DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and all characters are property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

A Sweet Twist of Fate
By Moet

Part 1

Albany, New York

Alexandra Cabot awoke with a start. She was sweating and didn't know if she had actually cried out loud, jolting herself awake. Her parents' death still haunted her two years later, as every so often her nightmares replayed that dreaded late night phone call.

I know it's because I'm about to start a new life, it's all coming up for me, Alex thought. The night of the accident, life and death came down to a split second decision by her father, who was a very prominent attorney in Albany. Mom and dad were dressed to the nines and heading to a charity ball, when dad decided to take the Lexus instead of the tank-like Hummer. They had no idea how slick the roads had become or how many other party goers were out and about.

Weeks before her parents were killed, Alex was about to accept an offer in the New York City D.A's office as an ADA. After graduating with honors, the young up-and-coming attorney had clerked with her Uncle Bill, a New York judge, who had arranged some interviews for her. But when the drunk driver who plowed into her parents' car was about to walk on a technicality, Alex couldn't bear the injustice. Not even her uncle could help. This bastard would drink, drive and kill again, Alex knew it. The prosecution mounted a good fight, but her parents' killer got probation, community service and entered a rehab program. Alex was shattered. The system she embraced had failed her. "I can't do this, I can't feel this way every day of my life," she decided. Rehashing the memory, Alex wiped her damp face and sat up in bed, staring into the darkness. She didn't want sleep to come and have that dream again.

As an only child, Alex collected part of a hefty trust upon her parents' death with the rest to follow at age 32. She decided to use some of the money to carve out a new future, enrolling in culinary school at Johnson & Wales and leaving her law career behind. Though she'd already minored in business, she took extra accounting and business management courses as well. Now her two-year program, which she thoroughly loved, was completed and she was about to put it into action.

"I just want to make people happy, even though it sounds corny," she said to the dark room. As a final detail, she considered putting her family home up for sale, but decided to wait and see. See how things worked out in the big city. A city she might have conquered two years prior. But at what expense?

Alex tried to focus on what awaited her in lower Manhattan. Would she finally have the life she desired, maybe meet someone special? Maybe there it would be safe to explore some of the conflicted feelings she had been repressing. Though now, ironically, there was no mom and dad to object or disapprove. My future is wide open, she thought, amazed at the possibility.

SVU, New York City

"Hey Liv, what's up, why the long face?" Elliot scrutinized his partner, trying to read her expression.

"Ya know that little Korean deli, where I get my coffee every morning? It's closing, dammit. First it was all boarded up and now they're doing some major renovation to it. Probably gonna be another stupid nail salon."

"So give up coffee and get manicures," he laughed.

"You really think I could have nails with this job?" she managed a smirk.

"There's a Starbucks two blocks the other way."

"I can't do Starbucks in the morning. I'll just have to have my first hit out of this sludge tank," she said, motioning to the coffee station.

"Suffer like the rest of us. Now let's roll, we got some interviewing to do over on Fulton St. Somebody did something really perverted with a Chilean Sea Bass over at the seaport."

"Don't even tell me, it's too early and I didn't have any caffeine. I'm already queasy."

One week later……

Olivia was strolling the three blocks to the station when she passed the former deli. A crew had been loudly working on it for days. The transformation was impressive--it looked like a French country-style store front. "That's really cute," she said out loud. The workers had trimmed out the front with white architectural molding and a canopy. One worker was busily embossing something in fancy script on the front window.

"What does that say?" Olivia squinted—"AL-ALEXA something."

Then Olivia saw something else impressive in the window. A tall, lithe blond in sweats and a faded tee shirt was wiping down the inside display window. Olivia couldn't help but stare. "God she's gorgeous," Olivia blurted. "Does she work here?" she wondered out loud.

"No she own dis place," said a worker in broken English. "Well she own the business, don't know bout the building."

"Well good for her," Olivia smiled broadly, catching the young woman's attention. Alex smiled back. Nice teeth and a cute little overbite, Olivia thought.

"What kind of business?" Olivia asked the worker.

"Some kinda bake shop, I think. They sell food anyways."

"Well good, the neighborhood needs it. And it looks beautiful." Olivia smiled again at the worker and waved at the young woman behind the glass, then started down the sidewalk.

Seeing that the brunette beauty was leaving, Alex threw down her rag and rushed for the door. Olivia was disappearing into the morning crowd. "Wait! Wait, I just made some fresh……coffee." Alex said the last word softly. Olivia was gone. Alex sighed in frustration.

"Don't worry miss. She be back," the worker smiled a crooked smile.

Part 2

"Jorge, that looks great," Alex said, as the man was finishing the paint job on the store front's scrollwork. Alex glanced at her watch, a little nervously. "Hey you know that pretty lady that was here yesterday morning around this time?"

"The one with the big smile?" he said.

"Yes. If you see her, tell her to come in. I have some coffee for her and some pastry."

"Okay, I tell her you wanna give her treat."

Well that's an understatement, Alex thought, blushing. God, I'm assuming a lot here. She could be married or have a boyfriend. Alex eyes narrowed slyly. But she looks like she might even have a girlfriend or at least entertain the possibility. I don't even know if she takes this route everyday.

"Just don't let her get away," Alex said. She returned to the store and busily started cleaning up the construction dust.

As the electrician asked Alex where she wanted the extra circuits, her eyes kept darting to the door. Whenever a short haired brunette passed by, Alex felt that little tickle in her stomach. It was the tickle of anticipation. It was just like the feeling she'd have when her parents took her for a ride in the country and they'd go over an unexpected little hill. "Weeeee,!" she would cry out. "That's a belly button hill," her mom would say. "Go over another one daddy!" Alex would exclaim. "No dear, belly button hills are always a surprise, they just happen." They just happen, Alex pondered, then realized the electrician was staring at her.

"Oh sorry, yeah we need a few extra ones behind the counter here, let me show you."

As he went to work behind the counter, Alex started cleaning again. Then, she saw the woman. She bounded for the door and out to the sidewalk.

"Hey, you were here yesterday," Alex babbled. "I remember you looked in the window." Smooth Cabot, very smooth.

Olivia's brown eyes were fixed on the young blond. "You must be Alexandra." Olivia read the window sign out loud, "Alexandra's Fine Baked Goods. I'm Olivia." Yeah, I was anxious to see how much progress you made today. It looks great. Congratulations."

"Thank you Olivia," Alex said caressing the name and looking down modestly, "you can call me Alex. The workers have done a great job--I should be open next week sometime. As you can tell, it's going to be a French bakery, but we'll have coffee and soup and things like that. In fact, I tested out the ovens very early this morning. I've got some croissants and fresh coffee, if you'd like. Free of course, she added hastily, an introductory offer." She realized she was talking a mile a minute and tried to tone down her exuberance.

Olivia couldn't resist on any level. "Lead the way. Unfortunately though, I'm on my way to work."

Leading Olivia to the back, Alex absently put her hand on the small of Olivia's back to guide her through the clutter. "No problem, I ordered about a thousand cups-to-go, you know, adult sippy cups."

Olivia laughed at the analogy. She was enchanted by this woman's excitement and youthful beauty. Oh to be young and living out a dream, Olivia thought.

"Oh these smell outrageous," Olivia gasped, as Alex took out a large tray.

"So where do you work?" Alex asked.

Olivia hesitated a moment. "Well, actually I'm a cop." Alex's eyes traveled over the sleek detective quizzically. "Plainclothes….a detective," Olivia explained.

"Those aren't exactly plain clothes, you look very well—put together." Absolutely delicious, thought Alex.

"Thanks," Olivia said, as Alex put several coissants in a box. "Hey I can't eat all of those!"

"These are for your fellow detectives, tell them the first ones are free and once they're hooked they can come back for more," she smiled. "And I will pour you a coffee to go. I sense that you take it black."

Olivia felt like Alex was an angel from heaven. "How did you know? You are a God-send, I used to get my coffee every morning here when it was a deli."

"Oh, I know things. My Scottish Granny had the gift and she always told me I did, too. Maybe I'll read your palm sometime."

"I'd like that, but with my being a cop maybe you wouldn't see such good things," Olivia eyes darkened. I won't tell her about the sex crimes part. Not yet.

Alex poured a coffee for Olivia and put the lid on tight. "I already see good things in you, Olivia. Not to worry." Their eyes locked for a moment.

"Alex thank you, I gotta run. This is really sweet of you. I guess I'm your first customer!"

"Just make sure you come back."

"I definitely will," she said and left the bakery with her goods.

Alex watched the detective swagger off, trying hard not to look at her ass, but not succeeding in the least.

Part 3

Olivia, seemingly walking on air, strolled into the squadroom with her baked goods and coveted cup of coffee.

"Hey, I smell something good. Whatcha got in the box? C'mon no holding out," said Elliot.

"Actually, you vultures are in luck. The girl who is opening the new bakery gave me enough for all of you. And, I got a very good cup of coffee out of the deal."

Elliot, Munch and Fin dove into the box to claim their prizes.

"Hmmmm….hmph hmm,"

"Don't all talk with your mouths full, you bunch of piggies," Olivia was lighthearted and nothing could ruin her high. She kept thinking about Alex and how someone so young could take on a new business. I better check in on her later, she seems so trusting and naïve. I don't want her to be taken advantage of. Sure, Olivia told herself, that's all it is, protectiveness. She's like a little sister. Olivia frowned. No, that's not it.

As Olivia bit into her delectable croissant, the guys talked about their latest case near the Fulton Street Fish Market.

"So what do you think went down with Mr. Fish Butt?" Fin said. "Stuffing a fish up a guy's ass is just wrong on so many levels."

"It's gotta be an act of rage and humiliation," said Elliot. "Must have been love gone terribly wrong."

"Oh yes, love always ends in humiliation, just ask my ex-wives," Munch added. "But I don't know about love in this case, it sounds like mob to me, the whole humiliation thing."

Elliot glanced over at Olivia. "What's your gut on this Liv?"

She was ignoring them, lost in thought. "Someone's sending a message. I agree with Munch, it's probably someone who didn't pay his protection money. I don't think it's love gone wrong." She went back to slowly relishing her pastry.

Later, on the way back to the station, Elliot noticed Olivia spacing out. He couldn't read whether it was in a good way or her usual brooding way.

"What's up with you today? You're like a million miles away. Anything to do with that fix up you had last weekend?"

"The fix-up was a bust. I've never been so bored in my life. All the guy did was brag about his job, about his toys, about his place in the Catskills."

"So I take it you didn't call him back?"

"No way. I'd rather have a root canal."

Elliot chuckled. "Well, cross another frog off the list."

Olivia got serious. "Ya know, that's all crap about kissing frogs before you find your prince. Look out there, Elliot. There are no princes. I think I've been looking in all the wrong places for way too long. No chemistry, no communication and definitely no sexual satisfaction."

"Okay, too much information! Way too much."

"Sorry. Just bein' honest. I don't enjoy….well I don't get anything out of the dating scene. So I might as well just forget it. Or…maybe explore other avenues."

"Is that what you women call them—avenues? Like with the guys it's the Hershey highway?"

"That's really offensive Elliot, but then again, it's what I expect from you." Olivia was frequently disgusted with her partner's comments on gay lifestyles and the transgendered. She thought better of giving him any more details. "All I'm saying is that it's not working for me. That's all I'm saying." She kept quiet the rest of the ride.

Olivia lay in bed that night thinking. She had thoughts of how it might be to share her life with another woman—the emotions, the closeness, the pleasure. She had often joked with Elliot that she needed a wife to take care of her the way Kathy looked after him. Olivia had enjoyed same sex experiences in her 20s, which were pleasurable, though fleeting. And, she thought of Alex and how delightful it would be to touch her. To kiss those full, sweet lips. No, no, no, can't go there. She's probably straight and if she knew what I was thinking, she'd be disgusted. She would think I was a dirty-minded, middle-aged, lonely, pathetic, burned out cop. And she'd be right, Olivia thought sadly, tears stinging her eyes.

The next morning on her way to work, Olivia admitted to herself that she was heading toward the brightest spot in her day. To Alexandra's for her morning glimpse and maybe some coffee. She peaked in the door, as she noticed the construction activity had ended, but for some painters and moving men bringing in bistro chairs and tables.

Alex emerged from the back, in a white apron and with flour on her cheek. There goes that stomach tickle again, she thought, as she spotted Olivia.

She took Olivia by both hands and pulled her inside. "I'm baking like a mad woman!"

"You look like it," Olivia laughed, thinking how adorable and child-like Alex seemed with her floured face.

"Fresh coffee coming up," she said heading for the back again.

Olivia looked around at the startling, chic difference in the place. Bistro chairs and tables, glass display cases, shiny chrome and a creamy white color that gave the place a warm glow.

Alex returned, sippy cup in hand. "What do you think?"

"I think it's amazing. You're amazing." Alex blushed crimson.

"Monday is opening day. Tell your friends."

"They loved the croissants, Alex, and said to say thank you. Although, they've been known to react the same way to a Slim Jim."

Alex laughed out loud. "They sound like a bunch of characters. I bet you keep them in line."

"I try. For us, you're like an angel of mercy. Where did you come from?" Olivia was fascinated.

Alex's blue eyes darkened to a hazy gray. "I—uh, lost my parents two years ago. And decided to go to culinary school. During that time I did two separate months at the Cordon Bleu for special pastry and baking classes in France. But my dream has always been to live in New York and now here I am. I needed a fresh start."

"I'm so sorry, Alex that you had to go through such a tragedy. It takes a lot of guts to do what you're doing. I know it's gonna be a huge success."

Alex touched Olivia's arm, causing her pulse to jump. "Thank you. Well I better let you get to work. But why don't you stop by later this evening, I'm trying out some new recipes."

"I will try if I don't get stuck on a job. Hey, don't hang around here alone after dark."

"I won't be alone for much longer, I'm hiring a pastry chef. Marcello starts next week."

"Marcello?" Olivia repeated, trying not to immediately hate him.

"Yes, he's the Italian version of the Pillsbury Dough Boy. He's about 350 pounds—too much sampling of his own wares I guess. He's really a funny, talented guy. I met him at the Cordon Bleu and he and his wife really wanted to come here."

Olivia let out a relieved sigh. "Well, at least you won't have to be here at such odd hours. I'll catch you later."

The day dragged, but Olivia found herself virtually alone at lunch time. It's only a few blocks, she thought. No, that's so obvious. And so anxious, so obnoxious, she thought, running out of ious words. I'll stop by tonight. Munch interrupted her thoughts, as he loudly entered the squad room. He was soon followed by Elliot and Fin.

"Gentlemen, babewatch alert, babewatch alert." Munch announced.

Olivia gave him her "what now?" look.

He rubbed his hands together about to share a tidbit. "You know Olivia's beloved deli turned bakery? The Koreans are gone and it's being infiltrated by supermodels." he grinned.

"Why didn't you tell us, Olivia?" Fin looked at her with wounded eyes. "That the pastry girl is a babe?"

"Because I knew you'd all be drooling all over her and frightening the poor thing with your ugly mugs," she glared.

"I saw her going in and out of the shop," said Munch. "And my heart stood still."

"Not still enough for me, it's still beating isn't it?" Olivia spewed. "By the way, she's not some bimbo, her name is Alex. And she's trying to start a new business. She's working day and night to get the place ready."

"Oooh, Olivia seems to know this woman quite intimately," Elliot teased, not catching her cues to knock it off.

"She's a nice person. I need to get some files." With that, Olivia stormed out, leaving the men to their gossip and speculation about Supermodels with Pastries Gone Wild.

Olivia didn't clock out until 8:00 p.m. She picked up her steps to head to Alexandra's, half hoping the blond would still be there, but also hoping she had the sense to not stay alone after dark. She's so vulnerable in that place, Olivia thought.

She took a quick breath when she saw the light still glowing through the drawn shades. Through a sliver of blind, she saw Alex pouring over a ledger at the counter and softly rapped on the door so as not to startle her.

She let Olivia in, grinning from ear to ear. "I knew you'd be here. Coffee's on."

"How'd you know I'd be here?"

"I told you, I've got the gift. My Scottish Granny said so. Did you eat anything?" Alex looked at her intently with a concerned expression.

Olivia wasn't used to anyone caring if she ate or not. "I had--like a granola bar around 6."

"Like a granola bar is not dinner. I have some quiche to heat for you." She ran into the back before Olivia could protest. I never eat quiche, but why not?

She returned to a bistro table. "It won't take long," Alex said, patting the chair next to her. "Sit, talk. I want to know everything about the mysterious Detective Benson."

Olivia was also not used to talking about herself. But there was something so caring about Alex, that she didn't feel like she'd be judged. This young woman deserves nothing but honesty, Olivia thought.

"I work in the sex crimes unit," Olivia began, waiting to see the usual revulsion on her listener's face. Instead, blue eyes reflected sympathy and understanding, as she nodded for Olivia to continue.

Olivia went on. "We see a lot of bad stuff, the real dark side of human nature. Child molestation, rapes, rape murders, spouse abuse. They call it Special Victims. And it's tough, really tough."

"Why do you do it?"

"Well, I'm a product of rape. My mom was raped and she decided to have me. They never caught—the man.," she was reluctant to use the word father.

"So you bring a deep sense of understanding to your cases, I can tell. I see so much caring in your eyes," Alex reached for Olivia's hand, and she automatically drew back for a second. Then she grasped Alex's hand and held tight. She noticed that there was no judgment, no pity.

"I really try to make it okay for the victim," Olivia said.

Alex brows furrowed. "Wait a minute, you said Special Victims? Special Victims Unit?"

Olivia nodded.

I was offered a job by the DA's office a few years ago. I'm pretty sure it was Special Victims but I was too embarrassed to say I didn't know what that was. Plus, my parents were killed right after, so I was a mess. I had finished up law school, during which time I clerked for my Uncle Bill. The job was Assistant District Attorney.

Olivia pulled back in disbelief. "The Honorable William Cabot is your uncle? Oh…my God Alex. You were going to be our ADA—you and I would have been working together—working together almost everyday—Olivia stammered and held her face with her hands. This is just plain freaky!"

Alex's eyes were wide and her mouth was agape. Then she smiled and said with wonder, "I turned the job down. Yet, you and I are here, now."

Olivia just stared at Alex, speechless. Then the timer went off.

"There's your quiche. Be right back." She went to the convection oven and retrieved Olivia's warmed up meal. As she put it on a plate, Alex lifted her eyes to the heavens. In a low voice she said, "Granny, I know this is your doing, somehow. This twist of fate. I'm just going to let you guide me."

Olivia was still shaking her head when Alex returned. "I'm no stranger to coincidence, Alex, but this one is something else."

"You're something else. Now eat! I already had dinner."

Olivia dove into the spinach-cheese center and smiled her approval.

As Olivia ate, they chatted about all the places in the city that Olivia could show her, places Alex hadn't had time to visit as a law clerk. While Olivia talked, Alex lost herself in the beautiful brown pools, with flecks of amber in their center. Half listening, Alex dreamed of what it would be like to feed Olivia every night, hear about her day, rub her aching muscles.

"What is it?" Olivia realized Alex was staring.

"Oh, nothing…I just remembered that I promised to read your palm."

Olivia looked hesitant about being exposed. Not that she believed the "gift" nonsense or anything, that was just part of Alex's cuteness. But what might she see in her palm?

Alex took Olivia's hand and gently turned it over. The contact was electric for both of them. Then Alex started to softly trace the lines in Olivia's palm with her finger tips.

"You have an interrupted love line," tracing along further, "you've been discouraged and even disgusted by what's available romantically. Yet, your heart is filled with love if only you could find the right person. You want to share, you want to trust someone…but it's so hard. Because of what you see—how love can turn so ugly."

Olivia grew increasingly uncomfortable with the contact and the insights into her love life. "This is crazy, Alex. You can't possibly see things like that in my palm."

"It's not the palm, Liv, it's just a vehicle for the heart."

How is it that she's calling me Liv now? And seeing right through me?

Examining further, Alex said, "It will happen, you just have to be open to it. Don't be afraid of it."

"Okay, that's good, I think I know enough." Olivia tried to gently regain possession of her hand. "You know it's getting late, we should both get home. Thanks for dinner, it was the best I can remember. And the palm reading."

"You're welcome," Alex said. "You're right, it's getting late."

Later that night, Apartment of Olivia Benson

Olivia could not sleep a wink. God, it's 2:00 a.m. Was there really such a thing as fate? That this beautiful, blond woman would have ended up in her life no matter what? Here she is reading my palm and telling me to be open to love. Maybe she feels sorry for me. I pretty much indicated that my job has overridden my love life. Why didn't I ask her if she had someone special? I guess I really don't want to know, it will hurt too much. Someone that beautiful has to be taken. There were too many questions, the more time she spent with Alex, the more questions plagued Olivia.

Friday, Alexandra's Bake Shop

Olivia walked more slowly today. She was resigned to be Alex's friend and afraid to want anything more. Her heart jumped as she approached the bakery. And then it stopped when she saw the handsome young man at the counter, head lowered with Alex's in some sort of conspiracy. So this is it. This is where reality kicks me in the face, as usual.

Olivia was reluctant to interrupt and hovered in the doorway for a second. She saw that they were looking at a brochure from a jewelry store. Great, they're shopping for rings. She turned on her heels, feeling a knot in her stomach.

Alex caught sight of her retreat and called out. "Liv! Wait! Come back!" She sprang to the doorway and shouted for Olivia.

Her escape foiled, Olivia turned around. "Hey….Alex I didn't want to intrude…"

"Intrude nothing! Come in here please, I want you to meet someone."

Reluctantly, Olivia returned to the shop and followed Alex to the counter to face her competition. She was greeted by hazel eyes, wavy blond hair and a bright white smile.

"This must be the delicious detective you were telling me about, Alex."

"Olivia, this is Phillip. I'm helping him pick out wedding bands for he and his partner Troy. They live in the brownstone next to mine."

"Unfortunately love, they are union bands. We're not legal just yet."

Olivia had all she could do to not hug him. "I hope you don't have to wait too much longer to become legal, Phillip. Let's see the selection."

The three of them looked at the rings. "I'd go with something non-traditional like a white gold or platinum."

"Olivia you and I are of the same soul. I can see you're a woman of style." He looked her up and down appreciatively.

Alex smiled in agreement. "Liv, Phillip just invited me to dinner Saturday night and said to bring someone. Would you like to join us?"

"I might be on call….but it's only three or four blocks right? That should be fine." If it's out of pity, I'll take it. I surrender. "Well I gotta run. See you later, Alex. Nice meeting you Phillip."

As the detective left the store, Phillip gave Alex the eyebrows. "Nice ass."

"Nice everything, Phillip," Alex said dreamily.

"All I can say is, she's got it going on girl. One word...YUM."

Alex giggled and wondered what to wear Saturday night.

Part 4

"You've got to be kidding? Miss Sweetcakes coulda been our ADA?" Elliot was in disbelief.

They were on a stakeout that was taking forever, as rain drummed down on the roof of the car. "Yeah, it gave me the chills that Alex turned down the ADA job. Hey is this guy ever gonna show? I can't even see the doorway any more."

"Why did she switch gears?"

"It's a long story. Elliot, I should know better than to ask, but do you believe in stuff like destiny and fate?"

"Nah, it's all bull," Elliot said. Just as the words left his mouth, a booming clap of thunder made them both jump in their seats, followed by a brilliant flash of lightning.

Olivia let out a breath and put her hand over her heart. "Oh jeeeez, that scared the daylights outa me. You better watch what you say," she laughed nervously.

Olivia and Elliot finally got their guy and hauled him in for questioning. At around 8 pm, they wrapped it up and were heading home. Cragen stopped them in their tracks. "We got a rape homicide on Church St." They bolted for the car.

"Wait a second, that's right in between…that's between where Alex lives and the shop. Ask dispatch whose on it," Olivia was getting uneasy. "Get a description," she said growing more frantic.

Elliot called dispatch who patched them to the patrol car on the scene. Elliot recognized the cop's voice.

"Hey Eddie is that you? It's Stabler, we're on our way. Can you give us a description of the vic?"

"Yeah, she's about 28 or 9, long legs, thin, blond, pretty from what I can tell, what a shame. We're in an alley by the Chinese video store."

"Oh my God…NOOOO," Olivia cried out, "Don't let it be….don't let it be…no no no."

"Olivia, it's a big city. A lot of women fit that description."

The car screeched to a halt at the opening of the alley, which was too narrow to drive through. Olivia's face was in her hands and she sobbing out of control. "Elliot, I can't… please I can't…" She got out and threw up in the alley.

"Liv, stay here. Get back in the car, it'll be okay," he tried to reassure her, but didn't know what he'd find.

Elliot raced over to the cops with flashlights, as they were peering under the blanket. "Elliot whoever did this tried to cover her," Eddie said.

Elliot squinted, "pull the blanket back. The woman had been beaten badly and had a heavy make-up job. Her panties had been torn off. "Any ID?"

"Yeah we found a card a few feet away from a massage parlor, I guess it's her business card. The name's Clover Kincaid. Looks like her pimp went too far."

"Okay. Let me get my partner, she's not feeling too well." Elliot jogged back to the car, where Olivia was still shaking. "Liv, I don't think it's her. C'mon, she's a pro."

Olivia followed him back to the scene, with dread, trying to hold it together. Eddie held back the blankets.

"It's not her, " Olivia whimpered, more tears spilling. "I thought it was someone I know," she explained.

"You know a lot of hookers?" Eddie said sarcastically.

"You know what Eddie, have a little respect. This girl might have fallen on hard times, but she's still someone's daughter, and maybe someone's sister." Olivia's glare was like brown steel.

Eddie turned sheepish. "Sorry."

With gloved hand, Elliot placed the card in a plastic bag and the panties in a separate one. "Tell the ME we'll meet her back at the lab." Elliot swept the alley one more time with his flashlight.

Back at the station, Olivia hadn't spoken a word. She filled out the report and prepared to go to the ME with Elliot.

"She means a lot to you, doesn't she?"

Olivia smiled wistfully. "Yeah. She really does. I'm going out of my mind right now wondering if she's safe. Even though I know the girl isn't her and was probably a pimp thrashing gone overboard. I don't think we're lookin' for a serial rapist/murderer."

"I know. We see these all the time, just not over in that area. You know what Liv, I can meet with the ME. This is our collar. Why don't you go check on Alex?"

Olivia looked at Elliot with grateful eyes. "I owe you one, El."

"One? You kidding? I'll put this on your tab."

Olivia smacked his arm affectionately, grabbed her stuff and headed for the door. She practically broke into a jog. I have her home number, but why do I have the nagging feeling she's at the bakery at 9:45 at night? Olivia was going to chastise her if she was still there. Sure enough, she saw the glow of lights behind the shades. She rapped with just a bit more force than usual on the door.

Alex peeked through the blind. She didn't light up as usual when she saw the brunette but ushered her inside. Olivia's reddened eyes confirmed the dread Alex had been feeling all night.

"I had a bad feeling tonight, Liv. What's going on? It's the same feeling I had the night my parents were killed but I couldn't verbalize it. I felt like an idiot. What is it?"

Olivia tried so hard to be mad at Alex. "What are you doing here at this hour? What did I tell you about safety? Are you crazy….." Olivia threw her arms around the young blond and pulled her tight. She murmured in Alex's ear, "I was so worried, so worried. If anything ever happened to you, I don't know what I'd do."

"I'm here Liv, I'm here. I'm okay." Alex gently ran her fingers through the back of Olivia's hair, soothing her. Olivia pulled out of the embrace, but kept her face close to Alex's, speaking in a hoarse whisper.

"A young woman matching your description was raped and murdered not far from here. When we got the call, I thought it might be you. And I lost it. Even got sick in the alley. I couldn't bear it, Alex." Olivia's eyes were tearing again.

"Something told me not to leave here tonight. So I started making some desserts for tomorrow night at Phillip's. But I was worried about you, too, terribly. My bad vibes don't come with instructions." Olivia stared into the blue pools. Maybe there was something to this gift thing.

Alex gently wrapped her arms around Olivia neck again and put her lips close to her ear. "What's really nice is to know how much you care." She let her lips brush Olivia's ear lobe, sending chills up her spine. It sent her over the edge.

"I do care Alex, more than you know." With that, she gently put her hands behind Alex's head and pulled her into a deep kiss. She felt the blond's body mold to hers, pressing close, as their tongues mingled. Alex's excitement grew as she explored every inch of the mouth she had craved.

Olivia didn't want the kiss to end. I can die happy now, she thought, as sensations coursed through her body. Alex tasted so good, her skin was baby soft and she even smelled young, if that's possible. Most of all, Olivia felt cherished in the sweet way Alex responded to her. Not objectified, not used. There was a reverence in every touch, as Alex finger tips traveled across Olivia's body…her thumb stopping to gently strum Olivia's nipple through her shirt. Olivia's breathing quickened.

They reluctantly pulled out of the embrace to come up for air. Alex playfully nipped at Olivia's neck, chin and lower lip. Olivia guided Alex to the back and continued to worship her with her lips as they leaned against the large, chrome baker's table. As she softly skimmed her lips down Alex's chest, she lifted her off her tank top and removed her bra. Spurred on by the sight of the milky white breasts and pink nipples, Olivia captured them in her mouth and gently grazed them with her teeth, poking with her tongue.

Inexperience got the better of Alex, as the heat between her legs escalated and confusion registered in her eyes. "You…you might have to teach me exactly what to do," she breathed. "Sex has never been real comfortable for me."

"Sweetheart, I just want you to feel. Just feel me loving you and the rest will follow. Don't think about anything." Alex smiled through rapid breaths. Olivia lifted her onto the steely cold table, her lips never stopping their velvety assault on Alex's breasts and neck.

As Alex lay prone, she laced her fingers through Olivia's hair. Olivia unzipped Alex's spandex slacks and slid her hand downward. Alex was so wet and the center of her clit was like a hard pebble. Olivia pushed the pants down and off, underwear and all. Alex lay naked on the steel table like an alien abductee, feeling exposed but not wanting to move from the pressure of Olivia's hand over her moistness. Olivia reached for a hand towel and mopped the area gently to expose Alex's folds, then got a sinfully sweet idea.

She reached into a chrome container and pulled out a handful of powdered sugar, which she dusted over Alex's throbbing center. The sensation was exhilarating, as Alex popped her head up to see what was happening. "You're not going to diaper me, are you? That would be too kinky!" Alex giggled, partially from the tickling sensation.

"Oh no, but you've been a bad baby. I'm going to have to give you a lickin'. Alex's eyes flew wide open as she realized what that meant. Olivia plummeted into the sugar, into Alex's folds, sucking the hardened bud into her mouth. Alex cried out in pleasure, as her hands encircled Olivia's head, urging her deeper. Olivia sucked and lapped every bit of sugar from Alex's center, occasionally dipping inside her. Moaning loudly, she thrust several times against Olivia's face, when Olivia got another evil idea. She saw the marble pastry roller with rounded sides, about an inch in diameter, resting in its holder. Olivia grabbed it and carefully guided it inside Alex, trying not to break contact between her tongue and Alex's aching clit. She started to spin the smooth baton between her fingers, causing the blond to tremble out of control. The multiple sensations rocked her body, as she finally shrieked out her orgasm. Olivia felt like she came as well, as she was grinding herself against the steel table. Alex's eyes were squeezed tightly closed, as the remaining waves of pleasure spasmed through her body. Olivia removed the pastry roller, which easily slid free in a pool of moisture. Olivia gave her dessert several more long laps of her tongue and watched Alex shudder from head to toe.

Olivia moved her head back up to gaze into her lover's deep blue eyes, remnants of sugar on her chin and face. "You realize Julia Child is spinning in her grave right now."

"If she'd only known the multiple uses of a French pastry roller," Alex gasped.

When she regained her breath, tiny licks from Alex's tongue removed the sugar from Olivia's face. "I've never felt anything so unbelievable before, Liv, Alex said exhilarated. " I want to make you feel what I just did, though I'm not nearly as creative."

"Hey this table can't be too comfy, Sweetheart. Let's go back to your place and get a shower and continue this conversation in a soft bed. And don't worry about being creative, just touching you like that made me come."

"Okay, love. I do feel like I have sugar in every conceivable crevice." Olivia helped Alex wipe off and dress, as they closed up shop for the night.

Later that night, the two lovers cuddled close in bed, not quite ready to drift off to sleep. Olivia found herself running her face through Alex's silky hair and inhaling the sweet scent of it. She kept having visions of sugar plums dancing in her head. And, the more recent memories of Alex's long fingers deep inside her, while she massaged her clit until Olivia begged for mercy. She came at least three times this beautiful night. More times tonight than in the past two years, she thought ironically.

"I want to wake up in your arms, my sugar plum fairy," she whispered to Alex in the darkened room.

"I have nothing tomorrow to keep me from you, love. Marcello is going in on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning to be ready for Monday. He can't wait to start creating. And, he's anxious to meet you."

"Marcello knows about me?"

"Yeah. But he doesn't know we're….lovers. Are we lovers?" She said in an almost child-like voice.

"I'd say so, Alex. At least I hope so."

"Well, he knows that I met my dream girl. He knows about me. When I was in Paris, he fixed me up with several girls. But I was always so nervous….maybe the language barrier or my newness at it. With guys it was even worse—my first few attempts were so painful. I hated it and it never felt natural. When I was in Europe I felt like it was a chance to be myself. That's why I wanted to come to New York. It's so open and accepting."

"I'm glad I have you to myself tomorrow. I'm on call the second half of the day, unfortunately during Phillip and Troy's dinner. Let's hope nothing happens."

"I'll ask my Guardian Angel."

"You ARE an angel," Olivia said, running her finger tip along Alex's jawline. Such a

blue-blood jaw she has. "Speaking of your Granny, who I assume is your Guardian Angel, I'm a believer. I believe in fate and I believe in destiny. I believe you and I were meant to be together…for….forever."

"Me, too," Alex said blinking back tears. "I knew it the first day you came to my window."

"On some level, so did I Alex. For so many years I've wanted a connection, some kind of chemistry….or—

"A tickle in the stomach?"

"Yeah, that simple. A tickle in the stomach when your beloved comes into view. But until I saw you, I was in some sort of half world. A repressed bisexual,or a dysfunctional hetero, maybe now a born again Lesbian. I dunno. I don't like labels. I tried going out with macho cops, but I was almost as macho as they were. I even went out with a gay ADA for about a month, though I didn't know he was gay until he turned up dead. Then, I would sort of get attracted to some of the female victims, like this one who ended up killing her attacker because she couldn't get justice. And another one who was a pregnant alcoholic—it was crazy Alex. I didn't know what I wanted until I saw your face."

"It was crazy for me, too, babe. Now everything makes sense." She draped her arm over Olivia and curled into her. Both women fell into the deepest sleep they'd had in a very long time, filled with sugar and sweet dreams.

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Alex and Olivia had made love all morning, after a night of a little too much wine at Phillip and Troy's. Olivia had her arm wrapped around Alex's waist, oblivious to any stares the pair might attract. They were after all, a stunning couple, the stuff fantasies are made of. They were headed to Alexandra's to see how Marcello was progressing in getting ready for the next day's opening.

"I can't believe I've already got a catering job! Or that Phillip and Troy trust me that much—especially with the cake."

"They know how talented you are, sweetie," Olivia hugged her a little closer as they walked.

"I guess. I just figured I'd slowly transition into catering, so this will be a good test."

They headed into Alexandra's, as Alex loudly announced their presence to Marcello. "Marcello, we're here. I have someone I'd like you to meet." He came out of the back, wiping his hands on a towel.

"Olivia!" he bellowed. He bounded up to Olivia with arms outstretched and picked her up in a bear hug. "You are the lady who make Alex so happy at last."

"Yeah. It's nice to meet you too, Marcello. You—uh—can put me down now."

Alex just laughed. "So, you've got the goods going, Marcello? The croissants, the petit fours, the apple tarts, the breads…ready for the ovens?"

"I do the whole list, not to worry. Strange though about the little mess I find."

Alex realized that she hadn't been to the shop since Friday night. "Little mess?"

"Sugar all over da table. The baking tools ona da floor, except the pastry roller, which I use for the apple tarts. You know they needa the thin, rolled out dough."

"You used…the pastry roller?"

"Yeah, it was on the table so I grab it and use it. The other tools they spilled on da floor, so they were dirty. Not to use those until they got washed."

"Did you bake the apple tarts yet?"

"Yeah, they keepa the longest. Everything else I bake late today so it fresh for the morning."

Alex's mouth hung open, then she and Olivia burst out laughing. Alex ran to the back and started filling a pastry box with the apple tarts.

"You have to take these to work tomorrow, hon!"

Olivia was still giggling. "Okay, but why?"

"Just tell the squad they've got Alexandra's special ingredient."

The End

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