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13 August 2011 @ 11:59 pm
Numb3rs Fic: Penance - Parts 4, 5 and Epilogue  
Written for numb3rs_novella 2011
Crossposted to numb3rs_notice and numb3rs_fic



Title: Penance - Parts 4, 5 and Epilogue
Series/Universe: Penance/Sin/Vice
Pairing/Characters: See Series Post
Rating: NC17
Spoilers: Seasons 1, 2 and 3
Summary: Just when it looks like love, success and safety are possible in the world of crime Megan's adversaries rise up anew against her (AU)
Notes/Warnings: Read the disclaimer on my LJ



Tuesday, 12/18/07 - Day

Dieter tossed the last dregs of his coffee into the trash before heading into the courtroom for the morning session. He nodded to the officer standing at the back of the courtroom and took up his reserved seat at the back, surreptitiously adjusting his secret recording gear as he settled in.

No one working Security liked courthouse duty. It was one of the few places where they couldn't bring guns or any weapons really. At least he was just there in a surveillance capability. He didn't envy the bodyguards who had to come whenever Howard or Sandra came to court. It was hard to be put in charge of someone's safety when you had to do so completely unarmed. They'd all be on edge until they got back to their cars and pulled their weapons out of hiding.

The prosecution table looked oddly busy, with all the lawyers there whispering frantically.

Pulling out his cell phone to text rather than risk being overheard, Dieter sent a group message to David, Howard, Sandra and Megan.

'Court Alert: Prosecution alarmed by something. Head's up.'

The response came back right away in his earpiece from David.

"Thanks for letting me know. We're sending someone else down there now, but keep recording and see if you notice anyone behaving strangely in the crowd as well - or even on the other side."

Dieter's attention shifted to the other side of the table. That side was oddly silent: not a good sign.

"They're not talking," David muttered in his ear. "I don't like that."

They both waited as the bailiff announced the judge, the judge entered and called court into session.

Almost immediately AUSA Mark Green rose to address the bench.

"Your honor, the prosecution would like to ask for a recess."

"On what grounds, counselor?" the judge asked.

"We had two witnesses on the docket today who were being held in protective custody. When they didn't arrive for pre-court briefing this morning we asked the police to check on them." Dieter almost held his breath as Mark took a deep one. "One of our witnesses was found dead along with his safehouse detail. The second is missing."

"Shit! Tuttle got to them!" Dieter heard David swear in his ear.

"Court will reconvene in 24 hours," the judge announced, slamming down the gavel.

"Dieter, if Gary Walker is anywhere in that crowd," David told him, "you sit on him to keep him from leaving if that's what it takes. We need to talk to him."

Dieter scanned the room as people began to get up and leave, all looking shocked and confused.

"He's not here," Dieter said. "He always sits in the same place and he didn't show up today either."

+

"How did this happen? I thought we had everything under control."

Sandra ran her hands through her hair, making the unbound graying blonde tresses run a bit wild.

"We did," Megan said, pacing Howard's office at the law firm. "Tuttle tried to get Gary Walker to give up the locations, but we managed to sidestep that by getting them put into Federal custody where even LAPD can't get to them."

"But what if Gary found out some other way?"

Megan shook her head. "He knows we've got Lourdes' location, that she's safe." She laughed, a humorless sound. "God, it's one of the oldest tricks in the book! Best way to kidnap someone who's always on guard is to give them a free vacation somewhere! Besides, I'm sure it was cheaper to pretend that Lourdes' sister won a family vacation to Mexico as a prize than to hire a gang of professional kidnappers to try to keep a lid on a police sergeant."

"Apparently he has enough connections within LAPD to conveniently approve then lose her last minute vacation request," Howard added.

"And kill her work cell phone," Sandra piped up.

As Megan let out a long frustrated breath, Howard fixed her in his gaze.

"You know with this new development, the case is no longer cut and dried. I mean, we'll still have you testify and the evidence is strong, but the two men were the only real connection between JET's SUVs and Tuttle himself. You know they'll explain away that whatever those two did it was on their own time and not ordered by him."

"I know." Megan went back to her pacing.

"This also makes Ivy more of a player," Howard continued. "If she comes over to our side..."

"David's doubling her security and looking into another place to move her to. She's still at the military hospital, just in a different wing than before and under a new fake name. We've been debating over whether I should go see her or not. I want to have a face to face with her, but David's afraid it will just fan the flames and get her to want to bolt."

"I'd say you're the last person she wants to see," Howard huffed out, "but I'm pretty sure that title goes to Darby."

"Unless we can get her to believe Tuttle and Penfield have contracts out on her," Sandra piped up. "That makes our enemy public enemy number one."

"And no more safe haven..." Megan nodded, clearly having made up her mind. "I need to talk to Darby and then I need to have a word with Ivy: criminal to criminal."

+

"No! For the, I don't know, fifth time? No, I didn't do it!"

Gary heard a knock on his office door and ignored it as he paced on the phone. Whoever it was opened the door and came in anyway, but he kept his back to them, hoping they'd get the picture and leave.

"I have to go."

He snapped the phone shut and turned around to find a suit with an FBI badge hanging off the front pocked attached to a face he might have found familiar if he wasn't so preoccupied.

"Yes?"

"Lieutenant Walker? Do you remember me? Agent Dwayne Carter from the FBI? We talked a while back about the Organized Crime Task Force I work on."

"Oh, yeah, yeah," Gary said, waving a hand dismissively. "Great idea, that task force, but I'm afraid you've caught me at a bad time." He started to walk Dwayne out of his office despite the look of confusion on the younger man's case. "Much as I'd like to help I've got a fresh homicide on my hands and a missing person to deal with all in the middle of a big case, so if you'll excuse me..."

"Wait, are you talking about the two witnesses that LAPD put in federal custody?" Dwayne asked.

"How do you know about that?" Gary asked, stopping cold.

"I read all the Bureau memos that deal with LAPD. I consider it part of my job to stay up on what the other agencies in town are working on - particularly when one of the Organized Crime department names pops up."

"Do you have any idea how the locations of the witnesses could have been compromised?" Gary asked him.

"Well, the information on the server is locked up tight, but I can tell you the old school way it's done."

Gary paused as it hit him as well. "The AUSA. He would have needed to coach them before their testimony."

"Yeah, they probably put an ace tail or a tracker on the AUSA knowing he'd have to go see the witnesses at some point."

Gary scrubbed his face with a hand then used it clap Dwayne on the shoulder.

"Thanks much for your help. Now come back and see me after the new year about that Task Force and I'll be happy to help."

"Oh, I just had one question, that's all." Dwayne resisted being sent away so Gary finally stopped.

"What is it?"

"I got a package of info on Eppes Enterprises at the Bureau even though we've already cleared them multiple times. Do you have any idea who might have sent it?"

"Well, Edgerton's dead so unless it's from the grave it's not him," Gary mused. "But the main suspect is easy: the same man on trial for trying to kill the company's new CEO who also happens to be the man those two witnesses you were keeping for us were supposed to testify against: J. Everett Tuttle."

+

"I don't like this."

Ivy let out an indignant huff from her hospital bed.

"You don't like this? Then how the hell am I supposed to feel?"

David turned away from the window, still scowling slightly. "Alive. Which is more than I could say for you if you were out on the street."

"Hey, so far no one's shown me any proof that there's even one contract out on me, much less three." Ivy crossed her arms over her chest. "But I figure you're the good guys; you won't try to pull any crap in front of the nurses so I'm safe for now."

"We don't pull any crap period," David countered. "We're not in the business of killing or hurting anyone."

"And yet...." Ivy cocked her head at him.

"Hey, if someone shoots at us, we're free to shoot back. Only fair." He shrugged. "But my idea of a great month in Security is when not a single shot is fired and there's absolutely no altercations of any kind."

Ivy mock yawned. "Wow, it must be boring on your side of the fence."

"I sleep well at night," David offered, grinning. "Really well. With a view of the ocean and the sound of waves crashing outside my custom decorated high rise home on my two thousand dollar mattress..."

"Sorry, you can't impress a girl like me with something as boring as cash. I've got plenty of assets of my own."

"It's not the money, it's the peace of mind that matters. And I prefer sleeping somewhere that there's never going to be an attack on me."

"So you think."

"So I know."

His attention returned to the window. "I don't like how big this window is. It's too much exposure. We should move you again."

As he turned, expecting an argument from Ivy, they both saw it at the same time: a red dot searching for just the right spot on her pale hospital gown.

"Gun!"

+

Tuesday, 12/18/07 - Night

Darby ran into the waiting room with helmet and hand, still in full leathers.

"Please tell me he's at least out of surgery," she said to Megan, nearly breathless.

"They're moving him to recovery now," Megan told her with a wan smile. "Apparently it was a simple through and through. There shouldn't be any nerve damage. David will just have to keep his arm in sling until his shoulder heals."

Darby all but threw her helmet on a nearby couch.

"It's my fault. David shouldn't have gotten shot protecting Ivy."

"How is that your fault?" Megan asked, confused. "I'm the one who assigned him to her security detail."

"I should have finished her off when I had the chance!" Darby shouted. "She's done nothing but work to hurt the people we care about! I should have finished her off when I figured out she wasn't dead in the first place!"

Megan rose and halted Darby's angry pacing with a hand on her arm.

"That's not who we are. That's not who you are."

"It's who I should be." Her face was downturned, sullen. "Billy would have done it. He would have taken matters into his own hands to ensure the safety of the family."

Megan gave herself the span of a breath to deal with the rush of emotion that name brought up in her.

"Well, I think - in the end - we saw that Billy didn't always make the best choices."

"He was loyal." Darby's voice was so quiet it was almost inaudible. "I know he was. He just got caught up in an impossible situation."

Megan tugged Darby by the arm so they could both sit down.

"Listen, I know you miss him. I miss him too. And I know it feels like you're alone out there without him, but you have all of us behind you! You're every bit a part of the family as someone who sits behind a desk or works in a club. I'm sorry that the work you do has to be so solitary..."

"I can handle it," Darby asserted.

"I know you can. I have every faith in you." She ducked her head down to catch Darby's eye. "But I'm thinking it might be time for you to pick a protege - someone you can train to have your back in the field, to work with you."

"I was that for Billy..."

"And now you should have someone of your own." Megan waited until Darby lifted her head to continue speaking. "Just know this: no one blames you for David getting shot. No one expected you or wanted you to kill Ivy. You're a great asset to us just the way you are. You don't have to change to impress me, Darby. I knew you were something special as soon as we met. I know you'll never be able to find another you, but I'm happy to put a couple of motorcycles on order if you want to give having a little posse to choose from a try."

At the word posse Darby chuckled.

"Can you imagine? LA crawling with little mes?"

"I'd prefer your living room crawling with real little yous," Megan told her. "But I get that babies aren't your thing. But keep in mind that someday you might want to come out of the field and have that posse to run as part of management."

Darby opened her mouth to protest, but Megan just gestured her to stop and not speak.

"Just think about it. And for now, do me a favor and work with Colby on Ivy's new security. They got to her regardless of what we did to protect her. She might not be as lucky next time."

+

David woke, groggy with pain medicine, and vaguely aware of three things: he was in a bed, there was tight pressure on his right hand and he could hear sounds of someone crying.

It all hit him at once in a wave of memory and realization: he'd been shot protecting Ivy and knowing how things stood with both Claudia and Olivia, Megan had called Claudia to his side for him.

It was her voice he recognized sniffling beside him.

He forced his eyes open and did his best to smile.

"Hey, babe."

"David!"

How Claudia managed to get her arms around him, he wasn't sure, but it felt wonderful to sink into her loving embrace.

"It's okay," he whispered. "I'm okay."

"I thought I was going to lose you," she murmured in his ear, the pain in her voice tightening his chest. "I was so scared."

"Nah," he joshed. "I'm Superman. Nobody keeps me down."

Claudia managed a little laugh, wiping her eyes. "Well, Mr. Superman, someone didn't get the memo about you being bulletproof."

She took up his hand again, squeezing it tight, and he made sure to give her a reassuring strong squeeze back.

"It's nothing. I'll be good as new in a few weeks."

"David..." Her gaze grew serious as she sat looking closely at him. "Do you know who did this?"

Looking her in the eye, David couldn't lie.

"Yes."

"Then I swear, I will do everything in my power to bring them down." Claudia' back was straight and her expression stoic. "I will not have the person behind this go unpunished."

David kissed the back of her hand.

"I wish it was that simple. It's not one person, though clearly one person pulled the trigger."

"Then who is it?" she asked.

David paused; he hadn't planned on bringing her in like this, but he knew her well enough that he knew she wouldn't rest without answers.

"The same people behind the attempt on Megan's life. The same people who work for the man who's on trial now for that attempt. It's his organization who wants the person I was protecting dead and they don't mind at all if they have to go through me to make that happen."

"So this Tuttle... He's not just behind Megan's limo crash? He's a real criminal?"

"He is. He's got a huge organization: drugs... guns..." He paused a split second before continuing. "Prostitutes... But really, he's just unafraid of protecting his empire with violence. He's had one of his own men killed to keep them from testifying without any evidence that he might do so, so it's not hard to believe he's trying to manipulate his trial now."

Her eyes widened. "He killed off one of the witnesses..."

"And if the other's not dead, he's in the wind. So yeah, Tuttle - and his second in command Marshall Penfield - are some seriously bad dudes." He shook her hand a little. "But I don't want you getting messed up with them, do you hear me? I want you off their radar completely."

"I've already made up my mind," Claudia told him, looking every bit the strong woman he fell for. "If they're bad and dangerous? They're going down. And I'm going to make sure of it."

+

Megan nodded to the guards at Ivy's door and they let her in. This new room was small - not even a proper patient room, but it had no windows and was located in such a way to be highly defensible by the small army that was now assigned to watch over Ivy - the commander of the facility having been embarrassed by the attempt on Ivy's life while under his roof.

Ivy was sitting up in bed, clearly agitated but unhurt thanks to David's heroism.

"Ivy?" she began as she pulled up a stool to sit on. "We should talk."

"Look, I'm sorry your guy got hurt, but as far as I know..."

Megan just tossed a file full of photographs onto the bed to stop her rant.

"I believe that man should be familiar to you."

Ivy looked at the photos and as she did Megan could see the ire drain away.

"Yeah, that's Tio Tejada. He's a contract killer that we've used before. I've seen him around."

"That's him outside this building, carrying what even you'd have to agree looks like a sniper rifle case. There's also a shot of your broken window for reference. Still think we're making all this up? If so, look at the last couple of photos."

As soon as she saw them the rage was back full force.

"That's my apartment!"

"Was," Megan clarified. "It was rigged to blow on entry since they figured you lived alone. What they didn't count on was your landlord disobeying your wishes to not go in without your advance approval. He heard you were awake and he thought he'd have the place cleaned as a surprise for when you came back. Some surprise."

"Is he.."

"He'll be in the burn ward a few more days, but he should make a full recovery save the scars from his skin grafts. He was lucky in that he only unlocked the door and then pushed it open with a mop rather than walk in himself."

"He'd have been fine if he's just done what I told him," Ivy complained.

"So you believe it now? That Tuttle's organization is trying to shut you up permanently.

"So what if I do?" Ivy challenged. "I'm sure as hell not going to work for you."

Megan huffed out a laugh. "Sorry, Ivy. I wouldn't take you on as an employee if you paid me. Good as you are at what you do there's no way in hell I could ever trust you or you me."

Ivy managed a crooked smirk at that. "Yeah, you've got that right."

"What I want is to offer you a deal to consider: a way to get a fresh start."

Ivy eyed her, defiant.

"Let's hear it."

"First," Megan started, "you have to leave California and never come back. That's non-negotiable. If you do, you'll be paid a quarter of a million dollars, given safe passage out of state and receive a new identity which we will know but no one else."

Ivy opened her mouth, but Megan just gestured her to wait.

"Hear me out first. Second option: You provide us evidence to use against Tuttle and Penfield, we pay you a million dollars, get you safe passage and give you an identity. Third?" Megan fixed Ivy in her gaze. "You testify to put Tuttle away in court, we give you two million dollars, wire 50K to any plastic surgeon you want to modify your appearance and do the same for any forger you want to make your new identity, which we'll never know. We can arrange for safe passage to any city in the state with an International airport if you'd like or you can just borrow our helicopter for a day and have them drop you anywhere you want."

She rose, smoothing out her designer suit.

"You don't have to take any of my offers," Megan said carefully. "But think about how long you might live if you go out there."

Ivy looked at her, her eyes hard.

"If I rat on Tuttle, I'm dead."

Megan just shrugged.

"You're already dead to him. He's paid three times over to have you killed. And if I was in your shoes?" She leaned in, a wicked smile on her face. "I'd be pissed enough to want payback."

+

Darby entered the room reluctantly. She wouldn't be doing this if Megan hadn't asked, but she had.

The idea of her going to try to convince Ivy to switch sides seemed ludicrous. She was the one who put Ivy in a coma in the first place. Still, with the loss of the two witnesses, the case against Tuttle was greatly weakened and she couldn't let the bastards who came after her and Megan get off.

"Hey..." She had the advantage of a few seconds to speak first since Ivy was clearly in shock at her appearance. "Bet I'm the last person you expected to come visit."

"Oh there's a long list of people who aren't coming to visit me," Ivy snarked. "The Pope, Michael Jackson, the Queen of England..."

"Your boss - who's in jail," Darby ticked off on her fingers, "Your other boss who's trying to have you killed, your health insurance agent... Oh wait, you don't have any health care. They dumped your sorry ass in County rather than take care of you." She huffed in disgust. "Nice people you hang with."

"So you're here to give me the warm fuzzies about Eppes Enterprises?"

"Nope." Darby stuffed her hands in her pockets. "I don't want you to join the company. I want you the hell out of my town."

"Since when is it your town?"

"Um, birth?" She waved away the statement and pulled something out of her pocket. "I did come bearing gifts - or one anyway." She placed it on the bed beside Ivy's hip only to have Ivy grab it up immediately. Darby backed away to where she'd been standing as Ivy opened up the folding knife and inspected the blade. "I know if I was sitting there with a killer after me I'd want a weapon. So I figured I'd get you one. Don't worry, it's street legal. I'm not trying to get you busted or anything."

"Not a bad little blade," Ivy nodded with appreciation.

"Well, you had to be able to hide it from the nurses and guards," Darby pointed out. "But close up it should be able to do some real damage." She fixed Ivy in her gaze. "All the guards here and everyone at my organization know you have that thing so don't be thinking you can pull it on anyone but an outsider. That's for your protection against Tuttle's goons, not us."

She headed for the door, unable to think of any more to say.

"That's it? No big sob story, begging my forgiveness for almost killing me?"

"Why? You'd have done the same." Darby's voice was cool and factual. "Face it, if we did try to stay in the same city? One of us would wind up dead and since you're going to be physically messed up for months I like my odds to come out on top." She put her hand on the doorknob and paused. "You should think about Megan's deal. She's offering you money and a new life when she could just as soon have you killed herself and be rid of a ton of grief."

"She'd never do it. Your boss is too nice."

"Oh, you're so wrong there. If anyone's a cold blooded criminal on our side? It's Megan. She's ice." A wave of bitter memory wiped any mirth from her face. "I mean after all, isn't it strange how Billy Cooper and Ian Edgerton died the exact same way? Think about it..."

+


Wednesday, 12/19/07 - Day

"You don't have to do this." Both Howard and Sandra had come with Megan to court on the day of her testimony even though all they could do was prep her and that work was long over. Howard in particular wore a look of concern that seemed almost like the type of big brother expression Megan had grown used to on Don's face. "You know that right?"

"I'm testifying," Megan said firmly, keeping her voice down in the gallery as she waited for Mark to call her as a witness. "I'm doing everything in my power to put Tuttle away. No chance I'm backing out now just because the case is shaky. That's an even better reason to take the stand. Besides, it's me he tried to kill. This is my fight."

"Just realize," Sandra offered gently, "that once Dennis has you on the ropes he's going to try to throw in some trick questions to try to get you to implicate yourself or Luxe. Just remember what we taught you. You're allowed as much time as you need to answer so if you want a deep breath before each one, there's not a damn thing he can do about it."

"Other than call you a hostile witness, which would get him laughed out of the courtroom," Howard added, smirking.

"Or the bar association," Sandra added, smiling as well. "And I can't tell you how much we'd love to see that rat bastard Dennis disbarred."

"First things first," Megan interrupted them. "We've got to get Tuttle put away and then we have to go after Penfield. He's too dangerous to be left out there. You know he'll just take over for Tuttle without any concern for who gets in his way."

"He's got to be the one keeping things going while Tuttle's in jail," Howard agreed. "I'm still stunned that with all the evidence we gave him AUSA Green couldn't get any warrants for anything other than JET Holdings and Tuttle's house."

"And he wasn't likely to keep anything illicit in either place," Sandra piped up. "Megan's right. We need to put him away here and now."

"I'd just be happier if we had a witness," Howard complained.

Mark rose in front of the judge. "The prosecution calls Ms. Megan Reeves to the stand."

Megan rose, smoothed out the seams of her polished suit and headed into the witness stand.

"Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?"

Mentally Megan found humor in the request - she had no intention of telling the full truth, ever - yet outwardly she was all business.

"I do."

+

Megan hadn't bitten her nails since she was a teenager in her father's home back in New York. She'd done it more then as an act of defiance to their society perfect world where all the women had perfectly buffed and manicured nails, but it did provide some odd comfort as well.

As she left the witness stand, Megan desperately wanted to bite her nails and fought to place them properly in her lap as she took her seat next to Sandra.

"You did great," Sandra whispered over. "Now it's up to Mark."

Mark, at the prosecution table in front of them, was going through his papers and talking quietly with one of his associates when the courtroom double doors opened with a loud slam that made everyone jolt and turn around to look.

Two huge men were holding open the doors like club bouncers, stoic and dangerous looking.

In between them, making a grand entrance, came Ivy - valiantly dragging her body forward on forearm crutches. Even at a distance little beads of sweat showed the effort on her brow, but it also showed the determination on her face as she entered with a man following close behind.

"I'm Ivy Kirk," she declared to the court at large, her voice carrying clearly throughout the voluminous chambers. "Witness for the prosecution."

A rush of renewed hope rose up in Megan and she could taste the victory as she glanced over at Everett and Dennis' stunned faces.

Ivy cocked her head to the man behind her. "And this is Jorge Nacimento. I hear you've been looking for him."

Mark bolted up excitedly. "Your Honor, it looks like the prosecution has two more witnesses!"

Dennis was on his feet almost at the same time. "Objection!"

Everett had leaped to his feet as well, almost pushing past his own lawyer in his obvious shock and ire.

"You can't let her up on the stand!" he shouted. "She's a liar! She'll say whatever people pay her to say! You can't believe a word she says!"

"Order!" The judge banged his gavel down hard until Dennis pulled Everett back, trying to quiet him. "Mr. Tuttle, you've chosen not to testify in your own defense, which you are legally entitled to, but you are not allowed to testify ad hoc from your seat! Now the jury will disregard Mr. Tuttle's comments and they are to be stricken from the record." The judge's eyes narrowed as he turned to Everett. "I know you're already in custody so I can't revoke bail as a punishment for any further outbursts, but mark my words, if I hear one more word out of you you can be sure there won't be any more gourmet meals allowed to reach you through your lawyer and don't think I don't know all about that." He sat back, looking a little smug. "Now, I believe Mr. Matthews had an objection. On what grounds do you object?" the judge asked.

"On the grounds that we haven't been able to prepare for these witnesses," Dennis managed, still looking flustered as he kept gesturing to calm Everett.

"Mr. Nacimento was on the original witness list so that objection isn't valid despite his delay in reaching the stand. I, for one, would very much like to hear what he has to say. You can work on any objections to Ms. Kirk's testimony while Mr. Nacimento gives his testimony." He turned to the prosecution table. "Mr. Green? You may proceed. Call your witness."

"I call Jorge Nacimento to the stand," Mark stated formally.

As Jorge headed into the witness box the two bodyguards followed Ivy who was still struggling for every inch forwards but showing no signs of accepting any help. They cleared a spot for her in the front row behind Mark and the other lawyers, chasing away the law clerks there who slunk away under the gaze of the guards and probably Ivy as well.

Megan changed places with Howard so she was right behind Ivy as Jorge was being sworn in.

"How did you..."

"I've got friends," Ivy said curtly. "And he's not for free."

"Understood." As much as it bothered her to pay for the man who tried to kill her to get out of town and evade prison, the bigger picture was to take down Everett. Jorge had nothing against her and was just doing his job. Odds were if she paid him off he'd never come around again. Everett? He'd fight to the death so even prison wasn't going to fully eliminate him as a threat - just nullify him enough that Marshall was going to be Public Enemy Number One instead.

"And I'm not doing this for you," Ivy continued. "My people confirmed what Tuttle did: dumping me in that piece of shit County Hospital, telling everyone I was fired years ago and then putting out contracts on me when they heard I woke up. So this? This is my payback."

"What about Darby?" Megan asked, a little chilled.

Ivy shrugged. "I already got her the first time. This was just her payback on me. Now? We're even."

Megan sat back in her seat, head reeling from all the new developments.

"Mr. Nacimento," Mark began, "On the 22nd of October, earlier this year, did you purposefully attempt to force Megan Reeves' limousine off the road with the intent of killing her and her driver?"

"Yes, I did." A murmur went around the courtroom.

"Who ordered you to kill Ms. Reeves? Is that person here in the courtroom?"

Jorge pointed his finger right at Everett.

"He's right there: J. Everett Tuttle."

+

"So? Celebrate? My place?" Sandra offered as they passed through courthouse security the other way on their way to the parking garage elevators. "I texted Millie to let her know to expect company. I'm sure she has a few bottles of something special stashed away for an occasion such as this."

"Let me call Cinda first," Howard said. "As long as she doesn't have anything planned I could use a celebratory glass of wine. Or two."

"Just tell her open door all night - come by whenever," Sandra told him. He stepped away, pulling out his cell phone, and Sandra turned to Megan. "How about you?"

"I want to pop by my place first and change out of this suit," Megan said, "but sure, I'll come down for a while. It will be nice to have a breather after all this."

"Great. I'll see about having some food sent over as well. Maybe from Gabriel's Colombian restaurant for variety's sake."

"I'm up for that."

Megan stopped in front of the elevator banks as Sandra kept going, gesturing to the stairwell door.

"Stairs: best way for a lawyer to keep in shape."

Megan chuckled and waved her off, Sandra's bodyguard invisible behind her to anyone but Megan. She felt more than saw her own hovering behind each shoulder, each probably just looking like another man in a suit waiting for the elevator. She was used to having Pavel and Leo as her shadows by now. Pavel had been assigned as her bodyguard by Don. Leo she'd picked herself for his Krav Maga background. He was more street savvy while Pavel was more polished so they made for a good set in her eyes.

The elevator dinged and she entered, her bodyguards flanking her. There was a thin old man in a 40s style fedora against the back wall hunched low over a metal walker so she stood in the center enough in front of him to give him room.

The elevator doors closed and the floor began to descend.

The old man coughed roughly, his walker wheels squeaking at the movement, distracting her for a split second just before cold steel pressed against her throat and a hand grabbed her, pulling her backwards.

"Back off or she dies!"

Heart racing, her breath caught as she recognized the voice of her captor: Marshall Penfield.

Both bodyguards put up their hands, moving opposite them towards the doors.

"When the doors open up, you leave," Marshall told them.

"No," Pavel said clearly as Leo seemed to be scouting for an opening.

"Yes," Megan asserted. "Both of you get out." She tried communicating with her eyes to tell them to get help. "I can handle this. He won't hurt me." Her gaze - which Marshall couldn't see - made it clear she didn't mean that. Marshall had every reason to kill her and only his need to get away with it kept him from doing so on the spot.

The doors opened at P1 and Pavel and Leo backed out, keeping their hands up.

Marshall pressed his gun deeper into her neck. "That's it! Go!"

+

Once the door closed it continued on to P3, which was the next floor lit up.

"We're going to take a little ride." Marshall's voice was a vicious whisper in her ear. "Because you've finally crossed the line from mere annoyance to actual threat. I suppose I should congratulate you. You managed that so much faster than your boss ever did."

The doors opened up on P3 - the mostly empty level of the parking garage - and Marshall nudged her so they both took a step forward.

Then a figure appeared before them, leveling a gun aimed right at Marshall's forehead.

"Hello, Marshall," came a calm cool voice from a totally unexpected source: Kit.

"What the..."

Megan beamed as Kit held the gun steady, all confidence.

"Let her go or I'll put a hole in your forehead," Kit said calmly, his gaze entirely focused on Marshall.

"You? Shoot that thing? I bet you don't even know where the safety is," Marshall scoffed.

"I can tell you where the safety is on almost forty different handguns and a half dozen sniper and assault rifles," Kit continued, smooth and unfazed. "Shall I start with the AK-47 or the .357 Magnum? Because I've been busy since you last saw me, Penfield, and it wasn't with math."

The elevator door threatened to close, but Kit had put his foot in the track so it just bounced back open at the obstacle, setting off a little alarm of protest.

"Let her go and I let you go," Kit stated firmly. "It's my only offer."

Megan couldn't see Marshall behind her but she could feel his rage in the grip on her arm. The gun tilted up under her chin as if he was about to shoot, but Kit didn't flinch, didn't move a muscle. He didn't even look away as Marshall wrenched her arm behind her, making her cry out helplessly at the pain.

"I'm counting down from five to one - something I think you can handle," Kit said with a sneer. "If Megan's not out of the elevator when I'm done? I'm firing and I only need one bullet to snuff out that supposed genius brain of yours." A brief pause followed where no one moved. "Five..."

More wrenching and Megan thought her shoulder might dislocate if Marshall twisted it further.

"Four..."

"I will not be bested by a scrawny rent boy!" Marshall yelled.

"Three..."

"This isn't over," Marshall hissed into her ear.

"Two..."

Megan froze in the final second as her life passed before her eyes: a cavalcade of images and people and emotions that staggered her.

"One..."

She felt herself hurled forward right at Kit as Marshall shoved her out of the elevator. She stumbled against him, making him stagger back off balance, but he grabbed her and held her up as the doors closed behind her.

In a flash they were embracing tightly even as she heard Kit's bodyguard off to the side calling in Marshall's escape using his cell phone's walkie talkie feature - clearly how he and Kit had heard about Marshall in the elevator from Leo and Pavel to begin with.

"You were amazing!" Megan said with a bout of near hysterical laughter of relief.

"I was, wasn't I?" Kit teased. "I was pretty damn proud of myself! I think that was my best Clint Eastwood moment ever!"

Megan just fell back into his arms, laughing helplessly.

"I adore you, you know that, Kit? I really do." She kissed his check, gazing at him fondly - more than ever the little brother she never had, understanding how Don felt about Charlie in that moment. "Thank you. I know it's not enough, but I have to say it."

"Hey, you came and got me from Marshall," Kit stated, standing up straight, looking all puffed up. "I figured it was my turn."

+

Wednesday, 12/19/07 - Night

"Wow... I still can't believe I did that!"

Kit was still blinking in the back of Megan's limousine fifteen minutes later as they zoomed down the freeway, headed back to the apartment building.

"It will be quite the story to tell," Megan said, nudging him. "How big hero Kit saves the CEO from his nemesis."

"I have a nemesis!" Kit brightened up. "I guess I do! I mean, he was Charlie's before so I guess I inherited him along with the job."

"You earned him," Megan told him. "He came after you so you have every right to consider him yours." She let out a laugh. "Listen to us! Going on about having a nemesis when I just got mine sent to prison."

"I am so up for celebrating that!" Kit enthused. "Plus I still have to work off all this extra adrenaline." He held up a hand which was subtly shaking. "David didn't exactly teach us this part about having guns."

"No, experience is your most valuable teacher there," Megan said as her cell phone rang. She pulled it out, answering even as she and Kit shared a still giddy smile. "Reeves."

"Snakedoctor here."

Megan sat up briskly.

"Report?"

"Protectee has been targeted by enemy under surveillance and they're moving in."

"Right, she's just made herself redundant," Megan murmured.

"We plan to intercept. Do you want a full cleaning?"

"Yes to the intercept," Megan agreed, "and no to the cleaning. I want there to be enough evidence to put them away. Get our target and her family to safety as planned and see if you can get the enemy contingent arrested."

"We will. Snakedoctor out."

"What was that?" Kit asked as Megan hung up.

"Gary Walker's wife? Lourdes? I've had our former special ops team on her the whole time. Once Jorge Nacimento showed up to testify they had no reason to keep her around and Marshall - who's probably feeling supremely pissed off right now - probably told them to knock her off out of spite."

"And to ruin our relationship with Gary," Kit added, nodding in understanding.

"She's thought that she was on a prize vacation all this time with her sister's family and we're going to keep it that way. Jonas was instructed to pretend there was some issue with the hotel and move them from a four star to a five star resort as a supposed apology for the inconvenience." She cocked her head to one side. "I'm thinking that we should extend her vacation a week and send Gary down there to join her."

Kit beamed.

"I like the way you think."

As they pulled into the apartment's secured garage, Megan's eyes lit up.

"You know what I think? I think this celebration deserves to move to the rooftop and turn into a real party."

+

Gabriel and Colby were manning the grill - at least when they weren't having playful pretend sword fights with their long handled barbecue tools.

Kit was holding court with the newcomers, regaling them all with his heroic tale of besting his nemesis singlehandedly. Megan didn't mind being painted as a bit of a damsel in distress; Kit had definitely earned his right to brag and she wasn't about to bring him down by mentioning her black belt in Krav Maga as keeping her from being completely helpless. Matt sat with him, but slightly behind, as if also wanting to give him this time in the limelight.

Millie and Cinda were fussing over their respective mates as if they'd had their own brush with death. It really had been only Sandra's insistence at taking the stairs and Howard's phone call to his wife that kept them out of the elevator Marshall had been waiting in.

Liz and Alex were laughing about something over by the pool while Marco and Terry were dipping their legs in the jacuzzi and starting to bend the levels of propriety from PG13 to R while making out like teenagers.

Taking it all in, in a rare break between conversations, Megan answered her phone as it rang.

"Hello?"

"Snakedoctor here. Operation Sunshine complete. Target and family moved to new location without incident. Three enemy units taken into police custody with two civilian witnesses to confirm illegal possession of weapons with intent to do harm."

"Excellent news! Did you extend the target's reservation as well?"

"One extra week as you said, plus we divided the family into two suites in case another guest might arrive."

Megan smiled. "He's packing his bags now, thanks. Stay on them until they're back in the states. I don't want to take any chances."

"Understood. Snakedoctor out."

As she snapped her phone shut, she saw Colby waving them closer.

"Hey everybody! Dieter's on the phone and he's got good news!" He switched his cell phone to loudspeaker and held it up as everyone crowded around. "Go ahead, Dieter!"

"Well, with the information Ivy Kirk gave us about Tuttle's computer systems our hackers were able to get in and take control of Tuttle's servers. We're almost done downloading all their data and once that's done we're releasing the most damaging viruses we can to destroy their systems."

A cheer went up through the crowd with a mix of fist pumping and joyfully flailing arms.

Megan stepped forward, holding up her glass.

"To the end of J. Everett Tuttle and hopefully to his entire organization!"

Glasses were raised to a murmur of ascent and everyone drank, Megan draining her glass with a relish one rarely got to enjoy in life.

+

In the back of his limousine, Marshall snarled at LA traffic clogged with holiday shoppers and travelers along with the normal glut of daily commuters.

"What the hell are you people doing out on the streets?" he yelled at his partially rolled down window. "Go home and stay there, damn it!" His phone rang and he glared at it with equal ire before answering. "What?"

"Um, it's Edgar. I have some bad news."

"I don't want bad news! I want you to tell me that we're completely dark, that all of our operations were shut down successfully!"

"Most are, but a few haven't called back in on the go dark order, but that's not the problem."

"What could possibly be more important than, oh, say the police finding one of our locations engaged in criminal activities?"

"Well, uh, there's the fact that we can't do much in that department seeing as how all our servers have been hacked."

"What!" Marshall screamed so loud the woman in the car next to him looked alarmed. Ignoring her, he closed the tinted window the rest of the way shut and tried to keep his temper in check. "How the hell did that happen?"

"Insider?" Edgar guessed. "Someone fed them intel on our systems?"

"Ivy..." Marshall's hands clenched into fists.

"And that's not all. There are police at the mansion, here at the offices and your housekeeper just called to say they're at your house too. I don't know what they want there, but it can't be good." He paused briefly as Marshall fumed silently, each breath more enraged than the next. "Maybe you shouldn't go home for a while?"

"You think?" Marshall said, acid in his voice. "I'm already heading up north to my safehouse in Santa Barbara. In the meantime, get Dennis on this. We need him to stop the police from executing any warrants on our properties or mine."

"Dennis, the lawyer guy?" Edgar paused again, sounding almost timid. "Yeah, he sent a courier with a letter that basically says he quit, what with the trial having gone so bad and all."

"He doesn't get to quit!" Marshall slammed a fist against the door in frustration. "You tell him to get his ass back there and work on those warrants or I'll have a contract out on it before he can blink. And get those damn locations dark!"

He snapped the phone shut and threw it across the limousine's spacious back seat area, hearing it rattle around as it ricocheted about before coming to rest on the floor.

Marshall sat for a moment staring out the window, thinking, then reached down and picked up the phone.

"This is Marshall Penfield. I need a secure and untraceable line for a call."

+

"No, no... That's Millie's drink. The other one is Liz's. I saw Millie put hers down." Megan had already pulled out her ringing cell phone and answered it without missing a breath, her voice light and breezy. "Reeves."

"Hello Megan."

In a second the mood shifted, just hearing Marshall's voice in her ear again - so soon after hearing it as he held a gun on her - left her with a chill despite the patio heaters keeping her rooftop seating areas toasty.

She waved to get Colby's attention then gave him the sign for a trace. Once he nodded and turned his attention to his own phone to arrange it, she responded.

"Hello Marshall."

"It seems you're two moves ahead in this little chess game we're playing."

"Oh really?" Megan made sure her voice sounded confident, assured. "Did you miss what happened in court today? I'm pretty sure that was a checkmate move if I ever saw one. Sorry Marshall, your king is down for the count."

"Who said he was the goal? The king is hardly the most powerful player on the board."

"Heh," Megan huffed. "That sounds like loser talk - trying to change the rules of the game partway through. Good luck with that. Me? I'm through playing."

"That's just it," Marshall told her. "If it was checkmate it would be over, but believe me... Your game with my boss might be done, but I'm nowhere near through with you."

"That's nice," Megan said, condescension clear in her voice. "But for now the police aren't pawing through my underwear drawer but yours. Me? I'm throwing a party."

"Not for long..."

The phone clicked off and Megan stared at it a few seconds, shaking her head before putting it away. Across the patio Colby shook his head: no trace. It wasn't like Marshall to not cover his tracks but it had been worth a try anyway. And he was right - there was no way he was going to give up and let Megan win that easily. He was still a threat, perhaps more so than his boss because he was more of an unknown entity. What was next was anyone's game. Megan just planned to be the one winning it.

"Got room for a couple dozen more?"

She blinked in surprise because it wasn't just Antoine at the rooftop door - who didn't usually show up to these last minute shindigs - it was Antoine presenting the code phrase for bringing someone outside the organization into an organization event.

As he stepped through the doorway he gestured to the person behind him to come out after him.

"James?"

James's broad grin was just the sort of tonic she needed right now and as he crossed the patio to join her she opened her arms to him and he walked right into them, embracing her tightly.

"Hey there..." he murmured into her neck before planting a tender kiss on her lips. "Surprised to see me?"

"Very much so! But pleasantly surprised!" She looked at him, flustered. "I mean, how did you get past security?"

"Antoine!" He gestured to over where Antoine was greeting Millie and Sandra. "He's an old friend of my father's from decades back. I ran into him at Basia's on Monday night and he somehow already knew I was seeing you." James settled her into the circle of his arms. "He told me that I could trust you, that I should trust you. He said if I was at all serious about you I should confess my sins to you, that you would accept me as I am."

"Sins?"

James made a little face, one that spoke of more regret than anything else. "Let's just say the way I made my shipping fortune in Dubai wasn't entirely on the up and up. I mean sometimes people just needed to get out of the area and I didn't mind making a few dollars on the side smuggling rich people and their possessions away from prosecution. That led to some other questionable jobs and well, these things tend to snowball once you have a reputation for handling illicit jobs." His face brightened and he held his hand up like a boy scout. "But that's over now. I moved my company here, put someone I trusted in charge of the Dubai office - someone I know who has the strength to turn down bribes from our previous clientele - and I'm focusing the company entirely on legitimate ventures now. That and I'm devoting myself to charity work."

"Doing penance for your sins?" Megan asked. "Because that's kind of how I see it sometimes."

"What sins could you possibly have?" James asked.

Megan looked past him to where Antoine was watching the two of them together. Antoine mouthed the words 'tell him' to her and gestured her in encouragement.

"How do you know Antoine again?" she asked, wheedling for more time as her mind reeled with the possibilities: she could have someone in her life she didn't need to lie to, someone she could talk to, be herself with...

"My father was a bit of a gambler and Antoine was his bookie, mine too if the truth be told. Dad got me into high stakes poker just before I joined the military and Antoine was - and still is as far as I know - the person to ask about any high end gambling or book making in LA."

"So you still gamble?"

"I like a good poker match from time to time," James admitted. "And I prefer not to go to Vegas for it..." His brow furrowed as Megan fought back laughter. "What?"

"Nothing, it's just..." She finally got a hold of herself and caught Antoine's eye briefly. 'Thank you', she mouthed back, making James look all the more confused.

"I get the feeling there's more going on here than I'm seeing," James ventured.

"Oh, so much more..." Megan took a deep breath. "So you want to know if I'm okay with you having some gray areas in your past, correct?"

"Yes."

"Would you forgive the same for someone else? I mean, if they had a criminal background, but were a good person at heart? You'd be okay with being with them?"

"If I knew them to be a good person, sure. As long as they didn't do horrible stuff like, you know, hard drugs, genocide or promoting Celine Dion in casinos."

At that Megan lost it, almost falling over laughing as James just pulled her tighter into his arms.

"I like that you think I'm that funny," James said with a chuckle of his own.

"Oh, I love this night!" Megan threw her head back and gazed up at the stars briefly. "Tonight? I'm going to remember." She took a deep breath and faced James. "Yes," she told him. "I can accept you and your past. And I hope that once I tell you about my past you'll accept me as well."

"Your past?" James asked, honestly curious and surprised. "What have you ever done?"

"Why don't we go inside and sit down for this?" Megan said, leading him by the arm towards one of the patio doors leading into her apartment. "This might take a while."

"Oh? And where does this story begin?"

Megan held the door for him as he passed through.

"Well, we should start with when I first came to LA, but for now? Let's start with the fact that you know what Antoine does, who he is. Well, guess who he works for..."

+


Monday, 12/24/07 - Night

Terry reluctantly peeled herself away from Marco when the doorbell rang, the sound barely audible over the din of the Christmas Eve party. "I've got it!" she called out. "And can someone lower the music a little? Thanks!" The music went down a little by the time she got to the door and checked the peephole. "I'll be damned!"

She opened the door to find Darby shifting nervously from foot to foot on her doorstep.

"Hi," Darby said with a little wave. "Megan said I should take you up on your invite and come by for a while."

"Happy to have you!" Terry enthused. "We've been wanting to give you a proper welcome to the building for ages! Come on in!" She led Darby inside to where everyone was assembled in the open living and dining area that Marco's huge kitchen opened up onto. People were sitting on the kitchen bar stools watching Marco cook or scattered around the sofas in the spacious room.

"Wow! Your place looks really different from mine!"

"We had to do some extra structural work to get Marco his entertaining kitchen," Terry explained, "but he loves it for parties. He's in the thick of things even when he's cooking." She gestured to Marco to get him to look up. "Look who I found! Darby! This fine woman needs a drink!"

"Welcome Darby! And a drink you shall have! A concoction to make any holiday festive!" He looked at her as if sizing her up. "This is not an eggnog woman, but never fear, this should do the trick."

He fussed about behind the high granite bar and produced an ornate glass filled with a dark semi-transparent liquid.

Darby accepted it and took a sip. "Oh man, this is seriously good. What is it? Some kind of wine?"

"Wassail! My own recipe!"

"Spiced mulled wine," Terry translated. "And I've never had better than Marco's."

"Hey, Darby!" Liz greeted her as Alex also raised her glass from beside her in greeting. "Great to have you join us!"

"Yeah, stag girls in this corner!" Alex teased.

"Oh, thank God," Darby deadpanned. "I was afraid I'd be the only one not coupled up here."

Liz waved her hand towards the couches where everyone was busy talking.

"That's the couple contingent. We're planning a raid shortly and we could use another hand on deck. What do you say?"

Darby grinned, starting to look a bit more at ease. "Do I get to be first mate and wear a pirate hat? Because I'm not going to be cabin boy on this ship."

"Hey, I command the wench army," Alex joshed, "so you're welcome to be Liz's first mate on the SS Polaris."

"Now, now, ladies!" Marco protested playfully. "Why can't you all make love and not war?"

"Did you miss the part where we're stag tonight?" Liz taunted, throwing a balled up napkin at him which he dodged, chuckling.

Darby looked around as Terry slipped an arm around her husband's waist and accepted a kiss on the cheek from him.

"So where is Megan? And David! I thought he was out of the hospital."

"He is," Terry explained.

"But David's reservation for tonight? It's just for a table for two," Marco added with a romantic sigh.

"And Megan was here earlier for a little bit," Liz said, "but then her plans for the Christmas Eve were a little more private as well."

+

When the elevator doors opened at the top of the Prescott Building the double glass doors that led to the hostess desk of The Loft were closed and the inside dark.

"See!" Claudia smacked David's arm but only teasingly hard. "I told you when you said we were going to The Loft for dessert that they'd be closed."

"And what did I say in return?" David asked, leading her out of the elevator with his right hand since his left was in a sling from his gunshot injury.

"You blew me off with a 'don't worry about it'!"

David pulled a set of keys out of his pocket. "And you don't. Because I? I have keys to the place."

Claudia's eyes widened. "Since when?"

"Doesn't matter," David said, "What does matter is that we're not actually going in."

"Then what did we come all the way here for?"

David steered her towards another set of doors that led to the event space they called The White Room.

"We're going in here instead."

He unlocked the door and flipped on a single bank of lights which illuminated just the entry to the room.

"I never got a chance to show you any of our event space. This is the White Room. It's our most popular."

"It looks big," Claudia said, stepping to the edge of the light's glow, peering off into the darkness.

"It looks better with some mood lighting." David flicked another bank of switches and some tiny white lights suspended from the ceiling lit up the space with a dim yet pretty glow.

"Ooh, romantic!" Claudia cooed. "So lovely! And there's sculpture in here! It's like a museum!"

"People like it for dinner and dancing, for parties..."

"I bet it would make a lovely wedding reception space as well," Claudia added.

"Yes, it's perfect for wedding receptions," David echoed. "So you like it then?"

Claudia moved through the space towards where there were some tables and chairs covered in white cloths as if in storage.

"It's beautiful. Like a shimmery fairy tale where the crown prince sweeps the maiden off her feet and makes her his queen."

David walked up to her, taking her hand.

"I'm no prince and I have no crown, but everything I have? I want to share it with you and only you. You are my queen, Claudia. For now and for ever." He got down on one knee and gazed up at her, heart beating out of his chest. "Will you marry me?"

Claudia gasped, clapping a hand over her mouth in shock, giving David the time to produce the ring box - which he'd hidden in his sling - and open it up for her.

"It's pear-shaped! My favorite! No one does pear-shaped! How did you know?" she cried out, clearly delighted.

"A little bird told me," he said, thinking back to how smart Robin had been to show off her own engagement ring to Claudia at the Luxe Grand Opening back in October to get her talking about the subject and pass on the info to David for when the time was right.

He wanted to make it perfect, taking her to The Loft - one of the places that made her happiest and it seemed he'd succeeded, but success came down to one single word he hadn't heard her utter yet.

Slowly, painfully slowly to David, she removed the ring from the box, gazed at it with eyes filling with tears before handing it back to him.

"Put it on me," she whispered before he could get worried she was returning it. "I want you to put it on my finger."

David's hand didn't shake as he placed the ring on Claudia's finger; it slid on as if it were made for her and it had been, given that he'd pilfered one of her existing rings briefly to size it right.

"Yes," she whispered finally. "Yes, yes a thousand times over, yes."

David all but leaped to his feet and threw his arms around her, lifting her up in the air and twirling her around as he laughed in joy.

Claudia whooped with laughter herself and David felt so light he feared they might fly into the air if they spun too much harder.

When he finally let her down he pulled her in to a breathless kiss, pouring all of his emotion into showing her what it meant to be all his.

"You promised me dessert," she teased, "but this is so much better!"

"Dessert!" David pulled her by the hand to one of the cloth covered tables. "Never doubt any of my promises. I will always keep them - every single one."

With a flourish he pulled the tablecloth off to reveal what was essentially the top tier of an all white wedding cake complete with tiny groom and bride. The groom had David's dark skin, shaved pate and an all white tux on. The bride had Claudia's medium complexion and dark medium length hair along with a white gown.

"They even look like us!"

"I ordered them to put on top of our cake, but if you would rather have something else..."

Claudia quieted him with an abrupt kiss.

"They're perfect just like our reception will be perfect in this room." She tugged him in closer. "So no more second guessing. Just feed... me..." Her voice was a breathy whisper in his ear. "Cake."

+

Silk sheets slipped over Megan's bare skin, cooling it where it had been heated, feeling deliciously sensual.

The sound of ocean waves crashing on the shore floated through her open patio doors along with a sea scented breeze, carrying the ocean as far into her apartment as her bedroom.

"I don't want to get out of bed."

A warm hand skimmed low over her stomach as a far warmer body formed itself against her back.

"Then don't."

Megan sank into the wonderful heat of James' body, the sweet calm she felt in his presence, the trust and faith of being with someone who not only knew all she was, but loved her anyway.

"But if I don't they'll be open all night and it'll be cold in here when we wake up," she pointed out.

James tugged her over to lay on her back, covering her with his body. His heat was so overwhelming he chased every chill away and she actually missed the coolness of the sheets she'd been so ready to complain got too cold.

"With me? You'll never be cold. I promise."

Slipping her legs to wrap around his hips, Megan felt her temperature rise inside again. They'd barely recovered, but her appetite for him was so strong she already wanted him inside her again. She'd waited so long for him, been so patient, now she felt she had no patience at all and was nothing but greedy when it came to getting her fill.

Thankfully James had no complaint and matched her round for round and then some.

She wrapped her hands around his neck and pulled him down to her, sucking his tongue into her mouth, relishing the flavor of both of them in his mouth, enjoying the forceful probing of his tongue even as his hands began to roam her flesh anew.

"You're not just saying that because you're my own personal heater, right?" she managed between kisses. "You were planning on getting up overnight and closing the doors."

"You deciphered my nefarious plan," James joked. "Curses! Foiled again!"

Megan laughed, carding fingers through James' wavy hair.

"You know I dreamed this? You in my bed?"

"Hey, I daydreamed you in mine and that was in my office! Bad CEO, I know."

Megan laughed again, feeling wonderfully light in James' presence.

"It's a good thing you're the boss. I'd probably fire you for lusting after me," she paused a second before continuing, "without acting on it."

"Well then..." James took her face in her hands and kissed her deeply, subtly rubbing their bodies together until friction brought them into perfect alignment. "Best not to keep the lady in charge waiting..."

Megan knew this time wasn't a dream; this was far far better.

=
 
 
 
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on August 16th, 2011 05:48 am (UTC)
Confession
Please see Part 1 for Confession post.

Thanks,

Emma DeMarais