Standard Disclaimer: The character of Xena doesn’t belong to me, Renaissance Pictures/MCA does.

Violence: None

Sex/Language: This story depicts two women who are deeply in love with each other and show that love in a sexual way, in some instances graphically. There is a place or two where my girls have a bad case of potty mouth. Sorry about that. If this sort of thing is illegal where you live, go away. If you are not 21, go away. If you think love between two women is perverted, I feel very sorry for you, but that is your right, I guess. Just don’t read my stories.

Hurt/Comfort: This story contains some discussion of sexual and physical abuse. I have deliberately kept it short and non-graphic cause my lady doesn’t like it. However, it is necessary to explain De’s character.

This story takes place right after ‘High Lonesome Part II’ and is the fifth story in the ‘Real Dreams Series’. All the stories are connected, so if you read this one without having first read the others, you’ll be lost. I’d hate that to happen to y’all. Again, I’d like to thank y’all for your constructive input. I appreciate all the posts I get from each of you. I especially want to thank my special lady for her love and faith in me. She also makes sure I put all the commas where they belong. I encourage constructive criticism, so if you want to write me, my addy is . Now on with the story, I hope you enjoy. Fantasy

Unfinished Business



December 4, 2000

Chapter 1: A Past Revealed

The events of the past twenty-four hours were a jumble of emotions, accusations, and finally true confessions. I couldn’t believe the things Haskel had said, but then again, De had told me she was damaged goods. But her own father selling his daughter into prostitution! My God, what else could have happened. How many other horrendous, hurtful things did my lover have to endure at the hands of that bastard? I gazed down at the beauty lying in my arms. We had spent most of the past few hours in an exhausted slumber. I had awoken when De had a nightmare. She was screaming to her father, ‘Please, not again. Don’t make me do it, please, please…noooooo.’ I held my baby in my arms soothing her with my voice and my hands until she calmed and returned to peaceful slumber. If I could get my hands on that son of a bitch, I think…no, I know I could tear him apart with my bare hands. I lay here now thinking these thoughts when a pair of sleepy blue eyes opened, searching mine.

"Good morning gorgeous," I whispered, "I love you." I punctuated the last comment with a long, sweet, sensual kiss. It lingered just long enough to make us both breathless.

"Good morning to you too cutie," my love smiled, "I’m sorry if I kept you awake with my damned dreams." De dipped her head, unable to meet my eyes with hers. Shame shrouded her like a blanket. Damn you Lassiter. I will see you in hell for what you’ve done to her, I swear!

"Baby don’t." I murmured, and gently lifted De’s chin with my fingers. "Don’t ever apologize for what he did to you. It wasn’t your fault. You were a child. What could you have done? I am just glad I could be here for you. And ya know what else? I will always be here. I love you, always will. I want you to understand I will be here for you no matter what. I want you to know you can confide in me, tell me anything. I promise I won’t judge, just listen, and love you." The tall beauty snuggled deeper into my embrace and murmured into my chest.

"How can you? You don’t know everything I’ve done, and when you find out, I’m afraid I’ll disgust you so much you’ll leave me." I could feel tears touch my bare skin, and the broad shoulders shuddered as the woman sobbed.

"Why don’t you tell me and let me decide for myself. But even that is a moot point, because I’ve already decided I love you and I won’t leave you, so there. Please, tell me baby, please." Slowly, cautiously my raven haired beauty lifted herself up so she could look me straight in the eyes.

"Okay, it’s a long story, and not a very pretty one. Remember I told you my mother sold her body for a living? That’s how I was conceived. At the time he met my mother, Lassiter was a stock market analyst for Gem Star Corporation. He was an up and coming young executive. My mother was a high priced call girl. He was in LA on business and one of the corporate executives fixed him up for the evening. Evidently, my mother wasn't too careful about protection that particular night. She got pregnant. When he found out, he went ballistic. You see he had a morals clause in his contract. If it ever got out that he was messing around with a prostitute, his career would be toast. She confronted him and told him she would quietly disappear if he paid her $100,000.00. There was a fight, and he beat her up thinking she’d miscarry. When she didn’t, he arranged for her to get an abortion. Before he could get her to the back alley abortionist, he was called back to the corporate headquarters in San Francisco. By the time he got back to LA, my mother had gone underground." The pain and anguish etched in my lover’s face was nearly more than I could bear.

"Baby, if this is too painful, I’ll understand if…" A gentle hand covered my mouth forcing me to stop talking. Then warm lips descended to mine, and we engaged in a warm, loving kiss. When we broke apart, De continued.

"No, I want to tell you. It’s time I unloaded this baggage and got on with my life." I nodded.

"All right darling, but anytime it gets to be too much, let me know and we’ll stop." A small smile and a kiss to my open palm were my only answer.

"My mother had gone to a convent where the nuns took her in until I was born. Lassiter had been fired because if his sexual proclivities. He blamed my mother for his downfall and never stopped looking for her. She found out Lassiter was still looking for her and she panicked and ran. It wasn’t too long after I was born, a week or so, that she left me with the nuns. I never saw or heard from her again. What she didn’t know was Lassiter had her tailed. Enter one Martin Clanton. When he found out her hiding place, his goons came in and took her to Lassiter. They dragged her into his office and he raped her. Then, in front of him, the three of them took turns having her. He kept saying she was nothing but a whore and would be treated as he saw fit. He or his buddies could do anything they wanted. If she wanted to stay alive she’d do as she was told or they’d kill her. She did the only thing she could think of under the circumstances, she took an overdose of pills and died. My father had gone from a white collar criminal to a murderer." The look on De’s face was one of complete and utter despair. She seemed so lost and alone. I pulled her into my arms and held her to me. We both cried, not for the addict who destroyed herself, but for the tiny child left alone with not one single soul to care whether it lived or died. No one deserves that; we all need someone to love us. I don’t know how long we lay there wrapped in each other’s warm love, but finally De moved slightly, and I asked her to tell me the rest.

"Can you tell me what happened then?" I asked softly.

"Lassiter left me with the nuns, who took care of me. He didn’t have any use for a baby. A child didn’t fit into his plans at the moment. The nuns took good care of me, and I developed a bond with one of the nuns. Her name was Sister Gretchen. She was an older nun, but she encouraged me to study hard. She was sure I could make something of myself if given the chance. When I was about eleven, Lassiter sent Clanton to get me. The nuns, Sister Gretchen in particular, weren’t gonna let him take me. But after several failed attempts, Lassiter showed up with his attorney and a Federal Marshall no less and the nuns were forced to release me into his custody."

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Why now?

"De, why would he come to find you after eleven years? It doesn’t make sense," I said. De simply shook her head.

"I guess I it finally suited his purposes. Dominic Lassiter had been a very busy boy in the preceding years. He had built up quite a business in white collar crime. He controlled the most successful of The Fortune 500 corporations on the West Coast, Lassiter Enterprises." I was amazed.

"I remember that corporation. They manufactured computer main frames didn't they?"

"Yes, but it wasn't that squeaky clean. It was a front for his other more lucrative illegal activities. Bank fraud, stock manipulation, money laundering. You name it, he was into it, and he didn't have a problem having people killed to get what he wanted."

"And you were to inherit it all?" I asked softly. De simply nodded her head.

"Remember I said a child didn’t fit into his plans? Well, I finally became useful. He intended to groom me to take over his empire when he was gone. I had the best of everything. The best education money could buy. The finest couturiers designed my clothes. I wanted for nothing except love."

I was incensed.

"Oh De, I’m so sorry. I...I...don’t...God, what can I say? I’m just flabbergasted. If that bastard were standing here now, I would tear him to pieces with my own hands." I could have expected almost anything from De, but definitely not the reaction I received.

"Nooooo!!! Promise me you won’t do that. God please don’t."

I was astounded. The next words out of my mouth were even more surprising.

"De, my God! Why would you want to protect that scum? He made your life a living hell. He destroyed countless lives with his poison and cruelty. How could you want to defend him for all that?" De’s face fell. There was a look of shame and hurt evident in her beautiful eyes. When she did speak, it was with surprising, quiet determination and forthrightness.

"Cody, I could care less about that son of a bitch. It’s you who are important to me. I don’t want you to destroy your life because of him or because of me. If you were to kill him, you would be bringing yourself down to his level. You are such a beautiful soul, I couldn’t live with myself if you compromised your values for me." I didn’t think it was possible for me to love this woman more, but at this very instant, I found I loved her more than it was possible to love anyone.

"Oh baby, I love you so much. I would do anything to protect you. And I’m not so pure as you might think. Remember I have a past I’m not so proud of too. Together, we will work through this. We’ll find Clanton and see to it that he is brought to justice, and Lassiter will remain in prison where he belongs. But listen to me, De. Don’t expect me to stand idly by and let him hurt you ever again, because I won’t. I promise you, if it’s a choice between you and Lassiter, I choose you every time. Got it?" A nod.

"I got it," my lover replied. "It's just that I feel so dirty. The things I did for him, horrible things. I killed people at his command. For what, power and wealth. He seduced me with all the things I never had before. He told me anything I wanted I could have. He made sure I never wanted for anything. All I had to do was follow orders and I could have it all." I knew De had to get it all out, so I urged her to continue.

"Can you tell me how you felt through it all?" Cerulean tearfilled eyes bore into my soul.

"Oh Cody, God help me I liked it. I was thrilled by the power. I liked that people paid attention to me. I was beautiful and people were drawn to me like a moth to a flame. I could have any man or woman I wanted, and I wanted it all. As I got older, I realized the control I could exert over people with a mere glance. It was intoxicating and I reveled in the feeling. God Cody, I used people and because of me, people died and I didn't even give it a second thought."

De's beautiful azure eyes blinked several times and grew heavy. She barely got the next few words out of her mouth before she stifled a yawn. I stroked her raven tresses as she settled deeper into my embrace.

"Babe, I'm really sorry, but can I tell you the rest of this tomorrow? I’m really tired, and I know you went through the same couple of days I did. You must be exhausted too. Let’s get some sleep. We’ll worry about Dominic Lassiter tomorrow."

I stroked my lover’s raven hair and whispered.

"Yes, my love. I would like nothing more than to lay here and...well...uh...there is one other thing, but I think we’re both too beat for that." I received a wicked smirk for my comment. The next thing I knew, I was laying flat on my back staring up into beautiful, desire filled, limpid pools pinning me in place. Then warm lips and tongue descended and began devouring my neck, throat, and ear. I could do nothing, nor did I want to do anything except lie there and be consumed by De’s lust. "Or maybe not...yes baby, that feels so good." That was the last coherent thought I had for the next several hours as we both reveled in each other. Each touch and caress took us both to a land of pure ecstasy, one from which I never wanted to return.


Morning found us with our limbs entwined, our naked skin touching every surface. A lovely face was slightly obscured by unruly inky tresses covering both her face and my chest. Warm puffs of air stimulated my breast with each exhalation my love took. Careful girl, don’t go there, I thought. I stroked her cheek and gently kissed her head. I will always be here for you, my love. The revelations from the night before had left me physically and emotionally bereft, and there was still more to come. God I wish she didn’t hurt like this. I want us to be happy. I don’t want the past to destroy our love. I made myself a vow right then and there that I would do anything and everything I could to ensure our love wouldn’t be damaged in any way. I snuggled deeper into our warm nest and drew small, loving little circles on my love’s bare back. She felt so good in my arms. I could stay here forever, but reality reared its ugly head in the form of a screaming bladder. I was afraid just the tiniest bit of pressure in the wrong place would result in a flood to rival the one for which Noah built the Ark. Reluctantly, I slid out from under my lover’s long, warm, sensual body and headed to the bathroom. Huck and Finn lifted their heads and eyed me curiously.

"What are you looking at?" I sneered. "You’ve seen me naked before." A low sexy contralto voice reverberated from the bed.

"Yeah and a mighty sexy sight you are too," De murmured.

"Mmmm, hold that thought," I replied, "I’ll be right back. Nature calls."

I looked at myself in the mirror and decided I could use a good night’s sleep. I had bags and dark circles under my eyes. My hair, as usual, was sticking up and out all over my head.

"God what a mess," I murmured as I lowered my head into the sink. I didn’t hear De come, but I felt her warmth behind me, her body cuddling up against my ass and back. I opened my eyes to see her standing a full head higher than me. She nuzzled my neck and whispered in my ear. While she fondled my bare breasts she whispered.

"A very beautiful mess. Watch my love. Look at the way your body responds to my touch. Your nipples are so hard and erect. Your aureoles are puckered and wrinkled."

She caressed my swollen nipples firmly. She pinched and pulled on the erect peaks. She kissed and nibbled on my neck and ear while she worked my body with her hands. One hand moved lower until her fingers tangled in my dark brown patch of coarse hair covering my womanhood.

"Hmmm, baby, you’re so wet. I can smell your arousal. You want this, don’t you." I closed my eyes and groaned deep in my throat. My lover would have none of that.

"No don’t close your eyes. Watch or I’ll stop."

I could only groan again, but I forced myself to watch my lover’s ministrations. I leaned my head back against a broad strong shoulder. I watched my lover’s long slender fingers slip between my warm, wet folds. I felt those fingers dip and twirl in the wet velvety softness that was my burning center. Oh it felt so good. I moaned my pleasure and bit my lip to keep from screaming out my need. De dragged her fingers through my wetness and then removed them abruptly. I groaned my displeasure and begged her to continue.

"Please De, my God don’t stop." My lover merely shook her head.


She took the fingers that only moments ago were playing in my sex and brought them up to her nose and took a long breath inhaling my scent deep into her lungs. Then she took each finger into her mouth and sucked and licked each finger clean, savoring the taste and smell.

"Mmmm, you taste so good baby. Hear taste yourself. Lick my fingers clean." Once again, my love dipped her fingers deep inside my nether lips and coated her fingers with my juices. Slowly she brought the slick digits to my mouth. I took one finger into my mouth and began licking it clean. I repeated the procedure with the three soaked fingers. Again De’s fingers returned to my sloppy wet pussy. But this time instead of exploring my wet sex, De drove her fingers deep inside me and began plunging in and out. I screamed out my pleasure as she fucked me.

"Oh God yes, De. Please don’t stop. Ugh, God your fingers feel so good inside me. More baby. I need more," I gasped. Obediently, De slid two more fingers in to accompany the two already thrusting in and out. "Yes, by the Gods yes!!!" While De was pleasuring me with one hand, the other was attacking my breast, kneading and pinching the sensitive flesh. My lover’s luscious lips found the tender skin of my neck and throat and began feasting there. Her gentle sucking matched the rhythm of her fingers thrusting steadily in and out of my burning core. I could feel my orgasm tingling on the edges of my barely conscious mind. It began building and growing stronger. My lover sensed the changes in my body and picked up the pace of our lovemaking. Her fingers began pistoning in and out faster and harder. I felt myself being pushed forward slightly as my lover began grinding her hips against my ass. The strong fingers left my breast momentarily as De spread her swollen labia and her hot soppy cunt came into contact with my ass.

"Aaahh, my God Cody, that feels so damn good. Feel me fucking you. I love you so much. I love the way your body responds to me. You love this don’t you? Tell me how good this feels."

I could no more form coherent speech than fly. I grunted and groaned as De’s hot swollen clit rubbed up and down my ass. De hunched and groaned with each thrust of her fingers inside me. The sounds of our lovemaking filled the bathroom and echoed off the walls. My groans turned into a long loud keening sound and turned into an all out scream when De began rubbing my clit with her thumb. Her name left my lips in a rush. De thrust her hips forcibly against me one last time and we climaxed together. All the colors of the rainbow flashed before my eyes as my orgasm hit me. My legs could no longer hold me and I would surely have fallen if it were not for the strong arms of my world holding me close. My climax had barely ended when I heard and felt a low, contented growl erupt from my lover’s throat and vibrated against my back. My world was obviously sated.

"De, hold me please. Don’t ever let go of me. I need you so much. I love you baby."

"I’ve gotcha love, and I won’t let go, ever."

De turned me in her arms and lifted me effortlessly in her strong arms and carried my limp form into the bedroom. She laid me down in our bed and spooned in behind me. Our naked bodies were pressed tightly together front to back. My baby pulled the covers over our cooling bodies. She stroked the hair away from my face and placed soft butterfly kisses all along my cheek, neck, and shoulder. Her left arm pulled me tighter against her chest, with my butt nestled against the dark patch of hair covering her womanhood. Long slender fingers drifted down to cover my mons. There was nothing sexual in the movement, only a loving caress. Her hand covered my mound and pressed my sex gently, massaging tenderly.

"Oh how I love you my darling," she whispered, "Sleep now, we’ll talk more when we wake up, I promise." I nodded and snuggled deeper into my lover’s embrace, content in the knowledge I was well and truly loved.

Chapter 2: A Living Hell

I awoke to find my partner gone from our bed. The place beside me where she lay was still warm, so I knew she couldn’t have been up long. I listened for any sounds that would indicate where my missing love might be. There was no sound of running water in the bathroom, so I knew she wasn’t there. I lay still for a moment longer until a loud crash reverberated through the loft apartment. I sprung from bed and grabbed De’s T-shirt and threw it over my head as I ran down the hall.

"De, my God De, are you all right?" I yelled.

I came to a screeching halt at the kitchen door where I found what caused the noise. Two canine culprits were careening out the door and down the stairs narrowly avoiding the boots flying after them.

"Dammit you two," De yelled, "how many times have I told you to stay out of my kitchen. Now beat it, the both of ya, before I get really mad."

There, on the floor, was the reason for the tirade. A stainless steel bowl, formerly filled with whipped eggs, chopped bacon, scallions, and green peppers, was turned upside down. I tried really very hard not to laugh, but the woebegone look on my lover’s face was just too priceless. At the sound of my giggles,the raven head snapped around and peircing blue eyes glared menacingly in my direction. I just shook my head and knelt down next to my partner.

"Oh don’t even try that glare on me," I warned, "it won’t work cause I’m immune to your intimidation tactics." And to prove it, I kissed her quickly on the end of her nose.

"Is that so, little missy," De growled, "we’ll just have to see about that now won’t we? Just why am I not able to intimidate you, my dear? Would you enlighten me please?" I kissed her again, this time on her lips, gently, tenderly. I let the kiss linger just a bit before I broke away.

"Simple, I’ve seen you naked." I thought De was going to choke on her tongue, so I pressed on. "You see, every time you try one of your little glares on me, I just picture you naked and I have to smile." A small pout covered my love’s face.

"You think I look funny naked?" I shook my head.

"On the contrary," I explained, "I picture you and me together and all the pleasure that wonderful body of yours gives me, and I have to smile. How can I be intimidated by the one person, in all the world, who loves me and whom I love above all else. Make sense?" In answer, two strong arms encircled me and pushed me gently back onto the floor. Soft ruby lips descended on mine, and long slender fingers dipped lower to play in my sex.

"I want you so much my love," De murmured. I groaned at the contact of our lips and tongues as they came together. I could feel De’s fingers stroking the length of my sex gently.

"Then take me," I whispered. Three fingers entered me swiftly, forcefully, painlessly. De straddled the thigh I raised for her pleasure and she began to ride me in a rhythm matching her fingers inside my sex. "Yes baby," I groaned, "just like that. Mmmm it feels so good."

Our inpending satisfaction was rapidly approaching. Both of our bodies were producing enough fluid to float a ship, and my love’s essence left a wet trail up and down my thigh. She grunted with the effort, her hair sticking to her face. I reached up under her shirt and grasped round firm breasts and tweaked hard, throbbing nipples. I could tell De was ready to cum, and I wanted to cum with her. I slipped one hand between my thigh and her pussy and plunged two fingers deep inside my baby’s cunt.

"That’s it baby ride me. Cum with me baby, now please." My entreaty threw De quickly over the edge and I along with her. My love collapsed on top of me and we lay there in the middle of the floor next to a puddle of raw eggs and bacon. When we both had recovered sufficiently enough to breathe, I spoke.

"I guess we better clean up this mess." A dark eyebrow arched into dark bangs at my comment. "I meant the eggs, sweetheart, although you and I could use a shower too. Go on, go get washed up, and I’ll clean up this mess and fix breakfast. Then I’ll go shower." De rose effortlessly and then helped me to my feet as well. I found myself locked in an iron embrace with soft lips nuzzling my neck. When they reached my ear, the lips moved to form words.

"We could take a shower together and save water." It took all the strength I had to resist my lover’s request, but somehow I did.

"Baby, if we took a shower together, we wouldn’t get very clean, I’m afraid." De couldn’t find the logic in that statement.

"Just what is your point?" she murmured. I pushed her away slightly so I could look in her eyes, which was almost my undoing.

"Darling, we would make love again, not that I wouldn’t like that, because I would. But we need to get going or the day will be half gone. We have a lot to do, and besides that, Maggie will have our hides if we don’t fill Unc and her in on all the stuff that happened on the mountain. So if you don’t want to face that...that...force of nature, you better get moving." Reluctantly De released me, but not before she captured my lips in a passionate kiss.

"Okay, but we’re not finished yet."

I smiled a silly grin only people in love have.

"We’ll never be finished, my love." I whispered.

We stole one last kiss and turned away to each begin our respective tasks. It wasn’t long before I had the mess cleaned up and breakfast on the table. I had already made a decision that De and I definitely needed to go grocery shopping. Due to the little disaster with the dogs, I had to use the last of the eggs, milk, cheese and bacon for our breakfast. Yeppers, a trip to the market was definitely in order. I could hear De’s booted feet coming down the hallway as I was pouring the coffee. De appeared in the dining room dressed in boots, jeans, and her favorite denim shirt. A pale blue neckerchief was tied around her neck. Her leather belt was fastened in place by a solid gold buckle with a horse head engraved in the center.

"Hey babe," I said, "sit down. Your breakfast is ready. Would you like some juice?" De nodded enthusiastically since she couldn’t speak. She was chewing a mouthful of scrambled eggs and bacon. "Taste all right?" I asked. Again another nod. She swallowed and took a sip of the hot black coffee I had poured for her.

"Honey, this is really good. Where did you learn to cook?" I wanted to let her know the truth, that I was only a marginal cook. I did breakfast really well, and some other basic foods, but for the most part, I ate out a lot.

"Sweetheart, I’m really not that good of a cook. I like breakfast foods, so I learned to cook them really well. Heck, I could eat breakfast three meals a day." De agreed.

"Me too," she mumbled as she took another bite of food. "I guess I like breakfast so well because it’s easy and doesn’t take too long to fix. Mmmm, I’m stuffed. Thank you babe." I arose from my chair and kissed my love’s dark crown.

"I’m glad you enjoyed it. We really need to go grocery shopping. We are out of everything. Would you like some more coffee?" I started to walk to the counter to get the coffeepot, but De’s hand on mine stopped me. I turned to gaze into very serious lapis pools.

"Sit down Cody, please." De pulled out the chair next to hers and I sat down. "You said we just now. Twice. When you referred to grocery shopping and being out of stuff, you said we. Uh, what exactly do you mean by we?" I had forgotten De’s insecurity about our growing relationship. I had no problem reassuring her.

"Honey, I meant we, as in you and me together, forever, for always. I love you baby. Nothing you have told me about your past or nothing you will tell me about your past will change that fact. I am yours forever. I love you unconditionally." I stared deeply into cobalt blue to try and find some understanding and acceptance. What I saw there shook me all the way to my toes. I saw fear, but love and trust as well. Then the tears began to fall down sculpted cheeks.

"But I don’t deserve to be loved. I have done nothing but hurt the people who tried to love me. I pushed them away or worse, I used and abused them. If that didn’t work, I ran. I hurt so many people before. I don’t want to hurt you too, and I’m afraid I will hurt you too. God I don’t want that."

I was instantly annoyed, but I had to try to remain calm and explain as best I could to make De understand just how much I loved her.

"De listen to me. You do deserve love. Baby we’ve all done things in our past that we aren’t proud of. I have guilt over things I did too. But baby, you have to get past that. Let it go. You are a good person now. I never knew the old De, but I have to believe if your father hadn’t done those unspeakable things to you; you would never have done the things you did either. You were trying to survive. God only knows how any of us would react under the same set of circumstances. Please accept my love; don’t throw away this chance for happiness. Please let me in; let me love you, because I do. So very much." I gently cradled my lover’s cheek in my palm. De rubbed her cheek back and forth in my hand as I wiped away a single tear with my thumb.

"I do love you Cody, and I so want you in my life. It’s just...I...uh...damn this is hard," she sighed.

"Take your time my love, I’ll always be here for you."

"I’m afraid you’ll be hurt because of me. Lassiter...he’ll stop at nothing to own me again. Once he finds out I’ve messed up his plans, he’ll do all he can to make me pay. That includes harming the people I love."

The thought of confronting that bastard would be something akin to going through hell, but I was damned if I'd let him hurt my darling.

"De, I know he’s a dangerous man, an evil man. But I’ll not leave you. He’ll not frighten me away. You and I are going to face this together. Not only that, Unc will help us too. People here love you De and we’ll do everything we can to protect you. Now, I’m gonna go shower. I cooked, you clean up." A scowl covered my baby’s face. "Oh didn’t I mention that little deal? I’m sorry. We have a partnership. We share everything. It’s kind of a rule in this family, a tradition almost, always has been. The person who cooks doesn’t have to do dishes." De’s expression got only darker. Oh shit. I knew I was in trouble, big time. "Now honey, it’s not so bad. Look, see? We have a dishwasher. It won’t take you long, and you won’t even have to get your hands soapy." I grinned hopefully and then did the mature, adult thing. I ran like hell to the bathroom before De could react.


"I just wish I knew what was going on," Maggie said worriedly. "They should have been here for breakfast an hour ago. It’s not like Cody to miss my sausage and cheese casserole." Doan Fleming listened quietly and patiently to his housekeeper’s tirade. He looked pensively at the Italian woman, reorganizing his thoughts. Housekeeper, that word doesn’t really describe what the woman really meant to the elderly rancher. Companion. Yes, that’s better. But even that word doesn’t explain who or what this charming woman was to the man. He walked over to the distraught woman and wrapped a long, strong arm around her shoulders.

"Now listen Maggie," Doan said softly. "The girls are fine. They had breakfast at De’s. They’ll be over shortly and we’ll all have a long talk." Maggie looked at Doan, trying to determine whether or not she was going to slap him or kiss him.

"Just how do you know that; would you please tell me?" The Italian woman’s temper was beginning to rise rapidly.

"I called De’s loft just a few minutes ago. She said Cody was still in the shower, but as soon as she was finished, they’d be over. De was doing dishes," Doan grinned. Good girl Cody, Doan thought..

"Really. She told you that, did she?" Maggie asked suspiciously.

"Well, not in so many words, but I heard the sound of breaking glass. She dropped a cup and it broke." Maggie slapped Doan playfully on the shoulder.

"You old fraud," Maggie grinned, "you were just as worried as I was. You can’t fool me." De and I walked into the kitchen as Maggie finished her statement.

"Who’s worried about what?" I asked.

"Yeah, what’s going on?" De queried. Both Doan and Maggie whirled around to face us. The looks on their faces left little room to doubt about their state of mind where we were concerned.

"Are you serious?" Maggie cried. "You nearly get yourselves killed, we know nothing about the goings on between you two, and you have the gall to ask us what’s going on? Why I otta take the spoon to both your backsides. In fact..." Doan stopped the small, but fiery woman in mid-rant.

"Maggie, calm down. The girls are going to explain everything, aren’t you Cody?" The tone of Unc’s voice, and the expression on his face, left no room for discussion. De and I had a lot of explaining to do, and we’d best get to it.

"Of course Unc," I replied as I took De’s hand in mine. "We have a lot to tell you about what happened on the mountain and about what happened between us." I felt the muscles in De’s arm tense at the last part of my statement. I stroked the back of her hand with my thumb to reassure her.

"All right," Maggie said, "you two sit down, and I’ll get the coffee."

De and I did as ordered, but when De sat down, I chose not to sit in the chair next to her, but rather in her lap. I snuggled into an embrace readily given, and lay my head on a broad shoulder. I felt soft lips kiss my forehead, and realized I was home, truly home. I would do anything and everything in my power to protect and keep what I had with De, Unc, and Maggie. I felt deep down in my heart the one person who couldn’t be here now, my father, would be proud and supportive of me too. Maggie arrived with the cups and coffee. I sat up slightly to help distribute the cups. Maggie stood next to us with her arm around De’s shoulder, and poured the streaming, rich smelling liquid into our cups. She kissed us both on the head, resulting in De’s slight blush at such a blatant show of affection.

"Okay you two, fess up," Unc said, "let’s hear this, and I don’t want the abbreviated version I got last night."

We both nodded and I began. We told Unc everything that happened on the mountain, and a few pointed questions from Maggie didn’t allow us to leave anything out.

"My Good Lord," Maggie gasped at our revelations, "you both could have been killed! What on earth were you thinking?" De explained our plan, and the reason we took the chances we did.

"Maggie, there really was no other choice. The men actually doing the rustling were small potatoes. Between them, they shared a brain the size of a half of a dried up pea. Haskel wasn’t even the brains of the organization. He was taking orders from someone else higher up the ladder. If we let those men escape, we would have lost our chance to break up this rustling ring." Unc nodded.

"Maggie," Unc said and took her hand, an action that wasn’t lost on De and me. "As much as I hated the fact that the girls were in danger, they did the right thing. Those men had to be stopped. Hon, it’s not just us, there are other ranchers who are losing stock. We have to think of them too." Unc turned to us for his next question. "De, who is this Martin Clanton?" De’s whole body tensed at the mention of Clanton’s name. I turned in De’s lap to stare directly into my beloved’s eyes and spoke softly. I rubbed her shoulders and arms as I spoke.

"Baby, we’re family here. You can tell Unc and Maggie everything. Please don’t be afraid. I am here with you all the way. I love you, please?" I kissed my lover’s lips as a sign of my love and support. I wanted Unc and Maggie to know just how much I loved De and that she would now be a part of my life forever. Our foreheads touched as my baby whispered.

"I love you, Cody. Don’t leave me baby," De implored.

"Never my darling, never," I replied earnestly. We pulled slightly apart, and I resettled in my baby’s arms, and leaned back against De’s strong shoulder, my head tucked neatly under her chin. Unc and Maggie smiled.

"Some things never change," Unc chuckled, "right, Maggie?"

"That’s for sure," Maggie replied. De’s confused look brought about an explanation.

"When Cody was little, she used to climb up on her dad’s or my lap and snuggle in like she’s doing with you De. It’s the ultimate sign of trust our little girl uses to show how safe she feels with you. You take care of our baby De, you understand? Don’t you ever hurt her." I had to step in to protect my love’s fragile psyche. I knew how she would react to Unc’s warning because instantly I felt De’s body tense with fear and shame.

"Unc, De and I are together forever. De would never hurt me; I know that. I want you to understand that too." De relaxed considerably, but the shame she felt from her past was still there running very close under the surface like a strong undercurrent ready to pull her down.

"Cody, my love, Doan is right to be concerned. He knows about the time I spent in jail. He knows what I’m capable of; he’s just trying to protect you. You should listen to him." Now Unc wasn’t happy.

"Whoa, just rein in there young lady. I meant no such thing. Your being in prison has nothing to do with my concerns for Cody. What I meant was, you make damned sure nothing happens to you, because that would hurt Cody beyond measure. And just so you’re very clear on this point young woman, I don’t want anything to happen to you either." De was speechless, but fortunately, that was never a handicap from which I suffered.

"Thanks Unc, we appreciate your concern. But De and I are going to be very careful. I won’t let anything happen to her, nor will she let anything happen to me. Right De," I asked.

"Absolutely, I love Cody very much Doan. I will work for the rest of my life to be worthy of her love. And with what I’ve done in my past, I have a lot of atoning to do." I tried to interrupt, but De wouldn’t allow it. "No, Cody listen. It’s time all of the garbage to come out. Maggie and Doan and you need to know everything. I can’t allow us to build a life together without getting all this out in the open, and frankly, I’m tired of packing it around." De paused to look in my eyes and then kissed me tenderly.

"All right baby," I whispered, "but if it gets to be too much, you can stop any time. I...we’ll all understand." I stroked my lover’s cheek with the back of my fingers and returned her kiss.

"Yes, well then, lets get started." De began her tale of how she had been abandoned and then taken back to her father when she was eleven.

"I was confused and frightened. The convent had been my only home, the only family I had. While the nuns were strict, they loved me in their own way. They were always very kind to me and encouraged me to study hard. With Lassiter, I was never allowed to go to to a regular school. I had tutors to begin with and then I was sent off to a boarding school near Zurich, Switzerland. I didn’t understand what he did for a living, but I was soon to learn very quickly he was a very powerful and feared man. I spent three years in Switzerland and when I came home, I was expected to begin learning the business. My grades were excellent and I was admitted to Harvard. I received an MBA in three years, unheard of for someone so young. When I returned home, I was expected to marry and bear a child to carry on the Lassiter name. What I didn't know was all the dirt the Lassiter name stood for." I wasn't sure where De was heading with this part of her confession.

"Honey what do you mean, dirt?" I asked.

"The Lassiter fortune was built on other people's misfortune. My father was a corporate raider. Besides laundering money, engaging in fraud and all the rest, Lassiter Enterprises took over other companies for pennies on the dollar. But he needed insider information. That's where I came in. I was the person who would find out what Lassiter needed to know. All I had to do was seduce the right people, men or women, it didn't matter, take them to bed and presto, their companies were ours. What information they thought they told me in confidence was made common knowledge in Lassiter Enterprises Corporate Headquarters. All my liasons were video taped. When the people involved were confronted with the evidence of their indisgression, they all caved and gave Lassiter whatever he wanted. Companies and families were destroyed. Some people went so far as to commit suicide. As for my father, he became even wealthier, and he had the added benefit of getting off by watching his daughter fuck the competition. And I was responsible for all that damage and suffering. What's worse, I loved the power I had over these people."

The three of us sat in stunned silence. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. The pain and shame was written all over her beautiful face. De stopped, the tears sliding silently down her cheeks. I couldn’t stand to see her this way.

"Oh De, my darling, stop this. It isn’t important enough to put you through this pain. Please baby." Unc and Maggie agreed.

"Yes, my sweet child," Maggie said, as she engulfed my lady in her arms, "don’t go on with this. All that matters is the person you are now. You are a part of this family, and nothing that happened in the past means one damn thing to the person you are now, the person we love and cherish."

"Maggie’s right darlin’," Unc added, "that bastard is worse that dirt. He’ll get his for what he did to you. I promise you that." De was visibly touched.

"Thank you, all of you, I appreciate your love and concern. But I have to get this out. I need it for me as much as for you." De turned my head to face me. "Especially for you, my love." I nodded.

"Okay, but remember, anytime you want to stop, do it."

"This went on for five years. Lassiter had planned some big party with some of his contacts. There were also some very influential politicians he had bought and paid for. They voted in congress the way he wanted. And to keep them happy, he provided them with women. Sexual favors were a big bargaining chip where he was concerned. The procedure was pretty much the same as always. I took the mark to bed, and Lassiter took care of the rest. What the politicians didn’t know was they were taped in these compromising situations. After the fact, when it was too late, they were shown the tapes, and then Lassiter had them lock, stock, and barrel. He never had to put out another dime to maintain their loyalty. Just like me, they were bought and paid for." I didn’t want to hear this, but De insisted on continuing.

"I was dressed to the nines, as always, in a long gown split up one side to my waist, and the neckline lunged to my navel. I wore just the right amount of make-up and my tanned skin made me look more like a goddess. An influential senator by the name of Hendricks was my mark. Lassiter told me I had to perform for him, do everything he wanted, just make sure we got it all on tape. The senator didn't last long, I was very good at my job. After it was over, the senator left, and Agnes our housekeeper came in and took care of me. This night was different. She found me curled up on the bed in a fetal position crying. I was sick and tired of all this crap. Agnes cleaned me up and held me all night while I cried. I kept asking why? Why was my father forcing me to do these things? She had no answer except to say he was a monster and one day he would pay for his crimes. So that was the beginning of a period consisting of nothing but suffering." The tears were falling unbidden now, and I held onto my love for dear life. In a few moments she was ready to go on.

"The next few years were hell. They were an unending cycle of lies and sex. I serviced the people Lassiter wanted and I got my power high. Then one of Lassiter’s little parties went sour. The FBI had been working for years to get enough on him to put him away. They had managed to get an undercover agent into Lassiter’s inner circle. When they had enough information, they moved in. The night of the party, SEC and the FBI raided the mansion. Everyone there was arrested, including Lassiter. Agnes managed to get me out of the house and kept me from being arrested. Maybe it would have been better if I would have gone to jail. Maybe then the next ten years wouldn’t have happened." I caressed my lover’s face and kissed her tears away. I rubbed her back to try to ease her pain.

"Anges took me to her sister’s place, but I knew I couldn't stay there long. The authorities wanted me just as much as my father. I moved from place to place, hiding from the police and FBI. Then one night I got a call from Spike. He worked at a club my father and I frequented when entertaining prospective 'clients'. Spike parked cars and he and I became frineds; I'd known him for several years. He wasn't much youger than I was, and desperately needed a friend. I became that friend to him. I didn't know at the time he was involved in a gang, but later I did, and he saved my life on more than one occassion. I had gotten into some bad stuff for a while with the gangs. They hid me out, and I felt safe with them. It also gave me the power fix I needed. Anyway, you know the rest. My father sent Clanton to set me up, Spike was killed, and I went to jail for murder." That was it then, De’s story in a nutshell. She had been used and abused until she was forced to fight back in the same way in order to survive.

"Oh sweetheart, I am so sorry. I wish I could take all those painful memories, the shame, and hurt away." I cried. "I love you so, and I promise we will get Lassiter. He won’t get away with what he’s done." Maggie hated to ask, but she had to know the rest.

"De, what does this Clanton character have to do with Lassiter?"

"He was, is Lassiter’s right hand. Clanton handles things for Lassiter while he’s been in prison. Lassiter still controls his crime ring from jail, and there doesn’t seem to be anything the authorities can do about it. Now I understand Lassiter is up for parole, and it looks like he may get out. He has members of the parole board in his back pocket too." Maggie was in a state of shock.

"You don’t mean they’re going to let him out do you? That’s insane!" Unc clasped Maggie’s hand in his.

"Yes Maggie it is. But there is no proof Lassiter is still behind all the crime that’s been taking place. If no one will testify, they have to release him. From what De says he has been an exemplary prisoner. Isn’t that right De?"

"I’m afraid so Doan. He has everyone bought and paid for. That’s why it is so important for me to find Clanton and get him to talk, before Lassiter’s parole hearing. From the information Constable Davies has, that’s coming up in less than a month." I didn’t like the ‘me’ part of De’s statement.

"Listen De, I agree Lassiter needs to be stopped and Clanton is the key, but I do have a little problem with one thing." De looked at me suspiciously.

"And what is that?" She asked.

"The ‘me’ part. You should have said we, because if you think I’m going to let you do this alone, you are out of your mind." Both De’s eyebrows disappeared under dark bangs.

"Cody, I appreciate your need to help me, but I will not allow you to put yourself in danger. That is one thing that isn’t negotiable. That’s in the first place. The second thing is that I am going to have to revert to the old me to get close to Clanton. I...I...I’m going to have to do things I don’t want you to even know about, let alone be a witness to. Baby please, promise me you won’t fight me on this."

To hell with that notion.

"Nope, I can’t, I won’t do that. You’re just going to have to figure out some other way, because I will not let you do this alone. End of discussion." I got up from De’s lap and pulled her up with me. "Listen to me, my love. I will not risk losing you to that life again. Besides, I can be very useful. You’re going to need someone on the outside you can trust. Who better than the one you love the most?" There, argue that one little missy. A long exasperated sigh escaped De’s mouth. She turned to Unc.

"Has she always been this pushy and contrary?" De asked.

"Yep, ‘fraid so," Unc grinned. "By the way, I think you should know, it’s a Fleming genetic trait. Better get used to it. I’m afraid you’re stuck with all of us. So, what’s your plan young woman? We don’t have a lot of time. Whatever we’re gonna do, we best get to it." De was stunned.

"You people are all crazy, you know that don’t you? This is very dangerous, and people are gonna die. I don’t want any of you hurt because of me."

Damn this woman is stubborn, I thought.

"Yeah so what’s your point. Unc’s right. We need to get going here. We’re not gonna let you do this alone, so get over it and move on."

Gotcha now darlin’.

"Oh God, I give up! All right. We’re in this together, but you have to promise me you’ll do exactly as I say, when I say it. Agreed?" We all nodded in unison. "Damn, I hope I don’t regret this," De sighed.

"Don’t worry, we’re all in this together. Lassiter and his goons don’t know who they’re about to deal with," Unc stated flatly. "Now De, what’s the first thing we need to do?"

"Pray, Doan. Say a prayer I don’t get us all killed before this is over."

This is the end of ‘Unfinished Business’. There’s more to come if you like. Let me know.

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