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By EponinesGhost

It wasn't usually crowded in the gym locker room at this hour. Of course, it had been so long since Kelly had been there that it was hardly a sound observation. Still, she certainly didn't recall it being this busy. She winced slightly as she opened her locker and reached for her bag. The pain in her side was another reminder of how long she'd been away. Truth be told, she hadn't realized she was in such bad shape. There were plenty of reasons ... excuses ... why she'd slacked off, abandoned her previously regimented fitness routine, but really no one thing that had spurred her current commitment to reverse the trend. A few pairs of pants that were tough to snap, finding herself winded after walking up several flights of stairs ... the hope that someday someone besides her cat might see her naked.

Leaning sideways, she snagged one of the fluffy pale blue towels from the stack on the counter. That was yet another change, but this one was one she liked. White gym towels were so ... boring. As she turned to place her bag on the bench behind her, her gaze halted. Hello

The vision before her was the farthest thing from boring she could imagine. Before she could stop herself from openly staring, she lingered over the view. Whoever this woman was, she was gorgeous from behind, rivulets of water running slowly down her back as she stepped from the shower. Kelly watched fascinated as she rather roughly toweled her short hair dry, arms raised away from her body. She felt her knees go weak as the woman leaned forward to tie the towel in a tight turban around her head. Then she was wrapping another towel around the rest of her and Kelly was left blinking rapidly. God. Flustered, she looked down at the bag she was still holding, unable for a few seconds to remember what she was doing or why she was there.

When had she turned into one of those people? Checking out other women in various stages of undress as they minded their own business at the gym? Even as she asked herself the question, chiding silently that she needed to snap out of it, her mind answered her immediately -- When she showed up, that's when. Her face was flushed and she rolled her eyes at the direction her thoughts threatened to go. Placing the bag down finally, she plopped heavily onto the bench beside it, grateful that she had to bend down to untie her shoes, briefly hiding her flaming cheeks. Swiftly removing her sneakers and her socks, she couldn't resist peeking in the direction she'd seen her new obsession move.

The towel still around her head, clad now in a beige bra and dark skirt, her instant crush was about to slip into her blouse. Just as she pushed her second arm through the sleeve, she turned her face toward Kelly, stopping her heart. Fuck. She had been practically drooling over Judge Ross! The recognition slammed her one instant before their eyes met. Kelly hoped desperately that she didn't look as stunned and stupid as she felt. She managed to nod politely as the judge smiled a greeting, efficiently buttoning her shirt.

Standing to stuff her shoes and socks into her locker, Kelly knew that she'd only be using the cold water today.

A few weeks later, Kelly finally admitted to herself that her behavior was bordering on stalking. She'd tried dismissing it as coincidence, that she kept running into Judge Ross at the gym, conveniently ending her workout at approximately the same time, heading to the showers almost in tandem. Then she tried to rationalize it. They both worked hard and had similar schedules. Fantasies were healthy and normal. These little encounters, often barely including courteous small talk, were just fuel for those daydreams. And intense nighttime imaginings.

On the bright side, the frequency of her workouts was having the desired affect. She was on her way to being totally toned and fit.

She felt like she was back in high school, poring over her schedule, trying to arrange to be in certain hallways at certain times when certain people would pass by ... her heart thudding wildly at the very thought of catching a glimpse of someone, the idea that they might smile at her, say "hello." What in the hell was she doing?

Trying to control the butterflies in her stomach as Judge Ross walked toward her stationary bike, smiling.


"Your honor."

Damn. This was so messed up.

Inappropriate. That was the mantra Kelly kept chanting to herself as she tried to tamp down the giddiness she felt at Judge Ross's invitation. Sure, it was just coffee. And it would be inappropriate to read anything into it. To allow herself to think past tonight. Inappropriate to fraternize with a member of the bench while she was eligible to appear before her. But as they pushed through the door of the coffee shop, hair still damp from the gym shower, all she could concentrate on was the opportunity to sit across from the beautiful woman she was with, to look into her eyes instead of cutting glances sideways, stealing glimpses. That would be enough. Surely.

On her second latte, Kelly marveled at how relaxed she was. At how often she'd laughed since they'd arrived. They'd discovered, over the past hour, that they had a great deal in common. That they were in fact very much alike. It was unusual for Kelly to be so attracted to someone so similar. Normally, her type was more her opposite ... more like ... Tracey. She dismissed that idea as soon as it registered. Maybe she was attracted to them both because they were both so unattainable. Remarkably, the topic of conversation became an echo of her thoughts.

"What? You were asking about Tracey?" She hurriedly sipped her coffee, hoping to seem casual.

"Forgive me if I'm prying, I just assumed ... that you two ..."

Kelly forced a laugh. "God no. We work together ... she's my boss ..." She didn't know why she was so defensive. Did she not want Ross to know that she'd struck a nerve? Or did she not want her to think she wasn't available? Or both?

Taking a long sip of her tea, her companion smiled wryly. "I worked for Jack McCoy ..." The implication was clear. It wasn't unheard of in the D.A.'s office. "Besides, I've seen how she acts around you ... how she looks at you."

Suddenly, Kelly didn't know what to say. She was dying to ask more about those observations ... get a fuller explanation. At the same time, she was wondering if she'd misread signals, if the judge was completely straight. She'd known Ross had been married, had a daughter ... then this comment about McCoy. Maybe she had just been blinded by her wishful thinking. It wasn't unheard of.

"I'm sorry if I've made you uncomfortable, Kelly, that wasn't my intention."

"Judge Ross ...."

"Please ... " the brunette urged, "you don't have to call me that away from court... call me Jamie."

"Jamie ... " The name sounded so foreign, yet so much better suited to the face in front of her. "I'm not uncomfortable ... not at all. In fact, I think I may be too comfortable ..."

Her brows raised quizzically, the judge questioned, "... with your life? Your current situation?"

"Very perceptive, your honor." Kelly was impressed. "That ... and I'm afraid I'm entirely too comfortable being here ... with you."

Holding Kelly's gaze for a long moment, Jamie finally answered quietly. "I don't see how that's a problem."

During the short cab ride to Kelly's apartment, they'd conducted a strangely legalistic discussion about discretion and professional decorum, all the while barely able to keep their hands to themselves. Kelly thought she might need to pinch herself as she unlocked the door and escorted her guest inside. This had to be a dream. Regardless, she was going to enjoy every minute of it. Tossing her gym bag near the hall closet, and taking Jamie's from her hand to do the same, she bent to switch on a lamp.

"It's not much ..."

"It's perfect."

Placing her hands on the back of the sofa, standing behind it, her back toward the kitchen, Kelly fought against a sudden bout of nervousness. "Can I get you anything?"

Stepping behind her, sliding her arms around her waist, Jamie murmured near her ear, "I think I've got what I want."

Kelly shivered, her head tilting back, eyes closing. Her fingers gripped the fabric at the top of the sofa as she felt Jamie's breath on the side of her neck, her lips brushing, nibbling there. "Are you sure ... about this?" She felt Jamie smile against her.

Nimbly, she began unbuttoning Kelly's blouse. "I don't usually make rash decisions, as a judge or in general. I thought about this long before I asked you out for coffee." Once both sides of the shirt hung open, Jamie's palm flattened against her abdomen, thumb stroking softly as she kissed the juncture of Kelly's jaw. "I was very very sure I wanted you."

Exhaling, trembling, Kelly turned in her arms, her bottom resting against the back of the couch, fingers finding the base of Jamie's neck, the curve of her shoulder. "Were you sure you could have me? Was I that obvious?" She would have been mortified if she weren't so turned on.

"I was hopeful ... and I was beginning to question the coincidences ... I was also beginning to wonder how long I could stand to see you looking so hot ... so close ... knowing you were in the next shower ..." She pressed in, arms tightening.

Kelly was aching to undress her, touch the bare skin she had admired. "I thought I was the only one ... arranging to be there, near you ... so I threw myself into the workouts. My butt's much tighter thanks to you." She grinned as Jamie's hands confirmed her statement. "So it's worth getting disbarred ..."

Laughing softly, Jamie nuzzled her nose against Kelly's temple. "No one has to know ... it's been done before. Just ask Tracey about Judge Anderlee ..."

For a moment, Kelly was frozen in shock. Then Jamie was kissing her, driving all thought from her mind except for her need to be closer, to hang on for dear life.

Later, as Kelly lay face down on her bed, sheets tangled around her ankles, enjoying the tiny kisses Jamie was peppering over her back, she couldn't stop thinking about the bombshell Jamie had dropped.

"Now that's what I call productive exercise."

Kelly chuckled as Jamie kissed her shoulder. "We could both save a fortune on our gym membership."

"And workout clothes." Her hand trailed leisurely up the curve of Kelly's spine.

Rolling onto her side and propping her head on her hand, Kelly couldn't stand it any longer. "Was that true ... what you said earlier ... Judge Anderlee ... and Tracey ...?"

Smiling, Jamie tucked a strand of hair behind Kelly's ear. "Yes ... though it's ancient history now. Very few people know, which was my point in bringing it up."

Kelly shook her head in amazement. "I feel like I should say 'Objection!' ... "Irrelevant!" She sighed heavily. "...or something ..."

Pulling the sheets up around her waist, Jamie wasn't unsympathetic. "Overruled counselor. Besides ... it was long before you were in the picture."

"I wasn't ... I didn't mean ... " Kelly's voice trailed off. "I don't know what I meant."

Jamie leaned forward, kissing Kelly gently. "I do. And I understand." She settled back against the pillows. "You work closely with someone ... you develop feelings for them ... you try to compartmentalize and go on ... you tell yourself it's just because they're older, wiser ... that it's natural to be drawn to them, want to be around them constantly, learn from them ... but you know it's more than that, whether it matters or not ... whether they'll ever know it or not ...you endure, hanging onto the idea that someday ..."

"We're not talking about me anymore, are we?"

Shrugging, Jamie stayed silent.

Kelly touched her arm softly, "So how did you find out ... how do you know ... about them?"

"You work closely with someone ..."

Jamie smiled wistfully at her, letting the comment linger. Abruptly she sat up, grabbing Kelly's hand. "Come on ... there's something else I've been dying to do ..."

Her eyes sparkling, Kelly let herself be tugged upright. "Yeah? What's that?"

"Take a shower with you ...for as long as I want."

"You have until the hot water runs out ..."


The End

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