~ Murder by Association ~
by Tonya S. Coley

Disclaimers: This story is mine. The characters are mine. They do not bear a resemblance to a certain duo, who we all know and love. Although Wilmington is a real city, the names and places of certain areas have been changed to protect me from being sued.

Language: This story contains a lot of foul language.

Violence: This is a murder mystery, of course there's violence. Some of it is graphic.

Sex: This story contains details of a loving relationship between two women. Some scenes are very graphic. If this is not your cup of tea, or you are under the age of 18, I suggest you move on to something else.

Editing Credits: This story was edited by Katia N. Ruiz. Thank you for all your help.

Feedback: Please feel free to let me know what you think. Good or bad reviews I can take, but please don't be cruel. My email addy is Tcoley813@aol.com

Special Thanks: For Peaches. You helped me to see beyond myself, and gave me the courage to try something new. Muchos gracias, mi amiga.

© 2002

Chapter One

Wilmington, North Carolina. It was a warm sunny morning at the beach. The orange-yellow orb was making its ascent, signaling the beginning of a new day. Philip and Penelope Reid, a soon to be retired couple from New Jersey, were walking along the dunes.

"Isn't it beautiful here, Phillip?" Penelope asked. "The sunrise is spectacular."

He chuckled. "You always say the sunrise is spectacular, no matter where we go." He paused. "I will admit it is beautiful here. So, I guess I should buy that condo. That way, you can have this everyday during the summer months."

Penelope smiled broadly. "Phillip, that is a wonderful idea. We should bring the grandkids with us next year. They would absolutely love it here." She turned to face him, and kissed him lovingly on his lips.

They we walking and talking; making plans for the purchase, and next season with the grandchildren, when something caught Penelope's attention. When she stopped talking, Phillip looked in the direction that Penelope's gaze was fixed upon.

"What is the world is that?" Phillip asked.

Penelope said nothing, but pulled him closer to the mysterious object. Phillip's heart nearly stopped when Penelope released a blood-curdling scream that echoed along beach. Phillip looked in horror at the bloody and broken hand of a woman, partially buried in the dunes.

Detectives Johnetta Green and Pizo Petrillo arrived on the scene to begin their investigation. Johnetta was a striking woman of African-American and Native-American descent. She stood 5' 11" inches, with dark skin, broad shoulders, and was very muscular. One could tell that she worked out, hard. Her bowlegs accentuated her look. She wore black jeans, a crisp white shirt, and black shoes. Her hair, long, straight and black, was pulled back into her signature ponytail. In one word, she was gorgeous.

Pizo, on the other hand, was not so particular about his appearance. He did not look like someone on the job. He was 6'1" tall, and had the beginnings of a 'spare tire' around his middle. His attire made Columbo look like he wore Armani suits. His lightweight suit was wrinkled beyond belief. His hair, black, thick and curly, looked as if he never bothered to comb it. His beard was the only thing he was meticulous about.

"Mr. and Mrs. Reid, I'm Detective Johnetta Green." She said in her sensuously heavy voice, lightly peppered with a southern drawl. Her voice could melt butter. Kind of reminded you of Kathleen Turner's voice. She asked for details of what they found. They described what they were doing, and what they found. Penelope was in tears.

"That poor young woman." Mrs. Reid commented. "What a terrible sight. Such a horrible way to die."

"Johnnie!" Pizo yelled, motioning her to come to the other side of the dune.

"Excuse me, will you." Johnnie told the couple. "What is it?" She asked as she neared him.

"Check this out." He told her, pointing to a strap on dildo, claw hammer and bloody area on the sand.

She looked at it. "What in the hell is going on? Get that strap and hammer checked for prints."

Back at the precinct, Pizo was typing up the preliminary report. Johnnie walked over to his desk, which was directly in front of hers. "We got an ID on the body." He told her. "Her name was Valerie Mozingo. She was a twenty-one year old prostitute from Durham. She frequented a club called The Back Door. It's a lesbian bar on Berkeley. You familiar with it?" He asked, in his thick Brooklyn accent.

"I used to go there in my youth." She told him, nonchalantly.

He looked at her and smiled. "You make it sound like you're an old lady. Hell you're only thirty seven." He paused. "Let's go and check this old haunt of yours out."

"Okay, but you might be shocked at what you see." She told him.

"We've been partners for over six years now. You've whined to me about your love life, so nothing I see or hear could possibly shock me." He said, winking.

She gently punched him on his shoulder. "Fuck you."

They arrived at the bar, both taking a good look around.

"You came to a funky place like this?" He asked.

Johnnie continued to look around. "Damn." She said, shaking her head. "This place has really gone downhill."

She slowly walked over to the bar, clearing her throat to get the bartender's attention.

"What'll you have?" The bartender asked as she looked up. "Johnnie, is that really you?"

"Annie!" She replied, smiling at her. "Damn, you still work here?"

"Yeah. You still a cop?" She good-humouredly asked. Annie was a Native-American in her early forties. She stood about 6'3", with a deep bronze complexion, dark brown eyes, and was very muscular. She was the bar's bartender/bouncer.

"You know it." Johnnie said. "What happened to this place?"

"New owners, new clientele. Most of the old gang has moved on to greener pastures. Just scum now. Hookers and their potential clients." Annie told her.

"That's why we're here." Johnnie told her. "I'm sorry, this is my partner, Pizo Petrillo. Don't worry, he's cool."

"Hey, nice to meet you." Annie said as she extended her hand.

"Likewise." He told her, slightly grimacing at her strong grip.

"We need to know if you've seen this girl before. We heard she was a patron." Johnnie said, as she handed Annie the picture. She stopped, and warned Annie that the picture was graphic. It showed the victim in her post mortem state.

Annie took the picture and looked at it. She grimaced at the sight of it, nearly throwing up. "I know her. That's Val." She told them, with remorse in her voice. "She was a mixed up kid. She seemed pretty decent, like she really didn't belong in the lifestyle. You know what I mean. She shouldn't have been a hooker. I hadn't seen her in two days, though." Annie paused, in a feeble attempt to fight off her tears; a fight that she eventually lost.

Johnnie looked at her, knowing that the behemoth was a gentle person with a heart of gold.

"She was talking with this woman. I had never seen her in here before. She was fine as hell. She looked Hispanic, maybe late twenties, with long black hair, slender body. She wore dark glasses, but almost everybody that comes in here does."

"Do you think you can keep your ears open for me? Let me know if you hear anything, or if she comes in here again." Johnnie asked.

"Sure, babe. I know where to reach you." Annie said, shaking off her momentary display of what she felt was weakness. "Hey, are you still with that cute little..."

"Yes, and I'm very happy." Johnnie said, cutting her off.

Annie smiled. "Can't blame a gal for trying."

Pizo looked at Johnnie as they headed for the car. "Hey, did you two ever, you know?"

"No, I couldn't handle a woman like her." Johnnie said, smiling. "She would have torn me apart."

"I hear you." He told her. "Shift's almost over. You want me to take you home?"

"Nah. I have my car at the precinct. You can drop me off there." She said.

When Johnnie got home, she heard music coming from inside the house. She smiled, because she knew Alma was back from her business trip. She ran up the walkway, quickly putting her key in the door.

There she was in the kitchen, Alma Martinez, Johnnie's beautiful Mexican lover. She was 5'6", with short black hair. Her brown skin was flawless, and she had big beautiful brown eyes. Eyes that at one minute was so filled with innocence, could easily take on a fire that could seemingly burn you alive. At twenty-eight, Alma was pleasingly plump, curved in all the right places. She was preparing dinner for them. Johnnie sneaked up behind her and wrapped her arms around her waist. Alma jumped, but then realized it was her lover holding her.

"Oh, baby, I've missed you so." Johnnie told her, kissing her seductively on her neck.

Alma smiled and turned, kissing her passionately on her lips. "My love, I have missed you, too." She told Johnnie, in her thick Spanish accent.

Johnnie felt a yearning grow between her thighs. She had been without Alma for almost three weeks. "Turn off the burners, baby. I need you right now." She whispered, unzipping Alma's dress. Alma quickly turned everything off. Johnnie pulled Alma's hips into her, moaning in her ear.

They made it as far as the living room. Alma's dress was already off, and she was naked. Johnnie unbuckled her belt, swiftly pulling her pants and boxers down. She then kicked off her shoes and socks. Alma ran her hands down the front of Johnnie's shirt, slowly unbuttoning it. She kissed Johnnie's chest, brushing her lips seductively across each nipple. Johnnie moaned, wrapping her hands around Alma's waist, moving down to cup her buttocks.

"Alma, God how I've missed you." She whispered in her ear.

She sat down, and Alma straddled her thighs. She nibbled on Alma's nipples, and then slipped her hand down to touch her aching womanhood. Alma was wet and ready when Johnnie quickly slid her fingers inside Alma, immediately feeling the muscles quiver around them. Alma began to ride her fingers, slowly at first, then with more enthusiasm nearing orgasm. Johnnie moved them to the floor, slipping her thigh and fingers between Alma's. Just the feel of Alma's heat made her moan intensely.

They moved together in unison. Each enveloping the other's breasts, tongues, making them soar in search of orgasmic release. Alma whispered to Johnnie in Spanish over and over. "Como te amo, como te amo." She knew it excited Johnnie more when she spoke in her native tongue.

"Alma, I? I ...I'm coming." Johnnie exclaimed.

Alma was yelling, "Si, si, vengo." Both of them screamed together in ecstasy then lay spent in each other's arms. Alma then whispered, "Mi Dios, como te amo, bebe."

Alma had finished dinner. They talked about Alma's business trip while they ate. Her company had sent her to Virginia to meet with a consulting firm. "The president of the firm was very nice, and extremely attractive." Alma told her, trying to evoke a hint of jealousy.

"Oh really?" Johnnie inquired, arching her right eyebrow.

"I had dinner at her house almost every night." Alma added, smiling because she hit her mark.

"Funny, you never mentioned it when we talked on the phone." She said, looking at her intently. "Do I need to be afraid?"

"Of Victoria?" Alma asked, feigning innocence.

"Victoria, that's her name, eh?" Johnnie asked. She thought she would play along in the game Alma loved to play.

"She's almost your age. Deep dimples, black wavy hair with just a touch of gray at the temples. Mmm." Alma told her.

"It's a wonder you came back to me, then. I mean she really sounds hot." Johnnie sighed. She slumped her shoulders and lowered her head, acting hurt and defeated.

Alma started laughing. "You have no worries, my love. She's happily married with two sons."

"Damn, and to think I was gonna help you pack." Johnnie said, receiving a glare from Alma. "I knew you were kidding, baby. You try to play that game every time you come back from a long trip. I was on to you the entire time."

"Is that how you made detective, beloved?" She asked, as she seductively walked around the table. Alma sat in Johnnie's lap, straddling her. She jutted her breasts in Johnnie's face, taunting her. "The dishes can wait. Come, my beautiful lover, I want to show you just how much I missed you."

Johnnie inhaled Alma's scent. She could smell her desire, and a flame was lit in her belly. Johnnie stood, and Alma wrapped her legs around her waist. Alma placed soft kisses on Johnnie's cheeks and nose, as Johnnie purposely walked to their bedroom.

The alarm sounded at six a.m. Johnnie attempted to reach for it, when she realized Alma was on top her. After shutting off the clock she looked at her, sleeping so peacefully and contented, and thanked God for giving her such a loving woman. She gently brushed Alma's bangs from her forehead and lightly kissed it, causing Alma to stir.

"Good morning." Johnnie whispered, sleep still in her voice.

"Good morning to you, too." Alma sleepily responded. She sat up, straddling Johnnie. "Do you have to go in today?"

"Yeah, baby. We're working on a murder case." She told her. "Aren't you going to work?"

"I have the rest of the week off. This was an unusually long trip, so they gave me some time off." She said.

Johnnie sat up and cupped her face. "You deserve it, baby." She lovingly kissed her. "Now, I have to get ready for work."

Alma reluctantly moved to her side of the bed. "You want some coffee, baby?"

"I'll grab some at the station. You go back to sleep." Johnnie got up and headed towards the bathroom.

Pizo was already at his desk. Johnnie noticed how disheveled he looked.

"You look like shit, Pizo." She teased. "Decided to save time this morning by sleeping in your clothes?"

"I aim to please, Ms. Blackwell." He sarcastically retorted. "You and your fashion sense."

Johnnie was comfortably dressed in a neat loose fitting blue blouse, tucked in her starched Levi button fly jeans. She arched an eyebrow. "There's nothing wrong with taking pride in your appearance."

"Too fucking early in the morning for that shit, J. Stop busting my chops." He said.

"Okay, sloppy smurf." She said. "Anything come in from the boys in the lab?"

"Yeah, I was just going over the report. No readable prints, no DNA but the Vic's on the strap, and the blood at the scene was hers."

"Damn, nothing to go on. When will the coroner's report be ready?" She asked.

"He called just before you came in. His work up will be done in a couple of hours. He's waiting on toxicology. They're backed up down there. I told him we would stop by to get it." He told her.

"Green, pick up on line two." The desk sergeant yelled.

"Johnetta Green." She said, leaning against her desk as she cradled the phone to her ear.

"Johnnie, this is Annie. Can you stop by the bar today? I may have some info for you." Annie greeted.

"I have some business to take care of first. I'll stop by as soon as I'm done." Johnnie said. "Thanks Annie." She hung up.

Pizo looked at her. "Annie might have something for us." She told him.

They arrived at the morgue. The coroner, Dr. Murray, told them to follow him to the body.

"The victim had high levels of cocaine and alcohol in her system." He told them as he removed the sheet from the body. "There are ligature marks on her neck and wrists, meaning she was bound at some point. She has bruising on various parts of her body. Both hands and wrists were broken, also the right arm and her left cheekbone. She was penetrated vaginally and anally. There was minimal tearing in both areas, leading me to believe that she was not raped."

"So, she either had sex before she was attacked, or had sex with her attacker." She said.

"Yeah J, maybe she pissed her attacker off." Pizo added. "Is there anything else, Doc?"

"That's all I have." He told them.

"Thanks, Doc." Johnnie told him as they left.

Johnnie's cell phone rang while she and Pizo were on route to The Back Door. "Green. Talk to me." She answered.

"Hey, baby. Are you busy?" Alma asked.

Johnnie smiled. "No, love. Pizo and I are going to check out a lead. This is going to be a tough case."

"I was just calling to see what you might want for dinner." Alma told her.

"That's sweet, honey." Johnnie said. "I may be home late, so don't hold dinner. I can grab something while I'm out."

Alma sighed. "Querida, you don't eat healthy when you work late. I'll fix a light supper, and we can eat together."

"Okay, baby." Johnnie relented. "In case I'm tied up, don't wait up for me. It could turn into a long night."

"Alright my love." Alma said. "Will you promise me that you will be careful?"

Johnnie chuckled. "Of course I promise, Alma. I love you."

"I love you, too." Alma softly said. She hung up.

Johnnie put her phone away. Pizo had become quiet. Alma had told Johnnie that she believed Pizo has a thing for her. Johnnie shrugged it off as nothing. The closer she and Alma got, and when Alma eventually moved in, she wondered if Alma's suspicions were correct. Pizo was never rude to Alma, but she could tell that he really wished Alma wasn't in the picture.

"You okay, buddy?" Johnnie asked him. "You're awful quiet."

Pizo said nothing for a moment. "I'm okay. I was thinking about the case." He mumbled.

Johnnie knew he was lying. His voice would lower an octave, and he would seem withdrawn whenever he was upset. Although the silence was awkward, she didn't press him to talk to her.

Chapter Two

It was almost five o'clock when they arrived at the bar. There wasn't too much of a crowd yet. People coming in for an after work drink. Annie and a cute little bartender named Mandy were working the bar. Annie motioned them to the end of the bar, then to the storeroom so they could talk.

"I think I saw the girl that was with Val come in here last night. She looked a little different. She was wearing a Platinum wig. I saw her with Myra, but they didn't leave together." Annie told them. "Myra likes her customers butch, that's why she didn't leave with the mystery woman. She was too femme."

"Where is Myra, now?" Pizo asked.

"She might be in later. I can't really say, because she doesn't come in every night." Annie told him.

"Annie, can you come down to the station and give our sketch artist a description?" Johnnie asked her.

"Sure, J. Anything to help." Annie told her. "I'll be there first thing in the morning."

"Thanks, Annie." She said, smiling at her. "If Myra should show up tonight, you can reach me at the precinct, or home." She told her as she wrote her home number on the back of her card. "No matter what time, okay?"

"Will do." She said, taking her card.

As they walked from the storeroom, a lovely young Asian woman approached Johnnie.

"Would you like to dance?" She asked, taking Johnnie's large hand into her own.

Johnnie smiled. "Not this time, sweetheart. Can I have a rain check?"

"You can cash it anytime, Stud." She told her. "By the way, my name is Suki."

"Alright, Suki, some other time." Johnnie told her, flashing her 'million dollar' smile. Suki giggled.

When Johnnie and Pizo reached the car, Pizo was chuckling to himself.

"What's so funny?" She asked, cocking her head sideways.

"I don't think Alma would have liked that little scene back there. I can see her now, cursing you out in Spanish, while she snatched Miss Suki bald." He told her, doubling over in laughter.

Johnnie glared at him. "Alma has no worries. I was just being polite."

Pizo laughed harder at the picture in his mind. "I can see it now. No baby, it's not what you think. Wait, Alma. No, baby, not her hair. Then she turns her attention to you. Then you take off down the street, her swearing at you the entire way."

"Fuck you, Pizo. Just get in the damn car, already." Johnnie told him, chuckling to herself at the description. She had good reason to believe the scenario. Alma did have a volatile temper, Johnnie being at the receiving end of a couple of her tirades. Even though Johnnie towered over Alma, Alma would still stand toe to toe with her.

They worked at the precinct for the rest of the evening. They had estimated the time it would take to get from the bar to the beach between 15 to 30 minutes. Figuring in time for slow, romantic walking. They had a Caucasian woman, early twenties, and lesbian prostitute as the victim. They were meticulously putting the puzzle together, trying to figure out how the mystery woman played into this.

Pizo looked at his watch. "J, it's nine thirty. Let's call it a night."

"Yeah, I gotta get home. Alma's waiting for me." She said, unaware that it hurt Pizo. When she looked at him, she realized what she had done. She stood quickly to leave. "I'll see you tomorrow, partner."

"Goodnight, Johnnie." He told her watching her as she left.

Johnnie walked slowly to her front door. She put the key in and entered, and saw the light on in the den. She walked to the doorway, and saw Alma working at the computer. Johnnie walked over to her, and kissed her gently on the lips. Alma was dressed in nothing but a long sleep shirt. She pulled her glasses off, and studied Johnnie carefully.

"Have you eaten, baby?" She asked.

"No, I haven't had time." Johnnie told her.

Alma looked sternly at her. "I knew it. When you get wrapped up in a case, you won't eat properly. How can you chase bad guys if you're too weak?"

"Sorry, love. I wasn't thinking about eating." Johnnie whispered.

"Come on, tiger. Let's get you some food. I made a nice salad for dinner. I've already eaten, so I can fix yours in a jiffy." She told her, as she walked seductively past her.

'My, my, that woman sure knows how to move.' Johnnie thought to herself as she followed her to the kitchen. Alma was preparing the salad., and Johnnie got herself a beer. She sat down, unable to take her eyes away from Alma's body.

"Since it's so late, I figured you wouldn't want anything heavy." Alma said, smiling at Johnnie.

"Thanks, baby. Make it a small one." Johnnie paused, and ran her tongue across her lips. "I'm not really hungry, for food that is." Johnnie felt her sex begin to throb. "As a matter of fact, forget the salad. I'm gonna take a shower. Would you like to join me?"

Alma looked into Johnnie's heavily lidded eyes. She could tell that they weren't closing from being tired. She knew full well what her lover had in mind. "Absolutely, my love." She told her, taking Johnnie by her hand.

The warm water ran gently over their bodies, intensifying their passion. Johnnie gently kissed Alma's forehead and worked her way slowly down to her neck. Alma moaned, making Johnnie aware of the pleasure she was giving her. She ran her hands from the back of Johnnie's neck, tracing the well-defined muscles of her back. Johnnie's mouth found Alma's breasts, and she began sucking them. She licked and gently bit Alma's engorged nipples. Johnnie kneeled in front of Alma, tracing the soft curves of her belly with her tongue. She could smell Alma's heat as she rubbed her nose into the ebony curls before her. Johnnie teased Alma's pulsing and swollen clit, her tongue a whirlwind around it.

Alma draped a leg over Johnnie's shoulder. She grabbed the safety rack for support. Alma moaned loudly as Johnnie's tongue and mouth assaulted her swollen bud. Johnnie draped Alma's other leg over her shoulder and licked and sucked Alma's aching folds, finally sliding her tongue inside her. Alma began to move against the stiffened tongue, using the rack to aid in her gyrations. Johnnie groaned and met Alma's thrusts with some of her own. Alma's pace quickened and her moaning grew louder. She locked her legs around Johnnie's head, and screamed as a violent orgasm took over her body.

They dried each other off, as they kissed passionately. Alma released Johnnie's hair from it bun, and walked over to the drawer to retrieve Johnnie's strap on. She sat on the bed, as Johnnie stood in front of her. Alma kissed between Johnnie's thighs, running her tongue between the aching lips. She began to fasten the harness around Johnnie, strapping it tight, and nipped at the head. Alma leaned back, as Johnnie hovered over her, looking into her eyes with feral desire. Johnnie perched on her knees, rubbing the head against Alma's aching womanhood, promising with groans and moans that her every desire would be fulfilled.

Replacing the penis with her finger, she slid it inside Alma, coating her finger with Alma's free flowing nectar. Johnnie then stuck said finger into her mouth, moaning at the very taste of her. She separated Alma's lips, looking at the pulsing tunnel of wanting. Johnnie slowly eased the phallus inside, causing Alma to moan and shudder at her gentleness. Johnnie lowered herself onto Alma, as Alma wrapped her arms around her shoulders. Their gyrations were slow and deliberate, each enjoying the closeness. Alma's hand worked down Johnnie's back, grazing her nails across the smooth surface causing Johnnie to shudder.

Johnnie intensified the strength of her thrusts; long and powerful, then short and gyratory. She grunted and moaned in Alma's ear, urging her to reach her sexual peak. Her breathing became ragged, for she was nearing orgasm herself. The appendage that stimulated her own clit nearly drove her mad.

Alma's cries for release were almost deafening. She reached for Johnnie's granite like buttocks, trying to drive her faster and harder. Giving into her wishes, Johnnie started driving her hips like a piston, bringing them both over the edge. Alma's body writhed beneath Johnnie's, as she wildly convulsed above hers.

After many different positions and multiple orgasms, their sweat covered bodies lay a tangled heap. Alma kissed Johnnie and pulled her hair from wet shoulders. "I love you." Johnnie whispered as she fell asleep beneath Alma.

2:00 am. The phone rang, waking Alma. "Hello." She groggily answered.

Music was blaring in the background. "Yeah, I need to speak to Johnnie." It was Annie.

"Hold on a second." Alma told her. She turned to Johnnie, shaking her. "Honey, telephone." She put the phone on Johnnie's chest.

"This better be fucking good." Johnnie hoarsely said.

"She's here. Myra just walked in." Annie excitedly told her.

Johnnie sat up. "Try to keep her there. I'm on my way." She hung up the phone, and quickly went into the bathroom. She washed her face and brushed her teeth, not bothering to shower for fear of missing Myra.

"Baby, I'll be back as soon as I can." She told Alma, dressing quickly and rushing out the door.

"Where is she, Annie?" Johnnie asked, nearly out of breath.

Annie looked at her for a second. "Damn, I almost didn't recognize you with your hair loose." She said, smiling at her friend. "She's over by the DJ booth. She's the one in the black mini dress. I told her that I had a friend that wanted to speak to her."

"Thanks buddy." Johnnie told her. She pressed her way through the sea of dancing bodies. It was very crowded for a Thursday night. 'Don't these people have jobs to go to in the morning?' She thought to herself as she finally reached the woman she wanted to speak to. "Excuse me, are you Myra?" Johnnie asked, gently touching her shoulder.

Myra's eyes met hers. She smiled seductively and answered, "Yes, I'm Myra. You must be Johnnie." Myra was a very attractive African-American woman in her early thirties. She was petite in stature, with a nice round behind and big firm breasts. She had hazel eyes, which flattered her light complexion, and a sexy little mole on her left cheek. Her hair was dark brown, and fashioned in micro braids.

"Can we move to a quieter area?" Johnnie asked. "I would like to talk with you."

Myra gave her a little smirk, and told her that they could. Johnnie led her back to the bar, and she asked Annie if they could go into the storeroom to talk. Annie gave her the okay, and Johnnie led Myra to the back. Annie could see that Johnnie had Myra's complete and undivided attention. Myra winked at Annie and smiled.

Johnnie turned to her. "Myra before we get started, I think I should tell you that I'm a police..."

Myra shrieked her interruption. "You're a fucking cop? Oh hell no, you can't set me up. You approached me. Isn't that entrapment?"

"No, no calm down. I'm not here for that." Johnnie assured her.

Myra looked at her suspiciously. "Well, what do you want then?"

"I need to know about a woman who approached you last night. What can you tell me about her?" She inquired. "She was the one who wore the platinum blonde wig."

"Oh, her." Myra responded, with a little contempt in her voice. "She wanted me to go with her to the beach. Wanted to make love under the stars, or some bullshit like that. I told her I wasn't interested. She was a little too feminine for my taste. I like roughnecks. The kind that will fuck you so good, you'll go home and slap your mama." She smiled, looking Johnnie up and down lecherously. "Like you, for instance."

Johnnie chuckled at the analogy. "Can you describe her to me?"

"Well, she was Hispanic, late twenties or early thirties. She had gorgeous features; soft, full lips, smooth skin. If she wasn't so femme, I would have taken her up on it." She told her.

"Maybe it's a good thing you didn't." Johnnie told her. Seeing the confusion in Myra's eyes, and not wanting to reveal too much, she told her, "She might have been the one to sweep you off your feet. Then we might not have met." She paused at Myra's blush. "Here's my card. If it's not too much trouble, could you come down to the 3rd precinct this morning and give a description to our sketch artist? We would like to ask her some questions."

"Will you be there?" She asked, taking Johnnie's card. "If you're gonna be there, then I'll do it."

"I'll see you later then." Johnnie said.

"Well, if you're not busy now, maybe we can get some coffee or something." She said, walking closer to Johnnie, stroking her muscular arms.

Johnnie stepped back, taking Myra's hands into her own. "I don't like to mix business with pleasure. I have someone home waiting for me."

"Lucky girl." Myra disappointedly told her. "Tell her to watch her back." She added, smiling at her.

"I'll do just that. Thanks Myra." Johnnie told her, and then turned to leave.

Alma was sitting up on the side of the bed when Johnnie returned. She was quiet, which concerned Johnnie.

"What's wrong, Alma?" Johnnie asked, sitting beside her.

Alma looked up at her with tearful eyes. "I don't know what I'm going to do about Guillermo. He called here drunk, raving about what a sinner I am." She paused as the tears began to fall. "How I'm living in sin with a half-breed woman. He said I should be married and have children, living a normal life with one of our own."

Johnnie was pissed. Not because of the names that Guillermo had called her, but because Alma was so upset. She wondered how he could say that he loved her, and upset her every time he got the chance. Johnnie knew Guillermo hated her, because he felt that it was her fault that Alma was a lesbian. No one in Alma's family knew that she was gay. When she fell in love with Johnnie and came out, Guillermo blamed Johnnie for it. The fact that she was not Mexican didn't help her cause, either.

"Maybe I should have a little talk with him about calling and upsetting you." Johnnie said, her voice full of anger.

Alma could tell by her tone that she was not only going to "talk" to Guillermo, but most likely beat him to within an inch of his life. "Please don't, baby. He's just not used to us being together, that's all." She pleaded, her eyes filled with tears.

"Sweetie, he should be used to the idea by now. We've been together now for almost three years, and we are staying together." Johnnie told her. "You need to stop babying his ass."

Alma knew that Johnnie was getting tired of her little brother causing problems. Their relationship was a little rocky at first, because of him. He had insinuated that Johnnie was cheating on her while she was on an undercover assignment. It nearly cost them their relationship. "When he's sober, I will talk to him. I don't want you getting into trouble because of me." Alma told her as she stroked her cheek.

Johnnie took Alma's hand into her own. "Alma, it's not your fault that your brother hates me. He'd better get over it, and quick. I'm not going to have him upsetting you like this." She kissed her hand. "I'm gonna get ready for work, now. You should go back to bed, try to get some sleep."

"Not until I fix you a good breakfast." She told her.

"Okay, thanks. I am kind of hungry." Johnnie told her, wiping the tears from Alma's face.

Chapter 3

Johnnie told Pizo about her early morning meeting with Myra at the bar. She told him that she was going to come in, too, and give a description of the mystery woman. They were going over what little information they had, when Smitty, a beat cop, told Johnnie that someone was looking for her. He had a funny look on his face.

"What's wrong with you, Smitty? You look like you've seen a ghost." Pizo said.

"No ghost, Petrillo. Just the most enormous woman I've ever seen in my life. She's huge." He told him, his face was awe struck.

"Annie." Pizo and Johnnie said at the same time.

"Tell her to come on back." Johnnie told him.

Annie came striding towards them, looking like shit, possibly due to the long night she had. Fortunately, she had the courtesy to shower and change.

"Rough night, kiddo?" Johnnie asked.

"Rough woman." Annie told her, half smirking. "That Myra is a fucking tiger. It seems she was aroused, I mean really aroused, after talking with a particular police officer this morning." She and Myra would get together once in a while, whenever Myra wanted to be made love to for real. Not as hooker and trick, but woman to woman. Annie never had to pay, and Myra never wanted her to.

"Is she still coming in?" Pizo asked her.

"She'll be in later." She told him.

"Well, come on Annie. Jake, our sketch artist is waiting for you." Johnnie told her, leading her down the hall.

A couple of hours later, Myra went into the station looking for Johnnie. The desk sergeant pointed her to Johnnie's desk. She started smiling when she saw Johnnie leaning back in her chair with her feet propped up on her desk, talking on the phone. She slowly walked over to her, taking in the length of her legs. She saw how Johnnie's thigh muscles protruded against her jeans. Myra thought to herself how wonderful it must be to make love to her.

Johnnie saw her walking up to her, so she got off the phone and stood up. She noticed the warm smile Myra had, so she returned it with one of her own.

"You know, I'm only doing this for you." Myra told her. "I'm usually in a police station under duress."

"I can only imagine, Myra." Johnnie said. "Thank you for coming."

Pizo walked towards them. "Myra, this is my partner, Pizo Petrillo. Pizo, this is Myra." Johnnie introduced them.

Myra never took her eyes off Johnnie. "Nice to meet you."

"The pleasure is all mine." Pizo said as he looked at Johnnie, trying to keep a straight face.

Johnnie touched Myra on her elbow. "Right this way, Myra. The sketch artist is waiting."

Myra felt a rush of desire course through her body. She knew, after what Annie had told her, that Johnnie was off limits. 'There's no harm in looking, though.' She thought to herself. "Lead the way officer." She told her, walking behind so she could enjoy the view of Johnnie's firm behind.

Alma was working at the computer in the den, when the doorbell rang. When she reached the door, she looked through the peephole, and saw that it was Guillermo. She sighed heavily and reluctantly opened the door.

"Hi Guillermo, come in." She told him.

"Hi pepita." He told her as he kissed her on her cheek. He looked around. "Where's the..."

She interrupted. "Don't even say it, Gui. Why can't you come here and have a pleasant visit instead of all this misery?"

"Why can't you realize that living like this is wrong?" He asked her, raising his voice. "You can have any man you want, but you choose to live with that woman. She's not even one of us, Alma. She's a half-breed negra puta."

"Stop it, right now." She yelled. "You'd better accept me being with Johnnie. This is our home, hers and mine, and you can't keep coming over here disrespecting her." She lowered her voice, trying to regain control of her temper. "I love her, and she loves me. She makes me happy and takes care of me. Why can't you accept that?"

"You're not really one of them, Alma. She brainwashed you. She should be taken out into the street and shot like the dirty dog she is."

"Get the fuck out of my house Guillermo." She screamed and pushed him in his chest.

Johnnie saw Guillermo's car parked on the street. 'I hope that little asshole starts something. I'm gonna have fun kicking his punk ass.' Johnnie thought as she walked towards the steps. She heard yelling, and ran the rest of the way and opened the door. "What's going on here, Alma?" Johnnie angrily asked. Her anger directed toward whom she felt was at fault; namely, Guillermo.

Alma, sensing the anger in Johnnie, tried to diffuse the situation. "Nothing, baby. Guillermo and I were just talking. How was your day?" She asked in a soothing voice, as she stood on her toes to kiss her.

Guillermo turned toward the table and started eating the grapes that were there. He didn't even acknowledge Johnnie's presence, which pissed Johnnie off even more. She glared at him and stepped toward him. At the same time Alma stepped in front of her, pleading with her eyes for Johnnie not to do anything to him. Johnnie looked down at her, then shook her head in disgust and stormed to their bedroom. The slam of the door that followed let Alma know that she had to get her brother out of there.

"Are you crazy, Guillermo? Are you trying to drive me and Johnnie apart?" She demanded. He sat with his back to her, smirking.

Johnnie sat on their bed, fuming. 'That little prick! It's gonna be just him and me one day, and I'm gonna fuck his shit up.' She thought to herself. She was about to remove her gun, when she heard yelling in Spanish. She opened the door, nearly snatching it off its hinges, and ran into the living room, where she saw Guillermo yelling at Alma.

"You son of a bitch!" She growled as she lifted him up off of his feet by his collar. "I'm gonna fuck you up."

Alma screamed, and begged Johnnie not to hurt him. Johnnie towered over him, even with him lifted off his feet. He was only 5'4" and weighed 145 pounds. Johnnie was shaking him like a rag doll.

"Johnnie, please don't. You'll hurt him." Alma begged.

Johnnie looked at her in disbelief. 'She doesn't want me to hurt him? What the fuck?' She thought to herself. "Fuck this shit." She spat, as she threw him to the floor.

Alma reached for her, only to have Johnnie pull away. Johnnie grabbed her jacket and keys, and stormed out of the house. Alma ran out after her.

"Johnnie, wait." She begged.

"For what, Alma? To watch you baby that little shit?" Johnnie demanded. "That little bastard comes to our home, upsetting you and disrespecting me, and I'm just supposed to take it? Hell no, Alma. Those days are over. I'm tired of it." She yelled. Johnnie looked at Alma, and could see the fear in her eyes. She calmed herself, as best she could. "You tell that piss ant to cut this shit out, because the next time he starts, I'll throw his ass into the street and forbid him from coming to our house. I mean it, Alma."

"Baby, I know you're tired of it. I am, too. He'll get better. He just needs time." She reasoned.

"What that shit needs is a swift kick in the ass." Johnnie told her. "I mean it, Alma. Tell him what I said."

Guillermo peeked out of the window, smiling because he accomplished what he set out to do.

"Honey, come back inside. We can work this out." Alma pleaded, stroking Johnnie's arm.

Johnnie was highly pissed. "No. I have a gun and I might just use it." She walked to her car. Before getting in, she could see the tears flowing from Alma's eyes; she made herself get into the car, and drove off.

Alma walked back into the house. She looked at Guillermo, and told him what Johnnie said.

"You're not going to let her get away with that, are you?" He yelled. "She just wants to cut you off from us."

"You will be cutting me off from you if you don't stop this madness. If you won't accept me being with Johnnie, then you can't come over here." She told him angrily.

"Go ahead, be with your negra puta." He yelled. "She's a piece of shit, and so are you." He spat at her feet, and stormed out.

Alma sat on the sofa and cried.

Pizo handed Johnnie a beer. "Tell me what happened, J."

"That prick, Guillermo, was there when I got home. I lost my cool this time, and nearly kicked his ass." She told him. "As usual, Alma wanted to baby his ass." Johnnie stood, and walked over to the window. "He blames me for Alma being a lesbian."

"That's so stupid. How can he put that on you? Alma is an adult." He said.

"I don't know, but I'm tired of it. This has to stop. If it doesn't, I'll lose her." She quietly said. "I don't want to put her in a position of choosing me over her family. Maybe I should just let her go."

Pizo could see how torn Johnnie was, and it made him angry. "Do you love her, J?"

Johnnie turned to look at him. "Of course I do."

"It's not you making her choose. It's him." Pizo told her. "If you let her go, then you'll be playing right into his hands. Alma's a smart lady. She will see through him."

Johnnie smiled at him, and returned to her seat.

Pizo continued. "You know, I can see how much you two love each other. I might not show it, but I really like Alma. She has been a steadying influence in your life. You were running from one woman's bed to another. That wasn't good for you, J."

"Alma doesn't think that you like her. She thinks you have a crush on me, or something." She told him, after she finished her beer.

Pizo laughed. "I do love you, Johnnie, but not like that. I get sad sometimes when you're with her, or talking to her. Not for that reason, though." He paused. "I'm lonely, J. You have someone who loves you, and cares whether or not you make it back home safely; someone to share your life with. His voice lowered an octave. "I need someone to love. Someone to love me like Alma loves you."

She looked at her friend and partner. Not one to pull any punches with him, she calmly told him what she thought the problem was. "Well, maybe if you took as good care of the rest of you as you do that beard of yours, you could find someone. Pizo, you look like shit all the time. No decent woman is gonna want to be with a slob." She told him. "You're a good looking guy. Fix yourself up, and for god's sake clean up this place. You'll have to beat them off with a stick. Trust me."

"You go right for the jugular, don't you?" He asked her, smiling.

Johnnie smiled back at him. "You know I don't pull any punches."

"Yeah, I know. You're absolutely right. I have got to pull myself together." He paused. "Alma's probably worried, you'd better get home."

"I guess so. I'll see you tomorrow, and think about what I said." She told him, as she stood to leave.

"I will. Goodnight, partner." He told her, as she left.

The house was dark when Johnnie got home. She was a little concerned, because Alma always left a light on for her. She began to think that Guillermo had won, and Alma left her. She shakily put the key in the lock, and opened the door. She looked around, trying to let her eyes adjust to the darkness. She saw Alma's silhouette against the window as sat in the dark, and breathed a sigh of relief. She reached for the light, but Alma asked her not to turn it on. She put her keys down on the table, and sat next to her, putting her arm around Alma. Alma leaned into the embrace.

"Baby, I'm sorry I lost my cool tonight." Johnnie told her. She could feel Alma's body as it shook with sobs. "What happened with Guillermo?"

"Oh, beloved, you were right about Guillermo. He is a selfish brat, wanting to tear us apart. I told him that if he didn't stop his foolishness, that he was not welcome in our home." She whispered.

Johnnie wanted to feel anger and hatred, but she couldn't. Instead she felt pity for her lover. She could feel the agony and despair that flooded Alma's heart. Johnnie pulled Alma closer, and Alma sobbed into Johnnie's chest. She let Alma release it all, and then lifted her chin. "Alma," Johnnie whispered, breathing her warm breath against Alma's lips, "Baby, I love you more than anyone else in this world. I see how miserable this is making you. I won't ask you to choose. If you want, you can go home to your family. I won't try to keep you from them. I can't bear to see you unhappy."

"Johnnie I love you, too. You would put my happiness above your own. You are not the monster Guillermo tries to make you out to be. You would make such a sacrifice, your happiness, where he only thinks of his." She told her. "I am with you to stay. I will never leave you, my love."

"Baby, after this case is over, why don't we get away? We need some alone time, just you and me." Johnnie said.

"That sounds like a wonderful idea." She told her, beaming from ear to ear. "Where shall we go?"

Johnnie thought for a moment. 'I need to make it special for her, for us.' She cleared her throat. "How about Jamaica?"

Alma touched Johnnie's cheek. "It sounds perfect."

Their lips met, gently and sweetly; a delicate kiss between two passionate lovers. Johnnie stretched out on the sofa, with Alma lying above her, and they both went to sleep.

Chapter 4

Two weeks passed, and Johnnie and Pizo were no closer to solving Valerie's murder than they were on day one. The mystery woman had not been seen at The Back Door, since Myra shot down her advances. The captain was receiving pressure from the mayor's office, and thinking of closing this case, but Johnnie hoped that he wouldn't. She knew, from first hand experience, that if the victim was not a well-known member of society, that the case possibly would never be solved. Fortunately, the captain decided to keep the case open.

"This is un-fucking believable." Johnnie let out an exasperated breath. "Not one damn clue, and that asshole Mayor Ballantine wants to close the case. It is hurting tourist trade, he says."

"He's an asshole. Like tourism is what he's really concerned about. We both know what the real deal is. The victim wasn't one of those snots from the hill." He told her.

"The fact that she was a lesbian is what this is all about. He is so self-righteous. He's been after me for years with that goon squad of religious fanatics. A lot of the family has gone back into the closet. It pisses him off that I'm out and proud. I guess it makes the city look bad, in his mind." Johnnie said.

Pizo looked at his partner. He knew how the city frowned upon gays and lesbians in civil service jobs. Ballantine and his people drove a lot of them off. Johnnie was one of the few that remained out. Pizo regarded her even more for her convictions.

"Well, at least there haven't been any more murders." He paused. "Let's call it a night, J."

Johnnie looked at her partner, stunned. He has never been in a hurry to leave before. She noticed a change in her partner over the past couple of weeks. He had cleaned himself up, cut and combed his hair. His clothes were even pressed. Pizo basically looked like a million bucks.

"Alright, I am tired and Alma is cooking tonight. Not only in the kitchen, either." She told him, wriggling her eyebrows. "You wanna come over for dinner?"

"No, I wouldn't want to interrupt you two. I have plans anyway." He told her.

Johnnie was relieved to hear that he was dating. "Who is she, and when do I get to meet her?"

"Her name is Diana Andrews. She works in the coroner's office, she's a secretary." He proudly told her.

"You mean that cute little red head? I like her, she's nice." Johnnie said. "Well, we are going to have to get together soon. Alma and I have to give her the once-over, make sure she's worthy of a prince such as yourself."

He smiled. "We'll do that real soon. Go on home and handle your business. I'll see you in the morning."

Alma was preparing dinner when the doorbell rang. She turned the burners down, and went to answer the door. Looking out the window, she saw the back of a young man's head. 'Oh God, not today, Guillermo.' She sadly thought to herself. She opened the door, and to her surprise, it was Javier. He was her brother, two years her senior. Javier was slight of build, like Guillermo, with smooth skin and handsome features. She pulled him inside and hugged him. They held on to each other tightly. She gave him a big kiss on his cheek.

"Where have you been? I've missed you so much." She told him, slapping him lightly on his arm.

"I had to go out of town on business. Didn't Guillermo tell you? He asked.

Sadness washed over Alma's face. "I haven't seen Guillermo in almost two weeks. Not since that night he and Johnnie got into it."

Javier sat down on the sofa and motioned Alma to sit next to him. "Not again. Pepita, you are going to have to cut him loose. I can't stand watching him make you miserable." He told her, taking her hand into his. "When is he going to learn?"

"I don't know. I'm hoping that he will. I will not allow him to destroy what I have with Johnnie." She firmly said.

"How is Johnnie, anyway?" He asked.

Alma's eyes lit up. Her face gave away the strong bond of love she felt for her lover. "She's doing fine, working on the murdered prostitute case."

Javier grimaced. "That one was gruesome. How is she handling it?"

"Like she always does, she leaves it at the precinct. She never brings it into our home." She told him. "I'll be glad when it's over. We're going to Jamaica on vacation."

"You two really love each other, don't you?" Javier asked, smiling as he touched her cheek.

"We do." She told him. "Come with me to the kitchen. I have to finish dinner."

Johnnie opened the door, and heard Alma talking to someone in the kitchen. She walked in with a huge smile on her face. The smile quickly faded when she saw a young man, whom she thought was Guillermo, talking with Alma.

'Aww, fuck.' She winced. 'I don't need this bullshit today.'

Alma looked up at Johnnie and smiled. "Look who's here, baby." She said as she kissed her.

Javier stood up and turned around.

Johnnie breathed a sigh of relief, and smiled. "Hi Javier. I'm glad to see you." She told him.

"Glad it's me, and not Guillermo." He said, as he patted her shoulder.

Johnnie stuck her hands into her pockets and looked at the floor, suddenly interested in the pattern of the tile. "You are right about that."

"Johnnie, Alma filled me in on what happened between you and him." He told her. She looked at him, and he continued. "I hope that it won't reflect poorly on the rest of us."

"No, it doesn't." She commented. "I know it was hard for all of you at first. Accepting me, and coming to terms with the fact that Alma is a lesbian. All of you, except for Guillermo, gave me the opportunity to prove that I would never hurt Alma."

Javier smiled. "You treat her like a queen, Johnnie. Almost to the point of spoiling her."

"Hey!" Alma playfully yelled. "Talk about me like I'm not even here. That's good for my self esteem."

Johnnie wrapped her arms around Alma, giving her a sensuous kiss. "I'm sorry, baby. We didn't mean to make you feel bad."

Alma was really working that mock pout.

"Yes, your majesty. Please forgive us poor fools. We did not mean to offend, thee." Javier added.

"Next time, it will be off with your heads." Alma told them in her most regal mocking tone.

"Now that that is settled, will you be joining us for dinner?" Johnnie asked.

"No, I have some work at home to catch up on." He told the cuddling pair. "Then I have to unpack. Can I have a rain check?"

"Of course you can." Johnnie told him, as she released Alma.

"Good. Maybe next weekend. That is if I'm in town." He said, heading toward the door. He turned, kissed Alma on her cheek, and said his goodbyes.

After a fabulous meal, Johnnie helped Alma clear the table, and load the dishwasher. Salsa music was playing in the background and Alma was feeling the music, shaking her hips in time with the rhythm.

Alma danced suggestively in front of an aroused Johnnie. "Dance with me baby." She said as she unbuttoned her blouse, revealing an ample bosom.

Johnnie took her in her arms, and moved along with her. Alma was pleased with the way Johnnie could Salsa. It was the first Latin dance she taught her.

"You dance well, querida." Alma told her.

"Natural rhythm, baby. Natural rhythm." Johnnie said playfully.

The music stopped, but Johnnie didn't. "Keep moving, baby." She put her hands on Alma's behind, pulling her close. They were grinding against each other, sex thick in the air. Alma's breath was ragged against Johnnie's neck, as Johnnie leaned down to trace Alma's jaw line with her tongue.

"You taste so good, Alma. I want to taste you all over." Johnnie groaned. Unable to control her desire any longer, she bent her knees to lift Alma off her feet. Alma responded by wrapping her legs around Johnnie's waist. Johnnie walked them to their bedroom, as they passionately kissed.

A young Hispanic woman entered 'The Back Door'. She wore a pair of torn Levi's, black tank top, and lightweight jacket. She surveyed the crowd, and then turned her attention to the bar. Not recognizing either of the bartenders, she chose a table across from the bar.

After sitting for a while, she was approached by the young Asian woman named Suki. She was wearing a red crop top with a black mini skirt. The skirt was so short; it left little to the imagination. She had 'fuck me hard' written in Japanese on her right shoulder.

"Would you like some company?" Suki asked.

"Please have a seat." The woman told her. "Can I interest you in something to drink?"

"No, I have one." She told her, holding up the glass. Suki was impressed with the wiry body before her. "I would like to know something, if you don't mind?"

The woman leaned forward. "What is it, my lovely porcelain doll?"

"Are you a natural redhead?" Suki sexily asked.

The woman smiled. "There's only one way to find out. Would you like to take a walk with me to the dunes?" She fingered two one hundred dollar bills.

"Lead the way, Red." Suki told her.

They both stood, the woman wrapped her arm around Suki's shoulder, and headed for the door.

Alma was straddling Johnnie, with the strap-on deep inside her. Johnnie grasped Alma's hips, pulling her down harder, as she thrust upwards. Alma leaned forward, enabling her to increase her speed.

"Ride it like you want to, baby. Take all of it." Johnnie moaned.

Alma was unable to speak. Her chest was constricted with the guttural moans caught in her throat.

At the dunes, Suki attempted to kiss her companion. "No, no, I don't do tongues."

"Sorry about that." Suki softly said. "What do you desire?"

The woman reached into her jacket pocket, and pulled out a pair of latex gloves. "I practice safe sex. You don't mind, do you? She asked, placing them on her hands.

"For what you're paying honey, we can be as safe as you like." Suki told her.

The woman stood behind her, caressing her hair. Her hands moved to Suki's neck, sliding gracefully to her shoulders. "Would you like to play a game?" She asked, as her lips gently tickled Suki's ear.

"How ever you want it, baby." Suki whispered.

"Good." The woman told her. She reached in her pocket for a short rope, and tied Suki's hands behind her back. She put the money in inside Suki's thong. "Let's play, dyke." She growled as she pushed her to the ground.

"Hey, not so rough." Suki yelled.

"Shut up, bitch. This is my dime." The woman hissed.

Suki started to scream, and the woman clamped her hand over her mouth. "Shut up. This can be easy or hard. I prefer hard, but the choice is yours."

Her eyes were full of fear as rivers of tears escaped them. "You are so full of it. Stop the waterworks, whore. I'm just here to give you what you deserve." The woman told her, amusement thick in her tone. "Now if you promise to be a good little freak, I'll move my hand."

Suki nodded her agreement.

"That a girl." She told her, slapping her lightly on the cheek. She cautiously removed her hand.

"Please don't hurt me." Suki begged.

"I'm not gonna hurt you." The woman sneered. "I'm here to help you get out of this life. You're to beautiful to be doing what you are doing."

The woman ripped Suki's top off, and fondled her breasts. "Have you ever had any dick?"

"No." Suki managed to squeak.

"Let me introduce you to my friend." She unzipped her pants, and pulled out her dildo. It was black, and twelve inches in length.

"I can't. It'll hurt." Suki told her, as she tried to choke back her sobs.

The woman stood over her, and stroked the entire length of it. "All women experience pain before pleasure. It's the nature of things." She got on her knees, between the prostitute's legs. She slid the thong over, and gently inserted the head. The woman then dropped her weight onto Suki, forcing the length inside her.

The scream that tore through the air was matched by the screams of pleasure in the bedroom of a detective a few of miles away.

The phone rang at 4:30 am. "What?" Johnnie croaked.

"J, it's Pizo. Meet me at the dunes. We have another one." He told her.

"Damn." She said. "I'll be there in thirty."

Pizo met Johnnie a few feet away from the body. "J, you know this one."

"Who is it?" she nervously asked.

"It's the little Asian girl." He said.

"Suki? Damn." She said in disbelief.

They walked towards the body. "The CSU can't look for anything until sun up. The area is secured, and a guard will be here." He said.

Johnnie looked at the lifeless body, shining her Mag-lite looking for clues. She saw a bloody hammer, and a strap-on dildo. She turned the light back onto Suki's body. "She's worse than Val was. When is the M.E. getting here?"

"They're on the way." He told her.

"After we wrap up here, I want to stop by Annie's and she if she knows anything." She said.

It was almost seven am when they pulled up in front of Annie's house. They had to bang on the door to get Annie to open it.

"What the fuck........." Annie trailed off when she saw Johnnie and Pizo at the door.

"Sweet Jesus." Pizo gasped. Annie stood there as naked as the day she was born.

"Come in, guys." She told them, as she returned to her bedroom. When she returned, she was wearing a t-shirt and a pair of boxers.

Johnnie was sitting on the sofa, with her head leaned back, and Pizo sat on the loveseat.

"What's wrong?" She asked. She knew deep inside that it would not be good news.

"There's been another murder, Annie." Pizo told her.

Fear gripped her heart. "Who is it?" She thought it might be Myra.

Johnnie looked up at her. "It's Suki."

"Fuck." Annie responded.

"Did you work last night?" Johnnie asked.

"No." She told her, looking at the floor. "I was off last night."

"When was the last time you saw her?" Pizo asked.

Annie was in shock. "I...I saw her night before last. She was happy. She said she would be able to get out of the life and go back to Charlotte, soon."

"She was from Charlotte?" Pizo asked.

"Yeah. Her mother is getting older and she was saving her money so she could go back home and help out." Annie told them, trying to hold back her tears.

Pizo could sense the pain from both women. He wanted to get this case solved. "Have you seen the mystery woman lately?"

"No, but if I do, her ass is grass. I'm gonna enjoy fucking that bitch up." She angrily said.

"Don't do that, Annie." Pizo warned. "Call us and let us handle it."

Johnnie sat up. "He's right. Call us, I mean it." She rubbed her forehead. "Maybe you should tell Myra to cool it for a while."

"I will." She told her.

They stood and was heading for the door when Johnnie turned back to face Annie. She looked at her large friend, and could the tears running down her cheeks. Johnnie grasped Annie's forearm with her hand, and Annie grasped Johnnie's with hers. "I'm serious, Standing Bear, do not take the law into your own hands."

Annie knew Johnnie was serious when she used her Cherokee name. She placed her large hand on Johnnie's shoulder. "I hear you, Red Owl. I will do as you say."

"Good, my friend." She told her.

Johnnie and Pizo then left for the precinct.

Chapter 5

Johnnie sat at her desk, mentally chastising herself. 'If I had warned the girls to be careful, would it have saved Suki's life? Would she still be alive if I had said anything?'

Pizo noticed the anguish on his partner's face as he walked back to their desks with coffee in hand. "I know what you're thinking, J. There was nothing you could do."

"I'm not too sure about that. Maybe we should have warned them." She sighed, feeling defeated and helpless.

Pizo handed Johnnie a cup of coffee. "We couldn't do that Johnnie, and you know it. We don't know who this killer is, and if we had warned the girls we could have tipped our hand."

Johnnie drank a couple of sips before she spoke again. "In my mind I know it, but my heart still aches for the two Vics. We have got to find this bitch before she kills anyone else."

Johnnie was going over her case notes, at one point unable to get the scene at the dunes out of her head. Her phone rang, startling her from her thoughts.

"Detective Green, make it quick." She answered.

"Hi baby. I'm not catching you at a bad time am I?" Alma asked.

A smile formed on Johnnie's face at the sound of her lover's voice. "No, baby. I was just going over some notes. Is anything wrong?"

Alma could sense the tension in Johnnie's voice. "No, I'm fine. Are you ok? I was worried when you didn't call." She told her as she stared out of her office window.

Johnnie mentally kicked herself. She left their bed in a rush when Pizo called, only giving her a quick kiss as she dashed out of the house. "I'm sorry, baby. I was wrapped up with this case. I'm ok, just a little tired."

When Alma woke up to prepare for work, she had a nagging feeling that something wasn't quite right. "Honey, I know I'm being silly, but I'm worried. Something is going to happen today."

"I hope it's going to be a break in this case." Johnnie told her.

"I'm not sure what it is, but I want you to be careful today. Querida, promise me." Alma beseeched.

Johnnie chuckled, but gave in. "Alright, love. I promise to be careful. Do you love me?"

Alma smiled. "Of course I do."

"And I love you, too. I'll see you tonight." Johnnie told her, and then she hung up.

Before she had finished her conversation with Alma, Pizo had received a call from the coroner's office. He had completed the autopsy, and wanted them to come for the results.

An officer placed the CSU report on Pizo's desk. He picked it up to look at it, but Johnnie had finished her call and took it out of his hands.

"Ok, what do we have?" Pizo asked.

Johnnie perused the report, picking up on the highlighted portions. "No prints on the hammer or dildo. No DNA on the dildo but the vics. The coroner had sent over some fibers that were on the body. Denim fibers to be exact. They also found black fibers on the strap."

"So that gives us what?" Pizo asked.

"Not a damn thing." Johnnie grimaced.

"Well, the coroner has completed the autopsy. Maybe I should go and get his findings." Pizo advised.

Johnnie was lost in thought once again, but caught Pizo's last words. "I'll be ok, Pizo. I'm going with you."

Dr. Murray ushered them into the morgue. He pulled the sheet from Suki's body, and stopped just below her waist.

"She was murdered in basically the same manner as the first victim, but in a more brutal fashion. Her wrists and hands were broken. There was vaginal and anal penetration, but unlike the Mozingo woman there was tearing. Enough so, that it appears that she was raped."

He then pulled the sheet down to her knees, and the sight caused both Johnnie and Pizo to gasp. The doctor continued his narration. "I measured the wounds against the hammer that was found at the scene. The killer did a number on this woman. I haven't seen anything like this in my thirty years in medicine."

Johnnie was visibly angry. Pizo volunteered to drive, seeing the state that Johnnie was in. "The two victims were lesbian prostitutes. She's targeting lesbians." She paused to control herself. "That bitch is gonna pay for this."

"You'd better get an handle on that temper, partner. We don't want to screw this up." Pizo warned.

It was 3 pm, and The Back Door had been open since noon. There were a couple of people waiting for happy hour to start at 4. Annie was tending bar, when she noticed a woman come in. She looked like the woman that had approached Myra. Annie nearly flew into a rage, but remembered what Johnnie had told her. She glanced under the bar, and saw Johnnie's cell number. She picked up the phone and hurriedly dialed the number. Not wanting to scare the woman off, she decided to play it cool.

Johnnie's phone rang. "Green, talk to me."

"Hey baby, how's tricks?" Annie asked, leaning against the bar. She talked loud enough so the woman could hear her.

"Annie, what the fuck is going on?" Johnnie asked.

"Oh, nothing baby. I just missed you, is all." Annie said.

"You got company, don't you?" Johnnie asked, feeling excitement rush through her.

Annie was relieved that Johnnie had caught on. "Yeah. So when are you coming to see me?"

"We'll be there in fifteen." Johnnie told her.

"Okay, baby. Just don't make so much noise tonight when you come in. My landlady nearly threw a fit the last time. Bye, sexy." She told her.

Johnnie laughed, even through the anticipation. "I gotcha, no sirens."

"Shit." The woman hissed under her breath as she saw Johnnie and Pizo walk in. She reached down and removed her shoes, placing them in her bag.

Johnnie looked expectantly at Annie. She motioned them to where the woman was sitting. Johnnie felt a wave of uneasiness run through her as they walked toward the woman. When they were almost up to her, the woman flipped the table over and ran out through the door. Johnnie and Pizo were knocked off balance, but took off in hot pursuit after her.

She ran down the street, turning onto Oak Street. Johnnie was not too far behind her. Pizo decided to keep straight until the next block in efforts to cut her off. The woman ducked into an alley when she noticed Johnnie was gaining ground. She hid behind a dumpster to ambush Johnnie. She reached beneath her skirt and pulled out the 9mm that was strapped to her thigh.

Johnnie stopped running, and walked slowly into the alley with her gun drawn. "Ma'am, we just have a couple of questions, that's all. We need some information." Johnnie told her, trying to catch her breath.

Pizo was running up the block when he heard the gunshots. He finally made it to the alley, and saw Johnnie lying on the ground. He ran up to her and saw blood, her blood, pouring profusely from her chest and mouth. He heard the blood gurgling in her throat. "Shit, Johnnie, hold on. I'm going to get help."

By that time, Annie came running into the alley. "I called 911 and told them you guys needed backup." When she saw Johnnie, she fell to her knees and began to cry.

Pizo could hear the sirens in the distance. "Stay with her, Annie. I'm going to let them know where we are." He looked at Johnnie again. "Hold on, J." He ran towards the street.

Annie took Johnnie's bloodied hand into hers, pulling it to her chest. "Fight, Red Owl. Do you hear me? You better fucking fight."

Johnnie squeezed her hand. She whispered, but Annie was unable to understand her. "What.... what is it, babe?"

Johnnie was finally able to get a word out. "Alma." Blood gushed from her mouth, then her hand went limp inside Annie's.

"Johnnie!" She screamed. "Don't you die on me. Fight! Fight for Alma!"

Pizo heard a wail come from Annie that made is blood run cold. He frantically waved in the ambulance and other patrol cars to Johnnie's location. They ran to where Johnnie's still body was lying. The EMT's began to work on her.

"No response." The burly EMT told his partner. "Keep working on her." The smaller female told him. They worked on Johnnie, while Pizo, Annie and the other officers stood by.

"I got a pulse." The EMT announced. They quickly loaded her on the gurney, then into the ambulance.

Annie grabbed Pizo's arm. "The last thing she said to me was Alma. You better go tell her. I'll meet you at the hospital."

A visibly shaken Pizo agreed.

When Pizo arrived at Wilmington Steel, the company that Alma worked for, he was afraid to go inside. 'How can I tell her what's happened without frightening her to death.' He thought to himself. He mustered up the courage, and went inside.

The receptionist knew both he and Johnnie. She smiled at him, but saw immediately that something was wrong. "Go on in, detective. She's not busy." She told him.

He knocked on Alma's door. "Come in." She said. He went inside and closed the door behind him.

Alma's eyes lit up when she saw Pizo. She thought Johnnie had surprised her with a visit. She realized that Johnnie was not with him. Tears began to fill her eyes. "Where is she, Pizo?"

"They've taken her to Memorial." He told her as calmly as he could.

Alma could barely get the words out. "Is she..."

"It's pretty bad Alma. We should go." He told her, as he picked up her purse and attaché' case. He realized that Alma was not moving. 'Shock.' He thought to himself. He walked around her desk and helped her to her feet. At that time the receptionist stuck her head inside the office, and seeing the distress that Alma was in, told them that she would shut down Alma's computer and lock up.

When they arrived at the emergency room, Pizo noticed Annie pacing the waiting area. She was very agitated.

"Pizo, thank the spirits, you're finally here. These bastards won't tell me a damn thing." She told him.

"They'll tell me something." He told her as he pulled out his badge and headed for patient registration.

Annie turned her attention to the small woman, who was obviously in a state of shock, standing before her. She reached for her hand, and Alma turned an expressionless face to her.

"I'm Annie. You may not remember me, I'm a friend of Johnnie's." She told her.

Alma looked at her and nodded her acknowledgement. Her eyes then focused on Annie's bloodstained shirt. She touched it. "This is Johnnie's, isn't it?"

Annie pulled Alma's hand from her chest. "Yes, it is." She looked into Alma's eyes. "Red Owl has a warrior's spirit. She will pull through this."

"She has to, I can't lose her. Not now." Alma whispered.

Pizo walked back over to them. "She's in emergency surgery. They lost her twice on the way here."

Alma's knees went limp, and Annie caught her before she hit the floor. Annie walked, with Alma in her arms, over to the sofa in the waiting area. "Pizo, what will I do if I lose her. Mi Dios, por favor." She sobbed into Annie's shoulder.

Members of the police force came to the hospital in support of their wounded comrade. Captain Hill, Johnnie and Pizo's supervisor, arrived three hours into Johnnie's surgery. He remained by Alma's side until the surgeon came with word of Johnnie's condition.

After eight long hours, Dr. Pedrazo came with news of Johnnie's condition. "The family of Johnetta Green?" He tiredly asked.

Alma immediately stood, and walked over to the surgeon. Captain Hill, Pizo and Annie stood behind her.

"We retrieved three bullets from Ms. Green's chest area." He told them. "One bullet lodged inside her left lung. The other went through her breastbone, pressing dangerously against her heart. The third pierced her liver. She's a fighter. We lost her once during surgery." He paused, looking at Alma and noticing he looked as if she was going to faint. He took her by her arm and led her back to her seat. He continued, "She's in ICU, and the next forty eight hours are critical. She's also in a coma. It will give her the opportunity to heal."

"May I see her?" Alma asked, almost begging.

The surgeon paused, and then asked, "How are you related to Ms. Green?"

"I'm her lover. She is my life." Alma told him.

The doctor, knowing that it was against hospital policy, smiled at her. "I won't tell if you won't."

"Thank you." Alma told him, as he took her hand into his.

"I know what it was like for my brother and his partner." He told her, as he led her to ICU.

When they reached Johnnie's room, Dr. Pedrazo stopped. "I must warn you, it is a frightening sight. She has a respirator to help her with her breathing, and of course the other post operative equipment."

"I understand." Alma hesitantly told him. She walked into the room slowly. When she saw Johnnie's motionless body, the tears began to flow again. Her steps continued until she stopped at Johnnie's bedside. Her heart was full of anguish. She wanted to take her in her arms, but only reached for her hand. She leaned down and kissed Johnnie's forehead, the moved to her ear. "Johnnie, I love you. Baby, please fight. I need you, beloved. You are my strength. Can you hear me? I want you to come back to me." Alma looked for any sign of response. She found none. She kissed Johnnie softly near her lips. "Como te amo, bebe."

The nurse came in to check Johnnie's vital signs, and then told Alma she had to leave.

"I'm not going anywhere." She told her.

"Ma'am, visitors are only allowed fifteen minutes each hour. There is a waiting area right outside those double doors. You can wait there." The nurse told her. "Hospital regulations, and we have to follow them."

Alma kissed Johnnie's hand. "I'll be back in forty five minutes. I won't be far, just down the hall." She reluctantly went into the waiting area, where she found Pizo and Annie talking.

"How is she?" Pizo and Annie asked at the same time.

"It's hard to tell with all the equipment she's hooked up to." She told them. "She looked pale, and so still." Tears threatened to flow, but Alma fought them back.

Pizo put his arm around Alma's shoulders. "J is a fighter. There's no way in hell she's gonna give up."

"We asked the staff for a pillow and blankets. You need to get some sleep." Annie told her. She looked at Alma, sensing that she was on the verge of collapse.

Alma gave both of them a tentative smile. "I can't sleep. Johnnie may need me."

"Even if you can't sleep, you need to let your body wind down and rest. You can't help J if you're in a bed next to her." Pizo warned.

Alma relented, walking over to the comfortable looking sofa. "Pizo, you find who did this her. You find them and make them pay."

Pizo was taken aback. Although he was well aware of Alma's temper, she was not one that condoned violence. That is until today. What he saw in the usually dancing brown orbs was a bloodlust beyond measure. 'I feel for you, you little bitch.' Pizo thought to himself. 'Not only do you have all of the Wilmington police department after you, but you have one short and highly pissed Mexican wanting your head on a platter.'

Alma was stretched out on the sofa, with Annie sitting on the ottoman. Pizo sat in a chair, going over the shooting in his mind. 'If I had only been with her, we could have caught her. This case would be over. She'd be at home in bed with Alma right now if I hadn't fucked up.'

Before Pizo could continue his musings, he heard the faint sound of alarms going off. He looked at Annie, then to Alma. They all stood when they heard a code called on the PA system to ICU. Pizo got to the door first and pulled it open. He saw doctors and nurses running into Johnnie's room. Before he could say anything, Alma was through the door.

"What's going on?" Alma asked the nurse who was closest to the door. She could hear Johnnie's heart monitor going of scale. "What's happening to her?" She demanded.

"You will have to stay out of the way, ma'am. We can't do our job if you're in the way." The nurse told her as she tried to pry Alma's hand from her arm.

"Come on, Alma. Let them work." Annie whispered to her, as she gently pulled her back.

Dr. Pedrazo, along with an intern and two nurses, worked frantically on Johnnie. Pizo, holding Alma in his arms, and Annie stood outside as they watched the scene through the room's window.

Alma was beside herself. She could hear what the doctor and nurses were saying, but couldn't make sense of the conversations. 'Increase...joules...10mg of... clear...what are they doing? I don't...Johnnie, please don't leave me.' Her mind was raging. 'Clear...joules...c'mon damn it...clear...what do we have nurse? What's going on?' She thought.

Flat line. "Increase joules to three hundred." The doctor yelled. "Clear." Still flat line. "Call it." He said.

"2:19 am." The intern stated.

"NO!" Alma screamed. "Johnnie!" She ran to the window and saw her lover's lifeless body lying on the bed. The tears flowed freely from her eyes as wails of mourning escaped her lips.

Annie touched Alma on her shoulder, and Alma turned into the behemoth's chest, sobbing pitifully into it. Pizo stood at the door as a lone tear ran down his cheek.

Chapter 6

Johnnie's eyes flickered open. She was lying on her back in the forest. She could see the trees stretching to touch the clear blue sky, and could hear the forest animals and a stream nearby. When she sat up, she noticed she was wearing white ceremonial buckskins and moccasins. What in the hell is going on here? She asked herself as she stood up.

She heard a falcon cry out, and she looked toward the sky. She watched as it gracefully glided toward her. It stopped mid flight, about three feet in front of her, and then transformed into a man. The figure was 6'2" in height with tanned skin and white hair. He was dressed similarly to Johnnie. She looked into the nearly black eyes. "Dad? What are you doing here? What am I doing here?" She asked.

"Red Owl, you are here too soon. You have many seasons to go before you can be here. You must go back." He told her.

"Two Feathers," she said, using her father's tribal name, "Where is here? I don't understand."

He looked upon his daughter with prideful eyes. "Child, you are trying to enter our spiritual plain. It is not your time. Quickly, you must go now. She's waiting for you. Look." He told her pointing to a spot across the stream.

She could see Alma crying uncontrollably into Annie chest. She saw Pizo standing with his hands against the door jams, crying quietly. She saw a figure lying on the hospital bed, and realized she was seeing herself. She looked at Alma again, and she began to cry. "I'm sorry, baby. I'm sorry."

Her father stood next to her. "Your woman is beautiful. Go to her, and be good to her. You have a lifetime of love to share with her. Make her yours, completely." He told her.

"I have to get back to her." Johnnie told him. "How can I get back to her? Help me, Daddy, please."

"Close your eyes, and you will be back. I must warn you, things are not as they seem. Keep your eyes and ears open, and watch over Alma." He whispered mystically, and then he was gone.

Johnnie closed her eyes. "I'm coming Alma."

The nurses were turning off the equipment, when Johnnie's body convulsed as if it had been dropped. The doctor was speaking with Pizo, when he saw her body jerk. "Turn the monitors back on." He shouted.

The nurse did as she was told, and the monitor picked up Johnnie's irregular heartbeat. It was not too strong, but it was beating just the same. "This is phenomenal." The doctor said as he examined her.

Annie whispered in Alma's ear. "Do you hear that? She came back. She came back to you, Alma."

The tears that Alma shed now were tears of complete joy.

When they had settled Johnnie down for the night, the nurse told Alma that she could see her. "Only for a few minutes." The nurse told her.

Alma immediately went to Johnnie's bedside and took her hand, caressing it lightly with her thumb.

"You frightened me, beloved." She whispered as she moved Johnnie's hair from her face. "I'm so glad you came back to me. Now, you have to get better, baby. Remember we're going on vacation? You promised."

Alma, I'm so tired, baby. Just let me rest a little while. Johnnie said in her mind, but Alma couldn't hear her.

As if Alma did hear her, she whispered, "I know you need to rest, so you do just that. I'll be here when you wake up. Take your time, I'm not going anywhere."

Pizo and Annie were back in the waiting area.

"That's the damnedest thing I ever saw. I knew J had a strong will, but damn." Pizo said.

Annie chuckled. "As I've said before, Red Owl has a warrior's spirit. She will fight until there is no more fight left in her."

Pizo looked at her quizzically. "Why do you call her that?"

"It's her name. The name she was given. You do know her father was Cherokee, don't you?" Annie asked.

"Yeah, I met him a couple of years ago before he died. They never spoke of tribal names. He told me his name was Charles Phillip Green. It never occurred to me that they had any other names." Pizo scratched his head. "You're Cherokee, too. Are you guys from the same tribe?"

"No. Johnnie's tribe is in Pembroke, NC. My tribe is from Tennessee." She told him. "We do share some of the same ancestors, though. When the Cherokee were part of the Iroquois."

"And what is your name?" He asked.

"I'm Standing Bear." She proudly told him.

He chuckled. "I can believe that." Before they could continue their conversation, Alma returned. "How is she?" Pizo asked, as he wrapped an arm around Alma's shoulders.

"Holding her own. She will get through this." Alma said.

"Alma," Annie whispered, going to her and touching her shoulder gently. "You need to get some rest. Lie down. You take the sofa, and I'll take the chair. I'll stay with you tonight."

"I have to get some sleep. I have to speak with the captain at 9 am. I'll be back after that." Pizo told them. He kissed Alma on her forehead. "If anything...."

Alma interrupted. "Nothing will happen." She said decisively.

Alma finally drifted off to sleep. Annie kept vigil, walking over to the doors to ICU every so often to peek in.

After about two hours, Alma woke up. "Have I been asleep long?"

"Not long enough, Alma." She told her. "It's been quiet. The nurse let me check on her, she still looks weak and pale, but her heartbeat is getting stronger."

Alma smiled tiredly. "That's good." She sat up and ran her fingers through her hair. "I'm going to go see her."

Pizo was at the precinct filing his report. He then spoke with the captain, giving him a verbal report of what happened. Johnnie's weapon was taken to the lab, and it was determined that she was unable to fire off any rounds.

"She was ambushed." Pizo said, venom laden heavily in his voice. "Man, that bitch is gonna pay for this."

The captain regarded Pizo's words. "This case is high priority. She shot a cop, which makes her a marked woman. I hope no hot heads run up on her. We want to bring this woman to trial. Let her get a good dose of prison life."

"Do you actually think they'll be hard on her in prison? She shot a cop for Pete's sake. They'll probably give her a fucking medal." Pizo spat. "She needs some good ole street justice."

"Get a grip on that temper, Detective." The captain admonished. "She will be captured and brought to trial. Do you read me?" He paused. "I know she is your partner..."

Pizo loudly interrupted. "She was shot and left to die in an alley. Hell, she did die. Nothing but sheer will brought her back. If I see that bitch, I can't promise you that I won't put a bullet in her."

"Put a bullet in her if you have to. Do not kill her unless absolutely necessary." He ordered. "Now get the hell outta here and check on your partner. Be back here tomorrow."

Pizo sighed heavily. "Yes sir." He walked out of the office.

Think I'd better issue a directive, before these hot heads do something stupid. The captain thought to himself.

The morning news was on, and a lone figure sat in front of the television, waiting to hear the condition of Detective Green.

"Detective Johnetta Green was shot in an alley off Oak Street in downtown Wilmington yesterday afternoon." The reporter, Karen Grace, stated. "The detective was shot by a suspect that she and her partner, Detective Pizo Petrillo, were pursuing. Detective Green, a highly decorated member of the Wilmington Police department, is in critical but stable condition.'

Fucking bitch. Next time, you filthy dyke, next time.
The television was turned off and the remote was thrown against the wall.

Rosa, Alma's mother, was an older, shorter version of Alma. She had long salt and pepper hair that she always wore in a bun. She had been widowed for ten years. Her husband, Alberto, was a very handsome man. He was Alma's height, and had brown hair. Her sons, Miguel and Guillermo remained at home with her; Javier lived on his own.

She was preparing breakfast, rushing so that she could get to the hospital. Her sons were out on dates when she heard that Johnnie had been shot. Since she didn't drive, she had to wait until the morning to be with Alma. Miguel came into the kitchen first.

"Hurry and eat, mijo. We must get to the hospital and check on Johnnie and Alma." She told him, her accent thick. "Where is Gui? We must leave soon."

Guillermo walked in. "I'm here, mami."

"Hurry up and eat. I want you to take me to the hospital." She told him.

"I'm not going to the hospital to see that bitch. She should have died. She's a dog that has corrupted our family." He defiantly said.

Before he could sit down, his mother was on him, and she slapped the back of his head very hard.

"Ow, mami!" He yelped.

"Stupido, how come you say such things? No one deserves to die." She yelled. "Johnnie is good to Alma. She loves her and treats her better than you do your girlfriend."

Guillermo rubbed the back of his head, as Miguel snickered at him. He was about to say something, but thought better of it.

"Mami is right, Gui. You treat Marisol like a dog. Johnnie treats Alma like a queen. That pisses you off, eh, big brother?" Miguel taunted.

"Fuck you, Miguel." Guillermo spat as he flipped him off.

POP! Rosa slapped Guillermo's head again. Miguel's orange juice sputtered through his nose.

Chapter 7

Johnnie had been in a coma for seventeen days. Alma never left the hospital. Her family came to be with her everyday and Annie stayed with her at night. Rosa would bring a change of clothes and food everyday. Miguel would stay when Rosa went to mass to light a candle for Johnnie. Javier stopped by frequently. Guillermo came by to see Alma, and that was only for a few minutes.

Alma was with her every time she was allowed to see her. It had taken a toll on Alma, not sleeping or eating, as she should. Dark circles had formed around her eyes, and she had lost a little weight; but nothing would deter her from being with her lover.

"The doctor says you are healing nicely." Alma whispered into her lover's ear. "I'm waiting for you to come back to me. I've been worried about you. You haven't spoken to me in over two weeks." Alma paused. "You remember when I got angry with you and wouldn't speak to you for three days? When we made up, you told me how heartbroken you were. I know what it's like now. I feel like I'm dying inside." Alma continued to speak to Johnnie in hushed tones.

Johnnie felt someone hunching her shoulder. A soft voice was calling her.

"Just a couple of minutes more, ma." Johnnie said lazily.

A voice in her head laughed.
"No, now little one. She's been waiting long enough."

Johnnie looked and saw her mother standing over her. "Mama?" She croaked.

Maxine smiled at her. "Yes, daughter. Now wake up, Alma is waiting for you."

Johnnie returned her smile. "You look so good, ma. How?"

"This is how you remember me." She told her. She was very attractive. Maxine was African-American, about 5'8" tall, with medium length black hair. Her eyes were light brown and her skin was dark. "It's time for you to wake up. You've had enough rest to begin your healing, and it's time for you to return to Alma."

"Alma." Johnnie said, smiling at the thought of her.

"Yes. Now go on, and mind what your father told you." She told her, placing a kiss on Johnnie's forehead. She then faded away.

Alma continued to talk to Johnnie, as she held and rubbed her hand. Alma noticed that Johnnie squeezed her hand a little.

"Johnnie, thank god. Do it again baby, please." Alma begged.

Johnnie's grip tightened on Alma's hand, loosened and gripped again. Tears began to flow from Alma's eyes as she rang the call bell for the nurse. The nurse answered and then paged the doctor. After a couple of minutes, the doctor came in and began to examine Johnnie. He checked her reflexes by running a pen on the bottom of her feet, eliciting the response of wiggling toes. He used the penlight to check her pupils, and got a response. Johnnie, eyes still closed, used her hand to swipe at the respirator tube.

"Welcome back, Ms. Green." He told her. "Do you feel like talking?"

A moan was the only thing she could manage.

The doctor called for a nurse, and she brought in what was needed to remove the tube and an emesis pan.

"Ms. Martinez, if you would wait outside, this should only take a couple of minutes." Dr. Pedrazo told her.

Alma reluctantly left the room, closing the door behind her. She stood close enough to the door to hear what was going on inside. She could her the doctor talking in hushed tones, then Johnnie gagging. She walked over to the window, and cursed herself for closing the blinds. 'If I had been a man, there would have been no need to close them. They wouldn't have thought twice about me kissing her.' Alma then heard Johnnie coughing violently. After a few moments, the coughing stopped.

The door finally opened, and Alma was allowed back in. She walked over to Johnnie's bedside, taking her hand once more.

"Alma?" Johnnie managed to croak.

"Yes, baby. I'm here." Alma told her as tears flowed from her eyes again.

"I love you." Johnnie whispered as she fell asleep.

Alma kissed her hand, then left to let her rest.

Johnnie recovered in ICU for another week, before she was moved out of the unit and into a private room.

"Good morning, baby." Alma told her as she walked over to her bedside.

Johnnie's eyes lit up when Alma walked in. "Hi, honey." She studied Alma when she sat down. She had noticed that Alma looked tired, and had lost some weight. Johnnie knew she had to tell her that she should stay home and get some rest, but she didn't want to hurt her feelings. I have got to tell her to go home and get some rest. I just hope she doesn't get angry with me.

"How are you feeling?" Alma asked as she leaned in for a kiss.

They kissed passionately, not caring if anyone walked in. When the kiss was broken, they were both left breathless. Johnnie touched Alma's face.

"You haven't been taking care of yourself, have you?" Johnnie asked.

Alma suddenly found herself fascinated with the bedspread. "I've been eating, and?"

Johnnie interrupted her. "Alma, I know that you have been through a lot with me being here, but you have got to get some rest. I can't have you collapsing on me." She tugged on Alma's shirt. "You've lost some weight."

Alma shrugged her shoulders, and lowered her head. "A little."

Johnnie lifted Alma's head, and kissed her nose. "You're here from the time visiting hours start, until they have to practically throw you out when they are over. I want you to go..."

Alma started to protest, but Johnnie placed a finger over Alma's mouth.

"... Home and get some rest, and some food. No arguments, Alma."

Alma relented. "Alright, Johnnie. Whatever you say."

Whew, that went well. She must be tired, she didn't even get mad. A seductive smile crossed Johnnie's lips. "I want you well rested when I get out of here. You're gonna need it."

"Now baby, remember your condition. You shouldn't try to do too much, too soon." Alma admonished sternly. She placed her hand in the middle of Johnnie's chest.

Johnnie placed her hand over Alma's, holding it close to her heart. "Do you feel that?" She asked.

Alma nodded, meeting her lover's eyes.

"It beats for you, Alma. I couldn't live without you." She whispered.

Alma had a serious look on her face. "I know. I couldn't live without you either, my love. When I thought I lost you, I wanted to die, too."

Johnnie held Alma's hands. "I know. I saw you."

Alma looked at her, totally confused. "What are you talking about, Johnnie?"

Johnnie then recounted the events. The forest, her father being there, what he said, and what she saw going on in ICU. Alma was shocked.

"You had an out of body experience?" She asked.

"I'm sure that's what it was." Johnnie told her. "My work is not finished. I'm going to catch the woman who shot me, and killed those women."

Alma sat there, quietly listening to what Johnnie was telling her. She knew that she was going to ask Johnnie to quit the force, but she didn't know how or when.

Johnnie noticed how quiet Alma had gotten. "Something on your mind? Talk to me, tell me what it is."

Alma gave her a half-hearted smile. "It's nothing." She kissed her. "I'm going home, as ordered. I'll call you later." She kissed her once more. "Te amo, mi vida."

Johnnie smiled. "You know what that does to me, baby. I love you, too. Get some rest."

Alma stood and saluted. "Yes ma'am."

In the two weeks that followed, Johnnie's days were filled with taking tests. EKG's, EEG's, ultrasounds of her heart, lung and liver. She also had respiratory and physical therapy. The atrophy to her muscles was not too extensive, so she was able to regain some of her strength quickly. Alma had returned to work, stopping by the hospital in the afternoon. As much as she loved having her there, Johnnie only allowed her to stay for a couple of hours, and then she would order her home.

After returning to her room following the respiratory therapy session, she realized she needed to use the bathroom, which she was now allowed to on her own. When she came out, she was surprised to find a visitor in her room.

"Mmm, all assed out and no lock on the door." Myra said, leering at Johnnie's lean, but now thinner behind.

A startled Johnnie quickly pulled the hospital gown closed. She had forgotten to put on her robe. "Myra, what a pleasant surprise. How are you?" She asked as she awkwardly made it back to her bed.

"I'm fine, and I see that you are too." Myra told her. "I'm really glad you are ok."

"Thanks, me too." Johnnie said as she pulled up the bedcovers. After she was settled, she asked, "So, how've you been?"

"Staying safe. I'm out of the business." She stated, proudly. "Someone has made an honest woman out of me."

Johnnie was floored. "Well, that is good news. I'm happy for you. Who's the lucky lady?"

"Annie." Myra said, smiling softly. "She said it was time I settled down."

"Well, I'm happy for both of you." Johnnie said, smiling as broadly as Myra did.

"I can only imagine what other people will think." Myra revealed, her smile fading. "With me being in the life and all."

Johnnie looked at her and felt sympathy for her. She knew everyone wouldn't be happy for her. "Fuck what other people think. As long as you two love each other, it doesn't matter."

"Thanks, Johnnie. I guess I need to be reassured." The young woman said.

"C'mere." Johnnie told her, holding her arms open for a hug. Myra walked over to her, and leaned in for it.

A huge figure encompassed the doorway, listening to the conversation. She was touched by what her friend told her lover. Hoping to lighten the mood, Annie walked in and growled playfully, "Hey! What's going on here?"

Johnnie held up her hands in a peaceful gesture. She smiled at Annie. "I was just extending my congratulations, that's all. Now get over here, you big lug, and give me some love." She noticed that her friend looked happier than she had in a long time.

They hugged each other, and then Johnnie punched her on her shoulder.

"Ow, why'd you do that?" Annie asked. "I should take you up for police brutality."

"If I could get out of this bed and properly kick your ass, you'd have every right." Johnnie scolded. "You've been here almost every day, and you didn't tell me."

Still rubbing her shoulder, Annie answered her. "Myra wanted to tell you. She didn't think you would approve."

"Listen guys." She told them. "We are judged, and condemned, for who we love. Don't worry about what other people think. Fuck 'em. As long as you two love each other, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks."

Myra added, "I've always practiced safe sex, Johnnie. I was..."

Johnnie interrupted. "I'm glad that you did, Myra, but that's between you and Annie."After smiling and winking at her, she turned her attention to Annie. "So, now that you've gotten yourself on lock down, how does it feel?"

Annie laughed. "Best jail I could ever be in." She smacked Myra on her behind.

"Ouch!" Myra yelped. "You're such a roughneck, that's what I love about you." She pulled Annie into a tight embrace.

Johnnie noticed how happy they looked.

Annie smiled. "So, when you getting sprung?"

"Hopefully tomorrow or the day after." She sighed. "I'm ready to get the hell outta here."

"I hear you. I know you're ready to get your hands on that bitch. I haven't seen her around, but if I do, I'll leave enough for you to fuck up." Annie angrily told her.

"Annie, I've already told you, this is a police matter. Let us handle it." Johnnie warned.

"Listen to her, honey. They'll handle it." Myra added, knowing full well of Annie's temper, and the damage she could do. She placed a comforting hand on her arm. "Let them take care of it."

The telephone ringing interrupted them. Johnnie answered. Alma was calling to check on Johnnie.

"Hi baby. How are you feeling?" Alma asked.

A smile grew on Johnnie's face. Realizing who it was on the other end of the line, Myra and Annie moved toward the window, giving Johnnie a little more privacy.

The act did not go unappreciated by Johnnie. "Oh, I'm fine baby. How is your day going?"

Alma sighed heavily. She missed being with Johnnie, watching over her and taking care of her. "Slowly, love. I'd rather be with you. I miss you."

Johnnie's smile broadened, but the reason was of a different nature. She wanted to feel Alma's naked body writhing beneath hers. She wanted Alma's hot breath on her skin. Johnnie wanted to taste Alma. Knowing that Alma would never risk being caught by one of the watchdog nurses, Johnnie willed her desire down. "Umm, I miss you too, baby. You have no idea." She lustfully told her.

Alma smiled as she caught the meaning of Johnnie's last statement. She knew that Johnnie's libido was beginning to go into overdrive. After having to practically fight the woman she loved off for the past couple of nights, she knew that Johnnie wouldn't continue to take no for an answer. Trying to take Johnnie's mind off of making love, she asked, "What are you doing, watching the news?"

Johnnie chuckled, realizing exactly what Alma was doing. "No, it's not time for the news yet. Annie and Myra are here and they have given me some good news."

"Oh, really? Tell me." She anxiously asked.

"Well," Johnnie started, "It seems that Annie has finally decided to settle down."

Upon hearing Annie's name, Myra and Annie both turned to look at Johnnie.

Alma laughed happily. "With whom?"

"Myra." Johnnie told her.

Alma knew that the two of them shared a special bond. She could see it when Myra would come to the hospital to bring Annie food, or keep them company, while Johnnie was in a coma. She knew that Myra was a prostitute, but could see in Myra's eyes that she would not be participating in that lifestyle much longer. "That is great news. Give them my congratulations."

Johnnie gave them the 'thumbs up' sign, and told them what Alma had said.

"Honey, I have to go, but I will see you in an hour." Alma said. "I love you."

"I love you too, baby. See you soon." Johnnie softly said, then she hung up. She turned her attention back to her visitors. "You know this calls for a celebration?"

"We will, as soon as you get outta here." Annie said. "But for now, you need your rest."

Myra agreed. "Yes, Johnnie, you need your rest." She leaned in to kiss her on her cheek. "Take care of yourself."

Johnnie smiled at the sweet gesture. "I will, thanks." She told her, and then looked at Annie. "Congrats, Standing Bear. I'm very happy for you."

"Thank you, Red Owl." Annie told her, smiling broadly. "It means a lot coming from you."

"She's good people, Annie. Don't worry about what other people think. You two just love and be good to each other." Johnnie told her friend in a whisper.

"Ok." She softly said. "Later, babe."

"See you guys later." Johnnie told them.

Continued in Part 2

The Athenaeum's Scroll Archive