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Seeing Red
By EponinesGhost

Chapter Two

Tracey dropped a few more bills on the bar and curled her fingers around her fresh drink. Taking a deep sip, she steeled herself. It wasn't like she owed Rochelle anything. She had been very clear at the outset. No feelings involved. No strings attached. As long as it worked for both of them. No harm, no foul. So why did she feel like she was about to slam the door in a Girl Scout's face without buying any cookies? That thought almost made her chuckle. Rochelle was no Girl Scout. Whether she wanted to acknowledge it or not, Tracey was aware that the intimacies they had shared had begun to mean something to the redhead. And Tracey was not completely without compassion. She wished she were drunk.

"So it's nice up on the roof?" She was rapidly draining her second Crown. Thank God this one was stronger than the first.

"Yeah ... as soon as I saw it last week, I knew I wanted you to see it." She grabbed Tracey's free hand again and squeezed it for emphasis. "It's amazing."

Wearily, Tracey wondered if Rochelle had always looked as young as she did tonight. And if so, why hadn't she cared?

Exiting the car, Kelly took a deep breath. One drink, some nice conversation, evening over. She half-squinted at the name on the sign above the door as Chris handed the keys to the valet. "Red Sky Bar." She'd never heard of it ... and hadn't paid much attention to how they had gotten there. It didn't have the look of a typical after work watering-hole. Her voice a little skeptical, she turned to Ravell. "Why did you pick this place? It doesn't seem to be the usual cop bar ..."

"Good call, counselor. Hector and I got a tip from a knowledgeable source that this was a great place to meet classy women." He waggled his eyebrows at her as he took her elbow. "So, being the top-notch investigators that we are, we decided to run it down."

At first Kelly was speechless. She could totally believe he was telling the truth. She burst out laughing. As they ducked through the doorway, she raised her voice to respond, "And you invited me because ...?"

Guiding her through the throng near the entrance over toward a rare vacant seat, Chris leaned close to her as he answered, "Well, honestly, it was a spur of the moment thing ... BUT ... I didn't think it would hurt our chances to be seen in the company of a lady who is very classy herself." He pulled the chair back for her as she reached the small table.

Her eyes laughing as well now, Kelly loud-talked back, "And pray tell, how were you going to explain my presence if BOTH of you happened to get lucky?" She stood for a moment longer as Ravell started to help her remove her coat.

Grasping her collar from behind, he slid the garment down both her arms and flung it over his forearm, still leaning close to her ear. "I was going to tell them you were my sister ..."

Kelly erupted in gales of laughter. Rolling her eyes as she slid into her chair, she couldn't help but be charmed and amused by his presence tonight. This might turn out to be okay after all.

Setting her near-empty glass on the bar with a clinking thud, Tracey stood up. Their fingers linked together, she allowed herself to be pulled by Rochelle into the main area of the first floor lounge. She gazed up and down at the expanse of exposed skin of the taller woman's back as they snaked around couples and groups of patrons. She had to admit that Rochelle had a fine body. Her eyes skimmed down to where the delicate spine disappeared behind a small scrap of green fabric just above the waistband of the black slacks. Mighty fine. Shaking her head quickly, she told herself that she needed to avoid that train of thought at all costs if she was going to get through this. As she glanced away from the temptation, her eyes settled on a couple just entering the bar.

In the fleeting seconds that it took for her mind to register who exactly it was that she was looking at, her only thought was "attractive pair, cute together." Then time stood utterly still as the floor dropped out from under her and the noise of the bar warped and howled around her ears from far away. Fuck. No. In shock, she stared, the rest of the bar receding as if in a dream or a stupid movie, while Kelly and Ravell moved toward a table. Maybe it wasn't ... THE HELL IT WASN'T ... she took in every glance between them, the light in Kelly's eyes as she smiled, the body language as Ravell leaned in close, his hands moving up toward her neck as he took her coat, then the absolute delight of Kelly's face glowing with laughter. NO. NO. NO. The slicing pain lanced through her body as she froze there, helpless. Such a fool. Such a fucking fool! How could she not have seen? Because you only see what you want to see, Tracey. Always. DAMMIT. Bitterly, she tried to control the urge to scream, break something, flee. MY GOD this hurt.

Then Rochelle's face moved in front of her, mercifully blocking her view of THEM, full of question and then concern. She knew she was standing there woodenly, totally gobsmacked, but she couldn't speak. As Rochelle's hand brushed her cheek, it was like a switch was thrown inside her. All of her anger and frustration burned through her in a instant and her eyes blazed hot. Suddenly Rochelle was her escape again. Without a thought she forced the younger woman back onto the end of a leather bench in a booth near the stairway, stepping between her knees. Bending Rochelle's head back with a fist tangled under her fire-red hair, Tracey plunged in for a ferocious bruising kiss.

Draping Kelly's coat over the back of his chair and trying to make eye contact with a server in the teeming bar, Chris settled into his seat next to Gaffney. He was terribly pleased that he had made her laugh and wanted to keep that relaxed easy mood going. Just as he was about to ask her what she'd have, his gaze was drawn to one of the hottest things he'd ever seen. Directly across the bar from them, in plain view, a petite brunette in a black dress was playing tonsil-hockey with a willowy redhead. Now THAT would be first in his report back to Hector. They were really going at it and he slanted his head to get a better look. "HOLY SHIT." He nearly fell out of his chair. Stunned, he continued to stare, mouth open. "Holy shit."

Kelly had been unwinding her scarf when she heard Ravell blurt out the first expletive. Grinning, she assumed he had just spotted one of the 'classy women' he was on the lookout for. But when she glanced at his face, saw the pole-axed expression, her grin turned into a quizzical frown. When he didn't move or react to her, she followed the path of his eyes, the second exclamation ringing in her ears as she saw what had rendered him so numb.

She recognized Tracey immediately. Oh god. She stopped breathing. Her mind exploded .... Who? Was? That?!? Wave after sickening wave of icy cold reality washed over her, battered her. Tracey was with someone ... beautiful ... not her. Deeply involved. Passionately. Fuck. Me. She was suffocating. Her chest was being crushed slowly. That woman ... HATE HER ... wishing ... OH GOD. Hadn't known ... of course not ... so private ... FUCK FUCK FUCK ... stop just STOP ... look away ... can't ... Tracey. Dying. Don't care. Lost anyway.

When they finally came up for air, Tracey was panting. Rochelle, while thoroughly confused, was also thoroughly aroused. Her hands were hooked firmly at Tracey's waist. Her green eyes dark and glazed over. She tried to pull Tracey back into her, but Tracey bent to murmur near her ear, "Let's get out of here."

She needed to be away, to be consumed with something other than rational thought. She didn't give a flying fuck what happened tomorrow, she just wanted to get lost tonight.

Rochelle nodded, sliding her hand over Tracey's ass.

Ravell finally stopped gaping when he heard something similar to a sob, or maybe just a gasp, from Gaffney. His face flushed, he turned toward her, surprised by how pale she was, how stricken she looked. Not quite sure what to do, he gently placed his hand on her shoulder. This was completely uncharted territory. Here he sat, strangely wigged out and incredibly turned on by what he had just witnessed, at a loss as to how to deal with the whole thing and Kelly's equally odd reaction. She was obviously upset. That much was clear. When her eyes met his he was overwhelmed with the urge to hug her, to do something to take away the haunted expression he read there. He was out of his depth.

Her lips were moving slowly and he leaned in to listen, his ear very close to her mouth. "Please .... go get the car." He didn't want to leave her alone, but he couldn't resist the hushed plea. He didn't know what else to do. He was off like a shot.

Part 3

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