because of this idea that you had about it ruining your life with me and my daughter?"
"I want to be connected to you Sara. Not just the time we've spent together, not just the time we've known each other. All of it, from when you started to talk to this very moment. It's you, it's all part of the woman I love."
"Please, don't." Sara begs.
"I am trying to stay true to just being your friend but I can't hide that part of me away." I tell her, frustrated. "I am not pressuring you into anything other than friendship."
"Can't you see that talking about us like that hurts me because I know I'm hurting you?" Sara says, more tears appearing.
"You are hurting me because you won't allow yourself to be in love with me. I'm hurting because you left without a word." I move closer and wipe the tears with my thumb, "I'm hurting because you're hurting."
"I'm so fucked up."
"Sshh, no you're not. You're human Sara, you can't be indestructible all the time. Let me be that friend you asked for okay? Let me comfort you," I say almost pleading with her.
Ever so slowly I feel Sara move into an embrace, her body twisting into mine. I pull her up and we move, disjointed but together, into a hug.
My hand goes to her hair, my mouth is whispering into her ear. I'm not too sure what I'm saying and I don't think it really matters, all that matters is I'm here and Sara's letting some of her anguish free.
"Come on baby, it's okay to let it out." I say softly.
"I'm so sorry," she sobs. My shoulder is wet but I don't care.
"Sshh, no apologies," I order softly.
"I never meant to hurt you, I just couldn't bear to have you know," she says into my neck. "I'm sorry that I wasn't the equal you wanted or deserved."
"No, no you are my Sara and you are all I need." I say emphatically. "If you can't trust that now just remember it okay?"
She nods but I'm not sure she truly believes it. Oh well, if she's simply humoring me for now that's fine because I intend on showing her that it's the truth. I once was going to give up on us but now I see her, I feel her and I know with complete certainty; she's my life.
I know I'm a walking contradiction. I know I told her when I first got here that I was here as her friend first but I have to say in my defense, I assumed we were still lovers. It was secondary but it was still there.
Now it isn't. Well, it is but it isn't. Confusing hey? I still tingle when she touches me, to see her smile makes me feel like liquid inside and I ache to make love to her but Sara obviously doesn't feel any of that now. She's cocooned her emotions off and isn't interested in feeling loved by me.
Maybe it's as simple as this: Sara doesn't love me. I saw it in her actions, in the reverence she treated our time together but I never heard those special words. Are words so important when the feeling is there?
So now here I stand in the bathroom of Sara's past wondering if I'll ever feel her sleeping in my arms again, spent after our love making.
Is this enough for me?
"Thank you," she sniffs, wiping her face with the back of her hand.
"It's okay," I say, moving her hair off her face.
"I feel safer when I'm in your arms," she admits blushing.
Oh God, kill me now.
"That's what I'm here for Sara," I say, trying to keep my voice neutral.
"Will you tell Martha I'll be out for her famous scones in about ten minutes?" Sara asks.
"Sure thing Sar," I say knowing when I'm being told to leave.
"I just want to fix myself up," she says still wrapped around me.
"That's fine. You take your time." I say kissing her forehead.
I turn, hoping she doesn't see the expression on my face as one of disappointment.
"You're an angel," she says smiling.
"I'm your friend," I say shrugging like it's nothing.
"Yes, you are." She says nodding.
"See you soon," I say closing the door so she doesn't see me slump against the wall in anguish.
PART TWENTY FIVE
"She was such a lovely woman, really made me smile all the time," Martha says sadly as she hands me another knife after dropping the last one on the floor.
"If this is too much," I say, not knowing how to act around this woman who is so clearly still missing her daughter.
"No, it's okay. Memories are sometimes hard because it's all you have but I sure do love talking about my Ronnie," Martha says smiling.
"Well I'm honored you are sharing her with me," I say sincerely.
"You're a kind woman Catherine."
I hear Sara coming up behind me and I stop myself from turning around. She comes past me, her hand brushing slightly against my back.
"They're great aren't they?" Sara asks me, taking a bite from the scone on my plate.
"I've already asked her for the recipe," I say as Martha hands Sara her own plate.
"Cooking has always been a calming thing for me even when I'm burning another tray or saucepan," Martha says trading smiles with Sara.
"We should get a call soon," Sara says quietly.
"I know love," Martha says grabbing for Sara's hand. They sit in silence, both looking at each other and I feel like I'm intruding.
"I'd love a tour of this place," I say after a few moments.
"Oh no," Sara says laughing.
"What?" I ask concerned but so happy to hear her laughter.
"She's just teasing me. I love to show people around my home." Martha says getting up.
"I hope you've cleared a few hours," Sara says smiling.
"Hush child. Come on Catherine," Martha says ushering me into the lounge room. I suddenly regret asking. I want to sit in that kitchen with Sara. Her laughter and gentle teasing make me long for the days we'd do it in our home. Days where I could lean over and kiss her and not have to worry about her reaction.
"She's beautiful," I say softly, tracing my fingers along the golden frame.
"She was yes," Martha says smiling sadly.
Golden hair falling onto her shoulders, sparkling blue eyes made even brighter by the wonderfully carefree smile adorning her face. It was a candid shot, sometimes the best because people are themselves. This photo would be a perfect example of that.
"I'm so sorry," I say. To her and to Martha.
"It's hard, I see this kind of thing and I often leave those emotions behind when the case is over simply so I can function again but sometimes it all comes back, rushing into my mind. Then, when it happens to yourself you are on the other side and it's hard because you can't turn it off then." I say more to myself than to Martha.
"You are courageous to work in the job you're in," Martha says.
"No, it's not about courage. That's what the family and friends left behind have to move on. I see it in you Martha, I see it shining around this entire house. You've keep Veronica in your heart and you've lived your life with a courage I'm sure Veronica would be proud of." I say sincerely.
"Come here," Martha says embracing me. "Sara is lucky to have you my dear, I mean that with my whole heart," she whispers to me before we break apart.
"Thank you." I say wiping my own tears away.
"You both okay?" Sara asks leaning against the doorframe watching as Martha and I blow our noses.
"Just a little cleansing," Martha says putting the photo of Veronica back on its shelf.
The phone rings and we all look at each other. I see Martha and Sara stare nervously at the cordless so I lean down to pick it up.
"Hello, Catherine speaking."
"Ah, Catherine? I was after Martha." A gentleman's voice says confused.
"May I ask who is speaking," I say.
"Yes, it's Jonah. Jonah Boss."
"It's Jonah Boss," I tell Martha. I see her relax as she reaches for the phone.
"He's from the local bridge tournament," she explains.
Martha takes the phone into the kitchen and Sara comes over to me.
"You okay?" She asks, wiping what is probably mascara off my cheek.
"Yeah." I say nodding.
"Want to talk about it?"
"I'm okay, honestly." I say grabbing her hand and squeezing it.
"She had a wonderful smile," I say pointing to Veronica.
"Always managed to make me smile which is pretty hard sometimes," she says smiling. Sara looks at my face and I wonder what is wrong.
"Your crying, it has uh, you can see the bruise," she says tracing it slightly.
"Guess it's not waterproof foundation," I say joking.
"It looks sore."
"It's only sore when I touch it," I say smiling.
"I'm sorry," she says moving away a little.
I manage to reach out and grab her forearm.
"I don't care about that bruise baby."
"You're still the most beautiful person in any room," she says softly.
"Sara," I say warning her. I'm not as good at closing off my emotions as she is so this is dangerous territory.
"Sorry, it slipped out."
"I love that you think that but you were the one who wanted to keep it strictly friends." I see her frowning. "You know my resistance to your compliments isn't terribly strong," I add, trying to smile at my joke.
"It's hard. I'm sorry." Sara says, ignoring my feeble joke altogether.
Sara leaves me to go to the toilet and I'm left to my own devices. Martha is obviously the only one living here but she's still manages to make it very welcoming to outsiders. I can imagine sitting on the well-loved couch looking out the window with a tea or a lovely red wine. Listening to Lindsay and my grandchildren play in the garden. It's a grand dream but it is something I often think of, with Sara by my side or out playing with our little grandchildren. That may not be as possible now as I often thought it would be but I'll keep putting her in my future until she tells me differently.
"Sorry about that," Martha says coming back in.
"That's fine," I say getting up out of Martha's chair.
"He has been courting me for a few months now. A lovely gentleman."
"Who is courting you?" Sara asks.
"Seems Martha has a boyfriend," I tease.
"Jonah Boss is a lovely man," Martha tells Sara.
"What do you know about him?" Sara asks, using my 'mother tone' to perfection.
"Now, now he doesn't need to be run through any police data base Sara."
"Martha, you never know with people," Sara protests.
"I'll let you interrogate him at dinner tonight if you're free," Martha jokes.
"Dinner?" Sara asks.
"Yes, he has asked to meet you."
"Good," Sara says. I can already see her mind working overtime.
"Hey, you be on your best behaviour missy. I told him really nice things about you. Don't make a liar out of me," Martha teases.
"Where will we go?" Sara asks.
"I often go to the local club. They have a wonderful buffet and a great little dance floor."
"That sounds lovely," I say smiling.
"You have to come too," Martha says.
"Oh no, I can't intrude."
"I'd like you to come," Sara says softly.
That's settled then. I'd go anywhere with her.
"Okay but I have to call Lindsay first."
"I'll come with you and have a quick chat with her," Sara says. "If that's okay with you." She adds hastily.
"She'd love that," I tell her.
"Okay that's settled then. I'll see you back here at six." Martha says.
"Hey sis, Linds there?" I ask making myself comfortable on the bed while Sara takes a shower.
"Yeah she is. How are things there?" Nancy asks concerned.
"Difficult yet easy." I say.
"Well thanks for not clearing that up at all sis."
"It's hard, I feel that love for her yet I'm angry. When she told me she only wanted us to be friends I wanted to cry and hug her all at once. She will come out with a line so beautiful that I want to kiss her but ..." I trail off when I hear the shower being turned off.
"You sound confused," Nancy says.
"I am sis. I am."
"You poor thing. Listen, you call me whenever you want okay? If things are getting too hard."
"Thanks Nancy." I say smiling. Sometimes having a sister is really worth all those times you fought with her earlier on in life.
"Here's Linds," Nancy says.
"Mom? Hi!" The excitement in her voice isn't for me, but for the hope that I'm calling again so quickly because I have good news on Sara.
My whole body felt relaxed after a few days of feeling tense when I heard her voice.
"Hey there angel. Are you being good for Nancy?"
"Yes mom," she says sighing.
"Did Warrick come over?" I ask.
"He did and so did Nick. Greg is coming over tomorrow."
Those boys, God I love them.
"When are you and Sara coming home?" She asks me.
"I'll be home later in the week maybe angel. I don't know when Sara will be back." I answer honestly.
"You sound sad mom," Lindsay says.
"Not sad, just tired," I say hoping she'll believe me. "Tell me what you've got planned for the weekend." I know that will keep Lindsay occupied for a while and to be honest, I really do love her long involved conversations.
Sara comes out of the bathroom, dressed in her outfit for the dinner. My breath hitches at the sight of her. She's wearing pants that are a dark green, almost like tight fitting military pants with a black button down shirt. Around her neck is a leather necklace Lindsay bought her once when we were out at a market place. Her hair is down and styled to curve into her face.
In other words, she looks damn good.
"Is that Linds?" Sara whispers.
"Linds honey, Sara wants to talk to you is that okay?" I ask full well knowing her answer.
I hand the phone to Sara after telling Linds I love her and head into the bathroom for a shower.
God, does Sara have to look so good?
I manage to have a shower without thinking too much about Sara and how much I want to kiss her ... okay that's a lie. It's all I can think about. I'm not sure if going out tonight is such a good idea. I'm definitely not drinking any alcohol that's for sure.
When I finish up in the bathroom I find Sara standing out on the small balcony.
"Hey, have a good chat with Linds?" I ask, startling her slightly.
"Yeah, it was great to hear her voice." Sara says smiling.
"You need anything else from your hotel room?" I ask.
I grab my make-up bag from my suitcase and pull out a few essentials.
"I'll be about fifteen minutes," I say.
"Ha, since when have you only taken fifteen minutes to apply your make-up Red?" Sara teases.
"Stranger things have happened," I reply, smiling.
Half an hour later I'm ready. Sara is staring at me as we stand in the elevator and I wonder if the bruise is visible.
"Can you see it?" I ask worried.
"See what?" Sara replies, confused.
"The bruise," I frown, obviously we're not on the same wavelength here and I wonder if she's regretting asking me to come with her.
"I thought, because you were staring," I say by way of explanation.
"No, I was just thinking how good you look," she says embarrassed.
"Thanks," I mutter. "You look great too," I add.
We travel the rest of the elevator trip in silence.
"Here she is!" Martha exclaims to a darkened figure on her doorstep.
"Martha, we're not late," Sara says checking her watch.
"I know that dear, I was just happy to see you is all," Martha says kissing Sara on the cheek.
"Have you been drinking?" Sara asks.
"I had a wine a few minutes ago but I'm not drunk if that's what you think. Sara, this is Jonah. Jonah this lovely lady next to Sara is Catherine Willows." Martha says smiling.
Jonah steps out of the shadows, his hand outstretched.
"A pleasure," he says his firm grip surprising me.
"Come on, there are a few songs with my name on them," Martha says throwing Sara the keys.
I follow behind the three of them, smiling when Jonah slips his arm around Martha's waist.
"Okay, let's have a few dances before eating," Martha says in the car park.
"Maybe Catherine and Sara would like to eat first," Jonah says.
"Nonsense," Martha replies.
Jonah smiles at me as Martha strides off to a group of women she knows.
"She's well loved around here," Jonah tells me as we walk together.
"She is a lovely lady," I say honestly.
"I don't think Sara approves of me."
"She's harmless unless you hurt someone she cares about," I say half warning Jonah.
"I would never hurt Martha," he says obviously understanding my point.
"That's good," I say nodding.
"If you'll excuse me," Jonah says smiling and walking over to Martha.
"What did he say?" Sara says coming up from nowhere.
"God Sara, are you working for the military?" I say laughing.
"I just want Martha to be happy," Sara says defensively.
"I know you do babe but she's old enough to make her own choices." I say hooking my arm in hers. I almost want to dance in the car park when she doesn't flinch.
"I suppose you're right," she says smiling at me.
"Come on, let's go watch them dance." I say waving to Martha as we see her head inside.
"If you'll excuse us, we have to dance," Jonah says as we find a table near the dance floor.
I watch smiling as they twirl around the dance floor obviously happy.
"It's lovely to watch," I say to Sara who is still glaring at Jonah.
"I suppose," she says, unconvinced.
"Oh come on, it's romance Sara."
"I know romance Catherine, I just want to be sure he's the real deal."
"Well you can grill him at dinner. Just let them be for now," I say patting her hand.
"Fine," she says sulking.
"Oh come on, Sidle," I say smiling at her. It's how I'd imagine she'd be with Lindsay's suitors.
The music speeds up a little and I recognise this song. It's Rock Lobster by the B-52s.
"Look at them," Sara says pointing to Martha and Jonah. They are flapping their arms around in time to the music laughing happily.
"They're having fun," I state.
"It's good to see her laughing."
"You shouldn't feel like you can't do that either Sara," I say cautiously.
"With you here I feel like I may just be able to do that," Sara says softly. I just heard her over the music.
I stand, my hand trembling slightly.
"Dance with me Sara?" I ask.
She blinks a few times, a sure indication she's surprised.
"Here?" She asks.
"Do you really think these old men and women would care?" I ask. They may, but I know I certainly don't. All I care about is getting her in my arms.
She looks like she's going to say no but it's my turn to be surprised when she stands and grabs my hand.
"I'd love to Red," she says smiling widely.
PART TWENTY SIX
If we were any further apart we'd really be dancing by ourselves. I'm too scared to move closer for two reasons. One, I don't want to spook Sara like some wild horse and two, I don't want her to feel just how fast my heart races when she touches me. I don't think Sara is having a problem with the latter but she is also not moving any closer.
"Hey girls!" Martha says coming over to us. She waves with both hands and turns to say something to Jonah who nods and smiles as he leaves the dance floor.
"Martha, you looked like you were having fun," I say, smiling as she waves again, this time to our left, to someone calling her name. I envy how much she is able to just be herself and long that Sara will see Martha wouldn't feel less her if she loosened up.
Martha takes a gulp of air before responding, "I am Catherine, and I really do love it here. All the support and love from these people helps everyday."
"Can I get you a drink?" Sara says breaking from our flimsy embrace. Of course she's the first to break it, she wasn't enjoying it like I was.
"Hell no Sara, you can't leave this lovely lady on her own." Martha says kissing Sara's cheek before heading in the direction of the bar.
"Sara, do you want to sit down?" I ask reluctantly.
Sara shakes her head and smiles.
"I'm not going to let anyone else dance with you so come here," she says pulling me close. I feel my warm body pressed up against hers and I almost cry at the sensation. She wraps one arm around my waist, while the other grasps my hand. She places our joined hands over her heart and I feel the steady pace of her heart speed up.
"But what if I want to look for an older partner?" I tease, smiling as I feel her shudder.
She doesn't answer but I feel her tighten her grip on my waist.
I can't remember the songs we danced too or even the amount but I certainly remember when the band took a meal break. Sara pulled her head away from my shoulder and smiled ruefully, and I wanted to demand they eat when they get home.
"Do you want a drink?" She asks still holding my hand as we walk over to our table.
"Yes please. No alcohol though," I say smiling as Martha winks at me.
"We're fine love," Martha replies.
Sara smiles at me once more before going to line up.
"You two okay?" Martha asks leaning over the table.
"We're just friends," I tell her. And myself. Again.
"I can see that love you have for each other isn't too far away from the surface my dear." She says, patting my hand. "I'm not trying to pry, I'm just trying to get Sara to be happy again."
"It's there I grant you that Martha but she needs me to be her friend right now, nothing more." I admit, a little dejected as I begin to realise this really is the truth of the situation.
"So being a lover, her partner is what? Too much for her? Were you two not friends when you were living together raising your daughter? Were the two of you not friends when she'd come to you after a bad case?" Martha asks. All valid questions and ones I'd asked myself but I still had no answer for them.
"I'll be whatever she needs," I tell Martha.
"What about your needs Catherine?" Martha asks.
I don't get a chance to answer because Sara returns with my orange juice.
"Thanks," I say patting the chair next to mine. She sits there and reaches out to place her hand on my thigh but she stops herself mid-stride and moves it away.
Don't cry Catherine.
"So Sara, Martha tells me that both you and Catherine both work in Las Vegas," Jonah says.
"Yes we do," Sara replies.
"I have a cousin who works in The Palms. She's a very successful manager now."
"You should come down and visit," I suggest. "Both of you," I add to include Martha.
"That's a lovely idea Catherine but I'm not sure we could afford a hotel," Martha replies.
"What about your cousin, could she get you a good deal?" I ask Jonah.
"Yes, yes she could. She's always telling me to visit," Jonah says smiling. "All those bright lights are too much for me these days."
"Even if you stay in one for a few days, the rest of your time could be spent at our place," I say wincing when I see Sara stare at me when I mention 'our' house.
"We couldn't take up your household," Martha says shaking her head.
"It wouldn't be a problem," I assure them both. "Plus, Linds would love the company."
"Would you mind Sara?" Martha asks.
Sara takes a sip from her coffee.
"It's Catherine's decision," she says flatly.
She used to treat my house like ours. I suppose I was silly to think that coming back to Vegas would mean we would be back together.
"I'll have a good think about it," Martha promises.
The band announces their return and Martha excuses herself from the table to continue her dancing.
"I love your Martha, I hope you know that," Jonah tells Sara before joining her on the dance floor.
We both sit there saying nothing watching as Jonah swings Martha around the dance floor.
"We're about ready to go," Martha tells us an hour later. Sara had vanished after saying she was going to the bathroom, leaving me to sit at the table to think too much about her and I.
I had come to no conclusion and it was eating away at me that I couldn't talk to Sara about it. I couldn't really discuss it with anyone but Nancy and she'd more than likely had an earful of it. I wished I could call up my good friend, Warrick but I didn't want to talk hypothetical.
Of course, I could tell him the truth but would I be able to keep our friendship as solid as it had been after that confession? Would he be angry or disappointed that I kept it from him?
Too many questions.
"Where is Sara?" Martha asks scanning the room.
"I don't know," I answer honestly. See, I can't even answer a simple question like that.
"Come on, you get in the car with Jonah, I'll go hunting for her." Martha says patting me on the shoulder.
"Did you enjoy yourself this evening?" Jonah asks me as we leave the small foyer. A few couples are leaving, helping each other button their coats.
"I did thank you," I say smiling as he opens the door for me.
"Martha is taken with you," Jonah admits.
"That's sweet, I really do enjoy her company."
"I know it must be hard, being told about Veronica. I have to admit, I was shocked when Martha first told me. I felt anger for her, I felt sympathy. Not pity but a genuine sense of wanting to protect her. I know it may sound a little, how would you call it, macho? I just felt like shielding her, it was my natural response. It didn't take me long to see she is a strong woman and I soon learnt that to respect her and her memories of Veronica I was to treat her as an equal. There have been times she's needed my shoulder and there have been times I've needed hers." Jonah tells me as we walk to the car. "It's a balance that can be difficult to find, especially as we get older."
"I feel the same way," I say not elaborating. From the look in Jonah's eyes I think he caught my meaning.
"Sara's a lovely woman." He says, his voice remaining neutral.
"She is." I say agreeing. I'm about to say more when I hear someone coughing near Martha's car.
"Martha?" I ask trying to see the darkened figure.
"It's me," Sara says moving out of the shadows a cigarette in her hand.
"My God Sara, where have you been?" I ask, scolding her like a child. "You've been gone for ages."
"Needed some time," Sara says putting her cigarette out.
"I'll go tell Martha we found her," Jonah says.
"So, get your thinking done?" I ask Sara.
"Want to talk about it?" I ask.
This is a great conversation.
"Sara," I start to say sighing.
"Come home with me," she whispers, smoke from her newly lit cigarette slowly moving into the sky above her.
"Sorry?" I ask confused.
"Back to my hotel room, come back with me." She says now looking right at me.
"I have my own," I tell her, my brain still not working too well.
"I need you Red, I need to feel you." She says coming closer to me.
Here it was. I needed to hear those words. I needed her to be the first to make a move.
I need her, hell I've always needed her. I hold my hand out and she takes it with hers.
"Sara, are you asking me to love you?" I whisper. If I wasn't so happy to hear her ask, I would've thought that question sounded very corny.
"Yes." She whispers.
My answer could very well define our future.
PART TWENTY SEVEN
"Sara, you said you weren't ready for this," I say as calmly as I can with her advancing towards me.
"I think I am now Catherine. I think I always was." She says, her lips so close to mine I can taste the tobacco.
"You think?" I whisper. I don't want to get involved if Sara wakes up tomorrow and tells me it's all been a mistake.
"I know," she says softly pressing her lips to mine.
I should move away. I should. But I don't. Instead, I moan as I feel the lips I love so much add a little more pressure. My hands pull at her jacket as if I'm trying to pull her body into my own.
"Red," she whispers and I take that chance to enter her mouth with my tongue. She gasps, I think she wanted to say something but I don't care, I need to get reacquainted with her glorious mouth.
We're moving and soon I'm back up against Martha's car. Or at least I think it's Martha's car. Sara's hands were on my waist but one is moving up to my hair, pulling at the curls. I lean backwards and Sara trails kisses down my neck.
"Sara," I start to say something myself but it's forgotten when her hand slips under my top.
It all feels so familiar, like we never parted.
"Don't mind us," Martha's voice startles us.
"Sorry," Sara mumbles, taking her hand out of my shirt like she's been burnt.
"No, that's wonderful it's just that I need to unlock the car," Martha says laughing.
I smile despite the situation and move away from the car.
"Shotgun," Martha yells as she throws the keys to Jonah.
The trip back to the hotel was filled with chatter but most of it was between Martha and Jonah. I spoke up a few times but Sara said nothing more than a few words. She refused to look at me and I knew that I had gone too far by accepting her first kiss. I should have moved away from her, I should have been stronger than my desires. Ha. When have I ever been that restrained? God it felt good to be kissed by her again.
"Well here we are. You two be good, okay? Come have lunch with me tomorrow." Martha yells out the window as Sara almost runs into the foyer.
"Thanks Martha, nice to meet you Jonah," I say before closing the car door. I have to run to keep up with Sara.
Sara is standing at the elevator when I finally catch up. She smiles as I press the button more than once.
"Already did that," she says.
"Habit," I say shrugging.
"Sorry I was so quiet in the car," she says as the doors open.
There is no one else in the elevator which I'm thankful of.
"That's okay." I lie.
"No, it's not," she says turning to me, her hand reaching out for my hair.
I move closer and wrap my arms around her in a gentle embrace.
"I need you Red and I can't be sure if this is a good idea but I still need you." Sara whispers.
That was honest but it doesn't help much.
"So what should we do?" I ask tilting my head so I can see into her eyes.
"I don't know," she admits, refusing to look into my eyes.
Okay, that means I'll have to make the decision.
"Come back to my place?" I whisper, trailing my finger along her cheek.
I'm nervous. I don't know why I am, I've certainly had Sara in my bed before.
"It's okay," Sara whispers into my ear. My entire body trembles as I felt her hot breath on my ear.
"Not with you so close," I stutter.
She laughs but moves back so I can open the door.
"Thank you," I say throwing my bag on the chair.
I turn to face Sara and notice she is smiling.
"What?" I ask.
"You're nervous," she says.
"Maybe," I say sitting on the bed.
Sara comes over and kneels in front of me. Taking my hands and kissing them she says, "don't be nervous Red, I'm not running off."
I sigh and she notices it.
"I'm worried." I admit.
"About doing this?" She asks pulling me up so I'm standing in a loose embrace.
Sara moves back and starts to undo her top. I stand there mesmerized as she unveils more flesh with each button. Soon the top is hanging open and she's kissing me.
"Come to bed Red," she says taking her top off.
PART TWENTY EIGHT
I think I stood at the side of the bed for too long because Sara's seductive pose has changed. She sits up hugging her body looking up at me.
"Should I go?" She asks quietly. It was the fear and embarrassment in the voice that shook me out of my daze.
"No, I want you here," I say kneeling on the bed, smiling when it catches her off balance.
"Are you sure?" She asks kneeling to face me.
My hands run down her bare hands and back up again. She closes her eyes as I kiss her neck.
"Stay," I mumble into her neck pushing her down softly.
I can feel the heat of her body as I straddle her torso. She opens her eyes and stares up at me with an intensity I love seeing whenever we make love. It makes me feel a little more confident that this isn't just about sex. I guess if I relax, she will.
My body is aching to have her hands touch me so I pull my top off. I'm clumsy; a product of the nerves I'm feeling, but it manages to come off. Sara sits up almost knocking me off balance but she wraps an arm around me in time. We kiss like our lives depend on the sensation. Her tongue snakes into my mouth and I draw it in further. While sucking on it I feel her hands undo my bra and it makes me moan. She pulls away from my mouth to watch her own hands cup my breasts. We're certainly not winning an artistic points from the judges, but in my mind, this is perfect.
And yet, it also feels like the first time I've ever done this. I'm not sure why, perhaps because I wondered if I'd ever get to feel her hands on my again. I smile as I realise Sara's hands haven't been idle as I've run this dialogue in my head.
"It's okay," I tell her, knowing my lack of participation is worrying her. "I'm here." To prove it, I kiss her and we get caught up in each other once more.
My nipples are rock hard and are being ignored. She smiles when I try to move my body so they can have her fingers on them and she comes up to kiss me once more. I can't stand the teasing much longer so I push her back down, harder this time. I lean to her bra, licking her nipples through the fabric. She moans as I run my hands down her sides and open her pants.
I have to get off her to remove the pants and also remove my own so I climb off her, unzipping mine as I go.
Sara looks up frowning. She sees me pushing my pants down and understands, doing the same with hers. We both keep our underwear on and I silently wish that I had put my best lace ones on for her.
"You are so beautiful," Sara whispers, pulling me to her body. I smile at her and she flips me to lay underneath her.
Finally I feel her fingers rolling my nipples, pinching them and licking them. She is such a good lover, always answering my need and creating more when I think I have none left. I can't believe I had ever been privileged to know her, to love her.
Her teeth mark me as she continues to lavish attention upon my breasts. It hurts at first but she soothes me with her tongue, looking up apologetically.
"Little too hard," she says kissing my lips softly.
I don't care, I love her when she lets go.
"Sshh," I say sliding down the straps of her bra. We get a little stuck so she removes it herself, flinging it over the bed.
She is on her knees on either side of my rib cage when I pull her head down for a kiss. I can feel her breasts hover near mine and I sigh contently.
"You okay?" She asks.
"Very," I say cupping her cheek. "Lay down," I command.
"I like being on top," she says grinning.
"You'll get your turn," I promise.
I waste no time as soon as she is laying down, my mouth attaches itself to her left breast, and my hand making sure the other one is also cared for. I feel her hips rise and feel the heat she is generating under my touch. I myself am grinding my core into her stomach causing a friction of lace on my most sensitive area.
Her hands grab my waist and soon I feel one hand slip past the last cotton layer. She cups one cheek of my backside and soon the other hand enters past lace as well. I feel her dip into my wet core just briefly. I try to remain focused on her breasts but it's getting harder when I hear her growl as she feels my arousal.
"Cath, take them off," she says pulling at my now hindering underwear.
I want to disobey her and let Sara's release come before mine but my blood is boiling for her, my core needing her touch, so I ungracefully remove them.
She beckons me to her and I crawl up her body, kissing her with pure need. I feel her hands on my thighs and I wonder if my flesh is as hot as my insides feel. I smile as she looks up at me, my hair blanketing my face and hers.
"I love you," I whisper.
"Cath, come to me," she says pulling at my waist.
I kiss her softly before moving my body up to just hover above her face. I'm thankful for a thick bedpost because I know I'm going to need it. I feel Sara position herself and hold my breath in anticipation.
"God Red," she whispers as she runs her finger through my juices. Opening my slit she enters with one finger. I push my body down on it and enjoy the feeling of her inside me. Soon I feel two fingers inside pushing up and pulling, my own thrusting matching hers.
She pulls me down with one hand and I understand what she needs. I grab the bedpost and lower my body so I'm just above her mouth. Her tongue flicks my clit and I jump in pleasure.
"It's okay Red," she says as I move away from her face due to the sensation.
I come back to her and feel her tongue enter into my core. She grabs my backside and starts to dictate the pace best for her. Her tongue flickers within me occasionally coming out to circling my clit also. She knows my needs so well that at the right moment she enters my core with two fingers while her teeth try to capture my clit.
I'm no longer thrusting softly, I'm near release and I let go. I know Sara will tell me if I'm doing more than she can cope with so I let go knowing I'm in good hands.
"God Sara," I hiss as I feel a myriad of sensation. I can't even be sure where she is, all my senses are focused on my final release.
She thrusts hard and deep within me bringing with her my orgasm. My body feels like jelly and she has to hold me up. I manage to slide down her body, her fingers leaving me with a few more tremors. I feel like my heart is on the outside of my body. I'm panting, but I don't care if it makes me sound unattractive. This wasn't just the physical release I've felt since Sara left and we both knew it.
Her arms wrap around me tightly and I snuggle into her. I may need a few moments to catch my breath.
"You are a Goddess," she whispers, her hand running up and down my back.
I can still feel my body respond to her touch so I raise my head up and see a big smile adorning her face.
Kissing her and tasting myself within her own saliva, I know that Sara is the one person I cannot hide any part of myself from. She is inside me everyday, every moment. My feelings are always heightened after an orgasm but I know that it's the truth.
"I am so in love with you Sara," I whisper, smoothing her hair off her face.
"Red," she whispers, pulling me back down for another kiss.
I used to think the seed is still there she'd grow tired of me. I am older and I have a daughter who makes life hard sometimes. My father has dubious morals and that's putting it mildly. Then there was Eddie. This is not a trip I want to take right now.
I know Sara is beautiful but it's her intelligence makes her sexy and powerful. Men, and a few women, have tried to bottle that, harness it even and they've been unsuccessful.
"What?" She asks cupping my face.
"Nothing," I say smiling.
"Red, you know how I feel about you," she says, her perception cracking through once more.
"I know baby," I say smiling as she twirls her finger in my curls. I'm glad I did my hair like this tonight.
"Do you?" She asks hesitantly.
"I flew across the other side of the country to be here for you, I know baby," I say kissing her palm.
"I can't, I can't say those words." She admits ashamed.
"Sshh, you don't have to," I tell her.
"I can't," she says looking away from me.
I don't know what to say so I simply start kissing her. I start with her jaw and move to her neck, her breasts, and down to her torso.
"Sshh. Let me love you." I say kissing her thighs.
She parts her legs for me and I smile as I smell her arousal.
I enter her slowly with two fingers knowing she doesn't like to be entered hard and fast at first. I wonder if it is because of Veronica but I move on from that thinking for now. Now is about Sara's release.
I feel her hands in my hair as I bend down to flick her clit. I know she's close and I'm upset that we didn't have more time. I wanted to reverently show my love for her and let her know she isn't alone, but our arousal had taken over this time.
"More," she pleads so I enter her with three fingers, my pace getting faster with her breathing. I continue to pump hard and fast within her while occasionally flicking her clit with my tongue. I can see her body flush red and I know she's about ready to let go.
With this in mind I speed up my attention on her clit. I hear her exclamation and feel her hands pull my hair roughly then go limp, a whimper leaving her mouth when she comes back down. I make sure I take all her, I can't get enough of her sweet taste.
"Baby come here," she whispers.
I pull the sheet up with me, knowing we won't get dressed anytime soon.
Sara kisses my forehead and I wrap my body around her.
"I'm not going anywhere," she mumbles tiredly.
"Sshh baby, get some sleep." I say softly.
I want to savour this moment for a while longer just in case it's not going to be repeated.
PART TWENTY NINE
I feel someone breathing into my neck, the tickling sensation wakes me up a little worried.
That is until I see Sara.
"Hi," I whisper, not trusting my voice so quickly after waking.
"Hi. I made breakfast," she says getting up. I sit up, still naked and notice she's already dressed. She's been up a while, the clothes she wearing now aren't what she was wearing last night.
Last night. Wow. I just need a minute to remember it.
"You made breakfast?" I ask skeptically.
She smiles ruefully.
"I ordered it ... therefore I made it."
"Ah huh, it's not the same Sara," I say grinning.
"Hey, I made it come to our room," she smiles.
I throw my pillow at her laughing.
"You're a big kid," I say shaking my head. She's so damn cute.
Wait, did she say our room?
"Come on, get dressed," she says jumping on the bed.
"I'd much rather you get undressed," I sit up and let the sheet drop.
Her eyes flick to my bare chest and back up to my eyes. I can see the desire.
"Red, come on," she almost begs.
We continue to stare at each other and I give up first, I don't want to push her too much.
"Okay, I'll shower and get dressed," I say knowing she won't join in my little game of seduction.
I'm about to get up when she kisses me quite fiercely.
"Thank you for being there for me last night," she whispers as we pull apart.
"Always," I tell her.
"Hey Cath, breakfast is here!" Sara yells into the bathroom not long after I finish washing my hair.
"Be out in about five," I say hoping she can hear me over the water.
I spent the time in the bathroom thinking about the best way to find out what last night meant to Sara. Her kiss this morning is a good sign but her thank you left me wondering if last night only meant she was seeking comfort with the one person she knew would give it to her and respect her whilst doing so.
Should I come right out and ask and be let down fast? The band-aid approach as I was calling it. Or should I just take all my cues from her and go with the flow? Toweling myself off and quickly slipping into my pajamas I took one deep breath and opened the door.
"Yes, I'll leave a message. Okay, bye." Sara says hanging up my cell phone.
"Who was that?" I ask frowning.
"The chick who has my job," Sara says sadly.
"What did she want?" I ask.
"Wanted to ask you about some files. I told her you'd call her back."
"Does she give any impression that she knew who she was talking to?" I ask concerned.
"I answered, she asked for you and I said you were showering. She just asked me to give you the message." Sara said pouring two cups of tea, shrugging as she did it.
"She said nothing else?" I ask.
Okay, so I sound like a nervous partner about to be busted for cheating, but even though I know I should remain calm my mouth seems to be ignoring me.
"Ah no I don't think so," Sara says still caught up in the breakfast trays.
"Okay. I'll call her later," I say sitting down.
I sit, wondering if it has been a good thing not to mention my kiss with Jesse. I certainly won't mention it now, I know she won't take that well considering last night. But when is it a good time to say something like that?
"You okay?" Sara asks me as she passes a bowl of cereal to me.
"Yeah, why wouldn't I be?" I ask, hoping she doesn't catch the little hesitation in my reply.
"I'm not sure, you just seem a little lost," Sara says frowning.
"Just thinking about Jesse," I say. Oh good one. "About what she wants." I add.
"You want to call her now?" Sara asks handing me my cell.
"Nah, she can wait."
"So, how is she?" Sara asks as she pours a generous amount of skin milk into my bowl.
"I'm sorry?" I ask almost choking on my tea.
"This Jesse, how is she? Is she settling in?"
"She's from day shift. Jesse Cox." I say shoveling food into my mouth in the hope it'll distract me.
"Oh. That Jesse." Sara says knowingly.
"You know her?"
"Enough. She's a real flirt and she has a thing for blondes." Sara says grinning.
It was the absolutely wrong thing for her to say to me.
"I ah, we kissed." I say. God I'm an idiot.
"You kissed?" Sara repeats slowly.
"She came over just before I was ..." I stop, not wanting her to associate my leaving Las Vegas to see her with a kiss from another woman. "She came onto me." I say. Might as well come clean.
"And you reciprocated?"
I can't tell how she's handling this revelation, her poker face is on and even I have trouble deciphering her when she's like this.
"A little," I admit.
"Well I did tell you before I had no claim to you." Sara says taking a drink from her pineapple and orange juice.
"And I told you that you did over my entire existence," I counter.
"Then why did you kiss another woman?" Sara shoots back. Damn.
"I don't know. I needed to validate myself perhaps, feel like I wasn't worthless, that someone could find me desirable." I say shallowly.
"Did you get that feeling when she was thrusting her tongue into your mouth?" Sara asks. Okay, she's angry.
"No actually." I say dropping my head hoping the tears that I can feel don't drop right now.
"Did you fuck her?" Sara asks. To hear that tone makes those damn tears disobey me, they begin to fall into my cereal.
"No I would never ..." I start to say but find I can no longer speak.
"Did you want to?" Sara asks, the anger still in her voice.
"No, I've only ever wanted you in my bed after our first time Sara. That's why I haven't slept in there since you left. That's why I've had to get up and hide the bed linen before Lindsay every morning so she doesn't know I've been sleeping on the couch." I say, the tears mixing with my words.
"You slept on the couch?" Sara asks, her voice softer now.
I look up risking seeing the anger in her eyes.
"Oh Red," Sara whispers. She rises from her side of the table and drops on both knees next to me. Her head is in my lap and I can feel tears wetting my pajama bottoms. What a pair we are.
"Come on baby," I say running my hand through her hair.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry I made you angry at me," Sara says lifting her head up.
I bend down and kiss her. She responds with her tongue, licking across my top lip. I open to allow her in and feel her hands under my top.
I stand and she comes with me. Soon I'm undoing her bra and moaning as I feel her hands slip past the waistband of my pants.
"Breakfast," she mutters into my ear.
"I know you are," I whisper, licking her ear as I cup her breasts.
She moans but pulls away from me.
"Baby?" I whimper.
"We need to talk," she says. Those dreaded words dull my arousal immediately.
"Okay," I say wiping my eyes.
Sara kisses my cheek, running her hand across my bruise that is visible today because I hadn't put on any make-up.
"What do we need to talk about?" I ask.
My heart starts to beat a little faster. I'm not sure if I want to talk about that because I know it'll involve where we go from there.
Sara must sense I'm apprehensive because she kisses me softly before speaking again.
"I want to, once and for all, try and give you a precise idea as to where I see us." Sara says softly. I'm not sure she knows what she wants to say.
"I don't need something concrete Sara, I understand that you're confused."
"Okay," she says laughing.
"It's a relief that you said that because yes I am confused. I'm not sure where my head is but I do know where my heart is."
"And where is that?" I ask hopeful.
"Ah, with the most gorgeous woman and her daughter," Sara says winking.
"Are you sure?" I ask nervously.
"Yes. Of that I am sure. I've been back and forth, I can see how you'd be worried. I could see myself doing it and I was angry at my weakness. I don't know why I felt that coming here by myself would help me. I should have asked you for help. I should have had your comfort and love with me. Instead I was stupid, I was a bitch. I never meant to make you hate me," Sara says sadly.
"I never hated you," I say. She looks at me in disbelief. "Okay so I may have said I hated you but I never truly did. Look, I'm here. I'm being whoever you want me to be. If I hated you would I bother doing that?"
"No I suppose not," Sara says grabbing my hand.
"I love you baby and I know you care deeply for me. I see the indecision but last night I felt you, I felt your heart."
"Red, you are amazing," she says smiling.
"I only am who you helped me become," I say honestly.
"If I remember you didn't mind me kissing you," Sara jokes.
"I was shocked when you made that move," I tell her, smiling at the memory. "I've always been the one who initiates that first contact but with you it was so different. I found myself needing to see you, needing to be near you."
"I remember the first time we made love. I was so nervous and scared. I remember it all faded when I noticed that you were also nervous. When you were naked and I was mapping out your body I almost cried when you covered up, embarrassed. Your entire body flushed red, it was so beautiful." She says smiling when I blush. "Oh my Red, come on it was beautiful." She says kissing my shoulder.
With other partners I hated nicknames but with her I knew it was a term of endearment and I found I loved that she had a name for me that no one else used.
"Can we eat breakfast now? I'm starving," I say smiling when Sara laughs.
"Sure thing Red, come on."
We hold hands to the table and reluctantly let go to eat. I can't stop the smile on my face and I know that all the heartache before this moment has proved to be an important lesson.
"Martha? Martha?" Sara yells as she opens the door. I'm carrying a bouquet of flowers still smiling like a fool. Breakfast was wonderful, we sat and talked like old times. I knew it wasn't an instant solution but I didn't let it get in the way of the morning. The old adage of taking each day as it comes sounded pretty damn good right now.
When Martha didn't respond we entered and I made sure to lock the door behind us.
"She might be out back," Sara says turning to me.
I just nod and follow her but when I hear a slight murmur coming from a room we just passed I tap Sara on the shoulder.
"I heard something in there," I say pointing.
We enter into the lounge room as Martha's hanging up the phone.
Martha turns, surprise evident in the way her eyes open widely.
"Are you trying to give me a heart attack?" Martha asks smiling.
"We called out a few times," Sara says defensively.
"I was on the phone. Sit down Sara, I have something to tell you."
I see the look of panic flash across Sara's face and I hope it wasn't bad news.
"The parole board called," Martha starts, taking Sara's hands in her own. I suddenly feel again - like I'm intruding on this personal moment. I'm not sure if I should let Sara know I'm here, or just quietly move out of the room.
"And? And?" Sara asks anxiously.
"He won't get out." Martha says pulling Sara to her chest. "He won't, Sara. He won't. He won't."
Sara is crying and I want to go over to her but I can't break these two women apart. It simply wouldn't be fair. They've endured the heartache and terror of this so it's only right that this time be for them. I slip out of the room and put the kettle on in the kitchen.
I hear sobbing and a muffled talking, I know this will be a great weight lifted off but I'm also not naive, I know this will be something both will live with forever. Sara lost her friend and had to witness it. It makes her reluctance to open up obvious to anyone even without a psyche degree. I wonder what this latest chapter will do to her.
I have to say, knowing the circumstances, I'm glad Veronica got justice.
"Sorry about that," Martha says coming into the kitchen wiping her eyes.
"Oh no, that's fine," I say smiling. "I've put on the kettle" I add.
"You should have stayed," Martha says taking the tea I poured for her.
"It wasn't my victory Martha."
"You managed to get Sara to love someone, I'd say that's a victory," Martha says patting my hand.
"I'm very glad for you and Sara," I say sincerely, cursing the choice of words. Somehow it didn't sound like enough.
"Thank you. I was very scared when the lawyer announced himself. From his tone I was expecting to hear the worst. When he finally told me parole was denied I could have sworn I saw Veronica sitting next to me, smiling. I must be going senile," Martha says shaking her head.
"Where is Sara?" I ask.
"She's still in the lounge room. Why don't you take her drink out for her?"
"Are you sure she wants company?" I ask hesitantly.
Martha smiles at me.
"Go on Catherine," she says.
"Hey, I got you a coffee," I say softly so as not to startle her. I come closer and see her holding the framed photo of Veronica I saw last time I was here.
"Thanks," she says wiping her eyes. She doesn't look up so I move to crouch in front of her. She takes the coffee in one hand, the other still clutching the photo.
"Martha will have lunch done in about twenty minutes."
"Okay." Sara says nodding.
"Would you like to be alone for a while?" I ask.
She looks up smiling slightly.
"Would you mind?" She asks nervously.
"Not at all," I answer honestly. I kiss her on the head and feel her rest her cheek on my stomach for a moment.
I walk away feeling like I did the right thing. Gold star for me.
Ah! Fuck the star, I want to be in the room with her, sharing her emotions. This is such a pivotal part of her life and I'm relegated to the sidelines once more. This selfless thing is tough work.
"Can I get a refill?" Sara asks, essentially announcing herself with that question.
"Of course you can," Martha says pouring another hot cup of black liquid into Sara's mug.
"Sorry about keeping you both waiting," Sara says in that voice she gets when she's embarrassed.
"Nonsense, we hardly noticed," Martha says smiling. Her teasing tone makes Sara smile and the two women embrace. I stare into my tea.
"Hey, come here," Sara says. I look up, she's looking at me smiling. I can't help it, I return the smile and get up. Both women open their arms and soon we're all embracing in Martha's kitchen. I lean against Sara and close my eyes for a second. I'm hoping that my love for her is flowing through my body somehow and that just by being near her it'll travel to hers.
We break apart but as I'm moving to help Martha, Sara pulls me back into her arms. Sorry Martha, she'll win everytime.
"I want to take you out tonight," she whispers in my ear. My whole body turns to jelly as I feel her breath on me.
I just nod into her neck.
"Come on you two, there's time for that later," Martha teases.
We break apart but not before she captures my lips with a soft closed mouth kiss.
God I love this woman.
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