A Rose in Blue by JP

A Rose in Blue
by JP

Summary: In this sequel to Blue Oblivion we find Blue and Conner making an attempt live an love outside the reach of mob rule. Good intentions are cast to the side as our girls find themselves caught between people with scores to settle and people that don’t appreciate progress.

CH 1: Familiar Faces

A crown of sun-kissed red-blonde hair jutted out from a walk-in closet, eyes wide in shock. Green eyes tracked to the bed to watch the swing of blue-black hair fanned out across a naked back, moving in time to a smooth alto singing along with Celine Dion. Conner McGreely practically tripped over her feet as she stumbled out of the closet buttoning her pants. “Oh my god- what are you doing?”

Dark hair swung around and sparkling blue eyes met Conner as a pair of shapely breasts rose along with outstretched arms, as she belted out: “Cause I’m your lady–and you are my wo-man!” Conner shook her head and guffawed with laughter as she briskly walked to the nightstand and slapped the off button on the clock radio. Conner didn’t even wait to see the look of disappointment spread across Blue’s tan features as she walked to the bathroom shaking her head.

She turned around at the sink as she heard her name. “Hey what’s the big idea, I was jamming?”

Conner stood in the doorway to the bathroom and grinned she as pulled her sweater over her head. “Celine Dion? I draw the line. Whitney, I can deal with. Mariah, only sometimes, cause I’ve got issues with her·but Celine, oh no.

The tall woman wrapped in the bedsheets emitted a deep laugh. “You know that’s not fair right?” Conner shrugged and smoothed down her hair. “If you get the Backstreet Boys than I get Celine.”

Conner let loose a small whimper and moved out of the bathroom towards the bed. “Hey, leave my boys alone. Besides, they’re cute.”

Blue eyes rolled as she turned on her side and propped her head up on her hand. “She gestured wildly with her hands and began to sing nasally, “you are my fire·my one desire–

Conner hit her with a pillow and laughed. “Fine, fine you can have Celine, but no beating your chest.”

Blue laughed and held the sheet to her body as she sat up on her knees, so that she and Conner were eye to eye. She ran a tapered finger along Conner’s jawline and watched the small woman shiver a bit. “I thought you liked it when I beat my chest.”

Conner swatted at the finger gently and giggled. “Yeah, but only when you’re in that loin cloth.” Blue laughed and leaned in placing a soft kiss on pink lips. She moved back and ran a hand through Conner’s hair and frowned. Conner caught her expression and raised a blonde brow. “What?”

“Why is it that you’re wearing your hair like a normal human being?”

Conner raised both eyebrows in surprise, as she self-consciously ran a hand through her blowdryed hair. “You don’t like it?”

Blue gave the woman a crooked grin as she caressed her face. “Con, you could be bald headed with polka dots and I’d still want you.”

Conner let out a light laugh. “That’s good to know, but seriously is it okay?”

“Yeah, goofball.” Blue sat back and regarded the blonde who was worrying her lip. “What’s the occasion?”

Conner let out a groan. “I got a meeting.”

“Oh yeah, Steven did call you.”

Conner drew a wisp of hair behind her right ear. “No, I have a meeting.”

Black eyebrows went high in understanding. “You mean like a ‘Tony Soprano’ meeting.” The two women shared a smile. “What time?”

Conner glanced at the clock. “About an’ hour or so, what’s up?”

“Me.” Conner turned back towards the woman to find her up on her knees again, this time with the sheet pooling around her thighs leaving nothing to the imagination. Conner tried to back away, but not before a long arm reached out and grabbed her forearm, pulling her back into the bed. She didn’t put up too big of a fight, much to the larger woman’s delight. Blue dropped her voice an octave as she leered at Conner through half-lidded eyes. “How about we have a meeting, before your meeting?”

Conner darted green eyes everywhere, avoided the golden physique of the tall woman. “C’mon Jaz, I gotta be ready.”

Blue pursed full lips and shook her head. Normally, the evoking of her name caused her pause, but in this case it was ineffective. “Not a chance, hot shot.” She pulled the small woman into her and began to unbutton her shirt. Conner huffed and puffed for a moment, but when she felt a large warm hand breech her underwear, she happily aided in the discarding of her clothes. The cats scattered as the two women fell in a moving heap of body parts and retreated to their normal resting spots when their mistresses were at play.

CH 2: “Black sheep: there’s one in every family·we’ve got two in mine.”

A spiky headed Conner walked into the restaurant at the Hyatt Regency and didn’t take long to be noticed. Even at 52, the former football player was impressive as he walked towards Conner wagging his finger at her. She smirked as dark brown eyes regarded her and then arms reached out to envelope her in an embrace.

The large man released Conner with a squeeze and smiled. “Still making an entrance I see.”

Conner shrugged. “You know me Uncle Cameron, I’m always on stage.”

His chest heaved with laughter as he placed his hand in the small of her back and guided her forward. “C’mon girl, let’s greet the family.” Conner tried not to groan too loudly as she allowed herself to be led into the private dining room.

If she were anybody else, she would have sworn she was standing in front of a firing squad. She almost said as much as Cameron pulled out a chair for her at the round table and then took his seat to her right. Seated around her were eight other members of her ‘family’, all related in some form or another. It was clear from the tufts of grey hair, bifocal lenses, wrinkled hands, and creased faces that she was the youngest person at the table. She smiled up at the waiter who poured her some tea. He quietly asked for her order and she requested clams on a half shell, to which he smiled and discreetly exited the room. She sipped at her water and passed her eyes over all the old men at the table.

“So gentlemen, I take it we have much to discuss?” She caught the eye of the thin man who sat across from her, who happened to be the only familiar face.

Montrose nodded at her and spoke. “Terribly sorry for prying you away from your business, but this shouldn’t take too long.” Thin lips curved into a faint smile, which only served to make Conner want to gag, but she smiled anyway.

“Sorry about being late, my car’s in the shop.”

Cameron watched the interaction between Montrose and Conner and decided to clean it up fast. He looked towards the blonde and smiled. “No worries, it was only 10 minutes. What’s wrong with the car, I thought she was in good shape.”

Conner was grateful for the distraction as she turned towards her Uncle. “Oh she’s fine, just getting the tires rotated.”

He patted her knee. “That’s good, anyway let’s get down to business.” He glanced up at Montrose, and decided he should do the talking instead. “As we all know, recent events have put you as head of the family and as you know with that comes extreme responsibility. Now, there is no one here that doubts your ability, but it’s apparent that you’ve been far removed from the inner workings for a while and well this is kind of a pow-wow just to bring you up to date on what’s going on in and around the family.”

Conner took a sip of her drink and moved back as the waiter placed her order in front of her. She cleared her throat after she glanced at the assembled men and then spoke. “Uncle Cameron, I assure you that I am very aware of what responsibility has been placed on me, and while I have been out of the loop for a while I’m not completely oblivious to what’s happening. I definitely appreciate your vote of confidence in my abilities, but let’s be honest here.” She gave a haphazard glance to her Uncle, who seemed more than intrigued at her statements. Conner pushed her plate up so she could use her hands if necessary.

“Gentlemen, let’s face it, I have this job through default right now.” Knowing grunts rose from the table as Conner continued. “And in truth, not that I can’t handle it, I’m wondering if it should really be me to handle it.”

A slim man that Conner assumed was her cousin Charlie spoke up. “Conner Rose, you’re family, and whether by default or not, the job is yours.”

She grimaced at the name, but shrugged it off and continued her thoughts. “I appreciate that Charlie, but you all are family too·in some shape or form. But anyway, the point is that we deal with other families as well. This isn’t just about us. This is about the Tangelos in Jersey, Marachi in Sante Fe, Callas and Brusio in New York, Borgia in New Orleans, and the families in Europe. We have an image to put out and you all can’t be blind to a few facts.” She shifted in her seat as she eyed the men around her.

“First off, I’m a woman, and no matter how much you want to break the mold, this is not a business of breaking molds. Then there is the fact that I have been out of the loop, not to mention why I chose to be out of the loop, lest we forget certain recent events, and who I share my bed with.”

Conner rested her elbows on the table and clasped her hands together as she gave a grin to the men assembled. “In all honesty, as much as I should have the job, I don’t think it would do the family any good to have me at the head. And, yes I am a little doubtful that I would have everyone’s support.”

Throats cleared and the men shifted in the chairs as Conner finished her comments. She watched as they commented to one another animatedly. It was only Montrose who made no attempt to comment to anyone and her Uncle Cameron since he was staring at her with a wide grin.

Cameron tapped his glass with a fork after a moment of low mumbling and gathered everyone’s attention. He held a big smiled as he looked from Conner to the rest of the men. “Settle down gents, I don’t think Conner understands what it is that we want–as a family.” He bowed his head at her as he finished her statement. Conner shifted in her seat and then downed one her clams in an attempt to quell her worry.

A squat man with a red nose and large black-rimmed glasses that reminded Conner of Karl Lagerfield spoke. He let out a distinctly gruff chuckle and Conner immediately recognized him as cousin Wally. “As the oldest member of the clan–” He continued to speak through the groans heard around him. “I should be the one to tell our dear Conner that the McGreely clan plans to go legit.”

Conner barely managed to keep from choking on her clam as the man’s words made it to her ears. She took a sip of water after Cameron finished patting her back. She sat back hard in her chair and wiped her mouth with her napkin. Her ears grew red with exasperation.

“What!?” She laughed. “First of all have none of you seen the Godfather III?” A few eyebrows raised in recognition and confusion as well. “You know, ‘everytime I think I’m out they pull me back in’? Gentlemen, legitimacy is extremely hard to come by, and I’m being kind when I say extremely. It’s damn near impossible. Hell, if Michael Corleone couldn’t make it out after 30 years, there’s no way. We’re talking four centuries here·was this thought through?”

She received some laughs from around the table which she joined in on, but she did take notice that Montrose merely crossed his arms across his chest and sat back in his chair, simply observing. Cameron squeezed Conner’s shoulder.

“That’s why we need you, Con. All the things you highlighted are precisely why you’re perfect to lead the family into legitamacy. One would think we might be able to branch out as we come into the new millenium. I for one think 500 hundred years is cause for a change.”

Conner sipped alternately from her tea to her water and seriously contemplated ordering a shot of whiskey and then some; it was almost 12:00, so it was happy hour somewhere–perhaps New Zealand. “Okay, okay, let’s just say that I accept this position. Have we all forgotten about a certain person in Scotland?” Green eyes scanned the faces of the old men around her and she was shocked to see that they all avoided contact as the room grew quiet. Even Cameron avoided her eyes.

Suddenly Montrose leaned forward with a thin lipped smirk and spoke. It was at the slithery hiss of his voice that Conner remembered clearly why she didn’t like the thin man. For starters his moustache looked like it was drawn in with eyeliner and he was just too damn thin. “We have not forgotten about Ewan, my dear Conner Rose.” Conner arched a blonde brow and sent malachite colored daggers at Montrose as she seriously considered picking up her shrimp fork and plucking out one of his beady little eyeballs. “We want you to be all ready installed and hard at work before we tell Ewan anything.”

Water spilled across the table and ate up the table cloth as Conner shot up from her seat knocking her chair to the ground.
“Are you fucking crazy!” She threw her napkin on the table with a whap, and glared at Cameron who could only look at his shoes.

“So you’re just not going to tell him? Do you people want a war? Family my ass. You want us to have a showdown in the middle of Pratt street as the tourist look on with wonder as we kill each other. You people are fucking sick. It’s been a long and hard six months gentlemen and I’m not going to waste hours of therapy and heavy drinking because you think you’re being sensitive.”

She snatched her arm away from Cameron as he attempted to grab it. “No, no, no. Uncle Cameron , cousin Charlie, cousin Wally, and..cousins, hell no. I’m not even considering this unless he knows up front. So somebody better hop the Concorde, take a bus, a boat, ride in a wagon, and rent out a goat to hike up whatever mountain Ewan’s stashed himself and give him a message.”

Conner stepped away from the table and picked up her chair, gripping the knobs on the frame as she continued. “I can’t believe you all. You expect to pick up his slack, take his heat, and clean this family up, and you’re just going to leave him out there in the clear. Screw you! I’m not your patsy or your pin up girl or your whore.”

At that Cameron looked up at Conner and silently pleaded with her to calm down and have a seat. Before he could speak, Montrose added his two cents. “Why are you so paranoid Conner, we’re family.”

Conner gave the thin man the finger with authority and growled. “Oh no I’m not paranoid Monty, I’ve just been chain smoking pot with my hippie parents in San Francisco the last 26 years! I’ve got every right to be paranoid you anorexic freak-”

Cameron stood and cut her off before she could say anything else. “All right enough.” He waited until Conner turned her eyes on him. “Apparently, we haven’t thought this through enough.” One of the other men begin to speak and Cameron held up a meaty hand. “No Sean, there’s nothing else to be said right now.” He turned to Conner. “C’mon let’s go.”

Conner wanted to apologize or spit on the table, but she just allowed herself to be led from the room and into the lobby. Once they reached the foyer she wrenched her arm out of Cameron’s reach and stepped away from him.

“You old men are certifiable you know that.” She fumed as she stomped away from him. She relaxed a bit as she looked at her watch and realized Blue would be there in another ten minutes or so. “I’m not even talking about the Ewan thing, that’s a whole nother subject.”

“I agree.”

“You agree? Don’t agree damn it, there was no thought put into this. I have a life Uncle Cam, outside of this. I’ve got a family outside of this.” She watched the large man flinch. “I’m sorry Uncle Cam, but it’s true. I’d love to help you all, the family go legit, but not like this. There has to be a better way.”

He moved closer to her as he saw her visibly began to relax. “Honey, I know it’s not the best way. Wally knows it’s not the best way, but it’s the only way right now. Quiet as it’s kept we’ve no clue where the hell Ewan is. But forget Ewan for a second, the legitimacy thing is very possible. It’s going to take work yes, but you’ve got the resources and all you need is to put the effort into it. Con, your dad was planning for this. Why do you think he never pressured you?”

Conner affixed a slight smile to her face. “He didn’t pressure me because I was his only daughter, not to mention my mom would have probably kicked his ass.”

Cameron laughed lightly. “That’s true. She was a corker and then some. Look, just think about it, look at us, we’re all old men and we’re going to die out and be turned into the snake charmers vision if we don’t do something.”

Conner scrunched her brow. “Is Monty trying to horn in more than usual.” Cameron tossed his head from side to side. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means he’s got a lot of influence and if he has his way The McGreely’s will be nothing but a bunch of Sammy ‘the bull’ Gravano’s if there are even McGreely’s left.”

Conner sighed and dragged her hands down her flushed face. “For the love of Pete, Uncle Cam. You’re not going to make this easy are you.”

He perked up. “Hell no, kiddo. Look, think it over, it can work and you can make it work. We’ll meet again without the snake and we’ll talk this over·just family.”

A blonde brow lifted . “Just family?”

“Scouts honor?”

Conner giggled. “When were you a boyscout?”

“Hey I had a life once too.”

She groaned. “All right, leave me be. I’ll think it over, but no promises you know that?”

He nodded vigorously. “I accept that. Just think about it and give me a call in a week. We’ll get together for dinner, I’ll go watch your girl sing.”

A wide smile lifted Conner’s features. “You’ve never heard her have you?”

“Nope.”

She nodded. “Okay, okay. A week, I’ll call you.”

“You’re a corker, Con. Love ya.” He gave her a short bear hug and kissed both her cheeks.

She shoved the big man off playfully and smiled. “Bye you big lug, love you too. Tell the girls I say hey.” She watched him nod as he walked away.

Conner shoved her hands in her pocket and walked by the matre’d to look out of the window. Just as she was beginning to wonder where her tall lover was she heard a commotion coming from the lobby and she knew from the words being uttered it had to be Blue.

She overheard the words, “Ma’am I’m sorry you can’t come in here like that. If you just give me a moment I’ll go find your party. Are you sure that’s who you’re looking for?”

Conner walked around the corner just as Blue began to get that feral look in her eye. She caught Blue’s eyes and walked right up to her and planted a fierce kiss on full lips. Blue stepped back after she was released and stuck out her tongue at the matre’d. He curled his lip up at Blue and walked away.

Conner watched the interaction and punched Blue lightly in the shoulder. “Did you have to wear that?” She tugged at the belt on her motorcycle jacket and tapped the helmet under her arm.

Blue frowned. “I thought you liked my biker chick outfit.”

“Oh I do.” she purred “, but it’s so much more fun in the bedroom.”

Blue licked her lips and emitted a low growl. “Well then let’s go home.” She grabbed Conner from behind by the waist and picked the giggling woman up as she began to walk through the lobby.

Conner squirmed futilely against the strong arm encased in leather, and thought for a split second about how she must look being forcibly removed from a posh restaurant by an Amazon in leather. As the last of her thoughts crossed her mind and she felt soft lips nuzzle her ear, she remembered that she didn’t give a shit.

Blue let the blonde go once they made it outside and then grabbed her by the hand as they scampered to the large Harley parked out front obnoxiously in the fire lane.

“Now what if you get a ticket?”

Blue shrugged. “I’ll just get Maryland’s mafia princess to overwrite it.”

Conner buried her face in her hands and groaned. “Good lord. We’ve got stuff to talk about later.” She watched Blue swing a leg over the chrome and leather machine and shivered with anticipation. “Much later.” She glared lustfully at the dark woman and proceeded to straddle the bike backwards so that faced Conner.

Blue threw her head back in laughter. “Uh, aren’t we going to get a ticket for driving recklessly?”

Conner nestled her butt in the seat as she wrapped arms and legs around Blue’s body. “Then a certain Mafia princess will have to make them forget about it won’t she?” Blue shook her head and put on her helmet.

* * *

Remus and Romulaus were in their respective hiding places since the bed was occupied by the active bodies of their Mistresses. Conner climbed up from her favorite resting spot and collapsed into the crook of Blue’s neck. She wrapped her arms tight around the singer’s body as the last remnants of climax continued to course through her six-foot frame. Blue grinned from ear to ear as she found the ability to move her arms again and embraced Conner. She planted a wet kiss on Conner’s temple as they simultaneously grabbed for the sheet and covered their damp bodies.

“I thought we we’re going to talk Red?”

Conner groaned and drove her head deeper into Blue’s neck, causing her to laugh. “Talk later. Now, power nap.”

“Then we hit dinner with rock. Good cavewoman.” Blue laughed as Conner’s small palm slapped her side. “Ow, hurt me, baby.”

“If you don’t stop moving your lips, I’m going to.” Conner mumbled with a smile tugging at her lips.

“You be sure to wake me up when you’re done kicking my ass in your dream.”

One green opened as Conner sunk her teeth into the side of Blue’s neck.

“Ow! Shit. No biting Conner, I thought we discussed that.” She squeezed the small woman to her tighter as small giggles emanated from the body on top of her. “I’m going to get you back for that.”

“I’m counting on it.”

“Oh yeah.” Full lips curled at the corners in anticipation.

“After the power nap.”

Blue chuckled and resettled Conner’s body as she turned on her side and entwined her long legs with Conner’s shorter ones. She reciprocated the small kiss to her collarbone with one to Conner’s forehead and couldn’t help but grin as she felt the covers shift with the presence of the cats. Life was good.

CH 3: When the shit hits the fan·.

Mussed red-blonde hair poked from underneath the sheet as Conner awoke to movement in the bed. Tired green eyes looked into Blue’s smiling face as she sat down a tray on the bed. Conner propped herself up on the bed and rubbed her eyes. Through a yawn she asked, “what time is it?”

“Almost five.”

“Damn! You let me sleep that long.”

Broad shoulders shrugged as she picked up a tortilla chip. “You looked a little worn out.” She raised her eyebrows suggestively.

Conner rolled green eyes and leaned across Blue’s thighs. “Whadja’ bring me?”

“The only thing I can cook.”

Small hands clapped together in delight. “Nachos.” Conner smiled wildly and then rewarded the tall woman with a kiss.

“So now that I’m feeding you can we talk.”

Conner spoke through a mouthful of salsa. “Shouldn’t we be getting dressed.”

Black hair swung about Blue’s face as she shook her head. “Nobody’s starting without me, goober, so spit it out.”

Conner nodded and then looked down oddly at the tray laden with chips and salsa. Blue caught her look of question and chuckled. “I got it you lush.” Green eyes grew bright as a petite Martini glass made its way to the waiting hands of Conner.

“Hey it’s happy hour somewhere.”

Full lips curved into a sexy smirk. “Yeah, and you’re two hours behind me.”

Conner just shook her head and took a small sip. She made her self more comfortable on the bed as Blue situated the tray between them and sat back against the headboard. “Well I was going to beat around the bush, but there’s just no way.” Conner sat her glass down, and glanced at patient blue eyes. “It seems that the McGreely clan wants to go legit.”

Small crumbs of tortilla flew across the floor as Blue expelled them in a guffaw. “What!? I’m that’s great·I think..um·.do I congratulate you or are we moving?”

Conner’s ears grew red with laughter. “I did the same thing earlier today. I know, I can’t believe it either, I mean you’d think nobody saw the Godfather III.”

Blue frowned slightly. “Well it wasn’t that great.” Conner pouted. “Not trying to offend, but I mean it did pale in comparison. It was a sequel to a sequel, what do you expect?”

“Lethal Weapon 3 kicked ass. Shit, I liked that better than the first. And Return of the Jedi. Ha ! I’m not saying you can turn gay, but hey I think Carrie Fisher got a whole lotta toasters on account of that little gold bikini number.” Conner stopped her rant and watched the tall woman bubble with laughter.

“You’re absolutely priceless.”

Conner shrugged. “I try.”

“Okay, finish the story.”

“I mean that is the story. The old boys think I’m the perfect target, oops I mean candidate, for the job.”

A smooth black eyebrow reached for the ceiling. “There in lies the problem.”

“Yeah. I’m not saying it’s not a nifty idea. I mean Uncle Cam hit me with this big to-do about my dad wanting things this way and all that bull. Not that I’m going to let sap sway me, but I have to admit it’s not helping. I just don’t think it’s possible.”

“Red, that’s a croc and you know it.”

Conner turned her body towards Blue and sat her drink in her lap. “So you think I should do it.”

White teeth flashed as Blue smiled fully. She waved a hand through the air. “Why the hell not? Can you imagine?”

“Can you?”

Blue furrowed her brow. “What do you mean?”

“You do realize I’m going to catch a lot of shit for this right? We’re talking fibbies sitting outside in pizza vans, tapping phone lines, following me, following you. Not to mention what ever crap I have to take from the dissenters.”

“Someone’s opposed?”

“I don’t know,” Conner worried her lip and then sipped from her drink. “But I don’t necessarily feel hunky-dorey about all this if you know what I mean.”

“So you’ll have a few g-men on your ass, like you haven’t before.”

Conner laughed. “It was okay then, they weren’t looking for me, they were just hoping I led them to my brother. Speaking of, here’s the kick in the ass. Snake boy, doesn’t want to tell Ewan until the ball is rolling.”

Blue spit out the ice cube into her glass, that threatened to get lodged in her windpipe. “What the hell?”

“You’re words are so much nicer than mine were.”

“How can they just do that and who is snake boy again?”

“Sorry, Montrose. I don’t know if you’ve ever had the displeasure of meeting him. Real thin son of a bitch, looks like John Waters except he’s got no flair, no campiness, no kitsch, and he’s just plain blah.”

“So if John Waters was straight.” The two women laughed. “Anyway, snake boy’s not in your camp?”

“Personally, I don’t think he’s ever liked me, but he just made me feel queasy this morning that’s all.”

“So, do you not think you can do this, or you just don’t want to?”

Conner pursed pink lips at Blue and looked at the woman comically for a moment. “You really want me to do this, huh?”

“No, no, I want you to do what you want to, but I mean, look at you, look at us. It’s safe to say you’re living a pretty legitimate life, so if the rest of your family wants the same and you can do it, why not give them the chance.”

Conner let her head loll back onto the headboard as she groaned. “Ugh, you make it sound like a good Samaritan mission. But seriously, this isn’t going to be easy. I got out of the family to avoid being invaded and watched at every turn and now I’m going to throw myself back into that pit·not to mention bringing you along for the ride.” She wagged a slender finger in the tall woman’s direction. “Lest we forget, that someone else in this family has her own boneyard.”

Blue made a sour face and then took a big gulp from her drink. “Fine so neither of us are Saints.”

“Baby, we’re not even alter boys at this point.”

Blue stuck out her tongue. “Whatever, I say do it.”

“How?”

“Well,” she let her the word drawl out as she looked about the room. “You own the block that the club is on, and you can always expand into the next building.” Blue eyes turned to Conner, who sat with her arms folded across her chest and a small smirk on her lips. Blue took that as a silent cue to continue. “I’m thinking restaurant. You know, have a nice dinner, then go listen to some music, and spend more money. You always complain that you have to fight traffic from 83 to get to the gym, why not build one.”

A blonde brow raised. “It’d be at best a 2 to 3 year job, which isn’t that bad. And it’s not like we don’t have legitimate investments all ready.” Conner tapped her tooth with her fingernail as she lost herself in the swirls of the comforter. Blue smiled as she watched the small woman next to her begin to form ideas. She brushed a wisp of hair behind Conner’s ear, which garnered her attention. “Sorry, went away for a second.”

The tall woman just cracked a smile of pride and leaned in to kiss the woman thoroughly. She spoke when they broke apart for lack of air. “No need to apologize, I just love it when you’re plotting.”

Conner laughed and sat back. “You just want to be a Mafia wife don’t you?”

Blue put on a smug look and in her best New York accent replied, “what do I look like to you, huh? I look like somebody’s trophy to you?” She curled her lip playfully and Conner held up her hands in mock-fear. “I just wanna be a goodfella.” Blue eyes sparkled with mirth.

“Okay you can be my bodyguard.”

“Why thank you·not like I wasn’t planning on it.”

Conner kissed Blue’s fingertips and then held the woman’s arm away from her body as she observed supple curves and attributes of her figure accented by the blue silk robe that clung to her frame. “All though, I’m thinking I might need to guard your body.”
A blonde eyebrow arched wickedly.

Blue ran her tongue across her teeth and winked. “I am the brick shit house aren’t I?”

Conner dropped her hand and swatted her playfully. “I swear, I am so sorry I ever said that to you.” Both women laughed. “You’re so conceited I swear.” Conner pouted and folded her arms across her chest, trying her best to look straight ahead and avoid the warm lips that were attacking her collarbone and neck. Finally Conner gave in, as Blue’s persistent nibbling made her giggle. “You’re still conceited, I don’t care how good you look.”

Blue stood from the bed and curtsied. “I apologize that the Commodores immortalized me in song.” Blue smiled mischievously at a sneering Conner.

Conner caught the look in Blue’s eye and stood up in the bed in her naked glory. She pointed a finger at the smiling woman and shook her head. “Don’t even do it! I swear if you sing that song it’s on. I couldn’t get it out of my head for two weeks.” Conner dropped to her knees on the bed as she heard a soft alto humming the bass line. “Please for the love of God no!” Conner folded her hands and shook them in the air dramatically. She fell forward onto the bed as Blue begin to sway her hips to the beat in her head.

“She’s a brick- ho–use! She’s mighty mighty, lettin all hang out.” Blue broke into laughter as she watched Conner roll around in the bed trying to cover her ears. She stopped her torture and sat down next to the small woman who was wrapped up in the sheet.

A green eye peered out of an opening in her cotton fortress. “Is it safe?”

Blue nodded. As soon as Conner’s red-blonde head made it’s way out of the covers Blue stood and finished the line. “36”–24″–37″!” Conner groaned and buried herself again. Blue laughed and shook the covers. “I’m just playing, c’mon out.”

“No! I don’t like you very much right now.” was the muffled reply.

“Aw, you’re such a little cutie. C’mon, I promise no more Brickhouse.”

A long pause. “Promise?”

“Yup, and besides you’re getting me all heated writhing under the covers all by yourself.”

“Oh yeah.” Conner’s head emerged once again. Blue knelt on the floor and rested her elbows on the bed as she looked down at the blonde and nodded. Conner smirked and then pursed her lips. “I need to get dressed, you all ready showered, and I need to call Terry.”

Blue sucked her teeth. “It takes you all of 20 minutes to get ready, I can take another shower, and who said you can’t call Terry.”

Conner shook her head as the tall woman stood and walked around to the other side of the bed. Conner watched her with a small grin and could only let out a yelp as Blue latched onto her legs and pulled her to the edge of the bed. “Hey, Terry threatened to kick my ass if I called her while we were, uh, otherwise engaged.” Blue shrugged and pressed the speed dial on the cordless, tossed the phone to Conner and dropped to her knees. Conner bit her lip as she watched a dark head disappear beneath the sheet and then she prayed to God Terry didn’t pick up.

* * *

Conner was sitting at the kitchen table in her robe mulling over a 6-letter word for ; muttering over the jackasses at the New York Times, when she heard Terry come through the front door. Conner managed to keep focused on the crossword as Blue intercepted Terry in the archway of the kitchen.

Chocolate eyes sparkled as Terry grinned at the towel-wearing woman and proceeded to lash Conner on her arm, with her scarf as she began to speak. “Damn it! Do I fucking call you when I’m giving head!” Connor cracked a smile and Blue laughed. Terry trned her eyes on the tall woman and popped her with her scarf as well. “And I know it was you, smart ass!”

Bare shoulders shrugged with innocence as Blue moved past the woman to the fridge. Terry grinned as she rolled her eyes and sat down at the table. “So freak, is it true?”

Conner dropped her pen and focused green eyes on the smiling Terry. “Yup.”

Terry slapped the table and leaned back in the chair with a large grin plastered to her face. “Well, hot damn! They’re all insane right?”

Blue looked up from her glass of water and spoke. “That’s what we think.”

Terry kept brown eyes focused on Conner’s relaxed expression as she replied. “So what are you going to do?”

“She’s still not sure, but I say do it.” Blue hitched up her towel as she walked the doorway and leaned on it.

Terry dropped her grin as she looked from Blue to Conner. “So what say you Rabbit?”

Connor shrugged. “That was why I was calling.”

The grin came back to Terry’s lips as she sat back in her chair and raised a brow. “Sure it was. And here I thought you were trying out for your new 976 number.” The women laughed. “Well, clear your weekend Daddy-O, cause we got to do. But for now, tell the brick-shit house to get ready, so we can jet.”

Conner dropped her head on to the table as Blue giggled and Terry just looked on in amusement. “Please don’t call her that or she’ll start singing again.”

Terry darted her eyes from a moaning Conner to a dancing Blue and just laughed. “Hey, if she’s got a nice body, she’s got a nice body.” A dark head bowed in agreement. Terry grinned at the still moaning Conner and then focused her attention on the tall woman. “Now, that I’ve flattered you for the month, take your cute little ass and get dressed.”

Blue bowed deeply and then smiled wickedly as she moved back up to her full height. “You think my butt is little?”

Conner rolled her eyes and Terry chuckled. “Well, no. But you’re no Jennifer Lopez, hell I’m not even Jennifer and I’ve got the genes for it.” The tall woman snapped her fingers and growled out a “damn” as if she was hurt and then left the two giggling women to their own devices.

Conner rubbed her eyes as she sat back and regarded her still smiling best friend. “What’s the deal with Ms. Lopez anyway?”

“It’s all about the powers that be girlie.” Terry spread her fingers wide and made an arc in the air. “They tell you to be god awfully skinny, yet in reality nobody wants a waif, but while their making money off Ally McBeal, and Hazel’s walking herself thin, they look at the t.v. one day and realize Hazel’s never going to have that ass, their never getting their hair back, and outside of The Clit Club, they’re not going to get any closer to the so-called ‘exotic’ than M-tv.”

The two women sat quietly briefly and then with a nod, Conner said, “but I’ve got nice breasts.” Terry burst into laughter and Conner just grinned. “Is that another miscegenation, appropriation philosophical rant?” She eyed Terry comically knowing the answer all ready.

Terry feigned shame and hung her head slightly. “Okay, I was watching Oprah again.” Droopy brown eyes met bright green and both women broke into laughter. As they calmed themselves, Terry crossed her legs in the chair and spoke. “Seriously, what the hell is going on and why now?”

Conner sighed and ruffled her still damp hair. “It’s been what· nine months and I guess things have cooled off enough that the old boys think I can take stuff off their hands.” She shrugged and perched one leg on the chair next to her. “I guess the legit thing is possible, me and Jaz were talking about it, but Terry·this is not going to be easy.”

“Well no crap.” Terry thrust a thumb towards the hallway. “So is the diva ready to be a Mafia wife?”

Conner smiled. “Ha! Could you see that? Big hair, jewelry, and a home gym.” Both women laughed. “Never happen.”

“She’d have to perfect that accent and besides she can’t even cook pasta.”

Conner pouted just a little. “We’re working on it.”

Terry smirked. “Let me guess, white trash nachos.”

Conner smiled from ear to ear. “Nothing like Velveeta and chiles!” she drawled.

“Okay Cooter.” Terry shook her head. “But for real, I’m thinking we need to get together this weekend, we need to hit the basement and hit the books and have a large information session. I need everything. I’m talking tax returns to the piece of trash you threw at a dumpster, but were walking away from when it rolled off the rim on to the ground.” Conner nodded. “Um, it might also be a good idea to go over the amazon’s stuff as well.”

Conner crossed her arms across her chest and frowned. “Really?”

Terry nodded vigorously. “Oh yeah, chick. I’m afraid Blue couldn’t be a Mafia wife if she wanted to be, a little surprised she seems so gung-ho as well, but I guess she’s not too worried about stuff coming back to bite her in the ass.”

Conner smirked. “Been there, done that.”

“What’s it matter anyway, I say you parade her in front of the Fibbies and let her do a song and dance and they’ll magically forget about the whole thing.”

Conner was about to say something when two long tanned arms reached around her and warm lips pressed into her temple.
“We won’t be parading anything if you don’t get dressed, Red.”

Terry just watched with sincere amusement as Conner’s ears grew red and her smile grew bright with a large smile. Terry just shook her head as the small woman seemed to float from the kitchen. She turned in her seat and drew brown eyes up the length of a clinging backless floor length Vera Wang as she followed Blue to the kitchen counter. “Whatcha’ fixin’ barkeep?”

“Just a little pick me up.”

“Well pick me up too.”

The tall woman smirked as she sat down at the table and placed two Bourbon neats on the table. Deep blue eyes focused on brown eyes and both women opted to sip in mutual silence for the moment. “So do I get some facts?” Blue asked as she sat her glass down.

“Fact 1, you obviously painted that dress on.” Terry took another sip of her drink. “Fact 2, this is good Bourbon.” The tall woman raised an eyebrow. “All right, don’t get all salty. What do you want to know?”

“What you didn’t tell Conner.”

“Only because you made her go get dressed.” Terry wagged a thin finger at the woman across from her and got comfortable in the chair. “Point is, and I think she knows it, the FBI is the least of her worries. Fuck a task force, that stuff is all about delay of litigation and the run-around. I can do that. Conner’s problem is much more tangible·or not.” Terry held up her hand as she sipped from her drink. “Put that eyebrow away, I’m getting to it.” Blue hid her grin in her glass. Terry leaned forward onto her elbows. “As far as appearance is concerned when Ewan dropped off the earth 6 months back and Conner went MIA, family decisions went to the old boys. Mt. Rushmore I call them: Cameron, Wally, Sean, and. For all intense purposes they’ve been in control, but that’s not the case.”

“Then who?”

“A phantom.”

“A phantom?” Blues’ voice squeaked with disbelief.

Blue opened her mouth to speak, but Conner’s voice filled the room “Ooh! Are we getting together the Scooby Gang. Can I be Velma?”

Terry sucked her teeth at the wide eyed imp with the wild hair and grinned. “Well who’s going to be Scooby then?” Conner rolled her eyes and gave Terry the finger.

Before the two women could get into a hissy fit, Blue refocused their attention. “So what’s this about a phantom.”

Terry wiped the snarl from her face as she turned back to Blue. “That’s the rumor.”

Conner slapped the wall lightly and leaned on the doorframe. “Bet you twenty buck it’s snakeboy.”

Terry looked up at Conner. “Bet you five dollars you’re right.”

Conner looked from blue eyes to brown and slapped the wall again. “Shit!” She raised her hands as if she wanted to tousle her hair, but then thought better of impaling herself on her spikes. “Whatever,” she grumbled, “let me get my jacket and we can leave. We’ll deal with this later. Meet you down front.”

Terry and Blue both stood as Conner left the kitchen. “You know I’m liking snakeboy less and less.” Blue put the empty glasses on the counter.

“I’m with you, but I don’t know what his deal is. He’s a beady-eyed bastard, but strikes me as refined an unassuming.”

Blue pursed full lips as they walked to the front door. “Quiet and reserved no doubt. Probably likes to stand in the corners.”

Terry caught on to Blue’s train of thought quickly as they walked out of the house. “Never even know he’s there.” A tan hand made deep grooves in black, as Blue ran a hand through her hair. Terry watched a flash of anger and concern move through the tall woman. “What are you thinking?”

“I’m thinking·.that I used to be the quiet person in the corner.”

Terry eyed the tall woman and observed her with an ever-present curiosity as she took in her words. She unlocked the car door as they reached the curb. “So that translates into?”

Blue glanced at Terry as she leaned back onto the door of the Mercedes. “Means, when the chance came, I’d rip your spine out through your ass.”

Terry let the words hang in the air for a moment as she chose the right words to break the tension. She shrugged her shoulders and piped up, “is that really possible.”

Blue snapped out of her reverie and looked down at Terry and cracked a smile. “I don’t know, but doesn’t it sound possible.” She grinned wickedly and the two women made faces at one another and laughed until Conner came out of the house.”

“Making jokes.” She called from the top of the steps.

“Only at your expense.” Conner stuck out her tongue at Blue’s tease and then caught the keys tossed to her.

“Be our chauffeur?” Terry requested.

Conner titled her head as she regarded her friend. “What do I get.”

Terry leaned in close to Conner and whispered, “I keep her from singing Brick House.” At that, Conner shuffled the giggling women gently into the back seat and sped off before they could even put on their seatbelts.
CH 4: The Boys are Back in Town

He had to admit the place was nice. The slightly sophisticated, yet youthful clientele actually sat well with him. Perhaps, if this was any other place and perhaps if he wasn’t about to start a small war he might have been enjoying himself. Instead, Victor Montrose sat at one of the corner tables in a hazy section of the club and observed.

Earlier he found Conner by her trademark hair, sitting in a corner at the bar. He reflexively shrank back in his seat for fear of being seen before he wanted to, but then as he followed her line of sight he realized she wouldn’t have seen him if he was standing nude in the middle of the room.

He viewed the tall woman on the stage and smiled in appreciation. Even he, who deemed himself asexual, found himself moved by the dark beauty on stage, if not for her looks but simply for her voice. ‘So this was Ewan’s nightmare in the flesh.’ He thought to himself. ”Nice flesh,” he added out loud as he sipped his club soda.

He enjoyed the show until the band took a break and then he intercepted Conner as she moved to get up from the bar. Green eyes flashed with intrigue when Montrose came into her view. Conner stalled for a split second and then took her seat and waited for the thin man to stand next to her. They greeted each other with fake smiles as Montrose took the seat next to Conner.

He tapped a slender finger on his chin as he pressed his lips together as he subtly eyed the woman at his side. ” Such a striking establishment you have here.” He slithered out.

Conner did her best not to visibly flinch as the reed thin man spoke, since his enunciation of his esses made her skin crawl. She managed to grin at the man across from her. “I thought this kind of place would be out of your taste range, but good for you to take notice.”

“I do try.” Conner smirked and then took a sip from her Martini. “So, Conner Rose how are things?”

She intentionally flinched this time as he used her full name. “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t call me that….Monty.” She raised an eyebrow at the man.

He nodded and pretended not to take offense at the distortion of his name. “I take it you’re handling things?”

Conner waved a hand through the air. “Don’t I look like I’m handling things?”

He held up a hand. “No need to be on the defensive, Conner. I’m merely offering my services.”

“Ahh, your services. Well I assure you, Monty, I’ve got this covered from every angle.” She drew her gaze away from the man at her side and openly eyed the sultry singer gliding towards her.

Montrose caught the slant to her words and looked to the side and found himself looking into two swells of tanned flesh wrapped luxuriously in the material of her dress. He drew his eyes up from the display of cleavage and met the cold stare of the singer as she eyed the man in front of her. She let out a whisper of a grunt and then walked around to Conner where they shared a tame kiss on the lips.

Blue reached a long arm around the woman and picked up her drink. She crossed her free arm across her stomach as she sipped from the glass and made no secret about sizing up the man in front of her. She let out a snort of a laugh and turned towards Conner. “Is this him?” Conner nodded and she turned back to Montrose. “Your ears must be burning Mr. Montrose.”

The thin man curled thin lips into a smile. “It’s nice to know I am the subject of two beautiful women.”

Blue eyes sparkled. “I promise, there was nothing nice about it.”

Montrose blinked and gave a slight nod, as he accepted the bluntness of her statement. “I take it we’re not going to be friendly, and I can’t imagine why.”

“Word is you’re trying to take something that isn’t yours.”

He shook his head and held up a hand. “I assure you Miss…uh…

Blue looked at him with disdain written on her face. “You don’t need to know my name right now.”

Montrose swallowed and continued. “Well miss, I assure that I have no such intentions.”

Blue shrugged a shoulder. “That’s the word.”

“Sometimes the word is wrong.”

“Perhaps, but if it’s right, than I’m not sure I like you very much.”

He chuckled. “Well it’s good to know that your obvious contempt is based on word of mouth and not simply my presence.”

“It’s not helping.” she said flatly. She held back a snicker, but Conner didn’t.

The skinny man ran his tongue across his teeth as he regarded the woman before him and then looked at Conner and both of them together. He nodded to himself as he made a mental note of their contrasting qualities, yet the fact that they worked together. He spoke up after a long minute of silence passed between them.

“Well,” he bowed politely to both women, “Conner, and friend, I wish I could dispel the rumors for both of you and ease our obvious tension, but perhaps I’ll have to allay your fears some other way.” He gave a wisp of a smile to both women and then got up from his seat and took a step, before turning back around. “Oh, Conner have you spoken with Ewan?”

A blonde eyebrow and a black eyebrow raised in unison. “Not that it’s necessarily news, but no.” she replied.

“Oh.” He tapped his tooth with a fingernail and then cracked an odd looking smile. “Well no matter, I just thought it awfully nice of you to be putting things in order here and keeping his seat warm, if you will.”

It was only Blue’s blunt fingernails digging into her knee that stopped her from jumping off of the stool and putting her foot through Montrose’s face. The thin man arched his own brow and gave a small bow again as he gave one last look to the two women and left the club.

Conner raised a hand in the air and began spewing curse words as she followed Montrose out of the door with her eyes. “That-fucking-ratbastard-son-of-hybrid-mutant-bitch-fuckface, mmmrph-

Full lips covered Conner’s mouth. Blue released the grip she had on the small woman’s neck and watched in quiet amusement as Conner stopped herself from falling off the stool by holding on to the railing on the bar. Blue reached out and touched her fingers to Conner’s chin as she made the woman face her. Verdant eyes glazed over with arousal, glanced at the blue-eyed diva at her side. “Hullo.” Conner breathed out as a silly grin raised her cheeks high.

Blue shook her head with laughter as she took Conner’s face in her hands and kissed her sweetly on both cheeks. “You okay,
lil’ bit?”

“Un huh.” She still held the silly grin as her head bobbed up and down.

“You sure?” She asked with a grin.

“Perfecto.” Conner made an okay sign with her fingers and continued to smile.

Blue couldn’t help but toss her dark mane of hair back in laughter as she looked at the blushing woman who looked as if she was feeling the effects of one too many Long Island Ice Teas.

“You are absolutely priceless you know that.” She gave Conner a quick kiss on the lips and then glanced up at the stage where Sam and the boys were assembling. “Hey, I gotta get back. Why don’t you go pay a visit to Sara and Wilhelm, so you don’t drink yourself crazy in the corner.”

Conner groaned and pouted. “But I don’t like Wilhelm.”

“Yes you do, besides I see Terry, so you two can make fun of him together in front of his face, okay puddins’.”

Blue gave the small woman a great big cheerleader smile which made Conner burst into a fit of giggles. Conner was still smiling when Terry sidled up to her and dragged her off to the table.

* * *

Victor Montrose stepped outside of the nightclub onto the sidewalk and lit up a clove. He put his free hand in the pocket of his dark blazer and begin to stroll nonchalantly down Charles street. He purposefully dawdled as he heard footsteps start behind him. Montrose puffed lightly on his clove and continued his stroll as the footsteps grew close to him. When he reached the intersection he stopped next to the lamp post. The footsteps stopped next to him. Montrose didn’t look to his left as he spoke into the air.

“Did you get a good look?” He asked his new found companion. The large man next to him grunted his affirmation. “Is there going to be a problem?”

“I should hope not,” came the low growl of an answer.

Montrose cut his eyes to the side and took in the marred profile of his companion. It wasn’t enough that he had a flat nose and a brow that was wide enough to belong in an exhibit on a Cro-Magnon man. He barely had a neck and at 6’3″ he was built like a tree trunk, but apparently he was good at what he did, and he certainly cost enough. As Montrose looked away from the man at his side he thanked god for the dim light of the evening so he didn’t have to be faced with the carved etchings on the right side of his face: a present from a friend he said. Actually, the scars where more a reminder of a debt that was still unpaid. “Is there going to be a problem, C.C.?”

“No, no. I got it covered, but the price may go up just a wee bit.”

Montrose let out a chuckle. “Why did I know you were going to say that.”

C.C. shrugged and put his hands in the pockets of his thin jacket. “Aw hell, I could do it for free…but the money would just be for provisions.”

Montrose pursed his lips and turned towards the man with amusement in his dark eyes. “Didn’t know you knew that word C.C.” The man at his side only grunted. “How much are we talking.”

“1.5.” he said without hesitation.

Montrose coughed a bit. “Are you hunting a white buffalo or something?”

C.C. curved chapped lips into a snarl of a smile. “She’s worth as much.”

Montrose turned around fully and faced C.C. “Forgive my crudeness, but dare I ask, is this about pussy, C.C.?” A slim eyebrow rose.

C.C. let out a chuckle that sounded more like a gurgle. “I’d be a liar if I said she wasn’t an exceptional piece of pie.”

The lanky man shook his head at C.C.’s euphemism but pressed on. “You sure she wants you back?”

Another gurgle of laughter. “I didn’t always look like this.”

Montrose snorted. “Yes, I’m sure you resembled a young Robert DeNiro or something once, but that still doesn’t warrant 1.5 now does it?” His voice drowned in sarcasm and disdain, but the man in front of him didn’t pick up on it, nor did he care.

“Well if you won’t pay then our mutual friend will.”

Montrose formed a small smile as he was completely intrigued now, not only in C.C.’s ability to form a sentence, but the fact that he was actually saying something that seemed to have merit. “Oh do tell, C.C., do tell.”

C.C.’s dead stare was highlighted by the pale yellow of the street lamp and accentuated by the shadow cast across his face.
“He’d pay me twice as much to get rid of her and I’d do it for free truth be told.”

Montrose chuckled and started walking again with C. C. at his side. “C.C. I think you should tell me everything there is to know about this woman, and if it’s warranted you’ll get double.” He heard C.C. laugh as they crossed the street to the next block. “Question, did she do that to your face.”

“Yup.” He spoke without malice, but with an empty tone.

Montrose flicked out his clove and quickly lit another as he mulled over C.C.’s admission. “My,my, it seems Conner’s little songbird has got quite the past.” He laughed to himself and then looked at his watch. “Let’s pick up our pace. You’ve got a story to tell and we’ve got to find our mutual friend under the rock he buried himself under.” C.C. nodded as they made their way to a chauffeured Jeep waiting on the corner.
CH 5: The things I forgot to remember
1987

At age 15 C.C., who still answered to Christian Christian, was rapidly making a name for himself in between the streets of Boston and New York. Most of the names touted that he was an indiscriminate hot head and didn’t understand the meaning of loyalty let alone how to spell it, but the prospect of taming the thick young man seemed like an end to justify the means to most people. C.C. sat beside a hefty caramel colored man who reclined comfortably in his chair as he smoked a cigar. He was trying to pay attention to the conversation going on at his right, but he hadn’t heard anything worthwhile yet, and the white marks on his nails seemed to be interesting enough.

C.C. cut sharp eyes at the big man to his side and smirked as he made a joke. Even if C.C. was two brain cells away from being mentally retarded he knew how good he had it. At present he was sitting next to Ceasare Borgia, who was one of the most respected and revered organized crime bosses on any coast. He spent most of his time in the south, where he ran the docks on the Mississippi River. Borgia, was just being his overly caring self by taking C.C. in, when he got caught in the cross fire of a bad deal. However, Borgia was old enough to know that C.C. was pretty far gone even at 15, but his natural altruism prompted him to try to help the boy. In this case he figured C.C. just needed to see what it was like to be able to control the animal within. If that meant he had to get his ass kicked a few times to figure that out, Borgia figured everybody won.

Borgia found himself seated at a table in a Steel plant along with two other bosses. Carlo Bruiso, who was obviously ailing from something, but the old man drank his Bourbon and smoked his pipe like there was no cancer coursing through his veins, and Frankie Tangelo. The men were passing jokes with one another while they were waiting on the arrival of Enrique Marachi and his new Colombian friend.

During a brief pause in conversation, Borgia rubbed at the faint stubble on his chubby cheeks as he glanced around the floor of the plant. They had provided themselves with a wide-open space, so it left no room for snipers in the rafters or front door ambushes. Technically, unless someone was insane enough to lunge out at any of the seated men, they were all safe and secure. Borgia couldn’t help the smirk that came to his face as the thought sprang to his mind, that no assassins gun or crazy man’s tactics would reach any of the seated men anyway. He could see Sal and Vincent off to the side conversing quietly with one another, each keeping an eye on the door and on the men seated at the table. Brusio had three of his boys off in a corner, but Tangelo only seemed to have one lone gunmen standing near Sal and Vincent. Borgia blew a smoke ring and clicked his tongue at the thick boned man across from him.

C.C.’s ears pricked up as the low southern drawl of Borgia carried to his ears. He held in his smile at the thought that he could listen to the man talk for hours and he had. “Tangelo, you running low on bodyguards this week?”

Tangelo let out a cough of a laugh as the corners of his mouth crinkled up in a smile. “I got it covered Borg’. You worried or something?”

“Oh no, no suh’. Just curious.” A sly grin crossed his face.

“Must admit, I’m intrigued as well.” Brusio added in a thick Italian accent.

“I got it covered gentleman.” He chuckled again.

Further inquiries were interrupted as two hard raps came to the outside door. Tangelo’s lone gunmen opened the metal door to let in Marachi and his companions. C.C. got up from his stool and clasped his hands in front of him as he stepped back from the table and observed the small entourage entering the room. Marachi was golden with tan, as if he had just walked out of the sun, and if possible his friend next to him in the stark white blazer, was even more tanned. His black hair shined even in the dank light of the steel mill. C.C. cocked his head to the side as he regarded the Colombian, who looked like he just walked in off the set of Miami Vice. It was obvious that he was nervous, but maybe it was just carrying 20 kilos of cocaine in a small briefcase, all the way from Miami. Perhaps the weight was getting to him.

C.C. and the other men relegated to the edges of the room all listened with interest as the men took their seats at the table. Marachi’s addition of bodyguards added three more to growing number of armed men as well as two men that seemed to be with the Colombian. The conversation seemed to be going well and with the usual give and take of business affairs, but even without hearing every word of the whispered conversation it was quite obvious when things were about to get out of hand.

Brusio, even in his ailing health still could make quite the threat and the deathly pallor of his face only seemed to convey the sentiment that he really did have the grim reaper on his payroll. Tangelo echoed the sentiment and added his own insult, grating the man further. The Colombian rattled off something insulting through gritted teeth and then made the move to reach out and grab the neck of the men two feet away from him. His hand didn’t even make it two inches when the hand in question flew to his neck and with flailing arms he fell back to the ground. The room grew quiet as hands went to guns, but nobody was sure of who should shoot first. Eyes darted about the room, each one seeking a sign. Borgia cut curious eyes towards Tangelo as the man entwined his fingers and sat back in his chair as if nothing had happened. The room remained eerily silent except for the soft gurgling that the Colombian was emitting as he futilely clawed at the throwing star lodged in his throat.

Marachi just shook his head as he ran his hand through his hair and sighed. Tangelo looked about the table and then spoke into the air. “You can remove the others as well.” On cue the Colombian’s soldiers fell to the floor with unimpressive thuds. “You can come out now.”

C.C., along with the others in the room weren’t sure what to expect from Tangelo’s invisible helper, but it was definitely not what they got. The dark figure made no sound as she came out from her shadow in the most unusual of places that was actually right behind them to the rear wall, standing under the stairwell. She wore a black silk shirt and black dress slacks, topped off with a thick mane of black hair that fell just below her shoulders. She moved like ink across the floor and came to stand beside Tangelo, hands clasped behind her back, ice blue eyes focused on the old man. None of them were sure who said it, but as she stopped her walk the phrase that had become a quiet joke between her and Tangelo was uttered: “Good god.”

Tangelo smiled like a proud father as he licked his lips and responded. “I like to think so.” He smiled up at the dark woman and nodded towards the Colombian. She did as she was bid and bent down to relieve the barely breathing man of his suitcase. She placed the case on the table and made quick work of the locks with a pocket knife. Without prompting, she slipped the tip of her knife into one of the packages and removed a thin film of the powder which she tasted. She folded her knife back and nodded to Tangelo and then turned the case to him. The old man smiled at the woman with pride and then turned back to the deathly silent men at the table. “Well gents, it appears we have what we came for, and we’re no lighter in the pocket for any of it.” He smiled.

Borgia blew out a breath and reclined comfortably in his seat again. “Well Tang, it seems you’ve been keeping a secret from us old boys.”

“On the contrary, she was here the whole time. It’s not my fault if you don’t know where to look.”

“I’ll admit I’m a little unnerved.” Bruiso hacked and warily looked towards the black pillar of a woman to his side.

“She only bites if I ask.” Tangelo raised his eyebrows and grinned.

“I can’t even get my dog to stay.” Marachi chimed in.

“That’s cause your dog is this big.” Borgia let out a laugh as he held his hand a foot apart.

The men laughed and Marachi shrugged. “She’s a little baby.”

“She’s a miniature Pinscher, Ricky.” Borgia shook his head and Marachi just smiled. “All right let’s clean this mess and get home, I need to get away from you Yankees.”

* * *

Montrose picked his teeth with a toothpick as he and C.C. exited the terminal in (need Scotland airport) and got into the limo.
“So young C.C., are you telling me all this to frighten me or prepare me?”

C.C. shrugged as he settled in the seat across from the thin man. “I’m just giving you the facts. She’s a beast and you asked.”

Montrose fingered his thin moustache. “Are you setting me up for your imminent failure or do I need to go out and hire her.”

C.C. shook his head. “Number one, she’d never go. Number two, I’m only this good because I watched her, and number three,
I owe her.” The large man ran a callused hand across the acid scarred side of his face and grunted.

Montrose squinted his eyes at the large man and ran his tongue across his teeth. “I do so love the student-teacher dynamic. And I would love to know about your ‘falling out’.”

C.C. grunted and shrugged as he glanced out of the window and watched the scenery pass by. “What’s to say, look at my face.”

Montrose pouted slightly. “Poor baby, still a sore spot I see.” He held in a grin as C.C. bared his teeth at the thin man. “My apologies, C.C.” Montrose ducked his head just a bit and then spoke again. “You must have learned some lesson did you not, I’d be interested in knowing her politics.”

“Her politics?”

Montrose sighed. “You know her ethics, her morals, principles·all the things that you don’t have.”

C.C. feigned hurt, at least on one side of his face. “I have all those.”

A sincere chuckle filled the car. “No, C.C. you have a price, it’s not the same.”

C.C. rolled his eyes and sucked his teeth. “Whatever.” They were quiet for a moment and then still looking out of the window he spoke again. “Loyalty.” He spoke quietly.

“What?”

He turned towards Montrose. “That’s the lesson I learned.”

Montrose snorted in disbelief. “I take it you didn’t retain the information.”

“Ha! That’s the only thing I have retained. I’m loyal to myself and what I can do for me.”

“You loved the Regan era didn’t you?” C.C. just shrugged. Montrose watched C.C. with beady eyes and let a lazy grin come to his face. “Was she a good teacher?”

C.C. mumbled out a “God, yes” more to himself and then picked up his story.

* * *

“Two years passed, after the Steel mill and ever since then I stayed welded to her side. Borgia, seemed to think it was a good idea and practically moved me to New York. We would go back to Mississippi when needed, but mostly I stayed on the east coast now. In two years time, I clearly understand why she was assumed to be some kind of god, and as much as it scared the shit out of me, it thrilled me all the same. Borgia, called her shit like Hera and Athena. This guy Silvio used to call her Zeus, every time she walked into the sub shop. She never said nothing and never asked to be called anything else than what people called her.

“I guess it was strange. She never said shit unless somebody asked her something right out, and most of the time she only answered if Tangelo gave her a nod or something. I thought he was fucking her for the longest time. Shit, most people either wanted to fuck her or kill her, and not necessarily in that order. I think those two years were the only time I ever tried to pay attention to everything, because that’s all she did. When she walked into a room, she could become the fucking wall paper if she wanted to. I would watch her walk into a crowded room and nobody would even see her. I thought she had invisible powers or some shit. If she wanted you to see her you couldn’t fucking miss her, but other than that you never even knew she was in the fucking room. Borgia used to love that shit. He’d always take her out, just her and him, it used to piss me off at first, but then I’d go and take it out on somebody else.

“Whenever we came back from seeing Borgia she would let me handle stuff and send me off by myself to pick up the markers, it was strange. I just thought she was giving me experience, but she wouldn’t even throw a fit when I fucked up anymore. She’d tell me shit, about how this was my mess and how I was always going to have to answer to somebody if I didn’t get it together. I told her to fuck off and started running around with Garcia’s crew. Yeah, I know now that it might not have been the smartest decision in the world, but I managed to do the one thing that people had been trying to do for years, I killed Frances Tangelo and in broad daylight no less.”

“Garcia paid me two million dollars. That was a lot in 1989, and it still is. But a 17 year old with two million dollars was better than any psycho-ass wannabe goddess who stayed loyal to Tangelo even when he was about roll over on his crew. I lucked up and found out Borgia called her down to New Orleans when Tangelo got clipped by the F.B.I. Back then it was easy to fuck with computer systems, cause nobody knew shit. I got this punk kid from M.I.T. to screw up her ticket, so even if she did catch the next flight out I had at least an hour.”

“It was so fucking pretty. That fat fuck, stepped out of his Cadillac, waved at the old heads like he was the fucking pope, and then wham! I walked straight up to him as he stepped on to the curb and blew his fucking brains out all over Bensonhurst. I was surprised she waited as long as she did to come find, but now that I think about it, I knew she had been following me all day, she was just biding her time and letting me waste mine.”

* * *

1989- Brooklyn

C.C. let out a yelp as the shot of Jack Daniel’s burned down his throat. A meaty hand pounded him on his back and blew alcohol heavy breath in his face as he laughed.

“Look at this fucker,” he slurred, “big man can’t hold his liquor.”

C..C. held up a thick middle finger and shoved the drunk man away from him. “Fuck you greasy.” He slapped a hand down on the bar and stood up, happily surprised that he wasn’t wobbly. He tossed some bills on the bar and waved goodbye.

He was humming some goofy tune to himself like he had been all day. He pulled at his thin jacket as he walked down the sidewalk back towards his apartment, wishing to God that he had left the damn jacket at home or in the bar. It was the dead of July, the middle of the night, and it was hot as fuck. C.C. just smirked at the young kids on the stoop who made a big show of moving out of his way. He thrust his head high into the air gloating over his earlier actions, and thinking those kids knew the deal, they all knew the deal. It never occurred to him that they weren’t fearful of him, but of the dark woman with the intense blue eyes that was walking directly behind him, on pace with his footsteps. All she had to do was reach out.

C.C. climbed the steps to his apartment and turned the key in his lock. He grumbled as he put his shoulder to the door and started leaning into the cheap wooden door to get it to open. “Fucking heat!” he grumbled. He stepped back and just as his shoulder touched the door, he got an extra push of force that tore the door from its hinges and sent him flying into his living room. C.C. held his side where a booted foot had just moments ago kicked him. He rolled up to his feet and managed to hold his hands above his face to block the down swing of her fist. He absorbed the blow crouching lower, but he was ill prepared for the knee that landed to the side of his head.

He was shaken from his wooziness as he was pulled up by his collar and thrown through the coffee table. He was awaiting the next blow as he found himself sprawled out in pieces of wood, but none came. He opened his eyes and saw her sitting on the arm of his couch watching him. She was pushing her cuticles back with her nails and didn’t even appear to be breathing hard. C.C. sprang to his feet and rushed the woman on the couch. The dark woman moved with C.C.’s momentum as she allowed herself to be slammed into the wall. C.C. swung at her wildly, managing to connect to her jaw and her ribcage once. She finally shoved the erratic man away.

They stood apart from each other, C.C. laboring with heavy breaths and she swiping a drop of blood from her lip and spitting it onto his carpet. “Fuck you lady! You want me, come on! I’ll do you just like I did Frances!” Blue eyes flinched in a stilted rage and C.C. ranted. “Where were you goddess, huh? Thought you supposed to be everywhere! Not this time, not this time! I got you, I fucking got you! I wonder what Frankie-boy thinks of his little demi-god now!”

Full lips curled into a smirk. “You can ask him when you see him.” C.C. involuntarily trembled as her menacing alto ripped through his insides. He was jolted back into reality as he heard the distinct whisper of a blade being brandished. He looked to the woman’s hands and sure enough, in her right hand, with a twirl of her wrist she opened her butterfly knife. “Let’s go piggy.”

C.C. growled and launched a piece of the broken table at the woman as he advanced on her. A tanned arm knocked away the wood and slashed away C.C. as she sidestepped the advancing man. C.C. met the wall and grimaced at the pain streaking across his face, not registering it as a gash. Enraged he ran at the tall woman again and begin throwing punches with force, ignoring the slices she was making into his forearms with ease.

On the verge of fatigue, C.C. made a move to lunge at the woman and then at the last moment he turned towards his left and headed to his bedroom. She tackled him at the knees knowing he was going for the gun. He kicked back and felt her flinch in pain as he connected with her face. He used her slack to move from her arms. He stood up and went down to his knees again, inside his doorway, this time with out aide of her tackle.

He reached around his back and removed the throwing star that found itself lodged in the meat of his back. He ‘acted, not reacted’, just like she taught him and let the shrieken fly in her direction as he turned round. He surprised himself as the star sliced through the black of her t-shirt and drew blood.

The tall woman moved with purpose as if she hadn’t been cut. She swung her blade in three swift strokes, as C.C. made it to his feet only to fall back to the ground howling in pain as he held both hands to his bleeding face. The warmth of his blood began to trickle down his face from four different wounds, including the one he received earlier. He heard the knife close and then he was lifted up to his knees.

He could barely hold his head up from the pain let alone open his eyes, but he could hear her moving around her. “I’m giving you an out C.C.– you remember that.” She spoke quietly and then without warning, he felt the sting of glass shattering against the side of his face. Whatever damage had been done by the blade was being eaten away by the hydrochloric acid that bubbled on the right side of his face. C.C. almost passed out from the pain as he collapsed to the floor in a fit of convulsions. He felt like he was on fire and he might as well have been.

He felt warm breath near his ear as she knelt next to head and molded what felt like a gun in one hand and a phone in the other. She spoke to him quietly. “You call the cops, you’ll be a rat and you’ll live for a while, but you know you’re going up river. You use the gun you can save yourself the horror of living. Make your choice, either way we both know your dead.”

She stood up and listened to man whimper. She looked down and spit on him. “You still think I’m a god piggy?” Her voice hung in the air and then without a sound she was gone from the room leaving C.C. to his decision. He fired a shot into the air knowing that would draw the cops even if he couldn’t dial 911. As he lay on the floor, bleeding, and moments from passing out, her question still echoed in his ears, but the answer, just like those who figured it out before him, suddenly made all the sense in the world. She wasn’t a god or even a monster·.she was something far worse.

* * *

C.C. sat at the table with a tepid mug of beer in his hand and Montrose in the seat next to him. It was quitting time in the Scottish hamlet, so the pub was pretty full. Thin lips wrapped around a clove as Montrose looked up from his club soda and spoke. “And so you chose to go up river. How noble, how prideful.” A fake smile did nothing to raise his features. “I’m curious as to why you think you can best her now?”

C.C. took a deep gulp of his beer. “Because she’s soft. All that time she spent with Borgia, he was feeding her that old time religion and helping her claw her way up from hell.” He snorted and wiped at the liquid on his lip with his hand. “Besides, she won’t know it’s me until its too late and by that time, the little blonde will be begging for an out. Speaking of, are we picking him up or what?”

Montrose shook his head. “Just delivering a message.”

C.C. huffed. “We came all this way to leave a message.”

Montrose laughed. “Young C.C. you’re seeing the world, and besides that I’m giving you an alibi.” The man across from him grumbled and refilled his mug from the pitcher. “So, I ask again, is she going to be a problem.”

“Nah. Like I said, she’s loyal, she’ll be so wrapped up in her girlfriends sorrows that she’ll be off just enough. Look what happened last summer. The chick I knew, would never have even let anybody get that close to her with a knife, let alone let them all live. She doesn’t have it in her anymore.”

“Well I guess that just shows you.”

“Shows you what?”

“When people stop believing the gods lose their power.” He chuckled to himself.

C.C. shrugged and drained his beer. “Yeah, yeah, she’s just a human, she can bleed·. and how.”
CH 6: ‘….And if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.’
Except for the floor littered in papers, it was just like a slumber party. Stacks of paper made a path towards the office where Conner, Blue, Terry, and Sara sat amidst papers that were not yet in stacks. Blue groaned for the fifth time in ten minutes as she collapsed into her pile of papers, helping to dishevel Sara’s papers as well. “Good god woman, I thought you were some kind of an accountant. This shit is crazy!.” She grabbed fistfuls of blue-black hair and made a face like monkey.

The woman laughed at her antics. “Hey those aren’t mine, bubba. My shit’s out there in all those neat piles.” Conner pointed out of the doorway.

“Well then why do we care about this stuff?” she whined.

Terry rolled her eyes an answered. “Because, my dear, when the Fibbies came kicking in the door there going to arrest the midget over here on account of being an accessory to all the money laundering, back taxes, tax evasion, embezzling, and about 6 other felonies I can find in my pile alone.”

Blue stuck out her tongue and stood up. “Whatever, smart ass, me and Sara are fixing drinks.”

The blue-eyed girl looked up at the tall woman like she’d just been asked to kiss the Pope’s ring. “We are.”

Blue shook her head and held out her hand. The thin girl reached up and took the proffered hand with a cheesy grin affixed to her face. “C’mon will make Sangria and you can tell me the gossip.”

Sara darted wide eyes from Conner to Terry and back to Blue. She looked slightly confused. “You gossip?” It was all Blue could do not to burst into laughter, but she could see Terry and Conner silently convulsing with laughter out of the corner of her eye. Blue shook her head and winked at Sara.

“No Sara, I don’t gossip, but you do, so it evens out.”

The brown haired girl seemed to contemplate the older woman’s logic for a brief moment and then she smiled sweetly as she took full hold of Blue’s hand. “Makes sense, besides they won’t let me talk about Wil.” She stuck out her tongue at the giggling women.

Blue managed a smile and spoke through her teeth, “that’s so nice.” She didn’t bother to turn back, since she knew Terry and Conner were rolling on the floor laughing and making gagging gestures behind her back. She placed her free hand behind her back and saluted the two laughing women with the finger as Sara led her out of the office.

They returned a few moments later with a pitcher and toasted to something obscene and brown eyes drew to slits as Terry noticed Sara didn’t drink. “Is it that bad, bubba?” Sara blushed and shook her head no. Conner picked up at Sara’s meek response and took over Terry’s line of questioning before the woman could order her thoughts.

“Sara my dear, what’s up? You don’t pass up Sangria, you sick?” Conner touched the back of her hand playfully to Sara’s forehead.” The dirty blonde laughed as she moved out of the way. Conner just stared at the woman until she put six and four together. She let out a whoop of discovery and drew Sara to her in a strong one-armed embrace. Blue and Terry looked on in question. “You shit! I don’t believe you.” Conner grinned from ear to ear. She turned to face the other women as she kept her arm around Sara’s shoulder. “Sara’s freaking pregnant guys!” Conner squealed with excitement.

Terry opened her mouth to something profound and found her mouth covered by a large tanned hand as Blue halted whatever biting comment she was going to make. Blue smiled at Sara as she held a squirming Terry in a semi-headlock. “That’s great Sara, does Wilbur know yet?” The thin woman broke into a glowing smile and shook her head no. Blue looked down at Terry as she settled and then she released her, garnering a punch to her arm. “Ow!”

Terry just rolled her eyes and then turned her attention to Sara as she walked towards the woman and gave her a hug. “Can I be there when you tell the lug nut?”

Sara laughed. “Yeah right, you just want to see him vomit.”

Terry and Conner laughed since they knew it was the truth. In their youth it was discovered that whenever Wilhelm was surprised he’d lose his lunch, which made for interesting pranks. “Terry wouldn’t do that Sara.” Conner said through a laugh. “Holy crap, there’s going to be little Wilhelm’s and Sara’s running around. Ha!”

“Behave Terry!” came the alto from behind them.

Terry sucked her teeth and threw an icecube at the tall woman. “Shut it woman!”

Sara just laughed. “It’s okay Blue, let her get it out now, cause once the baby’s born I don’t want to hear about it anymore.” She pouted playfully as she gave Terry a hard stare and then the three friends burst into girlish giggles and squeals.

Blue wasn’t sure if she was getting claustrophobic or if the squeals were just ripping apart her eardrums. She grimaced and walked past the laughing women. Conner barely looked up as she got to the door, but Blue stopped when she heard her name.

“Where you off to missy?”

“There’s way too much estrogen in this room right now, I need some sports or something.” She pulled a face as they laughed.

“Aw, come on Blue you’ve got enough testosterone for us all.” Terry quipped. Blue just growled in response and gestured for Terry to suck her dick as she grabbed her crotch and then left the office. Terry smiled wickedly and turned towards a grinning Conner. “Does she pack?”

Conner’s jaw hit the floor as her ears turned a shade of red only made by Crayola. “Oh..my..god.” she said in a whisper of disbelief.

Terry eyed the smaller woman and pursed her lips. “That’s not an answer midget.”

Conner squinted her eyes and just groaned as she willed away Terry’s question.

“Guys what’s packing?”

Whatever string was holding up Conner’s sanity was snapped at Sara’s innocent question. The women found themselves heaving with laughter until each was achy and teary-eyed.

Blue re-entered the room hesitantly and stood at the door until she managed to catch Conner’s attention as she rolled on the floor. “Uh, do we like Duke?”

Terry sobered quickly as she put her glass down and looked at the singer like she had two heads. “Blue I’m going to have to seriously reconsidered our sexual fantasy life if you don’t know the answer to that question.”

“I know, I know. I apologize oh great Terrapin.”

“They playing Maryland?” Conner asked with interest.

“Yup. And if they keep playing the second half like they did the first they might win.”

Terry and Conner looked to each other and back to Blue with wide eyes. “Say what! What’s the score?”

“Um, it’s two minutes into the 2nd quarter and the game’s tied, score is-

Blue had no chance to finish her statement as Terry and Conner let out strangled war cries and raced out of the office into the sitting room. The tall woman just held onto the door frame until she was sure they were gone. She looked at Sara with confusion.

Sara just shook her head as she met the woman at the door. “Maryland hasn’t beat Duke since 95′ and every time Maryland plays we get our butts kicked.” Blue gave a nod of understanding. Sara looped her arm through Blue’s. “Shall we?” Blue nodded as they walked out of the doorway. Sara turned pale blue eyes up to Blue as she quietly asked, “Do you know what it means to pack, cause Terry asked if you were packing.”

Blue practically tripped over her feet as they stepped into the sitting room. Unfortunately, Terry and Conner were so lost in the 60″ screen with the surround sound on full blast to give her any help.

Blue let go of Sara’s arm as the woman sat down and looked up at her expectantly. Blue just shook her head and ran a shaky hand through her hair. “Um, S-sara, I’m going to get a drink, but I’m going to think about your questions, and,and, uh·I, um, I’m gonna find you answer.” She smiled at the woman on the seat and made a quick retreat to the bar, mumbling to herself, “or I’m going to make up an answer.”

* * *

Two days later Blue wanted to nothing more than strangle the still celebrating Conner. She was sure she knew all the words to the Maryland fight song and she was oddly sure that Terry and Conner had actually recorded it on answering machine. Which was right before they thought up the idea of wanting to drive down to the University, on Conner’s prediction that they were going to be rioting in College Park. The tall woman found it extremely funny the next day when they opened up the newspaper and read about the riots of happiness that the students engaged in. Conner was so pleased and excited she cut a check for almost a quarter of a million dollars in the name of her Alma Mater.

The singer smiled to herself as she could hear Conner bellowing the fight song at the top her lungs in the shower, while she sat at the kitchen table. It truthfully was an exciting time for all of them. The ball was rolling on construction to the building next door to the club, all Conner had to do was sign the papers in the afternoon. Sara was glowing with motherly pride and Wilhelm was just too cute for words in his want to dote on Sara, he was barely letting the girl walk let alone do anything else for herself. Terry and Sam were on again, in there off again on again relationship, her mother and Cookie were enjoying the ranch and even she felt good. But perhaps sitting at the kitchen table in a place she had no qualms calling home, reading the newspaper and sipping iced tea like it was the most normal thing in the world to be waiting on Conner, she swore she could feel the tides change.

Blue folded the paper away with a pained expression on her face. The last thing she wanted to be worried about was how all of this could blow up on them. She leaned forward on the table with her elbow and supported her chin in her hand. She let out a huff of air and groaned softly as she mentally chided herself. ‘It’s not like you guys are being unrealistic everybody’s aware of the possibilities, but yeah things are good, really good, and no I don’t want to say too good, but yeah Newton’s laws and all, but I just don’t want to see the equal and opposite reaction for all this. I could just be paranoid and I could accept that, except I’ve got 10 years of running the streets to prove otherwise.’

She let out a grumble and then let her head slowly fall to the table, which she quickly picked up when she heard Conner bounding down the stairs. “You finally ready?”

Conner slid into the kitchen with a wild grin on her face. “Yes ma’am. Can we please take the car, that bike is killing my do.” The blonde primped without actually touching her hair.

Blue let out a breathy laugh. “You have enough crap in there to fix the Hubble telescope, I’m surprised it even moves.” She received a swat on the shoulder as they left the house and headed to the ranch house in Frederick.

* * *

It had been during the singer’s convalescence, where two weeks of recuperation turned into three months, and the only return trips either of them made were to see her mother and to start rebuilding the ranch house in Frederick. The first meeting between Conner and Blue’s mother had been horribly comical if not just horrifying·.at least for Blue. Between being so nervous that she couldn’t form two words and the fact that she was so nauseous she thought she was going to drop dead from motion sickness things actually went well. Her mother’s long time friend and house mate, Cookie swept the sickly tall woman away to hyperventilate in peace when Conner sat down with Carmen and told her who she was. Blue was sure the hole to hell was going to open up beneath the toilet where she sat and swallow her whole. Instead, the dark haired woman, broke into a wide smile as she turned her face up towards Cookie, who stood near by, held out her hand, and said in a clear voice, “you owe me five bucks.”

Blue lifted her head from the cool tile of the bathroom as she heard, what she was sure, were the jackals of the underworld coming to drag her away. It was just laughter. She emerged, shaky and two shades paler, from the bathroom ten minutes later, only to have the urge to head back in as the three women sat on the couch surrounded by photo albums of a much smaller and mostly naked young Blue. The rest of the visit seemed to pass in an embarrassed yet joyful haze, that the singer hadn’t yet managed to live down or probably ever would.

Conner pulled into the driveway and cut the engine. “Do you think I should tell her what’s going on?”

The tall woman shrugged as she stretched her back and got out of the car. “That’s up to you Red. Knowing, Carmen she’ll probably knit you a sweater for the occasion.” Blue let out a laugh as the smaller woman shoved her forward.

“Hey I love my mittens, so shut it.”

Blue chuckled. “And they’ve got six fingers.”

The tall woman spoke so seriously that Conner couldn’t help but laugh. “Be nice, I mean÷it’s not like she can see.”

“Ha! She can count, there’s no excuse.” She received a playful swat to the back of her head.

“You are soooo mean.” Blue just shrugged as she moved past Conner and turned the nob. “Why don’t you knock, sheesh?”

A black eyebrow raised high in question. “What? Like they’ve got guests.” Conner wiggled her eyebrows, causing the taller woman to groan. “Thank you for that image, midget.”

Conner growled as she pushed past her into the house. “Any time Ox, anytime.” Blue raised a hand to offer a comeback, but as Conner was swallowed up in an embrace by Cookie, the singer thought better to put it on the back burner, rather than having Cookie go to work on her with her wooden spoon.

* * *

Wilhelm parked the car to the far corner of the garage on the fourth level next to elevator. He was standing by the trunk looking at his watch, as he waited for Sara to get out of the car. “C’mon Sara, we’re going to miss the flight.”

Sara huffed as she pulled on her book bag and got out of the car. “We won’t Wil. Anyway, who books a flight at 1:30 in the morning?”

“I told you, we’ll beat the tourist rush at the Vineyard.”

“Won’t other people be doing that?”

The large man groaned as he strapped on the bags. “Can we argue about this on the plane?”

Sara gave Wilhelm a small pout, which made the large man feel like an ass. “I’m not arguing, just asking.”

He hung his head and then leaned in to give the smaller woman a kiss on the cheek. “I’m sorry. Come on, and I’ll let you have the window.”

Sara smiled as they walked to the elevator, stopping when Sara stopped. “Crap, I left my book.”

Wilhelm grimaced. “I’ll buy you a new one sugarpop.”

“I’ll be two seconds. Just stand in the elevator and hold the door, I’ll be right back.”

“Let me go.”

Sara shook her head. “You’ll have to take off the bags, just stay there.”

The large man did as he was told with a grumble and stood in the elevator with his foot in between the doors. He watched as Sara made it to the car and then the doors started to close on his foot., he let out a groan and managed to kick against the sensors. The doors rebounded with a squeal so he never heard Sara’s scream. Wilhelm’s world spun on end as he watched a scarred man turn Sara’s neck far too hard to the right and then he lifted the small woman effortlessly and tossed her lifeless body over the side. Wilhelm let out an enraged cry as he dropped the bags and ran full force towards the man standing by the car.

C.C. just grinned as the man came flying towards him. Both he and Wilhelm were almost carried over the edge of the garage as Wilhelm connected with C.C.’s midsection. When C.C. failed to shake the man from the edge he pulled back and they fell away from each other as they hit the concrete. Wilhelm was back on his feet in a split second as he attacked C.C. They went at each other like prize fighters who had nothing to left to lose. C.C. for one was oddly happy as he absorbed Wilhelm’s kicks and punches, since this was the first time in months that he had a good fight. He surged with renewed energy as he sidestepped a wild punch from Wilhelm and used his momentum to put Wilhelm’s head through the passenger window of the car. After that it was smooth sailing for C.C. as he pounded the woozy man. When Wilhelm could no longer stand C.C. leaned down, hoisted the man up by his collar and pushed C.C. over the edge of the garage. C.C. was too winded to look down at his work, but he was satisfied as he spit out blood and a piece of a tooth. He pocketed his gloves and walked to the other side of the garage to his car.

* * *

Both Conner and Blue sprang up in the bed at 2:30a.m., both obviously disturbed by night time visions. They looked at each other as Conner turned on the light and rubbed her eyes. “You too?” She asked quietly.

Blue ruffled her hair and nodded. “Yeah.” She breathed deeply and looked around the bed for her shorts.

Conner scratched her head. “Think it’s Carmen?”

Blue shook her head. “Nah, that’s her snoring.” She said through a yawn. “I’ll check anyway.”

The tall woman returned a moment later and got back under the covers. “Maybe we watched one too many Hell Raisers. After the first two, it does get rather nightmarish.”

Conner chuckled and snuggled closer to Blue. “Or maybe those enchiladas.”

“Hey Cookie’s enchiladas are ambrosia, chick.”

“Fine, we’ll worry in the morning.” She got a squeeze in response as both women fell back to sleep.
CH 7: Pooling one’s Resources
Conner was still trying wake her self up as she walked into the basement, freshly showered. Neither her nor Blue had been able to figure out what jolted them from peaceful sleeps, a day earlier, and all though both decided it was nothing, Conner still couldn’t shake the feeling of being unsettled. Conner was sitting on the floor of her office bobbing her head to some classic Santana, when Terry walked into her office looking deathly somber. Conner barely heard Terry’s shaky voice call her name as she cut off the stereo and looked at the woman standing in her doorway.

Green eyes went wide as Conner stood up and stared at the red-eyed Terry. “Terry?”

Watery brown eyes met green. “Sh-she’s dead.” Her voice was barely above a whisper.

The words reached Conner’s ears and she fell back towards the desk as her knees began to give out. “What?”

Terry took a step into the office. “She’s dead, Sara’s dead.”

Conner shook her head in disbelief as she pushed away from the desk. “No she’s not, she’s not. She’s in the Vineyard with Wil, Terry.” She was adamant as Terry walked up to her and handed her a sheet of paper. Conner reached out a shaky hand and took the paper. The handwriting was barely legible, but the message was far from cryptic, as it read, “Back off.” Conner let out a whimper of understanding as she and the paper crumbled to the floor. Terry met her as she fell to the ground and wrapped her in an embrace as Conner let out a sob.

Blue wore a large grin as she walked into the basement and saw the two women wrapped in each other. “Terry, you hitting on my girl again.” Terry’s face glistened with fresh tears as she turned towards the singer. Color flushed Blue’s face as she moved towards them and dropped to her knees. Without looking Conner released her self from Terry and buried her face in Blue’s neck. Frantic eyes darted from Terry to the shaking woman in her arms. She settled the softly crying woman in her arms as she looked to Terry who sat back on her butt and rubbed her face. “Somebody please tell me what the hell is going on.”

Terry licked her lips and settled herself before she spoke. “Sara’s dead.”

Blue reflexively held Conner tighter. “What!? Jesus Christ, when?”

“Last night around one in the morning.”

“Oh God.” The words came out in a whisper. She started to ask a question, but she heard Conner mumbling into her chest. “Can’t hear you?” she said quietly.
“She was pregnant.” It came out in a sob.

“I know, I know.” She rocked the crying woman and kissed her temple.

Terry dragged her hands down her face and took in a deep breath as she kept herself from breaking into tears. “I got this, this morning.” Blue reached for the paper and read it. Blue eyes steeled as a flash of recognition went through her, as she looked at the handwriting. “What is it?”

Dark hair swung as she shook her head. “Nothing, um, um , I need to think.” She sat back a bit, and raised Conner’s head. “Hey Red, can you get up?” She nodded weakly. “Okay,” Blue stood with the smaller woman. “go upstairs and I want you to pack a bag, can you do that?” She nodded again. Blue ducked her head and gave the smaller woman a kiss on the lips and looked after her with concern as she left the basement.

When Conner made it out of the office, blue eyes turned to ice and she picked up the phone. Terry stood and regarded the woman who was forming into a stranger before her eyes. “You want me to go after her.”

“No.” Her voice was flat. “Get your phone and come in here.” Terry saw no reason to argue and she did as she was told. When she returned, the dark woman was sitting on the edge of the desk, one leg dangling in the air as the other foot rested on the carpet. She was smiling as she spoke, but it didn’t reach her eyes. “Bon giorno, let me speak to Ceasare·.you can tell him it’s the Queen of the gods·.he’ll know.” She looked up from the phone to Terry. “Call this number,” she scribbled a number on a post it and handed it to Terry. “Ask for Gordy. When you get him, you tell him that A.J. needs a favor. What you want is, uh–” she snatched another post-it and wrote as she talked. “you tell him you need a sweep done on this house, like last week. Read off the stuff on this list and he’ll take care of it.” Terry nodded and took the other note and walked to the work bench and sat down.

An almost genuine smile crossed Blue’s face as a man picked up the phone on the other end. “Hey you rat!”

“Holy shit! It is you, I thought he was joking.”

“Where’s the Borg?”

“He’s really not here, out hitting golf balls you know.”

“Yah, yah. Lookie, Joshua, I need some help here.”

He chuckled. “So, all the shit I’ve been hearing about you and the Scotsman is true?”

“God’s honest. But look, I’ll explain later, I need to see Borg and now.”

“Um, shit.” He rattled off Italian to someone in the background. “Okay, um, we’re going to be out of town for a couple of days, no can do I swear. But, I’ll send up Vincent, how bout tha? And he’ll sit tight until we can get there. How bad is this?”

“I don’t want to really talk right now, I’m not sure what can be said, but it’s not good.”

The man on the other end, sighed as he heard the growl in the woman’s voice, a growl he was all too familiar with. “Okay, babe, sit tight, and Vin will be on the next flight out, promise. You need anything else till then?”

“I can handle it.”

“Be careful.”

Blue clicked the line and dialed a pager number and held the phone as she waited for it to ring. She looked over to Terry who was watching her with expectant eyes. Blue let out a sigh and gave Terry a weak grin. “What did he say?”

“Twenty-minutes.” Blue nodded. “Do I get to know what’s going on?”

“I was going to ask you that.”

Terry opened her mouth to speak and turned towards the door where Conner now stood with a duffel bag at her feet. “Hey shrimp, c’mere.” Conner ambled towards Terry and sat down on the bench with her. She held onto Conner’s hand as she started speaking. “Wilhelm’s still alive. He’s in a coma though, they don’t know if he’s going to make it or what.”

“How’d you find out?” Conner asked.

“I went to pick up my breakfast and I ran into, well Jason ran into me, all crazed. I ran into work to call you and I found the note on my desk.”

“Why you?”

Terry shrugged. “Cause I work for her attorney, I don’t know?”

Blue groaned as she ran a hand through her hair. “You got a place to stay, because you can come with us.”

Terry managed a smile. “I’ll just go back to Sam’s.”

The three women were silent for a moment until Conner spoke. “What are we going to do?”

Blue hopped of the desk and helped Conner to her feet. “We’ll figure that out later, okay.” She hugged Conner and then steadied the woman as she jumped at the sound of the phone ringing. Blue held Conner close as she picked up the phone. With a laugh she spoke into the phone, “Hey ugly.”

“Well I’ll be in a bucket of shit, hot damn!” A woman’s voice rang out clearly through the phone. She spoke into the background. “Al, you’ll never guess whose on the phone.”

“Tan stay with me here.”

“Sorry, what’s up you big shit?”

“Business.”

“It’s never pleasure is it?”

“That depends.” The both spoke the words at the same time. Blue grinned to Conner who was looking up at her. “Any way, where are you?”

“In Canada.”

“Huh? Are you on the lam?”

“Hell no. I’m fishing.”

“Glad you gained another skill.”

“It comes in handy when you are on the lam.”

Blue let out a slight chuckle. “Look, I need you in Baltimore.”

“Mary-land you say. What’s up?”

“No time to explain really, but I got a feeling there’s a little piggy you might want to see.”

Tan let out a yell of joy. “Son of a bitch, you serious?”

“I’m not positive, but I’m not doubtful either.”

“Fuck yeah, I’m there. Shit, I’ll call when we cross the border.”

“Bless you Tan.”

“Pray for me after I’ve done the deed.”

Blue hung up the phone and gave Conner a peck on the forehead. “Let’s go, I’ll explain on the way.”

* * *

As the week began to come to a close, Blue knew that somebody’s plans were moving along as everything around Conner halted. Building construction stopped, the bar was silent, and what business Conner was trying to settle for her family went unnoticed. As they returned home from the funeral, the tall woman divested Conner of her clothes and tucked her into bed. Blue standing barefoot in the kitchen prepared to make herself a drink when a knock came to the door. She instinctively padded her sides for a gun and then realized with a grimace that she wasn’t carrying one, nor did Conner have one. She sighed with a hint of morbidity and looked through the peep hole. She cocked her head to the side as she swung the door open and met with the tall man with graying hair.

“Do I know you?”

The man smiled and extended his hand. “I’m uncle Cameron, well Conner’s uncle.” He chuckled. The tall woman eyed him and then shook his hand. “May I come in?” Blue walked away from the door and walked into the living room. The man rubbed his hands together nervously as he looked at the tall dark woman. “Uh, little bit around?”

Blue nodded. “She’s sleeping, um, you want a drink I’m going to the kitchen.”

“Please. Whatever your having.”

“Bourbon neat.”

He raised an eyebrow and nodded. “Make mine on the rocks please.” Blue nodded and returned with the drinks as she took a seat in the chair across from the sofa. They sat in silence as they both sipped their drinks. Cameron put his drink down on the coaster and looked over at Blue. “I hope you take no offense, but I must say that you’ve grown up quite a bit.”

Blue creased her brow and pursed her lips in a look of concentration. “Boston, eh?”

He nodded. “I, uh-

She held up a hand. “Don’t even say it. It’s not for you to say, but yeah I appreciate the thought.”

“Good, so now that that’s out of the way, you think I can talk to Conner.”

“You could talk to me and I’ll talk to her.”

“Don’t trust me.”

She smirked. “I want to, but she’s doped up on valium, so it would be like talking to Pinocchio at this point.” She shrugged. “All though, I think I’m interested in what’s on your mind.”

Cameron picked up his drink and drank from it as he sat back onto the couch. “How much do you know?”

“I use her toothbrush, there’s not much I don’t know.”

His ears began to flush as he took another drink. “Point taken. Well, the short of it is, Montrose has made his declaration of severance, coup, whatever the hell you want to call it, Wally is missing, and the bastard hired a ringer.”

“His name is C.C. and who’s Wally again?”

“It’s four of us, Mt. Rushmore, you know. Wally, Charlie, Sean, and me. Anyway, I talked to Wally on Thursday and now he’s gone.”

“Did he skip.”

“He’s 75, Wally’s not skipping any where.” He blew out air. “Who the hell is C.C.”

“Big ugly mean sorry-ass excuse for a mammal, if he even is that.”

“Sound like you two broke bread together.”

“Among other things.” She held Cameron’s gaze as understanding seemed to seep into the ice cubes of his drink.

“What do you want Conner to do?”

“I want to know what she wants to do.”

“I haven’t really had the time to ask.”

“You know if she stays on now, the F.B.I. is coming.”

She chuckled. “We got a call from agent Grimes yesterday.”

Cameron nodded. “Ah, agent Grimey. He’s a pistol that one, not to mention crooked as a politician. But, if she stays, then they’ll think she’s assumed the head of the family and the Rico statutes will begin and O.C.C.B. will open a file.”

“We’re two steps ahead of you on that. She’s got her hands in so many legitimate pots right now, that by the time they pull of something illegal, it’ll all ready be liquidated.” She drained her drink. “My question to you, is what’s the family take on all this?”

He sighed and started to answer. Conner’s voice came from the doorframe. “I’d like to know.” She let out a yawn as she passed by Blue running a hand through the dark hair and then sitting down next to Cameron. She gave the man a hug and then tucked her legs under her as she sat on the couch.

Blue looked at her with a scowl. “You spit out those pills didn’t you.”

Conner nodded. “If I’m going to be brain dead, at least give me a joint. Anyway, I’d love to hear the answer to the question.”

“You know we’re behind you, Ceasare’s with you all the way and as always Enrique just wants to fight.” He chuckled, “Bruiso’s hassling me, but I’d rather talk to the old man.”

“Isn’t that enough to keep me buffered while we fix this.”

“It should be, but the way things are going I don’t know.”

Conner sat up. “What the hell does that mean?”

“It means, snake boy, put his cards on the table. He’s threatening to pull out of Pimlico, he put Viscarti on notice, he’s calling in our marker’s, and doing his best to restructure the family.”

Conner threw up her hands in disgust. “What the fuck? Cameron, how can he do this? What the hell is Mt. Rushmore doing? And what about the rest of them.”

Cameron rubbed the back of his neck and looked to Blue, who either didn’t know how to offer him support or wasn’t willing. “Mt. Rushmore is doing what it can, honey, but three is still less than four.”

“What do you mean three, uncle Cam?” Green eyes bored into the man so hard he had no choice but to look at the floor.

“Wally’s missing.”

Conner cradled her face in her hands and shook with a deep breath. Blue leaned forward, prepared to get up to comfort Conner, but she sighed and pulled her face from her hands. The blonde clenched her teeth and touched her fingertips to the bridge of her nose as if she was getting a headache. “Okay, so Wally’s missing, Sara’s dead, Wilhelm’s in a coma, I got thugs looking for markers, union boys want to know what’s up, Pimlico looks shady, and God knows what else, and you have the nerve to ask me what I want to do?” Green eyes darted from Cameron to Blue, who both looked around the room desperately wanting an exit. Conner stood up and brushed her hair from her face. “I want a sit down on Monday. Fuck this!”

Cameron looked up at the small woman who grew redder with anger by the moment. “What about Ewan?”

“Fuck him too!” She waved a hand through the air. “He’s got ears, if he wants this he’ll come back for it, but until that happens, this is my business.”

“What about your plans Conner?”

“They’re still going on. I don’t have to be standing at the construction site for things to get done. I’ve been sitting on my ass, and now one of my best friends is dead because I thought I could just waltz in and do this without sticking my neck out.”

“Hey nobody’s sticking their neck out.

Green eyes flashed with anger and prompted the tall woman to sit back in her seat. “This isn’t up for discussion Jazz.” Blue stifled the chill Conner sent through her and nodded in acceptance. Green eyes softened and turned back to Cameron. “Cameron, the last thing I want you to do for me, is give me a list. I need to know who’s leaning towards whose side. I just want to know what I’m dealing with.”

The man nodded and then looked up at Conner in confusion. “What do you mean last?”

“I mean you and Susie go take a long overdue vacation and that goes for the rest of Mt. Rushmore as well. I’m not losing anymore pieces of my family to that slimy bastard.” Conner sighed and then walked silently to Blue, where she bent and gave the woman an apologetic kiss on the lips and then left the room.

Cameron pulled on his tie as blue eyes finally met his. “Apparently, I’ve been dismissed, huh?”

“No shit.” Both stood up. “All though I haven’t dismissed you, let me walk you to the car.” Cameron looked at her oddly but followed her out of the door all the same.

“I’m not going to stand here and give you my life story, but let’s just say I’ve never been good with the money end of things, not my cup of tea.” Cameron just nodded as he leaned on the door of his car. She put her hands in the pockets of her pants. “While you’re giving Conner her little list I need a list of my own.”

Cameron nodded. “Street bosses, muscles, and runners, right?” She nodded soberly. He held out his hand and they shook. “I wasn’t talking about the courtroom you know?” Blue made no move to respond as Cameron opened his car door and stopped. “Uh, I probably shouldn’t say this, but it seems appropriate even if the circumstances are not what one would want, but·.welcome back.” Blue eyes met Cameron’s eyes and she nodded in respect.

* * *

It was barely eight in the morning on Saturday as Blue put on her cap and bent to give Conner a kiss on the head. The blonde burrowed deeper into the covers. “Tell, Carmen and Cookie I said hello, and sorry I couldn’t come.”

“Sure thing.” Blue settled her cap on her head, glad Conner was under the covers and unable to see her face, which would have clearly given away the fact that she was lying. “Terry coming by later?” The covers moved with confirmation. “I’ll try not to be to late. Oh and that guy I told you about should be by at some point.” She patted the covers. “Give Wilhelm a kiss for me.” She heard Conner laugh and then she left.

* * *

The tall woman felt no oddness as she turned the rental car onto the parkway and passed her Boston neighborhood. She felt that she should at least be queasy, but the truth was, which was perhaps more disturbing, is that everything felt good, hell almost right. She shook off her thoughts as she took off her sunglasses and walked in the bar.

* * *

Conner fixed herself a large glass of water as she and Terry returned from the hospital. She let out a groan and reached for the phone.

“Hey Carmen, how you doing?”

“Moving along, how are you?”

“Eh, been better. Hey, is your daughter around I need her to grab something for me.”

Carmen hesitated. “She’s not here.”

Conner blew out a breath and tousled her hair. “She’s not. Uh, it’s Saturday right? Maybe I’m insane and it’s not, uh, I thought she said she was heading to you, maybe not.” Conner let out a nervous chuckle.

Carmen sighed and spoke to Cookie and then picked the phone back up. “Oh my, she said you two were just vegging out today, her words.”

Conner managed a smile. “Oh, she did. Well okay, then. No clue where she is, huh?” Conner rubbed the back of her neck as she could feel the stress building.

“No sweetie, I’m sorry. Hey, try not to hurt her too bad.”

Conner giggled. “I won’t.” Cookie’s voice rang out clear from the background. “Jus’ take a spoon to those pretty little legs and she’ll be singing you a swan song.” Conner broke into a laugh. “Thanks for the advice, I’ll talk to you later Carmen.”

Conner hung up the phone and let a shrill yell rip, that brought Terry flying up the stairs from the basement. “What the hell!”

Green eyes glazed over in anything but mirth as Conner punched the fridge. “I swear to God, I’m gonna kill her!” Terry just groaned and followed the fuming woman into the basement.

* * *

Unfortunately, it took Blue the better part of the day to locate C.C., so when eight o’clock rolled around and she was still in Boston she knew she was in trouble. She said goodbye to a few familiar faces and made the trek to the Southside knowing full well Conner was going to rip her new one when she got back. At ten o’clock Blue hung the payphone back up before she finished dialing and decided she couldn’t save herself now, she’d had all ready missed her flight. She was checking the clip in her 9mm for the fifth time when C.C. lumbered by her without one glance in her direction. Full lips formed a crooked smile as she thought, “still got it.” She waited on C.C. for a full hour and then followed him out of the bar. She made her steps noticeable on purpose as C.C. turned a corner well aware that he was being followed.

As Blue turned the corner, her gun met with C.C.’s temple as his wavered in her face. Whether he was a smidge tipsy or just slow as always, Blue pinned C.C.’s hand to the wall with her free hand and pressed the barrel of the gun hard into his temple. With a sadistic smile plastered to her face she growled out, “Hiya piggy.” He grunted in response and she swiftly backhanded C.C. across the face with her gun.

He reflexively released his gun in pain and then spit out blood. “Fuck you!”

“It was a one time offer in my former life, no deal.” She kneed him in the gut and watched in amusement as the thick man tried to stand his ground.

He let out a chuckle as he stood upright. “To what do I owe the honor of your presence.”

“You’re sticking your nose in my business.”

“She’s pulling you around by your nose I see.”

“Perhaps, but you’ve definitely got my attention, you shit.”

“Glad I’m such a looker.” He glanced past her and sneered.

Blue had to release C.C. as she swung her arm back and cracked her gun against the head of the would be assailant behind her. She turned around to give the still squirming man a kick to the groin and C.C. took off. She growled as she took off after C.C. and downed the lumbering moron in the alley. She rolled on top of C.C. and punched him in the face. With ease she rose to her knees and planted one in his chest as she shoved the barrel of the gun against C.C.’s nose. “All right fuck wa what’s your price?”

C.C. let out a strangled laugh. “You going to double it?”

“No, but I might let you keep it if you walk away.” She pulled back the slide and chambered a round.

“You don’t have the guts.”

The dark woman rumbled with laughter. “You looked at your face lately piggy.”

He launched a wad of spit at the woman that just narrowly missed her face. “All I see is your face.”

“Yeah, I bet you do shithead.” At that she stood up and hoisted C.C. to his feet. “This is the only warning I’m giving you.”

The scarred man laughed. “I told you, you didn’t have the guts.”

She shrugged. “But you’re going to wish I did.”

With that she let out a low growl and let her hand fly with the gun in it. She cracked C.C. across the nose with the butt of the gun and he dropped to the ground like an empty pillowcase. Blue put the gun in the small of her back and proceeded to work the beast of a man over, as she bounced him like a pinball off of the dumpster, the concrete and her feet. She brought the man to his feet and leaned him up against the dumpster, her hand on his chest keeping him steady. “Is Montrose giving you orders?”

C.C. opened a bruised eye and spat out a “fuck you”. She slapped him across the face. “He tell you to kill Sara?”

“Kiss my ass.” His head snapped to the right as she backhanded him.

“Where’s Wally you slag?”

He giggled. “Go to hell.”

This time she kneed him in the stomach. She didn’t bother to stand C.C. upright as she hung his hand over the edge of the dumpster and took hold of the metal top. “You got three seconds to answer either one of those questions, piggy.” He grunted. “1..2..” With force she brought the metal top down hard on C.C.’s hand. His howl of anguish told her that she had probably broken every bone in his hand. She helped C.C. to the concrete with a shove. He fell forward on his knees resting his head on the concrete as he cradled his hand. She pushed on him with a foot. “Turn around.” She reached into her inside jacket pocket and enclosed her hand around a glass vial. “Last chance piggy.”

C.C. sat on his butt and looked up at the woman as he held his hand. “Fuck you bitch! I’m not telling you shit You figure it out for yourself, but I’ll have your head one way or another.”

Blue laughed. “You can’t even have my lunch you pussy.” Blue smirked and held up the vial in plain view of C.C. Swollen eyes opened wide as C.C. recognized the vial and what was probably in it. Blue held back a laugh as she looked down at the man with nothing but malice in her eyes. “I know you’ve been bought piggy, but if you want to enjoy any of that money I suggest you back off. Else you’re either going to buried under a slab of concrete or get reacquainted with your shower mates in Attica; wishing you were dead.” She took a step back as she let the vial dangle precariously between her fingertips. “You get out of town and take the snake with you and you won’t be breathing through a tube.”

She bared her teeth at the man on the ground and then let the vial drop. C.C. emitted squeal as the glass shattered and smoke begin to rise in between his legs. Blue was all ready out of the alley and half disappointed when she knew she couldn’t see the look on C.C.’s face when he realized he ruined a pair of pants over dry ice. Her thoughts turned grim as she looked down at her watch and read the time on her watch. 12:05a.m. “She’s gonna freak.” She let out a shit as she broke into a light jog and headed back to her rental car.
CH 8: Who says you can’t pick your friends?
It was going on 9 in the morning when Blue rang the front doorbell. Conner swung the door open wide as if she’d been standing there all night and then promptly closed it as she saw the singer standing on her doorstep holding a bouquet of flowers and wearing a smile. Blue caught the door as it swung closed and grimaced as she walked into the house. She was prepared to follow Conner but was stopped by a hand to her face. Terry settled the sheaf of papers on her hip and eyed the singer, who knew she’d been caught.

Terry sucked her teeth and then lifted one of Blue’s eyelids, turned her head from side to side and sniffed at her. Blue stepped back and swatted Terry’s hands away.

“What are you doing?”

Terry just shook her head. “Are you on drugs? Is this really you or a pod person? Are you hurt? Is the law after you? What’s up?” She rattled off her questions at break neck speed.

Blue just shook her head as she stepped out of Terry’s wandering hands. “No. I’m fine.”

“Well then you’ve got no excuse, shit head.” Blue just sighed and hung her head. “Give me the flowers, go talk before she comes back and pounds you.” Blue turned to head down the stairs. “You might want to take that gun out of pants though.”

Blue whispered a shit as she handed over the flowers and fumbled with the gun, trying to find a place to put it. She did a hasty job of putting it down the front of pants as Conner greeted her at the bottom of the steps with arms folded across her chest and a look of hurt visible in green eyes. The singer kicked at the rug and put her hands in her back pockets as she looked anywhere but Conner’s face. Conner stepped up to Blue and gingerly patted the woman’s crotch before removing the pearl handled handgun from her pants. Conner stepped back an arched and eyebrow at the woman who was trying to put on her best innocent look.

“And here I thought you were just happy to see me.” Conner rolled her eyes as she sat down ontop of her desk and began to turn the gun over in her hand. With a practiced skill that didn’t surprise the tall woman, Conner removed the clip, and pulled back the slide to reveal the chambered round. “Fully loaded, a round ready to go, and I wonder,” she turned the gun over, “safety’s off.” She removed the bullet from the chamber and pulled back hard on the slide so that it snapped back into place with a loud crack. Conner placed the gun on the desk at her side and folded her arms across her chest as she fixed her questioning gaze on Blue who could do nothing but twiddle her thumbs. “Okay, you’ve got two minutes to explain or·” Blue lifted her head and met Conner’s gaze, “I’m calling your mother.

The tall woman couldn’t help but grin which elicited a small growl from Conner. Blue laughed nervously and took a step towards the seated. “Look, I can’t even start apologizing enough, but I promise it was done all in good conscious.”

Conner laughed. “So you’re saying you were out rescuing kittens from trees and helping old ladies across the street?” Conner sucked her teeth and didn’t let the slackjawed woman respond. “I don’t give a rat’s ass if you were out robbing a bank or doing grocery shopping, but don’t fucking lie to me.” She let out a heavy sigh and rubbed her temples. Blue took the break in Conner’s defense to move in close to the woman. Standing between her legs, she rested her hands on Conner’s thighs, palms up, and waited for the blonde to accept her silent gesture. A quiet moment passed and then Conner placed her hands in the larger ones and leaned forward until her head rested on Blue’s shoulder. “I can’t stop you from doing what you think you need to do, but just don’t leave me out of the loop·not right now, just- She released a heavy breath. Blue remained quiet as she drew lazy lines on the backs of Conner’s hands. “, Wally’s dead, you know?”

Blue let out her on sigh as she quietly responded. “Yeah.”

Conner lifted her head with a snap and made a weak smile. “So where’d you go that you needed such a pretty piece of machinery?”

Blue cringed. “Uh, Boston” she mumbled.

“What?”

“Boston.”

“Boston! You. Went. To. Boston.” Conner squeezed the fingers of Blue’s hands just hard enough to make her point, but not too hard and bared her teeth. She opened her mouth to start a rampage, but her voice was interrupted by the doorbell. “Who the hell?”

Blue flushed with relief as she started for the stairs with Conner on her heels. They reached the steps and Terry’s voice rang out from the foyer.

“Hey Conner, there is a tall, deliciously wonderful, chocolate man on your doorstep, good Lord!”

Conner giggled at Terry as she looked at Blue with question in her eyes. “I’m telling Sam.”

“I’ll go with you to tell him. Oh my!”

Both Blue and Conner laughed knowing Terry was probably about to eat the man alive. “Who is it?”

“Vincent, he says, but I’m just calling him hot damn!”

Conner burst into laughter and turned to Blue, but the tall woman was rushing up the stairs. Conner made it up the stairs just in time to see her tall lover trading bear hugs with a man who was at least a head taller than her and pretty much what Terry so eloquently described as ‘hot damn.’ Conner stood next to Terry and just watched. “Well hell-o.”

Terry didn’t even turn in Conner’s direction. “No shit.”

“She doesn’t even run up the stairs for me like that.”

“Would you run up the stairs for you?”

Conner sucked her teeth and backhanded Terry on the arm. She coughed into her hand, which did the job of pulling Blue away from the man in her doorway. A blonde eyebrow raised high as Conner noticed the extreme blush crossing the singers’ face, she decided to tuck that piece of information away for later as Blue walked towards her.

“Vincent, this is Conner.” The man in question stuck out a muscled arm and shook hands with a wide eyed Conner.

“It’s nice to meet you Conner.”

Conner held in a giggle as the man’s creamy low alto reached her ears. “Nice to meet you to Vincent.” Conner held onto his hand as she eyed him appreciatively and then let go as Blue spoke again.

“This is-

Terry cut the woman off as she stepped in front of Conner and barely left the tall man any personal space as she took his hand. “I’m Terry.” She drawled. Blue just opened her mouth in disbelief at Terry’s forwardness. She looked over at Conner who was pretending to shield her eyes from the action. Before either woman knew it Terry was whisking Vincent off into the basement, leaving them both standing in the foyer shaking their heads.

Blue spoke first as she pointed an accusatory finger towards the blonde. “That’s your friend.”

Conner grinned. “Yea,yea, but for someone so blue, your awfully red, miss Jasmine.”

The tall woman feigned a coughing fit as she brushed by Conner. “I think I should go and pry Terry off of Vincent before anybody gets naked.” Conner smiled to herself as she watched the tall woman retreat quickly down the stairs.

Conner walked to the bar and sat down on a stool in between Blue and Vincent. She scooted the seat back, enough that she wouldn’t be in their direct line of sight, but she could still assert her possessiveness if need be.

Blue sipped from a glass of water and started talking. “I won’t beat around the bush, since I need to explain this to Conner as well.” She dropped a manila folder on the countertop and opened it. “This is snake boy’s ringer, his name is C.C.” Conner picked up the black and white picture and then dropped it like it was covered in flesh eating bacteria.

Terry actually detached herself from Vincent’s side as she stood next to Conner and picked up the picture. “Spew!” She turned the photo upside down and on an angle as she squinted her eyes and examined the photo. “Ooh! He must’ve had some bad karma to come out looking like that.”

Vincent couldn’t help but chuckle. “Actually, he used to be kind of cute.”

Terry shook her head and put the picture back down. “That’s even worse. I would hate to meet the psycho-ass freak who did that to him.” She shivered.

Blue scowled to herself and was unable to stop Vincent before he replied to Terry. “Too late.”

Conner just looked at the floor as Terry turned to her left and saw the pained expression on Blue’s face. Terry shut her eyes tight and grabbed the bridge of her nose, pleading for the instantaneous pounding in her head to stop. She gave a nervous smile to dark woman and then wrapped her arm around her shoulder and gave her a squeeze; trying the best way she knew how to convey the message that while she was an ass-head, she didn’t mean any harm. She let out a shaky chuckle, which Blue returned and then gave the woman a friendly smooch on the lips. She stepped back and gave the tall woman two thumbs up as she spoke enthusiastically, “but I love ya!!”

Terry clapped her hands together and then pulled Conner off the stool in order to take somebody with her in her retreat. Conner let out a squeal as she was forcibly removed from the seat. “Why don’t we let them talk.”

Conner looked at Terry like the had just confessed to liking the movie ‘Showgirls’. “Wait, when the hell did I become a mafia wife?”

Brown eyes rolled as the two women became locked in their own banter oblivious to the two grinning people seated at the bar. “Cause you need to help me get my foot out of my ass.”

Conner tossed her head back in laughter. “Hell no. Terry you were born with your foot up your ass, I’m not helping you.”

Terry tugged on Conner’s arm getting the smaller woman to budge two steps. “Bubba, just because I slapped the priest at my baptizing and called you a red-nose honky when we met, that doesn’t mean it’s genetic.”

Conner just laughed at the smiling woman as she started walking with Terry. “You also made fun of Mr. Jerry’s dog.”

“How the hell was I supposed to know the dog was going to lose its leg. Yes, it was wrong·but it was funny.”

Blue and Vincent sat back and listened to the two women go back and forth until they disappeared up the stairs. The singer could only smile as she turned towards her grinning friend. “When are you putting those two on the road?”

She laughed and leaned forward onto the bar with her elbows. “Jesus. Is it too early for a drink?”

“Not according to whino Jim.”

She laughed at the inside joke and looked in Vincent’s direction. “So how you been?”

He shrugged broad shoulders. “Not bad, not bad. Actually, pretty quiet until you called me.”

“Disturbing your cat naps?”

“Something like that.”

“So how are things?”

He scratched at his arm absently and gave a small sigh. “Not the same, but not too bad, and other than that just complicated. Kind of boring too. I think I might get a girl and take up your gig.”

She raised a brow. “You’re not suggesting I’m a kept woman are you.”

He held up his hands. “Oh no, but it certainly doesn’t look half bad.” He wiggled his eyebrows and she snarled at him playfully.

“Hey, I put in my contribution. Speaking of, I need to call the boy and get my ass back to work.”

“Well I thought that’s what I’m here for.” She nodded. “So talk.”

“Isn’t saying C.C.’s here enough.”

“I’m concerned yeah, but who am I dealing with other than that?”

“That’s a lot of the problem. I don’t know too much about this guy Montrose, and seems like nobody does. Only person, that may be able to give me a little insight is the last person on earth I want to be in a room with.”

“C.C. knows something?”

She shook her head. “McGreely.”

He nodded as if he understood and then his eyes opened wide as understanding hit him. He glanced over at the woman, who playing with the rim of her glass, not about to help him along in any way. “That’s young blood’s sister right?” His voice rang with amusement. Blue just nodded and then Vincent let out a hearty laugh. “Forget about C.C. I want to know how you managed to swing this one. That’s the chump from Boston right?” She nodded again. Vincent slapped his hand down on the countertop and laughed. “You have got to have the best mack in the whole U.S.A.” Blue just laughed. “She knows right?”

Blue almost choked on her water. “Hell yeah!” she managed to choke out.

He gently patted her back. “I was just checking.” He leaned forward in his stool so he could see over the bar. “Bloody Mary’s are morning drinks right?” He winked at woman to his side and they both smiled. He pulled the ingredients up to the countertop and grabbed to glasses. They looked at each other and spoke at the same time: “Hold the tomato juice.” Their laughter carried up to the kitchen where Conner was working on fixing the biggest omelet in the known hemisphere to keep her mind off wondering when they would come upstairs.

* * *

When Blue and Vincent emerged from the basement 45 minutes later, Conner had made four omelet’s, a stack of pancakes, and was working on quesadillas, when the two walked into the kitchen decidedly less tense than before. Terry looked up from the paper and just shook her head at Blue and made a face that was pleading for her to stop the insanity. Blue leaned into Vincent and whispered in his ear. “She cooks when she’s nervous.” He nodded. “If you’re not afraid, grab Terry and tell her to give you the tour, I need to talk to Red.”

He smiled at his friend and gave her a light punch to the arm. “And you say you’re not a kept woman.” She stuck out her tongue and watched him escort Terry from the kitchen.

Blue tilted her head as she watched Conner from behind. “Okay, Iron Chef your hour is up, let’s see the goods.” Conner dropped the knife into the sink and turned around. In two quick strides Blue stood in front of the teary-eyed woman and grabbed her by the shoulders. “Baby, I-I’m sorry, what’s wrong?”

Conner grinned and wiped her eyes. “It’s just onions.” She said with a sniffle.

The strain in Blue’s face dropped as she peered over Conner’s shoulder and saw the large vidalia onion that was working Conner’s tear ducts. The tall woman smiled and walked Conner over to the preparation island in the middle of the kitchen. “Could I be anymore guilty?”

Conner laughed and sat in the stool beside Blue. “Well I’ve always wanted little interracial kids. You guys could make some pretty kids.”

Blue raised an eyebrow and smirked. “Yeah, but I’d like them to have your eyes.”

Neither woman spoke for an eerie five seconds and then they burst into laughter. Conner ruffled her hair as her laughter subsided. “Have we left the twilight zone Rod?”

“Yes, I’m sorry. We gotta stop watching Donna Reed before bedtime.” Conner laughed and wrapped her arms around Blue’s neck as she leaned and kissed the woman senseless. Blue eyes blinked rapidly as the tall woman regained her equilibrium. “Or we could just stop watching t.v. all together.” She wiggled her eyebrows and both women laughed.

Conner pulled away and rested her elbow on the counter so she could play in Blue’s dark hair. “So, what’s the deal Daddy-O?”

“Well hot-mamma, we’re having a sit down on Monday and regardless of what happens there you need to have a sit down with all the old guys and figure out the best way to get rid of slimy, because if you go down then they can follow.”

Conner nodded. “So I’m appealing to their selfishness and not loyalty.”

“I wouldn’t go that far, but let’s be honest, I think explaining to joe blow down at the Wharf why you’re giving him a better deal on the vic has nothing to do with loyalty.”

Conner frowned. “I know that’s true, but you do realize that’s not necessarily the case.”

Blue took hold of Conner’s hands and kissed the knuckles. “Conner, I know you can charm the tail off a pig, and sell vinyl siding to a guy living in an apartment, but the stuff that works on the guys who’ve been around for 20 and 30 years doesn’t sell to the hot shot punks that think they’ve got the world on a string because they can pull a trigger.”

Conner nodded and idly fingered the back of Blue’s hand. “So while I’m out selling knives to people who only eat soup you’re going to be breaking kneecaps?” Blue shrugged. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means, I’ll do what you ask me to do, even if that means keeping my nose clean.”

Conner let out a laugh. “You would not!”

Blue smiled. “Yes I would.” Blue and green eyes locked in a short stare down. “But that’s not to say that I wouldn’t accidentally on purpose make a suggestion to some people who know some people who would do the kneecap breaking.”

“You’re full of shit, Jazz.” A large smile took the heat out of her words.

She shrugged and looked at Conner with coyness written all over her face. “Hey I’m good at what I do, what do you want?”

“Yes, yes you are. You are a very good SINGER.” Conner tweaked the dark woman’s nose.

Blue sighed. “Gods’ honest truth, I’d rather be doing that. I should be calling Sam and the boys and making a set list for next week, not chasing thugs across state lines because he killed my girlfriends’ best friend.” Blue tried to pull back in her last words as Conner gripped her hands tightly.

“H-he what?”

“Well-

“You knew?” Green eyes started to fill with tears.

Blue inwardly groaned. “I knew, but I wasn’t sure until I saw him again.”

Conner took a deep breath and tried to keep her voice from shaking. “What did you- she stopped herself and shook her head. “Is he still alive?”

Blue leaned forward till there were almost touching noses and spoke with a quiet seriousness. “Until you tell me otherwise.”

Conner let out a small whimper as she leaned forward and touched her forehead to Blue’s. “Jesus.” She whispered. “That’s not my decision to make?” The statement came out like a question.

Blue lifted Conner’s chin so that she could look her in the eye. “This is the whole kit and kaboodle, Red. The good with the bad.”

“Fuck!” Conner let her neck loll back for a second. “I must be out of my mind to think I can do this.” She met Blue’s eyes. “I can’t do this.”

“Then let me make the decision for you.” She looked deeply into Conner, wishing to God she could just ease her pain and make everything better, but she knew it would never be that simple.

Conner swallowed the lump in her throat and spoke clearly. “I can’t let you do that. I won’t. I’m not sending you down that road again, not for me, it’s not worth it.”

Blue creased her brow as she touched Conner’s cheek and held the woman’s face. “Hey, first off I thought this was about me and you. Us, together, twelfth of never and all that.” Conner nodded as she willed herself not to cry. “Secondly, I don’t want to go down that road again either, I’d love to find a better way, but this is the only way I know. If you can find me a better way, then hey, I’m all for it. But understand something, you are worth every torture of hell to keep you safe and to keep you happy.” Conner nuzzled the hand that held her face as a single tear traveled down her face. “Look at me for a second, I need you to hear this okay·I have taken so much life with these hands that I didn’t think it was possible to feel anything coursing through them. But the moment your little spiky head popped into my line of vision I felt the things that I thought died with Gi-Gi. Conner I love how alive I feel when you’re in my arms, hell when you’re three feet away. I don’t want to take any more, but I’m not going to stand aside and let any one take you from me. You understand me?”

Conner nodded. “I do, but, I just don’t want to put you in this position.”

Blue let out a frustrated half laugh half sigh. “Have I ever complained about your positions before?” Her comment made Conner smile, as she received a pinch to her arm for her troubles. “Seriously, if I didn’t want to be here, I wouldn’t be here, but there’s no place else I want to be, and if that means I have to go back and visit some dark corners then I will. But, it’s only with the knowledge that you’ll be right there to drag my sorry ass out of the pit.” The women smiled at each other. “I’ll make you a promise. I, me,” she pointed a finger to herself, “will not personally kill any one.” Conner opened her mouth, but Blue silenced her with a finger. “However, I do reserve the right to beat someone senseless, but I do promise to leave them within an inch of their lives.” She finished her statement with a cheesy grin.

“You know that’s not funny right?”

“Perhaps, but I’m trying to ease the tension here, help me out.”

“Sorry. But are you serious?”

“As a heart attack·..I think.”

“Blue!”

“I’m joking, I’m joking. I’m not going to kill any one. So tomorrow or the next day if somebody comes up missing, don’t look at me.”

Green eyes bored into blue. “Is somebody going to come up missing?”

Blue shrugged. “Why are you asking me, I didn’t do it.” She batted her eyelashes looked at Conner with nothing but innocence.

Conner couldn’t help but laugh. “Fine, I’m holding you to this promise, but it’s still my call to make.” Conner looked at the woman without a hint of hesitation.

“Are you sure?”

“Ask me again in 24 hours, but for now, yes I’m sure. My father did this and mother loved him like he was going out of style. I know it’s not going to my first choice, but I also accept that when pushed I may just have to push back.”

“I think your father would be proud.”

“He’s 0 for 2 right now, I’m thinking at least one of his kids should do this right.” Conner let out a breath. “Are we done with the heavy talk?”

Blue nodded. “I’m done if you are.”

“Okay.”

Conner started to stand, but Blue held her hands. “You sure right?”

Conner grinned and kissed Blue on the cheek. “The good with bad right?”

Blue nodded and smiled. “Tomb to womb.”

“Sperm to worm.” Blue kissed Conner’s knuckles and then let the woman stand up as she made a show of drawing in a big breath of air.

Conner recognized the action for what it was and shot the still seated woman a glare. “I thought the show tune phase was over.”

“Over? Over!” Blue stood and threw her arms wide in a dramatic gesture. “Show tunes live forever.”

Conner just grumbled and made her way to the sink as the tall woman broke into the entire score of West Side Story, starting with “When you’re a jet” complete with choreography through the entire first floor of the house. Conner heard Terry before the woman entered the kitchen with Vincent by her side. “Don’t even ask?” She said as she turned around.

“I was just going to stop for a moment of prayer.”

Conner rolled her eyes and then looked at Vincent. She gave her best Donna Reed smile as she caught his gaze. “Vincent, I hope you’re hungry, cause we’ve got omelets, pancakes, and in a few minutes we’ll have quesadillas.”

The large man smiled a bright smile. “As long as I can help.”

Conner smiled her own bright smile. “Please.”

The three burst into laughter as Terry clapped her hands together and squealed with joy, “mom, can we keep him.”
CH 9: “And in this corner·…
Still in her bathrobe, Blue was pacing the top floor of the house with her ear glued to the phone like an irate director looking for their coked-up lead actor. Conner on the other hand was taking the longest shower in the known universe and she just stood stock still under the heavy spray of the shower head and wished away the butterflies from her stomach. When she emerged from the bathroom in a billow of steam Blue was actually off the phone and standing in the walk-in closet with the most perplexed look on her face. Conner roughly ran a towel over her head as she stepped into doorway of the closet.

“Can’t decide between black and black can you?”

Blue snapped from her daze and smirked at the smiling blonde. “Be quiet. You feel better after you used up all the water in the city?” Blue made her way into the bedroom.

“Well yes, yes I do.” Conner beamed.

Blue plopped down on the bed and patted the spot next to her. Conner rewrapped the towel around her waist and sat down. “Here’s the deal, the car will be around to pick you and Vincent up at a quarter to five. Terry and Lane should meet you at the back door when you guys get there, so there shouldn’t be any problem, okay.” Conner nodded. “You know what the conference room looks like, so there shouldn’t be any lay out surprises. You just stay on your side of the table. Terry and Lane will be in the lobby, so they should be there when it’s all done. Vincent will be right behind you and never out of your reach, okay.”

Conner nodded again. “Where will you be?”

Blue eyes filled with mischief. “Around.”

“Jazz.”

“It’s okay, I promise.” She held Conner’s hands in her own as she spoke. “There’s two things I want you to do tonight. First, when you’re in there talking to grease ball, you act like you fucking know everything. I want you to act like you’re the best thing since toilet paper. As far as you’re concerned you’re the shit and you can prove it. Don’t let him goad you, don’t let him lead you, nothing. You have to make it like you got all of this covered and he’s just wasting time you could otherwise be spending doing something way more constructive÷like painting your toenails.”

Conner laughed. “Funny thing is, all that’s true.”

“Guess it is. You know what he wants and he’s betting on you being scared out of your mind. I want you to be your usual smart ass self. For every snide comment he makes you should have four comebacks that each make him look down on the ground to pick up his teeth.”

“Good grief, I feel like I should be hitting a speed bag or something.” Conner grinned.

“Exactly, just like that. Be aloof, be cool.”

“Real cool-like. So while I’m playing the Fonz you’re just going to be ‘hanging back’ huh?”

Blue smiled at the woman who was clearly enjoying herself. “Yeah, Daddy-O, just like Vincent Vega and Mr. Wolf, okay.”

Conner laughed. “Okay, what’s number two coach?”

Blue eyes rolled. “I’ve created a monster,” she mumbled. “Any way, second thing I want you to do, no matter what I do, you have to act like you all ready knew I was going to do it.”

“Like I gave you the nod or something.”

“Basically. But really, no matter what I say or who else shows up with me, you have to act like you’ve known them since grade school.”

“Who are you bringing?”

“Nobody you know.”

“I know that smart ass.”

Blue blocked the pillow swung at her head and grappled with Conner until she pinned the smaller woman on the bed. “I’ll”, she leaned down and kissed Conner on the throat, “tell” she made a path with her tongue up Conner’s neck to her chin, “you” a nibble to nose, “later” she pressed full lips to Conner’s and kissed the smaller woman until her lungs were ready to give out. Hazy green eyes met blue.

“What was the question, again?” Conner’s face held a lazy smile.

Blue just grinned. “I don’t think I remember.” Both women laughed as Blue let Conner sit up. “Seriously, I’ll tell you later on tonight when this is said and done.”

“Okay. Look no shaking.” Conner held out her hands which were surprisingly steady.

Blue smiled. “I’ll be there the whole time okay.” Conner nodded. “All right get dressed, I gotta get myself out of here. I’ll see you there, you just won’t see me, okay.” Conner nodded and gave her a forceful hug. Blue pulled away with a grin. “I love you.”

“You better.” Conner grinned devilishly. “Love you too.”

* * *

Dressed in a dark suit, with a crisp shirt, and a complimenting tie, Vincent held the door to the stretched Mercedes open for Conner as she walked out of her house. The sun was slowly fading out of the city sky, but Conner still felt justified in wearing her sunglasses as she made her way down the front steps. She gave Vincent a smile, which he returned as she got into the limo. She was sure to duck her head more than normal as she got into the car so that she was sure not to muss her hair; which of course was styled in a fantastic explosion of short blonde hair. She settled herself on the leather seat and she smiled to herself as she waited for Vincent to get in the car. She made sure to give a wave to Marcus, the chauffeur, who she had known since she used to run with her brother and stretched her legs out in the car. As nervous as she should have been she was actually pleased with herself. Even if she was edgy as hell at least she knew she looked the part. She undid the buttons of her double breasted blazer and gave her clothes a rest as Vincent took his seat and they took off. She smoothed down the lapels of her royal blue shirt and steadied herself with a deep breath. When she looked up from her grooming, she saw Vincent looking at her.

“You nervous?”

“Not as much as I should be.” She shrugged slightly.

He smiled. “She’ll take care of you.” Conner smiled. “That’s if they get through me of course.” He raised black brows up and down and Conner laughed.

“That’s good to know Vincent.”

He settled himself in the seat. “So, how bout we change the subject and you tell me about this guy Sam.”

Conner removed her glasses as she giggled. “I don’t know if we have enough time, but I’ll give you the skinny.” The limo filled with laughter and a change of conversation as they traveled the city streets.

* * *

When Conner walked into the conference room with Vincent at her back, she briefly wondered if she should just turn and run. Montrose was all ready seated on the other side of the table with no one sitting next to him. Behind him, standing by the windows, were four muscled and large gentlemen. They stood ramrod straight with their hands clasped in front of them like they were well trained soldiers. Montrose stood as Conner entered and presented the woman with a thin lipped grin as she neared the table. Conner nodded in his direction as Vincent pulled out her seat and she took her seat.

The thin man took his seat directly across from Conner and sat his hands on the table. “I’m happy we could get together Conner.” His voice was sharp and lipsy as always.

Conner refused to let the sound of his voice grate on her as she crossed her legs under the table and leaned back in the high-backed chair. She rested her arms on the arms of the chair. “Understand Monty, this is the last thing I’m giving you.”

The beady-eyed man accepted the veiled threat with a slight nod. “We won’t waste time I see?”

Conner shook her head. Montrose raised a thin eyebrow and looked above Conner. “I see you aren’t without reinforcements.”

Conner felt her heart skip a beat. She hadn’t even heard the door open but she could feel Blue’s presence in the room a long with several other people. She just shrugged and gave Montrose a smirk, acting as if she knew full well who was behind her. “I’m sure that I’m no more prepared than you are.”

The thin man steepled his fingers and leaned back in his chair. “I must admit I don’t like that we have to meet this way, Conner Rose, I mean honestly.”

Conner’s eyebrow twitched, but other than that, she made no visible sign of being bothered by the use of her name. She ran a pink tongue across her top teeth and then spoke. “Well, Mon-goose, circumstances have become such that I feel the need to exert my presence.”

The thin man pursed his lips. “Since we’ve removed the air of casualty here, it is precisely your presence that I wish to speak with you about.”

Conner crossed an arm across her midsection and then traced her bottom lip with her other hand as she eyed the man across from her. “I’m listening.”

“Conner I know as well as you do, that you don’t want what’s been pressed upon you. I assure you that I am in no way underestimating your determination and you skill at doing the job, but you’ve stated that you don’t want it·and I feel I’m doing the right thing in alleviating you of it.”

“Oh, so you’re alleviating me. Well Monty, I can admit to being hasty in my earlier decision, so with that said, I accept my responsibility with open arms.”

He smiled. “You don’t want this Conner. Whatever will you do? You plan to legitimize and take the heart out of this business.”

Conner almost sat up, but she caught a glimpse of Vincent out of the corner of her eye and calmed herself. “This business is my family and it’s not for you to have and take apart at your leisure. I feel I would be degraded all my ancestors if I allow my family’s livelihood to fall into the hands of an outsider who has no concept of what it is that we are as a family.”

Montrose leaned forward on to the table in curiosity. “And just what are you Conner.”

She smirked. “I’m a Scotsman, what are you?” she purposely added a decidedly Scottish lilt to her voice as she spoke. “Monty this is not a fortune 500 company that you can just purchase and dismantle at will, this is my family, my life, my blood. You propose nothing that would further this family. You desire to twist it into some repugnant vision of your shell of a life. I refuse to dishonor my family by handing it over to you.”

He nodded and then smiled. “Well said, but I feel like I’ve deceived you to an extent.”

“Imagine that.”

“This is not something that I’ve taken to on my accord, I would leave it to you, but actually I was requested to look after this in the interests of someone else.”

“Oh really?”

“Yes really.”

Conner sat forward. “So I’m supposed to believe that your just here in lieu of someone else.”

“Well yes.”

Conner chuckled. “I’ll refrain from calling you a rat faced bastard liar, but I’m afraid I don’t believe you.”

“You show such restraint Conner.” He licked his lips. “I swear this is not my doing.” He spoke unconvincingly.

Conner sat back and creased her brow. “You’re wasting my time Monty, this is bull shit. You can do what you will, but as long as I have breath in my body, this business stays with me and that’s it.”

Thin lips drew into a crooked smile as he reclined back in his chair. “You challenging me Conner Rose?”

Green eyes bored into the thin man’s face. “You threatening me you snake.”

The thin man tossed his head lightly and Conner detected a small movement in one of his bodyguards. Before she could even sit back in alarm the softly lit room came to life with movement. It took everything Conner had to not stir as she heard movement from behind her. She kept her eyes affixed to the men on the opposite wall who stood reaching for their weapons. The man in the corner raised his arm with pistol in hand and quickly found his arm pinned to wall by two throwing knives. Another knife sheared a lock of hair from the man to his right as it lodged in the wall behind him. The remaining two men two men managed to pull there guns, only to be mirrored in their gesture by Vincent and the two women that had entered the room after Conner, but no one dared make a move as they focused their attention on Montrose.

He sat stock still in his seat with his palms face down on the table. He kept his eyes focused and steady and for all intense purposes he appeared not even to be breathing. There was a hand on his chin that was forcing him to hold his head at an awkward angle to the right. Pressed hard into his temple was the barrel of gun. Conner couldn’t help but blink, but she did manage to keep her mouth from hanging open as her eyes, like everyone else’s in the room, was drawn to the tall woman who was holding Montrose at her mercy. Ice blue eyes stared down at Montrose as the singer cum enforcer silently dared the man to even flinch without her permission. Conner focused confident green eyes on her tall lover and wasn’t sure if she run for her life or just ask the tower of a woman draped in black silks and leather to fuck her brains right there on the table.

Blue eyes caught green and Conner came back into reality when she got a quick glimpse of the woman she knew and not the malicious knight that stood before her. With an almost undetectable nod Conner settled herself in her chair and smiled. For all the world, she played the part like she had been doing it forever. As far as anyone was concerned, she had given the word, and this was her will and nobody elses doing. She craned her neck to the side in a comical manner in order to bring her eyes level with Montrose, who was doing his best not to show any signs of pain, but the bulging tendons in his neck and forehead were betraying his expressionless features. “Monty, I think we’re done talking at this point.” She waved her hand carelessly through the air. “You’ve insulted me and now look what you’ve gone and made me do.” She batted her eyelids at the thin man and smirked. “I’ve no time for this. You’re free to start something of your own, hell you’re even free to challenge me·.if you feel you can do better.” She took her time looking around the room, for the first time really realizing that she did have the upper hand. “, But you will not do this at the expense of my family.

Montrose raised his hand slowly, only to have the barrel of the gun pressed harder into his temple, surely leaving a bruise. “May I speak.” Blue eyes swept to Conner and the blonde nodded. The tall woman eased back on the pressure and released Montrose’s neck, but still kept the gun pointed to his head. “I respect that you want to leave, but I think you should hear me out.”

Conner laughed and pushed her chair away from the table. “You’ve got nothing I want to hear.”

“Perhaps I don’t but someone else may.” Montrose turned his head as far left as he was allowed and looked towards the dark opening that led back into the office. “C.C. if you’d please.”

The gun that was next to Montrose’s head wavered for a split second as Blue changed hands and with her free hand pulled out another gun. This, she aimed in the direction of the darkened entrance, that she herself had entered the room from moments before. A bruised and battered C.C. made his way into the room and Conner couldn’t help but grimace at the sight of the large man, who looked like he had just been forced to run the gauntlet. Blue opened her mouth to say something smart, but her eyes grew wide as a second man made his way into the room. As the second man fully came into view, Blue kept her eyes in his direction as motion from the side confirmed that Conner saw what she saw.

He had obviously lost some weight and he was trying his hand a goatee, but it was still Ewan. A shorter haircut, a little worse for wear, but it was him. Conner stood up in a forceful rush of motion that knocked the chair on its back. Gone was the air of control and know-it all attitude, she was shocked and mostly she was pissed off. She slammed a small fist down on the table and took a step back. Fiery green eyes looked from the thin man who wore a wisp of a grin on his face to her brother, who looked to be just a bit out of it. “Son of a bitch!” she growled out, not looking firmly in either man’s direction. “Fuck you, you son of bitch!”

Ewan stepped forward and made sure to keep out of the tall woman’s line of sight as he kept his eyes on his sister. He stopped as he reached the edge of the table and put his hands in the pockets of his suit pants. “Hey Conner.”

“Hey Conner? Hey Conner!” She steeled her eyes and leaned forward onto the table and rocked as if she was judging the distance she’d have to jump to reach him. A soft hand to her back stilled her motion. She blew out a breath and did her best to curtail her burgeoning temper. “Not a word for almost a year and all you have to say is Hey Conner.” She started to continue but just shook her as she leaned back from the table and waved her hands through the air in a sign of defeat and disbelief. “I’m done here.”

“Conner please, I just want to talk.”

“Ha! Fucking talk. No, nonononono,” she pointed a finger towards Montrose, who was still seated. “, you talk to that shit who has the nerve to say he’s been doing all this for you, because it is you right? Right..don’t even fucking answer, you shit!” she slapped the table again. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Fine, you want to talk, than we talk,” she pointed to herself and Ewan, “me and you, no bullshit, no people just us. I must admit that I really want to hear the story for this one, I can’t believe this crap. You’re both out of you’re fucking minds!” Conner ground her knuckles into the table as she glared at both her brother and Montrose. She caught Blue’s attention and made a small nod. “This.. this..pleon. Afino.”

If Blue was surprised that Conner remember the little Greek that she had taught her the tall woman didn’t show it. This was indeed over and it was time to leave. Blue depressed the hammers on her guns and put one in her holster and the other in the small of her back. She made no attempt to make contact with Ewan as she passed by him, leaving ample room between them. She curled her lip up at C.C. and walked towards Conner. When Blue made it to the other side Conner turned and managed not to show surprise as she finally came face to face with the other people behind her back. For a split second she almost wanted to turn to the woman behind her and ask her if she had sisters. Standing on either side of the door, looking like book ends were two women who were probably six feet tall if not a bit more. The leather vest they wore, while putting their ample cleavage on display, left no doubt to the fact that these women two women looked like they stepped off the winners podium at the Miss Universe competition. All though their eyes were hidden behind sunglasses the two women did manage to give the small woman quick smiles that only she would notice as she walked by them. Conner just kept her head forward and told herself to walk in a straight line, for fear deviating would cause her to find a corner to go puke in. She heard Blue whisper something to the two women, but nothing registered as she was ushered from the room.

Vincent stayed behind with the two women he was quite familiar with, and slowly put his weapons away, as they did as well. The large woman who was standing to the right of the door, strode across the room and retrieved her knives from the wall. She stopped as she made her way to C.C. and smiled. She gave a hard pat to his cheek, that felt more like a slap to the man. “Good to see you piggy.” C.C. growled but she just smiled as she turned and made her way out of the door with Vincent and the other woman behind her. As Vincent and the women made it to the lobby they found Terry and Lane all ready on their feet. Terry spoke before he could even order his thoughts. “They took the first car and went back to the house.”

Vincent nodded. “Okay, we’ll give them some room.”

“What happened? She didn’t say a thing.”

“Her brother showed up.”

Terry groaned. “Jesus.” She rubbed the back of her neck.

“Hey why don’t you two ride with us, cause I could use a drink.”

Terry just nodded in a daze as his words finally registered. “Yeah, yeah. That’ll·.that’ll be good.” She gave a weak smile to the tall man and then looked passed him. “Uh, do I get to meet the wonder twins?”

He chuckled. “Yes you do, but let’s get out of here first.”

* * *

Blue hadn’t tried to say a word to Conner as they made their way out of the building and into the waiting limo. The air hung heavy with tension, so Marcus just raised the divider and then pulled off once both women were seated in the car. The sat on the back bench with a small gap between them. Conner turned her head to the side and stared out of the tinted window into the night time city street. The blur of the city lights seemed to keep her calm even if she was on the verge of bursting into tears, which she refused to do. She knew she couldn’t look at the woman next to her, for fear of breaking down like a small child. Conner stared wistfully out of the window and tried to rationalize that she shouldn’t be disappointed with herself and moreover the woman next to her wasn’t disappointed either. She’d tried to do everything she asked, but in the end she cracked. Conner had been second guessing herself since this entire thing began, but for one brief moment in the evening she felt like she had it covered, and now she was sure it was all just wishful thinking.

She knew the woman at her side was struggling as well, but Conner knew she didn’t have any words and knew she probably wouldn’t have. She did it just on instinct, but she knew that laying her hand out between the seat would convey the things that she couldn’t articulate into words. The moment the back of hand met would with the cool of the leather seat it was encased in the warmth of Blue’s larger hand. Without thought Conner allowed herself to lean to the side, where she was quickly pulled into Blue’s strong embrace. It was an embrace she would not leave for the rest of the night, as Blue neither let go her to get her out of the car, or carry her in the house, or even when they crawled into the bed, not bothering to remove their clothes.

* * *

When Conner awoke for the second time on Tuesday things were decidedly different. For one, it was now early afternoon, she was in her pajamas, and bed was empty, save for her and the two cats nestled around her legs. She stretched her body awkwardly since the two cats looked too cute to dislodge. She rubbed at her face with her hands and she picked her head up off the pillow as she heard distinct, yet unfamiliar voices coming from the second floor.

As if the singer had a motion detector implanted in Conner’s body, she was there to greet the blonde as she swung her feet off the bed and onto the floor. “Hey sugarpop.” The tall woman was dressed in jeans and t-shirt as she leaned on the doorframe with a glass of orange juice in her hand. Conner smiled and ran her hands through her hair. “Want some juice?” Conner nodded and Blue was quickly at her side on the bed handing her the glass. Blue began to knead the base of Conner’s neck as the smaller woman drank deeply of her orange juice. “You feeling better?”

Conner held the empty glass in her lap as she absorbed her lover’s ministrations with gratefulness. “I guess,” she shrugged, “but I’m confused and worried, so that’s not helping.”

Blue nodded. “I’d be worried if you weren’t all those things.”

Conner turned her head to face Blue. “Are you okay?”

Full lips curved into a lopsided grin. “Not bad, but I’ll be better when I know you’re doing okay and ready to eat.”

Conner giggled. “I didn’t say I was doing that bad.” Both women laughed and leaned into one another for a kiss. Conner let her eyes linger on Blue when they broke apart, her eyes full of question.

“What’s up?” Her voice was slightly hesitant fearful of what Conner was thinking.

“Who’s in my kitchen?”

Blue rolled her eyes more in relief than amusement. “Get dressed and come to the kitchen.”

Conner stood and then looked at the woman with a blonde eyebrow raised in speculation. “You’re not attempting to cook are you?”

Blue shook with laughter. “Pshaw! Nope, but Vincent is.” She gave the smaller woman a light pat on the butt. “Hurry up, we’re waiting on you.”

Conner took her time sauntering to the bathroom, with the knowledge she was giving the woman behind her a small show. “Don’t rush a lady. I’ll get there when I get there.” Conner’s voice was heavy with mischief and seduction. Dark hair swung about the singers face as she shook her head and watched the blonde disappear into the bathroom.

* * *

Apparently, there was a party in Conner’s kitchen and she misplaced the invite. She had slipped into a soccer jersey and her favorite khakis, that without aid of a belt sat well below her waist and exposed her underwear quite nicely. She gave a warm smile to the people assembled in her kitchen as Blue wrapped and arm around her shoulder and walked her over to the island.

“Guys this is Conner, Conner this is Tan and Al. And the guy in the corner is Gordy, you know the other knuckleheads.”

Conner smiled and extended her hand to the women sitting on the other side of the island and waved at the man who stood next to Vincent in the corner. “Um, nice to meet you all, and um, I guess thank you for the other night.”

The brown-haired woman with the hair that fell just beneath her chin, gave Conner a toothy grin. “It was our pleasure Conner. Besides, it was an excuse to see this fool.” Blue just grinned as she took a seat.

Conner smiled and found a seat as well. “You’re Tan right?” The large woman nodded. “I just want to remember. Short hair Tan, long hair Al.”

The twins smiled, and Tan spoke again. “So if you don’t mind my asking, what’s the plan from here?”

Green eyes open wide. “To be honest, I’m not really sure yet, but um, some things need to be worked out.”

“That’s cool, but you know if need something, we’re at your disposal.”

Conner blinked and glanced at Blue for a moment. “People at my disposal, huh? Well, Tan I’m not looking for disposable people, but I would love to have your help.”

The twins smiled and said “Sure thing” at the same time.

Terry spoke from her seat at the kitchen table. “Lil’ bit I hate to break up the love fest and I know you’re not sure of what you’re going to do, but before you do anything, know that you have a hot date with O.C.C.B.”

Conner turned to Terry and groaned. “O.C.C.B.?”

“Yeah, Organized Crime Control Bureau.” Conner groaned louder and rested her chin on her fist as she leaned forward on to the countertop.

Blue smiled weakly and rubbed her back. “Don’t worry about it, it’s just a formality, you’ve got absolutely nothing to hide. The only thing you’ve signed off on as of late is construction work and that’s completely legit.” Conner nodded and blew out a breath.

“That’s true and all, but to be I’m sure word has gone out that she met with Snake-boy.”

Al spoke this time in response. “For all they know, he could have been shaking her down.”

“True, but then again this could be about Ewan.”

Conner worried her lip. “You think so?”

Terry shrugged. “I don’t know, I’m just thinking out loud. But look, I’m just saying it to let you know what’s up. No real need to worry, me and Lane got things covered, all though with Wally gone I suggest you talk to the rest of Mt. Rushmore and figure out where all of this supposed to go.”

Conner nodded. “We’re supposed to meet at the club tomorrow night,” she turned to Blue “, if everything is still going as planned.”

The blue-eyed woman nodded. “Oh yeah, nothings changed. Hell, we need to at least have some semblance of normalcy around this place.”

Terry gave a gentle slap to the table and stood up. “Groovy. I’m heading out of here then, um I’ll see you guys tomorrow night.”

“How you getting home?” Blue asked.

“Marcus.”

“Cool.” Good byes were exchanged as Terry left the house. Blue waited till she heard the engine start in the limo to look at Al. Al stood up from her stool and grabbed a jacket. “Stay with her.” Al nodded and then looked to Conner.

It took the blonde a little more than a second to realize this was her cue to give her consent. She smiled at the waiting woman and nodded. “I’d appreciate it and thanks.” The large woman nodded and left the kitchen with Blue behind her.

The singer walked her to the door. “Thanks Al.”

The woman smiled and winked at the singer. “Hey, she’s a good kid, she just needs a boost of confidence.” The singer nodded in agreement, but blew out a breath full of frustration and concern all the same. Al smiled and squeezed Blue’s shoulder. “She loves you, I can see that., and you know what? You’re not going to take her any where she doesn’t want to go.”

“I hope your right chick.” Al smiled and they clasped hands. She repeated the words to herself as she watched the woman leave, and hoped her friend was right.
CH 10: Blood In, Blood Out
The following night, Conner found herself, dressed to the nines, and surrounded by Terry, Lane, and her new found friends as she sat at a table in the club sipping on a cosmopolitan. She was bobbing her head to Karl’s bass solo and still smiling from the joke Vincent made about the Atlanta Brave’s relief pitcher, John Rocker. Everything actually seemed normal. She waved over her aging cousins as they entered the club and all still seemed well. She sipped at her drink casually and kept her eyes affixed the goddess on stage, her goddess and she couldn’t help but smile. If she ignored the fact that Sara and Wally were gone, things almost seemed sane, this life seemed possible to live.

When the band finished the first set, reality reared it’s ugly head as Conner’s office filled with family members and new family members. Cameron, Sean, and Charlie all occupied the Conner sat in her chair behind her desk Blue leaning down on the chair behind her. Lane sat in an arm chair while Terry sat on the corner of Conner’s desk. The remaining areas of the room were occupied with Vincent, the twins, and Gordy, with the women both standing on either side of the door and the men to the back wall. Conner looked about the room and let out a nervous sigh as she clasped her hands together and focused on her three cousins sitting across from her on the couch. She gave a wisp of a smile to the men, if only to ease her tension before she spoke. “Well gents, it appears we have much to discuss.”

“Yes my dear, it seems us old farts have gotten ourselves into a bind.” Charlie raised his eyebrows and sat back on the couch.

Conner smiled. “You’re not an old fart Charlie· just a fart.” Her comment got sincere smiles from the men on the couch. “So, I’m asking, what do you want done?”

The men all looked perplexed for a moment and then Cameron spoke. “Conner, this is your show. I’ve gotten the things you asked for and truthfully we’re waiting on your call.”

Conner nodded. “So, I don’t get any advice here?”

“We’ve got plenty advice, but what’s helpful depends on what you need.”

“I guess asking about Montrose is out of the question.”

Cameron waved his hands through the air. “When he came on, it was Ewan’s show, and we left it with him, we’re only here because of his absence.”

“Speaking of.”

Cameron swallowed and shook his head. “We heard.”

Charlie fixed his sliding glasses and spoke. “Conner Rose, this situation is not good.”

Blue’s gentle nudging of the chair kept Conner from grimacing. She rolled her eyes and just grinned. “Charlie, I know this isn’t good, but I need to know what you guys want, or really what you don’t want.”

There was silence as the men seemed to take in her statement. Sean spoke up first. Conner couldn’t help but warm to his thick Scottish accent even if she could barely understand him sometimes. “Will not go under lass, no indeed. Are you planning to talk to him?”

“Before the week is over.”

“Good.” Under his breath, he mumbled. “All though, I’d rather you get rid of Ewan on principle.”

Conner coughed in disbelief as she heard her cousins utterings. “Sean! I’m not putting a call in on my brother.” She shook her head.

Cameron gave a glare to Sean, and turned towards Conner. “Conner, that’s not even an option, WE know that.” He glared at Sean once more and focused back on Conner. “But perhaps, severing yourself from him is the best thing.”

Blue spoke before Conner could open her mouth. “How do you propose that?”

Cameron turned his eyes on the tall woman and grinned. “The FBI of course.”

“Of course you say, explain.” Terry responded with curiosity.

“O.C.C.B. is about to rip you a new one, or at least their going to try, so if that’s the case then there is nothing wrong with sending a lamb to the slaughter.”

Blue grinned at Cameron “But in this case we’re not dealing with any lamb, are we?”

Conner ignored the exchange between Blue and Cameron and turned to Lane. “Is it possible?”

Lane’s smile was wide. “Completely. With a few extra nips and tucks, they’ll be wading through Ewan’s shit years before your name even comes up.”

Conner raised her brows. “That easy huh?”

Lane shrugged. “You kept good books Conner what can I say. More than that, whether you did it consciously or not, you kept yourself pretty clean. To the outsider, you simply look like a C.P.A. from H &R Block™ . Just say the word and I can make the FBI and O.C.C.B. disappear.”

With interest Conner leaned forward onto the desk. “For how long?”

“No less than a year. At most, you’re looking at three. If we catch a stroke of luck, you’re looking at five years.”

Blue came from behind the chair and sat on the arm of Conner’s chair. “What’s a stroke of luck?”

“Ewan comes out of hiding an announces he’s taking over again.”

“Well that’s not happening. What if Conner takes over?”

Lane shook his head. “I wouldn’t suggest that, and I’m saying that as a layman. I wouldn’t say a thing, you guys can ride this turf war, if there’s to be one, for quite a while. As far as anyone is concerned, things are in a moment of limbo. Which means, suspicion won’t fall to you automatically, and they’ll be very careful.”

Conner rubbed at her temples with the onslaught of information that was being thrown her way. “Wait a minute, isn’t limbo a bad thing for me? I may not officially be the head of anything, but talk is talk, and wouldn’t that talk implicate me and make me a target for any idiot with a gun?”

“Not necessarily.” Both Cameron and Blue spoke at the same time. Cameron nodded and let the singer speak. “On the surface, sure you’d appear to be in line for everything, but to the people running the show, you’d just be a decoy for someone else.”

Conner turned confused green eyes to Blue. “Who?”

Blue shrugged. “Nobody in particular, just anybody but you.”

Conner sat back in her chair with understanding. “So a phantom really?’

“Nice going Velma.” Blue winked at the blonde.

Conner smiled and spoke loud enough for Blue to hear, “Well if it wasn’t for you and those pesky kids.” She looked up to the men on the couch. “Is that something you all can live with?” She got nods in response. “Good, then I want you all to take nice vacations or whatever you call it when you’re all ready retired.”

“You suggesting we run, Conner?” Charlie asked with hurt in his voice.

Conner sighed. “Cousin Charlie, I don’t want you to run, but at the same time, I don’t want you to stay here and get caught up in all this. Wally’s dead and Sara’s dead, and Wilhelm·well we’re waiting. Point is, I don’t want your blood spilled if it doesn’t’ have to be. I know you don’t want to, but at least humor me and think about it.” Charlie started to say something, but just nodded and smiled at the blonde. Conner looked at her watch and then looked to Blue. “Gotta go.” Blue nodded and Conner stood. “All right, thank you everybody. Uncle Cameron give Lane and Terry whatever they need and then I don’t want to hear from you guys unless it’s from a remote island okay.”

Cameron smiled as he waited for her to walk from behind the desk and they embraced. “We can still stay and enjoy the music right?” Laughter rang in the office.

“I’d beat you up if you didn’t.” She gave the greying man and kiss and then helped her cousins to their feet. “Besides I’ve got a bottle of single malt with all our names on it.”

Charlie let out a holler and gave Conner a squeeze. “Aye lass, there’s the rub.” The room filled with laughter as Conner pinched Charlie’s cheeks and they all made their way out of the office.

* * *

Once again, Remus and Romulaus were occupying their other favorite spots, next to the radiator, since the bed was full at the moment, with moaning women. A few days after the meeting in the club, things actually seemed to be getting back to normal, even if Conner was fielding calls from number runners and bookkeepers. This was actually the first moment in a week and a half that the two women had a chance to be intimate without worry of someone walking in on them or being down the hall.

The singer eyed the blonde beneath her with sheer animal lust as she kissed her way down the supple body, of the woman tied to the headboard. Conner could only let her head loll back onto the pillows as teeth bit into her nipples and tugged with welcome pressure. With guttural moans and the bucking of hips Conner pleaded for the dark woman to move lower. A cool tongue was teasing the inside of her thigh when the doorbell rang. Blue was less than an inch away from her goal when the doorbell rang for a third time accompanied by pounding on the door. Conner let out a groan as the dark woman got off the bed and snatched a robe off the floor in a rush of angry motion.

“Will you at least untie me?” Green eyes turned to blue that were on the verge of icing over in rage.

Blue managed to grin as she raised an eyebrow. “Unless it’s Ed McMahon at the door with a check I’m killing whoever it is at the door, so stay put.”

Conner pouted playfully. “You promised.”

Blue rolled her eyes as she threw on the robe. “Yeah, yeah, but I can plead insanity.” Conner could only laugh as she watched the tall woman walk out of the bedroom in a robe that was two sizes to small for her. With a firm scowl all ready in place the singer swung the front door without even looking through the peephole.

Ewan almost took a step back as he took in the slightly disheveled woman standing at the door. He looked to the floor, as the wind created by the door, opened the barely closed robe. A smooth black eyebrow raised and full lips made a smirk as she took in the reaction of the reddening man at the door. The singer made no movement to close the robe as she silently gestured for Ewan to come in. “Have a seat, I’ll go get your sister.” Ewan nodded without looking and walked into the living room. Blue sucked her teeth as she closed her door and stalked upstairs.

She broke into a smile as she found the blonde using her teeth to undue the scarf tied around her right wrist. “Want some help there?”

Conner laughed. “Oh yeah, who is it?”

“I’m just going to let you walk down there, all though I suggest you get dressed.”

Conner looked at the singer with confusion, as her wrists were untied. “Cameron?”

“Not quite.”

Conner stepped into a pair of sweatpants. “I take it you’re not telling me right?”

“Hey if I didn’t get to know, than you can’t either.”

Conner laughed and then the doorbell rang again. “Is this grand central station?”

“Apparently.” The singer put on her on sweatpants and reached for a shirt that she would soon find out was not hers as she walked down the stairs.

Terry bust into laughter as she took in the singer in the small t-shirt that clung to her breast and stopped right above her navel. “Shopping at Baby Gap I see.”

“Fuck you, come on in, and welcome to the party.”

Terry winced and whispered. “He’s all ready here?” Blue nodded. “Just great.”

“Nice try though.”

Terry waved a hand through the air and walked to the kitchen without even giving a look into the living room.

Conner was down the steps in the next moment. “Was that Terry?”

“Yup.”

“Than who the hell else is here?” Blue only grinned as the blonde made it all the way down the steps and her eyes immediately went to the figure in the living room.

The air around Conner instantly grew colder as she steeled green eyes and moved past Blue into the living room. She glared at her brother and then turned back to Blue who still stood by the step. She grabbed a hold of the sliding doors. “We’re just going to talk.” Blue raised a brow and Terry frowned. Conner nodded. “It’s cool, I told him we would.”

Blue eyes cut from Conner and settled on Ewan. “You need anything, you just call, okay?” She softened her gaze as she looked to Conner. Conner smiled and mouthed the words ‘I love you’ to Blue and then slowly closed the sliding doors.

* * *

Ewan walked to the far end of the couch and sat down. He moved one of the throw pillows out from behind him only to end up leaning forward and resting his elbows on his knees, he entwined his fingers and waited for his sister to sit down. Conner eyed her brother suspiciously as she walked to the mantle and began to toy with one of the African statues. If anyone else had been sitting in her living room, she would have surely been trying to put on a show of control, but she wanted him to know she was angry beyond words. Finally, she turned to face him, as she folded her arms across her chest and leaned back against the mantle.

She chuckled nervously and ran a hand through her hair. “I don’t know where to begin.”

Ewan could only nod as he clasped and unclasped his hands and grinned with apprehension. “I’m glad you can find something to smile about.”

Ewan stopped grinning and released a breath. “I just want to ease the tension somewhat.”

She snorted with impudence at his statement. “This is not something to be eased Ewan with a well timed quip, oh no, this needs to be physically removed with the aid of heavy machinery.”

“Well perhaps I can bring the forklift.”

“Please, enlighten me, and make me understand . Explain to me how Mon-goose’s words were nothing but words and that you have absolutely nothing to do with this.”

Ewan swallowed hard and crossed his legs as he sat back on the couch. “I can’t say that.”

“What!” Conner moved away from the mantle and stood in front of Ewan with the coffee table between. “Fine, write it down, take a picture, I don’t give a fuck! But that’s the only thing I want to hear.”

He held up his hands as Conner’s voice grew loud. “Conner please, can we just talk about this like-

“Don’t give me that civilized human beings shit.” She leaned down and pointed her finger in his direction. “Civilized human beings do not put seventy-five year old men in the bay to make a point.”

Ewan visibly flinched and avoided the burning gaze of his sister’s eyes. “Conner, this is business and that’s precisely why you don’t have to do this.”

Conner stepped back as she laughed. “Oh so you’re going to come in and help the little girl. Gonna do the brotherly thing, huh? And beat up all the bullies so I can go outside and play with my dollies.” Conner squinted her eyes as she smiled hard and then let her expression quickly dissolve into a frown. “So let me get this straight, you’re doing all this for me right? For almost a year, you’ve been sitting on your ass on some bluff in Edinburgh playing William Wallace and plotting and planning your comeback as the rest of your family shuffled around and tried to cover their asses from all the fall out you left.” She sucked her teeth and threw back her head in laughter. “Is that the truth? You’ve orchestrated all of this?”

“To an extent yes.” He met her eyes briefly and looked away.

Conner smirked as if a light went off in her head. “Your full of shit.” She sat down on the edge of the coffee table. “How much Ewan, just tell me how much?” Her eyes darted across his face as he sat back from the push of his sister’s words.

He raised a brow in confusion. “How much what?”

“What’s your price? How much are you getting paid?”

“What?” He shook his head vehemently.

Conner smiled in a semi-feral manner as if she was a lioness about to go in for the kill. “Did you plan all that stuff with Manny? I bet he isn’t even dead. Was that the plan all along? Take the bottom out from under your family and go live the life of Riley?”

Ewan was clearly uncomfortable as he fidgeted with his shirt and moved to the other side of the couch. He looked at his wide-eyed sister in disbelief. He titled his head as looked at her. She was practically foaming at the mouth. “Conner, I think the stress has gotten to you. I’ve done no such thing. Mt. Rushmore appointed you on their own and once I heard about it, I decided to come back.”

Conner stood up and pursed her lips as she traced her chin with a fingertip. “You just decided to come back?”

“Yes, I did. I had always planned to, but of course not under these circumstances.”

Conner put her hands on her hips and walked to the mantle. She pulled on her lip as she mulled over her next question. “So why not call me, why not tell me what you were doing, why kill people what’s the point.”

He shrugged. “As crass as it sounds I had to make an entrance.”

Green eyes blazed with hate as Conner looked at the man sitting on her couch. She found herself gripping the glass bobble on the mantle intending to throw it at him, but she knew that would only cause Blue to come barreling through the door ready to beat Ewan to a pulp. Conner closed her eyes and thought about the woman that she knew was standing outside the door pacing. Conner breathed deeply and calmed herself as she let go of the glass and folded her arms across her chest. “Okay, let’s say for a second, I buy this line of crap you’re shoveling my way. So you’ve made your entrance. That still doesn’t explain why you didn’t contact me, that still doesn’t explain why you didn’t make your intentions known to Cameron or Brusio or Marachi or anybody for that matter. It doesn’t explain the family restructuring, pulling out of Pimlico, or-

Conner paused in her train of thought as she watched her brother face flush with odd surprise. Her mind went on overload and she turned her back and pretended to lose her train of thought. She bit her lip as she stopped herself from saying, ‘liar, liar pants on fire.’ Instead, she wiped the grin from her face and faced Ewan again. “Sorry, lost my place, but you seemed a little confused at my last comment.”

Ewan blinked rapidly and sat up. “No, no, not confused, just uh· I thought we discussed that and decided against it, that’s all.”

“Oh that’s all.” She titled her head at her brother and raised her brow.

“What? Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Because you’re lying.”

He slapped his thighs in frustration. “Damn it Conner! I’m not lying. You may want me to be lying, but this is the truth.” He stood up and looked at the blonde sternly. Conner stepped back towards the mantle at the force of his conviction. She could tell he was desperately trying to believe his on words. “It may be petty, it may be sibling rivalry or whatever, but this is mine fair and square and I can do what I want with it·and well I want it back.”

“Just like that. Without so much as a ‘how do you do’, you’re just going to come in a snatch this up like my fucking Legos and I’m supposed to smile and nod and give it up?” Conner could feel her ears grow red as she began to get angry. “You’re the one who’s out of their mind. I wouldn’t give up the damn remote without being put in the camel clutch and you think I’m going to give up a million dollar business cause you’re older? Fuck you!”

Ewan shook his head and ran both his hand through his hair letting his hands rest on the back of his neck. “Conner you’ve never wanted this, why now? Go live your fairy tale with your·whatever and let me do what I need to do.”

“What does he have on you? What has he promised you? For the love God, please tell me that your some cybernetic entity parading around as my brother.”

“Conner this is my doing and that’s the end of it. Besides you’ve removed yourself from this family, so you’ve no say.”

“Are you smoking crack?! How the hell have I removed myself?”

“You’re dating the woman that killed your brother, you forget that?”

Conner let out a huff of air and kicked at the mantle. “Are we still on this? For the love of Pete, get over it. Good God, everybody and their mother knows that and you’re the only one still running around like it’s news. It’s over Ewan! It’s been said and done and I for one would have thought you would have used your little hiatus to get your shit together and find some peace. But maybe that answers my questions. Maybe you’ve just gone completely fucking nutso, so you’ve entrusted your counsel to Monte-zuma and you’re running around like you’re Al Capone.”

“Conner look-

She cut him off with a wave of her hand. “No, you know what. I don’t believe a word that comes out of your mouth, I think you’re certifiable and just for that I’m not letting go of this and especially not to you. I’ll turn this shit over to Borgia and Marachi before you get this again. You fucked up, so it’s the changing of the guard and all that.”

“Conner this isn’t supposed to be this way.”

“Supposed to be this way!” She didn’t try to soften her voice. “Well mister big man, you’ve made it quite clear that this is supposed to be a fucking blood bath from day one. If this was supposed to be handle with discretion and civility than your errand boy forgot that part of the conversation and has just done as he pleased. But of course you’re going to tell me that you told him it was all right to kill Wally right?”

He spoke with conviction. “It’s my call to make, it was just a message.”

Conner was silent as she looked at her brother in disbelief. She spoke her next words evenly and with less volume than moments before, but full of rage none the less. “And Sara and Wilhelm were a warning?” There was no cover up for his surprise as the words came out of her mouth. His knees almost gave out on him as his face grew florid and he raised his eyebrows in honest shock. Conner almost let out a scream, but instead she grabbed for the first thing on the mantle and sent the glass bobble flying towards his head. It shattered against the corner. Both stood stock still, one set of green eyes filled with confusion and the other filled with disappointment in missing. Conner didn’t take her eyes off of Ewan as she spoke loudly to the woman outside the door, no doubt only a split second from bursting through the door. “It’s okay, I’m all right. I promise, just give me another minute.” Conner listened quietly as she heard the faint sound of Blue removing her hand from the door knob, and staying where she was.

Conner and Ewan continued to stare at each until he began to open his mouth to speak. Conner silenced him with a raised hand. “Don’t say a word.” Her voice was raspy with anger. “You’re lying and I don’t know why, and I no longer want to know why.

I suggest you go back to Scotland and continue meditating because when I get through snake-boy and his minions there will be nothing left of what you were planning.” She shut her eyes as she tried to keep control. Through clenched teeth she continued. “When you come to your senses and you want help getting out of whatever mess you’re in than you come to me. Until than consider yourself pariah, Monty goes down·.you go with him.” She opened her eyes and walked to the window, effectively turning her back on him. “Get out of my house. Don’t even speak my name ever again unless you’re begging my forgiveness.”

She heard him let out a breath. “Leave.”

Whatever Ewan wanted to say, was lost as the sliding doors opened. In an outfit that would have looked comical on anybody else, the six foot tall woman was far from making anyone laugh. Ewan avoided her eyes and did his best to avoid her as he walked out of the living room. He didn’t have to touch the woman to feel the waves of heat rolling off her body. He reached for the door and glanced towards the kitchen only to watch Terry turn her head away from him. Ewan straightened his shoulders and walked from the house.

Both Terry and Blue stood in the foyer and just watched Conner stare out of the window, neither was sure what the correct approach was at the moment. After a quiet five minutes Conner spoke. “Ter, I need my phone book.” Terry didn’t care that Conner spoke considerably harsher than usual, but at least she was talking so that meant she was breathing. Terry disappeared down the steps. Blue grabbed the phone and was all ready to toss it to Conner when the woman asked for it. Conner caught it and just stared at the woman standing so far away from her. Conner knew she wasn’t ready to pampered but she didn’t want to be alone either. Green eyes softened a bit, as the blonde silently willed the tall woman over to her. Blue caught the hint and walked to the mantle and stood so that only the width of the window separated them.

Terry entered and sat down on the couch with the phone book. Conner looked at her friend with apologetic eyes and then turned back to the window. “I need Borgia’s number·please.” Terry just smiled as she looked over at the singer with a knowing look and then returned her attention to the phone book.

Conner dialed the number as fast as Terry spoke them. “Pronto, it’s Conner·.can’t really talk right now, I need to talk to Ceasare·..For how long·..Okay·If you catch him at the airport just send him my way·.um, no·.sure, let me have it·.804-555-7548·gratsi·.

I will.”

Conner closed the cell phone and turned towards the two women. “Here’s the deal, first I need a drink, a big fat one, and two plans for the club and expansion have not changed, but we need to hold off on liquidation cause uh, apparently I’ve got a family to run.” Blue and brown eyes grew wide. Conner shook her head and grimaced. “I know, I know, but like it or not I just threw my hat in the ring and I can’t talk my way out of this one. So,” She clapped her hands together, “anybody else up for happy hour.” She didn’t even wait for the two women to answer as she left them standing in the living room.

Terry stood up and echoed Blue’s groan. “Is it possible to get an instantaneous ulcer?”

“It’ll go well with the tumor I just grew.” The two women looked at each with half-smiles and started walking towards the basement.

“Laney’s going to shit a brick.”

“Is that good or bad?”

“Just means that he’ll be just as excited as he is scared, and I’ll be buying cases of Pepto Bismal every freakin’ week.”

Blue chuckled. “Come on, let’s go get the captain before she drains the entire bottle of Vodka.”

“I’ve seen her do it and bowl a 180 to boot.”

“All in her lane?”

“All but two frames, it is still the most impressive things I’ve ever been witness to.”

Blue smiled. “Fell in love huh?”

“Head over heels.”

They both laughed. “Fine we’ll make her dance a jig later.” They laughed their way into the basement and joined the blonde at the bar, as she was slicing limes and lemons and lining up shot glasses.

Terry leaned into Blue and spoke quietly. “I haven’t done this since college.”

“I haven’t done this since ’88.”

Terry shuddered as the smell of Tequila hit her. “We’re gonna be puking all night aren’t we?”

“You still got that Pepto?”

“Oh yeah, Oh yeah.”
CH 11: Mi Dolce Vita
Ten years had easily gone by since the singer had last seen Ceasare Borgia, but age had been kind to the gentlemen, perhaps making him look even less like a feared mob boss and more like a grandfather who liked to play Santa Claus for his grandkids. The singer purposefully made no attempt to greet Borgia or the two men he brought with him, only because she wanted this to be Conner’s moment and not something that she put together. Conner was all smiles from the moment the large man entered her home, flanked by two men who were familiar to her as well. Sal was a fair-skinned man pushing into his thirties and she remembered seeing his face every now and then when she went on trips with her dad. They shook hands and then she looked past Sal to his brother. Jimmy was only a couple of inches taller than her and a couple of years younger than her. She had never asked, but it was just common knowledge that Jimmy was learning impaired, but he was the sweetest thing in the world and he always tried so hard. She walked up to Jimmy and put her arm around his slim shoulders as she gave him a hug. The young man blushed immediately and smiled until his dimples showed.

“Come on let’s go downstairs.” She looped her arm through Jimmy’s as they walked down the steps. “Jimmy, I’ve got some cold soda pop just for you.” The young man just smiled. Before, she could even ask Blue the woman had all ready sat out a soda for Jimmy, and drinks made to order for her guests. Conner raised an eyebrow at the singer, who pretended not to see the question in her eyes. Conner took a seat on a stool and looked from Borgia to Sal to Blue. “I take it I don’t need to introduce any of you do I?”

The singer broke into a grin and Conner just shook her head. Blue winked at her and then looked up at Sal from behind the bar. “How you doin’ pretty boy?”

Sal shrugged. “Not as good as you so Vincent says.”

“Hey Jimmy.” Light brown cheeks flushed as he bit at his lip and gave a shy wave to the singer. She smiled and turned towards Borgia who was pulling a cigar out of his breast pocket. “Borg.” She slid the man his glass and he nodded.

“Hey honeypie, how you doing?”

“Not bad at all.” She looked up at Conner who held a look of amazement on his face.

“Well Conner gave me the impression that things weren’t that good.” Both women shrugged.

Sal looked to his brother and patted him on the arm. “Hey Jimmy, why don’t you see if you can go top Conner’s score on the Galaga.”

Jimmy smiled. “Can I?” He looked to Conner who nodded. “You don’t mind if I beat your score right?” He hoped off the chair.

“You’re welcome to try.” Jimmy hit her with a smile and trotted off to the corner. “You should bottle that smile you could make some money I’m sure.”

“Probably, so what’ s the deal?”

Conner sighed and went into her story. By the time she was finished she had finished a glass of wine and Jimmy was on his tenth game. She explained that Ewan had returned and claimed that Montrose was doing his bidding, but that she felt it was all a ruse and the thin man was still pulling the strings. She told them that she got daily calls from the FBI and more than that Monty was doing his best to restructure the business. Sal had moved to the pool table and wracked the balls when Borgia was ready to respond.

“So you want me to take this off your hands or something?”

Conner shrugged and leaned on the bar as Blue left her to go play a game with Sal. “It may come to that, but it’s not necessarily my first choice.”

The big man puffed on his cigar. “I hope it’s not, but I’ll be happy to help you, you have my support without question.”

“I know that, but to be honest I wonder if I can handle all this.”

The man chuckled and touched Conner’s cheek lovingly. “Sweetie what’s not to handle?”

“My friend is dead, Wally’s dead, Charlie’s missing now, which means he’s dead and last I heard Sean skipped town.” She ran her hands through her hair. “I don’t know what to do here, this wasn’t the plan and with Ewan pulling a flip on me, I’m not sure if I have the heart or the support to do what needs to be done.”

“First off you have all the support you need. I’ve got you and you know Brusio’s got you.”

“Not they way they’ve been acting lately.”

“Child, Roberto is just an adornment, Papa runs things like always. If you’re worried, then go see him, but I assure you Brusio is not dropping you any time soon.” The blonde nodded. “Secondly, Conner I think you’re forgetting something very important. Montrose is an outsider, you’re not. Honey, this is your home, your city. You know this place inside and out and that includes the people. He doesn’t have that on you and in the long run that’s worth more than whatever money he’s putting up.”

She thrust a thumb in Blue’s direction. “She swears to me that loyalty means nothing, when it comes to money.”

Borgia rolled his eyes. “No offense, but she’s not always right.” Blue looked up from the pool table and stuck her tongue out at the old man and moved on with her game. He just shook his head and looked back at Conner. “Any way, this is your decision. And truth be known, loyalty means everything in this case. Conner, Baltimore is full of old money and old men. You know what old men like?”

Blue didn’t even look up from the table as she spoke. “Icy Hot and prune juice.” She dodged an ice cube and made her shot.

“Keep talking young lady.” Borgia wagged a finger at her and then turned back to the softly giggling Conner. “Besides those things, they like cute girls and they love when their egos are stroked.”

“Really?” Conner asked with a raised brow.

“Trust me. You go downtown and you smile at those old guys playing Bocci and tell them how much you admire the way they did things in the old days they’ll be eating out of your hands.” Conner laughed. “I’m not going to say that these young boys won’t cause you problems, but these old men haven’t avoided jail in twenty years or so, cause their stupid.”

“So this means I have to announce myself right?”

“Not really. You need to get things in order first, word will go around on its own, but nothing is official until you say so. As far as anyone is concern you’re still waiting on somebody to succeed you.”

“So what do I do about Monty and Ewan.”

“I apologize for saying so, but leave Ewan to the vultures.”

“No need to apologize.”

“As for Montrose, I’d contain him.”

“That’s not a code word for getting rid of him is it?”

Borgia chuckled. “No it means contain him. If he wants to stay on the East coast and eat away at your family, put him in a box, and you dictate where he goes and how he goes. If he wants out, he has to give up his agenda and find a new coast. And he won’t be heading my way, I can promise you.”

Conner smiled wickedly and nodded her head. “Box him up, eh?” Borgia nodded. “I can do that.”

“You’re damn right you can. If he wants a Maryland Crab, he’s going to have to go to California and have it mailed to him. If he wants to get bids in on the triple crown, he’ll just have to do without The Preakness and you can’t do that triple crown without the Preakness.” Conner and Borgia shared a smile as plans swirled in her head.

Later that night as the house emptied of her guest, Conner and Blue lay wrapped up each other on the floor of the parlor enjoying Diana Krall smooth melodies. Conner closed her eyes and just enjoyed the warmth of the body wrapped around hers. “Thank you.”

Blue looked down at the woman in her arms. “For what?” she asked quietly, even though she knew the answer.

“For calling Ceasare.”

A lazy smile came to Blue’s face that she knew Conner couldn’t see. “I don’t know what you’re talking about lady.”

Conner tickled Blue’s exposed ribs. “Fine, don’t admit it, but thank you any way. I guess I needed some sound advice and some support that’s all.”

Blue hugged Conner close. “No one’s going to let anything happen to you.”

“I know. So tell me how you know him.”

“Hmm. When I used to run errands for Tangelo I would sometimes go hang out with Borgia when he needed stuff. Half the time he was just calling me down so I’d go to bars with him.” She laughed at the memory. “He’s got the most wonderful voice you know?” Conner nestled herself into Blue’s body and just smiled as she heard the happiness in her voice. “We would just go and hang out down in the Quarter or we’d make the drive into Mississippi and go to Biloxi, Tupelo, or Jackson and go to these seedy clubs and hang and just listen to these big, beautiful, black women sing their hearts out.” She shifted as she ran a hand through her hair. “I remember going to this one place down in Biloxi and listening to this lady sing “In My Solitude”. Jesus, I mean that lady hummed the opening bar and I was all ready weeping before she even started singing the lines. It was beatiful. But yeah, he sat me straight. Popped me upside the head a couple of times and told me I could do better. I didn’t believe him until Tangelo was killed. I didn’t have anybody to be loyal to anymore, and I think a lot of people expected me to pick up what he left, but I paid my respects, returned the favor and disappeared.”

Conner kissed Blue on the neck. “I’m glad you disappeared.”

The tall woman smiled. “Me too.”

Conner yawned. “So, you want to go to Italy?”

“Brusio?” Conner nodded. Blue kissed Conner’s soft hair. “You point and I follow.”

“There’s some stuff I should tell you.”

The singer let out her own yawn. “Tell me on the plane, I’m sleepy.” Conner just nodded and they mutually decided to stay on the floor where they were more out of being comfortable than just too lazy to move.

* * *

As they exited the airport and headed into Rome, Conner convinced herself that she had done a good job of explaining to her lover that they were actually going to see Sophia Brusio, but somehow she never got around to a few important items of information. Namely, that her relationship with Sophia had less to do with business and more to do with youthful endeavors. The singer wasn’t sure what she expected as she listened to Conner explain why she needed to meet with Brusio by herself. They would be out in the open of course, but according to Conner Sophia was shy and didn’t take kindly to strangers. Blue just smiled as the Limo from the airport deposited them at an outdoor café. Blue took a seat three tables away from Conner and got a good glimpse of the elusive Sophia Brusio.

Green eyes fell upon Sophia’s long curly dark hair, kissable lips, blue eyes that were always green in the morning and the blonde did everything she could do to keep from swooning. Sophia stood up as Conner neared her table and took the shorter woman into her arms in a sincere embrace. She held Conner away from her body and just smiled as they exchanged kisses on both cheeks.

“Bella, it’s so good to see you.” Her accent was heavy and warmed Conner’s insides like always. Conner smiled and allowed herself to be taken into another hug. “Sit down, sit down.”

When they sat, Sophia whipped off her sunglasses and then grabbed hold of one of Conner’s hands and smiled from ear to ear. “It is so good to see you, how’ve you been.”

Conner returned the smile and hoped to God that Blue couldn’t see the obvious sex that Sophia was throwing her way. “I’m good, I’m good. How are you?”

The svelte woman shrugged and waved her free hand carelessly through the air. “You know me, I no can complain. But forget about that, I’m so happy to see you. Damn, how long has it been?”

Conner couldn’t stop the blood that was making its way to her ears. “About five years I think.”

“That’s too long Bella, way too long.” Sophia licked her lips and stared at Conner with nothing but desire.

Conner coughed as she fought the blush headed for her cheeks, but knew it was no use. “And I apologize ‘Phia, but um, I’m afraid I’m here on business.”

“Oh, so she says.” Sophia released Conner’s hand and sipped from her expresso. “I ordered you a little café, but I’m sure you’ll want something else later.”

“I’m only staying for a little while ‘Phia.”

“Nonsense, Bella, we call the airport and change your ticket. You will not come to my home and stay for an hour, I’ll not have that.” She shook a finger at Conner and smiled.

“We can argue about that later, but I need to talk to you about business.”

Sophia rolled her eyes. “No business, Conner.”

” ‘Phia.” Conner tried not to whine, but she knew the woman in front of her to be a juggernaut.

“Oh come now Conner, what do you need huh? You need money, you got it. I write you a check right now. You want it in cash, bara-bonds, stocks, jewelry, whatever. You need some muscle, you can have whatever I have. Whatever you need, it’s yours okay·.is that enough business.”

‘Phia talked so fast, that Conner had a hard time keeping up with the woman. She waved her hands. “Wait, wait. You don’t want to know what’s going on?’

Phia’s laughed filled the surrounding area. “Bella, are you cutting me out?”

Conner shook her head. “God no, if anything I’ll probably cut you more.”

Phia smiled and touched a hand to her chest as she spoke. “Then fine, there is no more business to discuss, it’s taken care of, now we can talk of other things.” She leaned forward and took Conner’s hand again, making the blonde blush to the ends of her hair. “Like how I’ve got a bottle of Finlandia Vodka chilling in my freezer waiting to be made into a Martini for your liking.”

Conner groaned at the temptation. “Oh my favorite.”

“I know, I’m the one who turned you on to it, so I better have it. So what do you say, you come home with me, we have a real drink, and if you’re still coherent you can talk all the business you want.”

Conner blew out a breath and removed her hand from Phia’s as she tugged at her polo shirt. “Uh ‘Phia we need to talk, I mean, um, that’s nice and all·but, but I kind of can’t, I don’t, uh-

“What’ wrong Bella, you out of practice?” Phia raised sculpted eyebrows and pouted her lips in such a way, that she knew the woman across from her was in need of a change of underwear.

Conner wanted to scream, but she just smiled and laughed nervously. “Well yes, I mean no! I mean yeah, sort of.”

Phia shook her head. “Conner breathe, it’s okay. I take it you have a little uh, how you say..complication.”

This time Conner blushed with the thought of her ‘complication’. “A nice complication, but you can say that.”

The Italian woman just smirked as she sat back in her seat and regarded the red-eared blonde fidgeting with her coffee mug. “Would that complication be that deliciously delectable dark haired woman whose been staring over here with the most wonderful blue eyes I’ve ever seen.”

Conner looked into her coffee. “She’s staring, huh?” Phia nodded and Conner blushed even redder.

“What’s her name?”

“Azure.”

“Blue, you say. Funny she looks anything but sad. In fact I think she wants to come over here and tear me limb from limb.” Phia raised her eyebrows and giggled.

“She wouldn’t do that.”

“You mind if I call her over?” Phia didn’t even wait for Conner to answer as she looked Blue squarely in the eye and waved her to the table. Phia’s eyes grew wide as the singer stood up from her seat. “Oh my. You know if she doesn’t mind, I’d like to discuss business with you both.”

Conner swatted Phia on the arm in shock. “Phia!”

Phia smiled innocently. “What?” She stood up as Blue reached the table. “I apologize from keeping you from your lovely, please join us.” Phia held out her hand. “Azure right?”

Blue kept from arching an eyebrow as she took the proffered hand and proceed to bend at the waist and kiss the knuckles. Conner nearly choked on her coffee. “Si, and you?”

“Brusio. My associates call me Brusio, my family calls me Sophie, and Conner calls me ‘Phia. It’s a right I extend to you if you like.”

“If it pleases you.”

Phia winked at the woman still holding her hand. “To no end.” She purred.

Conner watched the exchanged with her jaw on the table and finally let out a loud cough. “Hello, I’m down here. At the table. Watching.”

The women released hands and Phia looked at Conner and blew her a kiss. “Oh, we never forget about you mi dolce. What do you say we go back to my house.”

Conner rubbed her neck. “Uh, Phia I thought we talked about that.”

The Italian woman feigned hurt as she glanced at the grinning singer. “What? I just want us to all go have a real drink and we can talk business, that’s all. Conner you have such a dirty mind. You should talk to her about that.”

Blue looked down at the blushing woman and held in her laugh. “She’s stubborn you know.”

“Oh yes, as a..um what do you call it.”

“A mule.”

“Si, exactly. Like a mule, she is stubborn.”

Conner slapped the table and stood up. “You two done.” She glared at the singer who rocked back and forth on heels and wore a smile that resembled the cat that ate the canary.

Phia squeezed Conner’s cheeks and then pressed a button on her phone. “Don’t be sore Bella, you always manage to get yourself into and out of these situations, so don’t pout.”

“Yes don’t pout, puddins.” Blue teased the smaller woman and walked off with Phia to the car.

Conner just grumbled to herself as she left a few lire on the table and walked behind the two taller women thinking to herself. ‘If I was a bit younger, massively drunk, and not so selfish, this could be quite a memorable night.” Conner shuddered at the salacious thought and added an extra spring to her step as she caught up with the two women at the car.

* * *

Conner was too busy nursing her second Martini to be concerned with Phia giving her lover a tour of the mansion. Besides, she had seen it before, and she smiled at the memory that her tour was just a tad more thorough. She could hear them as they made their way back into the sitting room.

“All the frescos are original, and Papa hired a man to refurbish all the marble and everything. It took him some time, but I think it was worth it.” Blue just nodded as they joined Conner in the sitting room. The singer ran her hand across the back of Conner’s neck as she sat down in an arm chair to her right and Phia on her left.

Conner’s hand immediately went to the spot that still tingled with Blue’s touch. Droopy eyes tracked to a grinning Phia. “So Phia, tell me how you do it?”

“How I do what Bella?”

“Run all of this.”

Phia smiled. “Shh, don’t tell anyone.” She laughed. “You might make the boys mad.”

“Is your father still alive?”

Phia turned to Blue with curiosity. “If you can say so. He has cancer, but it’s the Alzheimer’s that is doing him in.” Blue nodded. “Everyone knows he’s sick, but I keep him hyped up enough that they think he’s still at least half way holding it together.”

“Is it just as easy as using his name?”

“Conner, my father had six boys and one little girl. Do you know where all his sons are? They’re dead, all dead. And his nephew Roberto, in New York, he’s a moron. Roberto knows I can put him in his place just like that.”

“Yeah, well Roberto’s been giving me shit.”

“I know and for that I apologize, that was my fault.” She sighed. “If Papa were still functioning he would have said, let’s just cause a little cough, just to get some questions, but it would be precisely for show. That was all Roberto was supposed to do.”

“Well he coughed up a freakin’ lung.”

“I know. Don’t worry, he’s getting a piece of my mind.”

Conner sat up straight. “But seriously Phia, you’re the head of one of the most powerful families on the East Coast and you act like you do nothing but knit sweaters all day.”

Phia laughed. “Actually, I make love and eat lots of pasta, and then I go shopping in Milan.” The women laughed. “Conner with the right people it’s not that hard I promise. What are you worried about , you don’t think you can do it?”

Conner shrugged as she sat her glass down on the table. “I don’t know if it want to put myself out there like that.”

“Then don’t. Only a few select people know that I call the shots. Everybody else, think Papa is still running things and at the least Roberto has taken over. Conner you know I’m on your side. Somebody threaten you, then boom, they’re gone, no questions.” Conner grimaced.Phia nodded with understanding and glanced at Blue who sipped at her drink quietly. “You’ve always been such a peacemaker you know that.”

“I know, but-

“No buts Bella. Look, you don’t have to worry about that stuff, I’ll take care of it and what I can’t deal with Ceasare will deal with, and Marachi will do any thing to play cowboy. No problemo.” Sophia started to say something, but she stopped as her father was wheeled into the sitting room by a nurse. Phia nodded at the nurse as she left her seat and gave the ailing man in the wheelchair a kiss on the head. “Papa, there’s someone here to see you.” She smiled at the old man, who appeared to be fighting for lucidity. Phia stood and turned to Conner and Blue. “He doesn’t remember much, but he still likes a pretty face.”

Conner knelt down in front of the old man and smile. “Don Brusio, it’s good to see you.” She touched the man’s cheek and he smiled. Conner’s nose wrinkled in delight.

“Little sunflower.” he said in a rasp.

“That’s right.”

“Es bueno.” He touched Conner’s cheek and then looked off into space, losing himself in his own confusion. Conner smiled warmly as she stood and gave the man a kiss to his cheek.

Phia smiled. “Come help me find his record. We listen to old arias and then he goes to sleep.” Conner followed Phia to the record player on the other side of the room, leaving Blue standing in front of the man in the wheel chair. The room was quiet except for the rhythmic whir of his oxygen tank, so both women clearly heard the singer when she spoke.

“It’s good to see you Carlo, I bet the sunset is beautiful where you are.” Phia turned her head around with a snap as she heard the woman use her father’s first name and mention his favorite past time. With a creased a brow, she watched as the singer knelt and kissed the ring her father still wore. “Do you know who I am Carlo?”

Conner realized that Phia stopped talking to her as she stood up from her crouch and regarded the woman who was staring at Blue. Conner started to ask a question, but Phia silenced her with a wave of her hand. It was a quiet sound, but Carlo chuckled and then spoke. “How are the others doing?” Both Conner and Phia waited for Blue’s response at the man’s seemingly nonsensical question.

Blue smiled. “The other Olympians are quite fine Carlo. I’m just paying my favorite mortal a visit.” Phia smiled with understanding as she put her father’s record on and ushered Conner out of the room.

“You’re joking about being worried right?”

Conner looked at Phia with wide eyes. “What are you talking about.”

Phia laughed and pinched Conner’s cheeks. “You’ve got the fucking Queen of the Gods at you beck and call and you’re worried about not being up to the task.”

Conner stepped away from her friend. “Phia what the hell are you talking about?”

Blue entered the hallway and answered before Phia could. “I haven’t really explained everything to her.”

Two sets of eyes focused on the singer, but Phia spoke. “She knows right?”

“I tell her what she asks about and what she needs to know.”

Conner stared at the two women and then scowled. “Do I get an explanation?”

“It’s okay I promise.” Blue took a step towards Conner and locked eyes with her.

Green eyes searched Blue for some hint of betrayal or malice but found none. “We okay?” She asked almost in a whisper. Blue nodded and smiled.

Sophia coughed. “You guys are going to make me cry I swear.”

Conner felt the tension break and stuck out her tongue at Phia. “Shut it Phia.”

“Whatever, little one, but trust me you’ve got nothing to worry about with this one in your corner. I should be entrusting my business to you in truth.”

“Well, she never ceases to amaze me.”

Phia raised her eyebrows and eyed the tall woman openly. “How amazing is she Conner?” Phia turned on her heels and walked to the patio.

Conner rolled her eyes and followed the woman, calling after her, “Phia we discussed this.”

Blue felt herself flush with the flattery and quickly followed the two women outside, entering the conversation as Phia spoke with casualty. “You Americans are such prudes sometimes I swear.” Phia laughed.

“I’m not a prude Phia, just horribly selfish.”

Phia smiled and pulled the smaller woman to her as Blue walked onto the balcony. “More selfish than I was?”

Conner blushed to her toes. “What do you think?” She fixed green eyes on the tall woman who was desperately trying to look modest.

Phia laughed heartily. “I would not share either.” She waved Blue over. “Come Azure, come and tell me what kind of trouble our little Conner has gotten into of late.” Blue grinned mischievously as she joined the two women on the patio. Conner groaned and tried to find a hole to crawl into but she knew it was still too early in the night to go diving off the deep end. Instead she raised her glass to starry sky, drained her drink, and hoped she passed out before they started trading sex stories.
CH 12: ‘There’s a little black spot on the Sun Today’
Conner was not normally one to gloat. She had been raised to believe that pride was a luxury best enjoyed through honor. She had never been one to rub someone’s nose in anything, she had no desire to raise herself above anyone, so the feeling was quiet odd when it happened. Two months had sailed by since her visit to Italy, and it was as if upon her return to the states the world turned upside down and in her favor. The blonde took Borgia’s advice and worked the city like she was running for mayor. By the end of a month she probably could have run for Mayor. For all intense purposes Victor Montrose was caught in a cat’s cradle. Conner had the city wrapped up so tight, that no matter what string he pulled, it would all collapse on him. Conner was succeeding in pushing Montrose further and further west, so much so that none of the phone calls he made even landed on the East Coast.

Conner felt quite smug as of late and with good reason, but she respected the thin man enough to know that he would shake the tree just to spite himself. She still knew that his henchman was lurking around, but the triumph of Wilhelm breathing on his own, was enough to make them all celebrate. Conner leaned over the railing of the boat and breathed in the salty air with reverence. “Jesus, this is so strange.” She didn’t bother to turn as a strong arm wrapped around her waist and warm lips pressed to her neck. “Hello there.”

“What are thinking about?”

“I can’t just enjoy my skyline.”

Blue laughed and looked out across the bay with Conner admiring the lights of the Harbor and the festivities of a mild spring night. “You want dock over by Fells and have a beer?” Conner shrugged. “Or we could go up to Federal Hill and neck.” Blue nibbled on Conner’s neck causing the smaller woman to giggle.

“You horny toad.”

“Ribbit.” The tall woman croaked and snaked out her tongue making Conner laugh. “So what’s up really?”

The small woman sighed and squeezed the hand around her waist. “Just wondering if I should feel this smug.”

“You getting paranoid?”

“No, no, not paranoid, but I just want to gloat you know. Look at me, look at us. I’m standing on the bow of a 60 foot Yacht that I can afford, sipping on a $100 bottle of Vodka like its Spring water, and I know I can get anything I want.”

“Yeah, thanks for the dress by the way.” Blue did an impromptu shimmy in her floor length Versace.

Conner sighed indifferently. “See what I mean. I just dropped an arm and leg for that outfit, bought Terry a fucking purebred Boxer, paid for Wilhelm’s medical stuff, the restaurant will be ready in two months, the gym is ahead of schedule, and Agent Grimey is no longer even a wrinkle in my suit.”

“So, you feel like you don’t deserve it or it’s too much.”

“Hell no! Shit yeah I deserve it. We’ve been busting our asses for months, so I see nothing wrong with enjoying the spoils. Shit I’d buy Terry a fucking Iditarod team if she wants one. I don’t know, maybe I’m just crazy and stressed.”

The singer smiled. “Well I can definitely take care of the stress.” She let her hand roam down the front of Conner’s torso until she found her way underneath Conner’s belt and inside her pants.

The blonde squirmed as her breath hitched with arousal. “You got a cure for crazy?” She asked breathlessly.

“Uh huh.” Blue continued to explore Conner as she toyed with the edges of her underwear. “It involves me strapping you down and helping you release your demons.”

Conner released a soft moan as a slender finger slipped under her underwear. “Um·Blue, my Uncle·

“You want me to call him over?”
Conner dropped her glass over the edge of the railing and gripped the railing letting her head fall back on Blue’s shoulder. “Oh fuck.” She seethed. “B-baby, they’re people·we can’t·damn.”

The tall woman just smiled as she nipped at Conner’s earlobe. “They’re playing a rousing game of Spades, nobody is even missing us.”

“C-can we at least go sit down.”

“Nope.” Blue picked up her pace and added a second finger.

Conner raked her blunt nails across the forearm that was still wrapped around her waist. “Christ··mmm..is this payback or something?”
Blue let out a throaty chuckle. “I’m just thanking for the dress that’s all.”

“So, you didn’t like the bracelet.”

The singer laughed and bit into Conner’s neck, making the blonde hiss and grind her hips into the body behind her. “I’m getting there. So anyway keep telling me about how you’re feeling bad about gloating and not deserving what you’re getting and all that.”

Conner bit her lip, baring down on the railing as she felt the beginning of her climax. “Shitshitshit, did I say that?”

“Yup.”

Conner emitted a small whimper. “I’m gonna scream you know?”

The singer smiled fully. “I’m counting on it.” She could feel every muscle in Conner’s body tense and just before the blonde let her vocal chords rip, the singer covered her mouth in a forceful kiss that muted Conner’s yell.

Both women heaved with heavy breaths as Conner leaned over the railing with Blue draped over her back. To the casual eye it looked like blonde was getting rid of her lunch. Blue removed her fingers, but left her hand inside Conner’s pants as the smaller woman continued to tremble with aftershocks. “You still feel bad about giving Monty a hard time?”

Conner laughed. “If I let you kill him I can buy you a lot more dresses.”

Blue shook her head. “That’s evil honey.”

Conner let out a breath and stood up. “No you’re evil, I’m just being driven to insanity.” Conner turned around and wrapped her arms around the neck of the pouting woman. “How’s that song go. Between the devil and the deep blue sea.”

Blue laughed, hummed a bar, and leaned down for a kiss. “So seriously what about the F.B.I. guy, you know he’s going to pop up tomorrow.”

Conner tweaked the singer’s nose. “Did you do what I asked.”

“But of course, madam.” Dark eyelashes batted.

Conner stepped out of Blue’s embrace. “Suddenly I’m in the mood for some Frank Sinatra and a Martini.”

The singer looked at the smiling blonde with wide eyes. “You’re just leaving me here?”

A small nose crinkled as Conner smiled and winked at the singer. “What?” Conner turned on her heels and descended the steps into the main cabin, as if nothing happened, leaving a bewildered and amused singer standing on the deck laughing at herself. “And I’m the devil you say.” Blue sang a verse of the song to herself and sauntered off.

* * *

Supposedly the band was rehearsing, but by the time Remy and Greg showed up to stock the bar, Wilhelm hobbled through the door, and Vincent came around with Tan and Al, it was an impromptu jam session. Conner was lounging on top of the piano as if she was about to break into song and Terry was taking up the other half of the piano bench with Blue. Sam, Karl, Benny, and Elias were spaced out on the stage tuning their instruments.

Blue was working the scale when Sam caught her attention. “Do you want to work on the ‘Anything but love’? The dark woman nodded and adjusted her range hat, that was turned backwards like always. She winked at Terry as she wiggled her fingers and began a moderately paced version of ‘I can’t give you anything but love’ that quickly became a fast-paced free for all; regardless of who could actually carry a tune or even knew the actual words.

Ewan stood outside the club and watched them with a sadness that even he couldn’t justify anymore. He hadn’t even gone to see Wilhelm, except once while the man was still unconscious. He had been his friend since child hood and he couldn’t even say he was sorry for the death of Sara and his unborn child. Ewan shoved his hands in his pockets and he wanted to be mad, he wanted to be raging with anger, as he watched his sister prance around the stage like a school girl with the singer. He wanted to hate all of them for having a good time and living their lives while he was desperately trying to figure out where he had lost his. If he never understood the meaning of ‘on the outside looking in’, he understood now. For the first time in years, his heart hung heavy with the thought of ripping away their happiness just to appease his own demons. He reached out absently to the door with the thought of walking in the club and falling to his knees, but it was a notion he thwarted as he saw Agent Grimey’s car pull up. Ewan turned his head at disgust at himself and walked down the street before the agent could catch his eye.

Vincent looked over to the door just as Ewan had walked away, and he stood up. “You expecting somebody Conner?”

Conner stopped trying to play the drums and looked at the door with concern. She recognized the pinched features of Agent Grimes and broke into a wicked smile. “It’s just Agent Grimey Vincent, let him in.” Conner stood up and walked across the stage, only to be stopped by Terry as she hopped off.

“You want me to go with?”

“Nah, got it covered.” Conner winked at Blue and squeezed Terry’s shoulder before walking away.

“Have you girls been misbehaving?” Brown eyes turned to the singer who was pretending to be examining the keys on the piano. “Too bad we can’t hear.”

Blue smiled. “No biggy, you ready for the weekend?” Terry turned to the singer and just nodded.

Across the room Conner, couldn’t completely wipe the grin off her face as she walked up to the Agent. “Agent Grimes, would you like a drink? Oh but wait –on duty, so sorry. Any way, I’d offer you a seat, but this should be short.”

The agent regarded the blonde with an arched brow. “Then you will be cooperating I take it.”

Conner crossed her legs at the ankle and leaned on one of the chairs to her right. “When have I not been cooperating agent. I’ve given you everything you’ve asked for and well I apologize if my legitimacy is throwing a wrench in your promotion plans.”

“Ms. McGreely I have no doubt that as head of your family you intend to legitimize your family business, but the Bureau is clearly concerned with the means you are using to get there.”

“Number one, Agent I’m accountant, like I have been since I graduated college. Even in dealing with my brother, I was only there in a counseling capacity, and if I’m not mistaken his books were clean. Number two, I’m not the head of anything and certainly not my family business, what ever that may be this week. We McGreely’s like to hop around.”

“Ms. McGreely I think you have O.C.C.B. fooled very well and Baltimore City cops are just eating out of your hand, but I’ve got you.”

Conner mirrored his smiled and stood up straight. “Oh you do, I’m interested in hearing this tale.” Conner folded her arms across her chest. “Hey guys, settle down, Agent Grimey, swears he’s got me.” The room grew quiet at Conner’s request and all eyes turned towards the agent who suddenly felt like a paramecium under a grade schoolers’ microscope. “So lay it on may Mr. Man.”

The agent huffed and pulled out a manila folder. “I’ve got you making several long phone calls to your Uncle Cameron’s residence, where you were overheard speaking about several money transactions.”

Conner laughed genuinely. “Excuse me for calling my uncle. Anyway, I was talking to my niece, you know he has daughter’s right. Well, I know I probably shouldn’t have done it, and I apologize, but she needed help on her ECON project so I gave her a downed portfolio. It’s ten years old and the guy is dead, but I didn’t use any of personal information. Last time I checked that wasn’t a federal offense.” She shrugged.

The agent pursed his lips and tried to ignore the snicker from the group assembled on the stage. “Fine, then the calls to Sophia Brusio.”

Conner winced like she’d been caught. “Not so loud, she gets jealous.” She nodded her head at Blue who was doing her best to keep a straight face. “Truth is Sophia was picking up some stuff for me in Milan, some dresses for the amazon, but they’re supposed to be a surprise so can you keep it down.”

He tossed the folder on the table and sucked his teeth. “You seem to have answer for everything Ms. McGreely.”

“Well my momma always told me to be prepared. Speaking of, can I show you my manila folder.” She raised her eyebrows and walked over to the bar where she picked up a thick folder inside of a large envelope. “Well my reading is a little more tedious but I’ll give you the highlights. Actually, I don’t even need this since you’re telling me volumes right now.”

The agent eyed the blonde suspiciously as she tossed the folder back to the bar and sat down on a stool. “First off Grimey, can I call you Grimey?” She smiled and continued. “That’s a $1500 hundred dollar suit, you know why I know? Because I used to spend all day with my brother and my dad in the damn tailors’. I won’t get into your cuff links, but those aren’t gold plated, I can tell that from back here. Your sunglasses are not even remotely standard issue, since last time I checked Oscar de la Renta does not fall into their cash bracket. Your shoes are ·.. right? I know Italian leather when I see it, and it’s not like you’ve had those shoes for years, I bet the sole isn’t even scuffed. Nice watch by the way·don’t cover it now. One of those kinetic suckers, they’re pretty nice. You want me to talk about your tie or how about the 12 other suits in your closets. Now unless you have the same Dresser as Scully and Mulder, your closets shouldn’t look how it does. I won’t talk about the boat you just purchased. Makes my little boat look like a dingy, but hey maybe you’re a seafaring man and maybe you inherited a lump of money or you played the slots in Atlantic City.” She hoped off the stool and walked towards the reddening agent. “Grimey, I’ve got you and you know it, so I suggest you turn tail and run. You leave now you might be able to intercept that little fax and e-mail that’s going to make its way to the justice department.”

His eyes grew wide. “You wouldn’t, you can’t.”

“Try me, shit head.”

The agent was fuming as he drew his nervous gaze across the room. He had no real intention of attacking the blonde, but he slammed his case down on the table a little to hard, and the quiet room filled with the sound of hammers being cocked on guns. Agent Grimes was smart even if he was greedy. He put his hands up and moved away from Conner as he saw all the guns aimed at him. Even if he wanted to hurt the blonde, the two guns aimed at him from the stage, would have cut him down even before the other two women standing behind him and off to his left, not to mention the tall black man who stood behind the bar and the large man with the broken arm. “Can I get my briefcase?”

Conner grinned. “I’ll toss it out for you.”

“For an accountant you seem to have lots of firepower.”

Conner shrugged as she picked up his briefcase. “They’ve all got permits and besides they’re my friends and just a little overprotective. Between you and me, I think it’s all the caffeine, but they never listen to me.” She gave the nervous agent a cheeky grin and tossed his briefcase out of the front door. “Remember, you’re racing the clock Grimey.” She tapped her watch and watched the man scoop up his briefcase and walk briskly to the car.

Conner turned to face her friends and hummed to herself with delight. She clapped her hands together in delight and stepped back on the stage. “Woo hoo! All right, let’s party like it’s 1999.”

“It’s past that all ready.”

She flopped on the piano with a giggle. “Fine, like it’s 2010.” She laughed and then looked at Blue. “Do you think I should send it?”

Innocent blue eyes met with green. “Oops, did you tell me not to?” She touched a hand to her lips and winked.

“Bad girl.” Conner and Blue shared a kiss, which garnered large groans and cat calls from their friends.

Sam ran a purposefully squeaky b-flat scale as the less occupied members of the band, broke into a rousing polka rendition of ‘Friends in low places.’

* * *

Victor Montrose sat behind the large mahogany desk in his office, with his knee resting on his leg, and a snifter of brandy in his hand. His face held ho real expression and he didn’t even appear to be thinking that hard. In truth, this was him flustered. If he let anyone with a few feet of him they would be able to see the throbbing vein that ran down the center of his forehead. Montrose was tied up and he knew it. A few street fights and skirmishes weren’t providing him with the relief he needed. Preakness was only a few weeks away and by being cut completely out of Pimilico he stood to make no money on the entire Triple Crown racket. The sullen presence of Ewan seemed to make no difference and even the indomitable C.C. appeared slower.

C.C. walked into the man’s office and Victor neither looked up from his drink or stopped his train of thought. C.C. dropped an envelope on the desk. “It’s done.”

Thin lips wrapped around the lip of the glass as Montrose drank. “It took you long enough.”

“I had to go outside.”

“And you can’t do it why?”

“Cause she’ll be looking for me, and you’re not paying me enough to go upstate for you.”

“But I’m paying you more than enough to get rid of the thorn in my side, so I suggest you stop trying to sulk and defend your selfish ideals and do your fucking job.” C.C. rolled his eyes at the thin man and left without a word. Montrose sat his glasses on the table and let out a breath as he refilled his glass from the bottle to his left. “If you don’t do it C.C. I’ll just do it myself and match the rest of your body to your face.” A thin hand waved in front of the Cd player and the thin man relaxed back into his chair as Puccini filled his office.
CH 13: ‘This is going to hurt you, a lot more than it’s going to hurt me’
Conner groaned as she looked out of the window into the early afternoon drizzle. She stepped into her sneakers and put on her jacket as she walked into the foyer. Smiling all the while as she placed the rose in the vase on the side table next Blue’s note. ‘Such a sap’, she thought as she opened the front door and put on her navy blue American Eagle baseball cap. She hitched up her khakis as she bounded down the steps to meet the chauffeured Cadillac. Conner gave a smile as she opened the door and found Terry waiting within the tinted vehicle.

“Hey goob. I thought I was picking you up.” Conner closed the door and turned to the driver. “Hi Marcus, que pasa?”

“Not the Birds.”, the driver grumbled.

Both women chuckled. “It’s still early Marcus, it’s still early.”

The driver shrugged and pulled off. Conner smiled and turned towards Terry as she patted her leg. Terry spoke up as she regarded the woman taking off her cap and running her hand through her hair. “Where’s your stuff?”

“At the bar.”

“How’d you manage that one?”

“The amazon grabbed both bags this morning before she left.” Conner shrugged and then broke into a large smile. “So you all ready for a hot night in the big apple with Mr. Sam.”

Terry rolled her eyes and waved Conner off. “Shut up.” Terry tried to keep a straight face but couldn’t help laughing at the faces Conner was pulling. She finally laughed and then slapped the seat as they turned onto the JFX. “Shit! We need to stop at my office, I got something you need.”

“Can’t it wait?”

“Yes and no. But truth be told I don’t want it sitting in my office over night.”

Conner arched a brow. “It’s a pound of weed right?”

Terry swatted Conner in the shoulder. “No fool, but I’ve got a bright idea.”

“Oh yeah.”

“We’ve been so busy trying to bury Monty that nobody thought about shoving him into the light.”

Conner pursed pink lips and then used her best Southern accent. “I thought we were supposed to go away from Light Carolanne.”

Terry laughed out loud. “It can be done without involving us. Besides I’ve still got some folks over at Quantico so this can work.”

Conner nodded. “Well let’s turn this puppy around and get it.”

* * *

As per usual, East Fayette was lined with cars so Marcus had to double park the Lincoln across the street from the office building. Terry unlocked the door and then began searching the seat. Conner noted her action. “Whatcha’ looking for?”

“A damn umbrella.”

“I got a hat.”

She groaned. “Give up the jacket too.”

“You’re going across the street.” Conner complained but shrugged out of her jacket none the less.

“It’s pouring, give me the hat, knucklehead.” Conner just giggled as Terry put on the jacket and pulled up the collar tight to her neck and then stuffed her hair under the hat and then opened the door. “I’ll be two shakes I promise and then it’s off to the spa, okay.” Conner nodded as she watched Terry swing her legs out of the car. She stood up and then dropped down as her keys fell to the ground. Terry shook her head and rolled her eyes as she caught Conner’s smirk. Then squatted to retrieve her keys under the car. Conner only shook her head as she watched Terry attempt to find her keys under the car. She was grinning so hard that she almost missed the man across the street.

He was standing across the street next to a double-parked jeep. The windows were blacked out and the passenger door looked to be open. The man wore a short jacket with no protection from the quickening slant of the rain. Perhaps it was the oddity of his ignoring the rain or his Napoleon like stance; hand in jacket, as he waited by the car or the quickening pulse of pain at the base of Conner’s skull that put her on attention. Her latent fears came to fruition when Terry stood up straight and Conner saw the flash of chrome even without the aid of sunshine. The moment moved excruciatingly slow for Conner as she moved towards the door and yelped out Terry’s name as the woman turned away from the car.

Terry turned towards the right back to the car as she heard her name. She never even registered the bullet that whizzed by her head, but the bullet that exploded into her shoulder turned her around with it’s force so that her back was to the outside. Conner reached out and caught the falling woman, dragging her into the car and bellowing at Marcus to drive, before she could even close the door.

The car door swung shut as Marcus made a hard right onto the thoroughfare and began cutting through lunchtime traffic to reach the hospital. Conner was pressing her hand down onto Terry’s shoulder hoping to slow the blood flow. She held her other hand to the side of Terry’s face as her head rested in Conner’s lap. Brown eyes were wide in shock, but Conner could tell by Terry’s incoherent mumbling that she was on the verge of passing out. Conner pulled the hat off of Terry’s head and pressed her forehead to Terry’s as she urged Terry to hold on. “Where almost there bubba, just hang on.” Conner was fighting to hold back her tears as she watched Terry struggle to keep her eyes open. “I’ve got you, you’re gonna be fine.” Terry’s body shook with a coughing fit and Conner placed both hands over the woman’s wound. Conner was so focused on the woman in her lap that she hadn’t realized the car had even stopped. She cradled Terry to her in a protective movement as the car door opened. Her face relaxed somewhat when she saw Marcus.

Conner eased out from under Terry and was out of the side door before the medics could even get Terry on the gurney. With Marcus on her heels Conner followed Terry all the way to the double doors of the operating room. Marcus took a silent cue from the orderly and guided a frantic Conner towards the chairs. He managed to get the mumbling woman to sit so he could reach his phone. Marcus followed the small woman with his eyes as she stood up and began pacing the short aisle, wringing her hands together and rubbing them through her hair oblivious to the smears of blood she was leaving all over her face and clothing. That was how Blue was greeted when she and Sam, along with Vince burst into the emergency room ten minutes later.

Lackluster green eyes grew wide as large hands gripped her about the shoulders and turned her around. Conner took one look into Blue’s eyes and collapsed into the tall woman’s arms. It was all Blue could do to not burst into tears along with the sobbing woman in her arms. Blue bit down on her lips as drew Conner into her body as tight as possible and just held the woman as she released her frustration. Blue felt herself filling with rage, but she knew what Conner needed more than anything in this moment was her support and her compassion not her anger. Blue crushed her lips into Conner’s hair as she mumbled words of comfort into small ears. When she felt Conner’s sobs subside, Blue looked over to Marcus who stood next to an anxious Sam.

“What happened?” she asked quietly.

Marcus sighed as he removed his hat and gave a half shrug. “We stopped on Fayette to uh, to uh pick up something from Terry’s office. Then, um, she, she got out of the car.”

“Who?”, she asked firmly. Marcus blew out a nervous breath and completely undid his tie. Blue stopped the urge to grit her teeth as she realized now was not the moment to blow her top. She nodded in understanding and softened her tone as she adjusted her hold on Conner. “Take your time Marcus, just tell me what happened.”

“I apologize. Um, Terry got out of the car, she um, she dropped her keys. I was looking in the mirror and Conner was making a face at her, everything was fine. I go to change the radio station and then I hear Conner yell for Terry. Next thing I know, there’s this pop-pop sound, and Terry’s going down. Conner pulls her in and I just was hoping her legs were in the car when I pulled off. I-I, that’s it.” His chest heaved with a breathe as Blue nodded at him.

“Do you know what they were going to get?” Marcus let out a huff of air as he contemplated the question.

“Papers.” All eyes turned to Conner as she poked her head out from Blue’s embrace and spoke up. She locked eyes with Blue for a second and gave the woman a squeeze conveying the message that she was okay. Blue was hesitant, but she released her grip on Conner and let the woman step out of her embrace, but not out of her reach as she placed her hand on Conner’s neck and began a subtle caress. Conner rubbed her eyes with her sleeve, suddenly aware of the blood on her hands. “It was p-papers. Something about Montrose. Uh, she wasn’t really specific, but it was possibly something that was to be released to the press, I don’t know.” Conner looked from Blue to Sam. “She’s going to be okay, she will.”

Sam nodded as Conner answered his unvoiced concern. “You heard anything?” He asked quietly.

Conner shook her head. “She’s still in there.” Conner swallowed the lump in her throat as her voice hitched. She found herself in another warm embrace very quickly. She stepped back from Blue, still holding her arms and gave the tall woman a small smile. “I’m cool.” Blue stood in front of Conner and caressed a red cheek with affection. “Really.”

Blue attempted to lean in and give the smaller woman a kiss on the forehead, when she found herself being pushed aside. The countenance of Conner’s entire face changed, and creased with anger as green eyes grew large and sparked with what Blue could only describe as hate. She tried to grab a hold of Conner, but the determined woman avoided her grip and moved past her. Blue turned around to follow the woman and then stopped in her tracks as she spotted where Conner was headed. Straight to Ewan.

Conner was red-faced and bloody as she stalked towards Ewan. For a brief second he thought she was hurt, but he rethought that assumption as he rocked back on his heels from the fist to his jaw. The lanky man didn’t have a moment to touch a hand to his jaw as he felt Conner’s hands grasp his collar. The compact woman drove him back towards the wall with the sheer force of her anger. He was trying to keep his footing as Conner began driving her knee into his gut. It was all he could do to protect his face and body as she bellowed her thoughts into his face.

He didn’t really feel the need to focus on her words, since being called a rat bastard would still hurt with or without the accompanying blows. Blue watched as Conner exploded onto Ewan and held up her arm as Vince began to advance in order to break up the one-sided scuffle. It was only when Ewan blocked one of Conner’s knees and pushed back, causing the two to tumble to the ground, that she finally moved forward. She stood near them as Conner rolled on top of Ewan and drove her forearm into his chest and pounded him as she punctuated her blows with, ‘fuck you!’ When Blue saw Ewan’s face grow red she leaned over and pulled the still flailing woman off of Ewan. She held the squirming woman tightly as she walked away from Ewan and the stares of the bystanders in the alcove. Conner let her head loll back onto Blue’s shoulder with force as the last of her fit moved through her. Blue kept her lips close to Conner’s ear as she spoke in soft soothing tones to the fuming woman.

“It’s all right Conner, it’s all right. Let it go, just let it go…I’ve got you I promise.” She chanted the words into Conner’s ear until she felt the woman calm. Blue looked towards Sam who was helping Ewan up from the ground. She motioned for Sam to take Conner as she watched Ewan exit into the stairwell and then followed him.

The bruised man had managed to find an awning to stand under as he exited the hospital and leaned back onto the brick building. He was fishing for a lighter when Blue came out of the building. His heart was pounding in his chest so hard that he didn’t register the tall woman’s presence until a flame hovered before his face. He didn’t bother to cast his eyes on the arm that was held out to him, he knew who it was as he leaned forward and lit his cigarette. They were both silent as they stood two full body lengths apart and leaned against the wall.

After three hard drags, Ewan licked at his sore lip with his tongue and then spoke. “You want one?” He held up the cigarette.

Blue folded her arms across her chest and spoke flatly. “No, it’s bad for the voice·kind of like getting your throat cut.” Brown eyes cut to the right with fury, but paled in anger, as they met with two chips of blue ice. Ewan mumbled something to himself and looked away. Blue took a deep breath and turned her head towards the hunched over man at her side. “So do I get to know what’s going on?”

Ewan snorted. “You her proxy now.”

“I could go get her, but I would think your ribs might want a rest.”

Ewan smiled morbidly and then flicked the butt of his cigarette into the alleyway. He shoved his hands into his pants pockets and let his chin fall to his chest. “She thinks I did this?”

A black eyebrow raised as Blue turned her body towards Ewan. “You didn’t?”

He straightened up as he let out chuckle. “Unbelievable, she thinks I tried to put a call in on Terry. Ha! That’s just fucking great.” He shook his head and ran his hand through his hair.

“So you didn’t.”

Ewan glanced at Blue, and looked away, knowing he wasn’t ready to try to meet her eyes. “That’s bad business and you know it.” He waved a hand through the air in a defeated manner. “This city is in the middle of a turf war, my sister’s calling in the big guns, Monty is calling in the dogs, there may be one chance to settle this without a Braveheart-esque battle, and you think that I would light the powder keg by killing Terry.” He sighed as he kicked a wayward can and walked to the middle of the alley. He cocked his head to the side as he looked at the expressionless woman, barely holding her penetrating gaze. She didn’t say anything so he kept talking. “Jesus, I’ve known Terry before she was Terry, good God. And I know what she means to Conner, so I wouldn’t make a call on Terry.”

Blue stared at the man as he kicked at a rock on the ground. A faint smirk crossed her lips and she caught his weak gaze for a moment. “I agree with you.” Ewan looked up from the rock with wide eyes, in surprise. Blue spoke again before he could make a comment. “I don’t think you made the call on Terry·for precisely all those reasons, and for one other.” Ewan looked up again and the tall woman purposefully softened her look so that she could hold his attention. She spoke calmly. “The call wasn’t for Terry.”

Blue held in her smirk of satisfaction as green eyes sprinkled with gold, flinched in horror and met her eyes and held them. Ewan walked right up to Blue and stopped a foot away as they stood toe to toe, her boots making them even in the height department. He gnashed his teeth as he spoke to the grinning woman. “You’re a fucking animal.”

Blue’s grin grew wider as she clasped her hands behind her back. “It takes one to know one.”

Ewan shook his head in exasperation and shuffled his feet as he tried to figure out what to do with his hands that were clinched into fists at his sides. “Look at you, you’re nothing but a punk thug tearing away at my family.”

Blue threw back her head in laughter. “What can I say, I’m reverting to my Neanderthal ways, but I assure you, it was all you that tore your family apart.” She took a deep breath and dropped her grin. “Same way you tore mine apart.”

Ewan’s cheeks flushed with heat as he fought the urge to lunge at the woman in front of him. He closed the distance between them so that their noses almost touched. “I wish we would have gotten rid of you too.”

Every muscle in her body tensed, but she made no move as she bared her teeth and spoke in a rage filled rasp. “And every night, I dream that it was your bones I crushed with that bat.”

For a long span of time, the two stood there quiet, except for the breaths they wear taking. Each was heavy and filled with anger, that neither wanted to act on, if only out of the curious yet mutual respect of the blonde upstairs. Blue crossed her arms across her chest and eased back a fraction of a step. She still held Ewan’s angry stare, but allowed her own features to relax, so she could talk without growling. “You want to take out our dicks now and start pissing on our territory?” The crude sarcasm of the statement resonated in both of them as they relaxed their stares and returned to their neutral corners along the wall.

Ewan sighed heavily and then took out another cigarette. He caught the lighter tossed to him and lit up. “I want to have a sit down with her.”

“Hell no!” The reply came out harsher than even she expected.

He chuckled indignantly. “I don’t really have to ask.”

“And I don’t really have to let you see her.” She held up her hand before he spoke again. “The only thing you can say along with an apology is ‘goodbye and I’ll call you when I get out of therapy’. This has gotten way out of hand and as far as I’m concerned you’re privy to everything regardless if you’re not calling the shots· and that’s worse than pulling the trigger.”

Ewan hung his head in a defeated manner. “She could always just walk.”

This time it was Blue who rumbled with laughter. “Fat chance now. You’re willing to turn over everything your family worked for and created because you haven’t got the balls to take care of your shit. You do this because you’re some kind of ego adrenaline junkie. She’s doing this because she loves her family, and you want her to just hand it over and hide in a cave.”

“Look, I may have my problems, but I don’t want her dead.”

“Issues, man, you’ve got issues.” Blue leaned off the wall and tousled her hair. “Look, I’ll tell her we should leave, hell that’s fine with me, I’d rather be watching the sun rise over the ruins in Athens than staying here and playing cops and robbers. But,” she paused as she caught his eyes. “, if she leaves, she leaves with what she put into this. Nobody’s pissing almost a year of work away for a bunch of greedy pricks who’ll no doubt be dead inside the next two years.” Ewan just sighed as he looked away from the woman and rubbed at his eyes. “Understand something McGreely, this is Conner’s decision, and if she stays then I stay. And if anybody comes near her or Terry or anybody she even waves to, I promise you, you won’t have to worry about nightmares ever again.”

Green eyes met blue as he regarded the blatant threat. He held her gaze and knew she meant it and he believed it. He watched the woman walk to the door and then he too stood away from the wall. “C-can you tell her I’m sorry.”

Blue held on to the handle of the door as she regarded the pallid man. She almost shook her head at his obvious demise. “She all ready knows you’re sorry.” She made no change in her tone as she spoke the word, but the dullness of green eyes told her that he understood. She swung the door open and turned back towards Ewan once more. “In all truth McGreely, I think you should leave. You’ve got nothing left to offer and apparently nothing left to give. I don’t know what Monty told you or has you believing, but in reality, none of this is yours to take and it’s damn sure not yours to give.”

Weary green eyes looked over to the door as the sound of it closing reached his ears. Ewan dragged his hand down his face and flipped his still lit cigarette into a puddle of water. It made no fizzle, just as he seemed to make no sound as he walked out of the alley and onto the rainy street.

* * *

As Blue made it up the three flights of stairs, her arms were quickly filled with the bundle that was Conner. The small woman looked to have been crying again, but the wide smile on her face gave Blue all the news she needed. “She’s okay?” Conner just nodded as she moved out of Blue’s embrace and began to drag her down the hallway. They joined Sam, who stood outside of one of the recovery rooms looking at Terry through the glass.

The big man gave a squeeze to the hand that Blue placed on his shoulder and smiled at her. “They’re going to move her to her own room in a little while, but she’ll probably be out at least until morning.”

“Good, that’s good.” She gave Conner a kiss on the forehead and squeezed her. “Uh, why don’t you take Conner down to the room and hang out with her, I need to run out.”

Sad green eyes turned up to the tall woman and Blue almost punched herself in the head for even opening her mouth. “You leaving?” She sounded like a little girl.

“Well, I, uh-

Conner cut her off with a shake of her head and then spoke firmly. “Sam, you stay up here and wait for Terry, we’re going down to the room.” Sam nodded and watched as Conner and Blue walked to the elevator.

Blue waited for the doors to close before she spoke. “I’m not leaving?”

Conner gave her a small smile and shook her head. “No, I want you here.” She looked down at the paneling and added softly, “I need you here.”

The imaginary firing squad in Blue’s head shot her on the spot. She reached out and pulled the small woman to her just as the elevator doors opened. “Which one?”

“Room 512.”

Blue still held the woman to her side as they walked into the private room and closed the door behind her. She stopped Conner’s forward motion and tuned the woman around by the shoulders and proceeded to kiss her senseless in the dim light of the room. She released Conner as she felt her own legs grow weak and then stepped back holding on to her hands to keep her anchored. Conner blinked away the haze of arousal and comfort and spoke first.

“You’re still not leaving.” She wiggled blonde eyebrows and both women laughed sincerely well needed laughs.

“Don’t you need some clothes though?” She followed the woman to a chair and sat down with Conner in her lap.

“I’ll get scrubs, besides we need to plan.”

Blue chuckled. “Ha! I all ready have a plan. I’m calling Tan, Al, Gordy, and the entire Justice League of Superheroes and we’re going to do some guerilla style interviewing.” The dark woman grinned with malice as she stared into space. It was Conner’s light giggle that broke her meandering thoughts.

“Emphasis on the guerilla.” Blue shrugged and shared a grin with the woman on her lap. “While you disappeared I did a little thinking.”

Blue arched a brow. “Oh yeah?”

Conner shook her head and brushed away dark tendrils of hair from Blue’s face. “Yes. And as much as I am intrigued, yet slightly disturbed, yet surprisingly turned on by your interview techniques, nobody else is spilling blood on my watch.”

Blue couldn’t help the pout of disappointment that came to her lips. “What if we clean it up.”

Conner groaned and rolled green eyes as she playfully swatted the woman on the shoulder. “Jasmine, seriously.” Blue lost her pout and avoided the gently scolding green eyed stare. Conner gave the woman a kiss on the temple as she made herself comfortable on Blue’s lap. “We’ve been playing this game all wrong, and Terry had an excellent idea which I think will work out in the long run.”

“I’m listening.”

“All of this has been about short-term possibilities. Like, who can I get rid of this week so two weeks from now I can have a break, meanwhile in the interim somebody is popping up ready to cap you the second you take a breather.” She paused and ran clean hands through her hair. “The last few weeks I’ve been thinking like some green hoodlum getting the chance to steal my first car or something. Mt. Rushmore was right, I am the right person for this job. I’m smarter than these bastards because I grew up around people who did it right the first time.”

Conner started to speak again, but stopped as the door opened and a nurse laid down a pair of teal green scrubs. Conner gave a wave to the smiling woman and stood up. She began taking off her clothes and talking as Blue made herself comfortable in the chair and enjoyed the show.

“Where was I?”

She threw a long leg over the arm of the chair and looked at Conner through hazy blue eyes. “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough·.and gosh darn it, people like me.”

Conner rolled her eyes and flipped the lounging woman the bird. “Anyway, smartass, I say if Monty wants all of this, he can have it.” Blue sat up. “Hold your horses daddy-O.” Conner slipped the shirt over her head and began folding her clothes in a pile. “Monty’s been living the life of Riley for almost the past year because he’s been hiding in corners, while the rest of us have been scurrying around like roaches looking for our holes when the lights come on.”

“Except all the holes are sealed.” Blue interjected.

“Exactly.” Conner walked to Blue and pulled up the other chair and collapsed into it. She stretched her legs out and rested them on Blue’s thighs, where the tall woman immediately began an unsolicited foot rub. Conner moaned in relief. “Good Lord that feels great. So, if Montpelier thinks he can handle the job, than I’m going to give him the job.”

Full lips curved into a wicked grin as Blue caught on to Conner’s idea. “Why do I think we’ll be paying a visit to Agent Grimey.”

“And then some my dear. I’ll be happy to call ‘Phia and let her know that Monty doesn’t want to use her boys for the cement work. Tangelos would love to know what’s happening to his vic and Marachi will blow a gasket when I say it was all Monty’s idea to pull out of Pimlico. Not only will the shit hit the fan, but the Vultures will be a swarming.” Blue let out a laugh and gave the woman across from her a high-five. A full smile graced her features as she beamed at Conner with pride. “If Mongoose wants to be Don-Juan-Capo-head honcho, then he’s getting all of it, including the backwash of shit that’s more shady than anything they’ve pulled out of the Chesapeake of late.”

“I’m impressed, but you know I have to ask.” Conner titled her head as she regarded the woman working on her feet and calves. “What about today.”

Conner slumped in the chair and cradled her head as she rested her elbows on the armrests. “Did you ask him?”

Blue eyes rolled. “We got into for a second.”

“And?”

Broad shoulders shrugged. “And I told him he was a pathetic bastard and that he should go back to hiding under whatever rock he came out from under.”

“Jazz! You did not?”

“Well, not in some many words.”

“What did he say?”

“He suggested you walk.”

Conner sat up straight. “Fuck him!”

“I told him it was your call.” Strong hands resumed their foot massage and then stilled. “Wait, you don’t want to walk do you?”

Conner sort of shrugged as she slipped back down into the chair. “I don’t know, I mean shit, I’ve, hell we’ve put so much into this, I don’t know if I want to hand it over. Besides, who the hell gets it?”

“Uh, Cameron.”

“I guess, but he’s going to be a grandpa soon and I think him and Suz should just kick back and watch their girls make it through college without all the bull shit. He’s a hell of a carpenter. He should go to Italy and make Gondalas or something.”

“So wait, what about legitimacy? I thought you were just getting the ball rolling and stepping away?”

Conner made a squeak of a noise and lightly sighed. “Even I said it, legitimacy takes time and well·” She trailed off as a smile crossed her companions face. “What?”

“You little shit.” She ran her fingers across the bottom of Conner’s foot making her laugh. “You want to keep it, you want to run the show don’t you?” Blue looked at Conner with equal parts amusement and understanding.

A faint blush reached Conner’s ears. “It is mine. And!,” she thrust a finger in the air, “legitimacy is still the goal, but hey it takes time and I wouldn’t be my father’s daughter if I didn’t ride out the shit storm.”

Blue chuckled. “So you ready to take the heat.”

Conner cracked her knuckles and smiled impishly. “Who said I was boss?”

Conner’s words hung in the air for a moment as understanding moved through the room and through Blue’s mind. Blue eyes went wide with mirth. “Well, I do declare Miss Scarlet you’ve been a very bad girl.” Conner raised her eyebrows causing them both to laugh. “Now on the flip side, what happens when Monty is called out to be a figurehead?”

“He’ll be taking so much shit up his ass it’s going to be coming out his ears. I on the other hand will be continuing to move my family towards legitimate avenues. Whatever slack exists will be taken care of.”

“And all the families are willing?”

“Some more grudgingly than others, but one legitimate family is good business for the rest.” She waved her hands through the air. “Look, I’m not trying to do this for the rest of my life, I’ve got other plans, but I need to make sure that who ever ends up taking over or inheriting this business understands what is was built on and how it will remain.” Conner removed her feet from Blue’s legs and leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees and reaching for Blue’s hands. The taller woman obliged and leaned forward, entwining their hands.

“So what are your other plans?”

Green eyes gleamed with mischief. “You’re my other plans.”

“Should I be nervous.”

“You never seem to be nervous in front of a crowd, but I guess a priest might give you the willies.”

Two black eyebrows raised comically high. “I’m going to confession right.”

Conner grinned innocently. “Well, I’ve always thought of it as declaring your love before God and family more than a confession.”

Blue sat back a little as she regarded the innocent look on the blondes’ face. “Oh·so this has just been one long engagement, huh?” Green eyes searched the floor as she tried to hold in her smile. Blue laughed silently as she lifted Conner’s chin. She batted her eyes at Conner and watched the younger woman swoon. “I want you to say it.” Her smooth alto resonated warmly in Conner’s ears.

Green eyes met blue sheepishly. “Should I get down on my knee?”

“Only if you’re going to stay there.” Conner sucked her teeth and groaned at the smirking woman. “I’m just joking Red. If you want to stand on the table over there with your pants around your ankles it’ll still be just as sincere.”

Conner grinned from ear to ear. “Well in that case.” She moved as if she was going to get up, but gave Blue a playful wink and sat back in her seat. Conner opened and closed her eyes slowly, as she took a deep breath and then spoke with a firm voice. “Will you marry me?”

Blue swallowed the lump in her throat and took a breath. “It won’t be legal.”

Conner chuckled. “Hey, I’m a Mafia Queen , I’ll make it legal.”

Both women laughed as they leaned in to one another and touched lips. Conner tangled her hands in dark hair as Blue caressed her face and they did their best to ease each others fears, comfort one another, and solidify their future together. A moment later they pulled away from each other breathless and far from satiated, but it would have to do for now. They touched their foreheads together and let out mutual sighs of contentment.

“You know Red, we need to work on your timing.”

Conner’s laughter filled the quiet room as she leaned back in her seat. “Timing you say. Hey, I’m sitting in a hospital waiting on my best friend, who got shot mind you, to come out of the recovery, I attacked my brother, I’m in the middle of a turf war, I’m on the verge of pms-ing, a nervous breakdown, and I just decided to run my family·my timing is impeccable.” Conner cackled as she crossed her eyes and made fish lips with her mouth. “I’m insane I know, but I’m in love, so that has to count for something.”

Blue just laughed as she pulled the smaller warmer to her and wrapped her in an embrace. “It counts for everything.”

Conner settled herself on Blue’s lap and rested her head on the woman’s shoulder. “You’re such sap you know that.”

Blue just smiled as she felt Conner nuzzle her neck. “You getting sleepy?” She got a nod in response as she rubbed Conner’s back. “I’m sure they’ll be down soon.” Another nod. “I love you, Conner Rose.” She felt the woman smile against her neck and mumbled something that sounded like ‘me too’. Blue stretched her legs out in the other chair as she absently rubbed Conner’s back and ran her hand through the small woman’s hair. She closed her eyes, not to sleep, but merely to meditate on what was being offered to her, what she had, and what she had to give. She silently sent her love to Gi-Gi and then when all was so quiet that she could hear the rhythm of Conner’s heart, her honey lined alto filled the room with a sweet melody:

East of the Sun and west of the moon

We’ll build a dream house of love dear

Close to the sun in the day, near to the moon at night

We’ll live in a lovely way sharing our love in the pale moonlight

Just you and I ö forever and a day

Love will not die we’ll keep it that way

Up above the stars we’ll find a harmony of life to a lovely tune

East of the Sun and west of the moon·..
CH 14: Ghetto Physics 101; Scum always Rises to the Top
For a person who had just been shot a week before, Terry was in great spirits. For a person who had never been shot in there life, and had the experience just a week before, Terry was like a pro. She was proud of her battle scars and not to mention the excuse it gave her to go out and buy 25 silk scarves in order to camouflage her sling. Conner on the other, was wound tighter than a Swiss clock. She didn’t even need to spike her hair up in the morning since it naturally seemed to stand on end. Blue on the other was trying to look on the bright side of things for once, and to lighten her own mood, she started a pool to see how long it would take Conner to actually crack. Vincent thought it cruel and sadistic, Terry reamed her, and Sam was mortified. Then they each put in twenty bucks a piece and took dibs on a week from Friday. For her part, it wasn’t that Conner was fearing for her life or anything, not since she was living in Fort Knox and seemed to be surrounded by people who could have probably done two tours of duty in Vietnam and come out alive with the bullet holes to prove it. True to her unselfish nature, she was more worried about all the kids out there who were running around doing her bidding and making things run smoothly for her. She was worried about the random shoot outs, vanishing people, and impromptu bar room brawls that were anything but coincidental. What was worse, was that by the end of the week, once she finished floating Montrose’s name through all the correct highways of information and passed of anonymous files to the O.C.C.B., she knew she was probably going to turn her city into viscous war zone.

Friday came and went and not even Terry’s dictator like approach to wedding planning or Blue’s sex-laden serenades calmed Conner down. She was all nerves, walking on broken eggshells, and waiting for the other shoe to drop. When it did, she cracked. Conner was actually twirling aimlessly in her desk chair, supposedly exercising, at least that’s what she had gone downstairs for. She was thinking about nothing in particular when she heard Terry let out a scream, that was only a scream because it was loud, but technically it was just a laugh or in the case a roar of triumph. Conner stopped her twirl with an extended leg and sat up. Soon her basement sounded like she was sitting inside of Cole Field House watching Juan Dixon make a steal and send an alley-oop to a waiting Terrance Morris for the fearsome dunk. When Conner got to her feet a broadly smiling Blue was in the doorway.

“Come here, come here!”

Conner titled her head as she regarded the singer. She was actually on the verge of squealing, and since nothing Blue ever did sounded like squealing, Conner decided to motivate. Her shuffle was still to slow for the tall woman who scooped her up and walked her into the sitting room where the t.v. was. Conner stopped giggling and slid out of Blue’s grip to her feet, where she practically tripped over her jaw. It didn’t matter that Conner couldn’t hear the t.v. the image was loud and clear.

In the middle of a pack of brow-beating reporters, was one very thin lipped, beady eyed, skinny Victor Montrose. Surrounding him and on the inside of the walking ring of reporters were several police officers holding Montrose’s arms. Conner held up her hand and asked for quiet as she searched the couch for the remote. The room grew silent as the speakers burst to life. Rapid firing questions were hurled at Montrose and his attorney, with the latter bellowing out “no comment” as they were ushered into the police station. The picture remained for a moment and then cut back to the station house where a black woman with a smooth hair-do came on the screen stacking her papers as she affixed a serious yet no partisan look to her face which was meant to be trustworthy.

“If you are just joining us this evening one of Baltimore City’s most elusive and sought after mob bosses was arrested this evening for his alleged involvement in racketeering cases across this state and throughout the East Coast. It appears that Victor Montrose assumed the head of the McGreely crime syndicate and has been making changes rapidly within the family ranks. It has been brought to our attention that it was these changes that led to Mr. Montroses’ arrest earlier this evening and have been the result of an on-going investigation by the Organized Crime Control Bureau and the FBI.”

The female anchor continued speaking but Conner turned off the sound and in only what could be described as slow motion, she fell to floor. It wasn’t a hard collapse, especially since the berber carpet was quite comfortable and she didn’t really have that far to fall. She was quickly surrounded by Blue, Terry, Sam, Vincent, Wilhelm, Tan, and Al, who all stood over the prone woman in their own state of shock. They were all concerned for the small blonde, but with her eyes wide open and the smallest of grins on her face, she actually looked happy. No one was sure who did it first, and in retrospect it may have been Conner herself, but the giggles started from somebody and they didn’t stop until all nine of them found themselves rolling on the floor holding their sides, with Terry’s puppy in the mix as well, hopping from body to body and yipping at the commotion.

Conner was red as a fire engine when she finally sat up. The news had moved onto the sports section, which was fine with her since she was afraid the sight of Montrose would send her into another fit of laughs. Eventually, they all sat up in a crooked semi-circle of sorts and began to calm themselves. A still wide eyed Conner turned to a teary-eyed Blue and nibbled on her fingernail as she spoke breathlessly. “Can we have a party? We should party. I think we should, yeah, yeah.”

Blue wiped at her face and raised her brow at the dazed woman. “Wouldn’t that be gloating Red?”

Conner shrugged. “I mean right here. Right now. Just uh, take out all the disco albums, and chill the tequila, and rack the balls on the pool table. Just here.” Her sentences were choppy and quick. “I think we should. I think we should.”

Terry looked at her friend with some concern. “You sure midget?”

Bright green eyes turned to Terry and Conner nodded. And with the silliest of grins she added, “and don’t call me midget.”

Terry let out a holler as she jumped up off the floor. “Yeah, that’s my girl! You heard her, suckers. Let’s par-tay!” Terry danced her own version of the jig all the way to the bar followed by the others leaving Blue and Conner on the floor.

Blue gently touched Conner’s arm. “You sure you okay?”

Conner nodded. “I may break into tears at any second, but ·.yeah.”

“You know-

Conner shook her head. “Yeah, I know. He’s probably not going to jail right now and maybe things will be cool for a month, but for right now we got him. For right now he’s on ice and the point is he’s got to cool his heels and regroup. And by the time he’s ready to regroup I’m going to be so far out of his reach I might as well be living on Jupiter.”

“Number one how’d you get so smart and number two we going somewhere?”

Conner grinned and for the first time really focused when she stared at Blue. “Cause I listen to you that’s why.” The dark singer smiled sheepishly. “And as for where I’m going to be. I’m not planning on going anywhere, but since all of you guys walk around me like I have my own personal pope-mobile, I’m might be hard to hit.”

“Oh you feeling invincible aren’t you?”

“No, just, out of reach I guess.” Conner shrugged.

Blue reached out and tweaked the blonde’s nose, which caused her to smile. “Don’t you go climbing up there too close to God, he might shake the tree.”

Conner burst into laughter. “Is that some wisdom from Cookie.”

“Yeah, and it came with an exclamation point.” Blue rubbed her butt as if she was relieving the incident.

“Nothing like time-honored child abuse to get you going.”

“Child abuse, ha! That was grown woman abuse.” The two women laughed and embraced.

Terry called out from over the bar. “Can yall break that shit up and let’s go here.” She pounded on the countertop, which started everyone else pounding on the counter as well creating an impromptu drumroll for the woman of the hour. Blue hoisted the blonde to her feet, grabbed her around the waist, and walked her to the bar.

The small group of friends found themselves surrounding the bar with their glasses raised high, awaiting a toast. Conner beamed as she tossed her head back dramatically and sighed. “I’d like to thank the academy for this fine award, and for all the little people who made it possible.” Her comments garnered laughs. She toned down her smile and took a breath. “Seriously, I don’t know what’s going to happen from here. I mean, I got an idea, but it could be crazy, it could be great, or we could all end up jail.” Conner paused to let them hoot and holler. “Really, there are certain people who should be here and they aren’t.” Conner swallowed the lump in her throat as her eyes misted in her thoughts of her family and friends. Blue squeezed her hand and Terry gave her a peck on the cheek and whispered to her friend, “Sara’s around lil’ bit.” Conner nodded and blew out a breath and then smiled. “I know I would normally toast to something raunchy, but for now, be this the calm before the storm or just the afterglow, I want this to be about them because intentionally or not we wouldn’t be in this place if not for their sacrifices.”

Conner re-raised her glass in the other and the others did as well. “This is for Sara, and for little Wilamena.” She winked at Wilhelm who just nodded and then met the eyes of each of her friends as she spoke. “For Wally, Charlie, Sean wherever he is,” she shook her head and met the blue eyes of her lover, “for Gi-Gi.” Conner smiled as she removed the small tear that escaped the tall woman’s eyes.

Blue seemed to read Conner’s train of thought as stayed focused on green eyes and quietly added, “For Duncan.”

Conner wanted to stay right in the warm place that she was, staring up at Blue with the same devotion that was being aimed at her, but her arm was getting tired, so just nodded and smiled. “Salud.” The word echoed through the basement as glasses chimed against one another and they drank in the memory of those no longer present. Conner let out a giggle as she felt the puppy tugging at her warm up pants. She glowed with a smile as she scooped the puppy up and tried to dodge his licks. “And we should toast to this little monster that better not pee on my rug or I’m sending him back.” She nuzzled the puppy’s nose and the air of sadness left the room as they passed the puppy around, refilled the drinks, and shut off the outside world at least for a little while.

Month later

“Freak, are we really doing this in a church or what?!” Terry’s voice rang out from the balcony of the soon to be finished restaurant.

A head of red-blonde hair emerged from underneath the countertop of the bar. Conner leaned her elbows onto the counter as she stood up and brushed back a stray lock of hair that managed to escape her ponytail, small as it was, but it had gotten too long to be spiked up. She chewed on her lip as she mulled over the answer to the question, and then shrugged, which sent Terry into a fit of groans as she flailed her arms and grumbled to herself about Conner’s unhelpful attitude. “Terry, I thought you said you were handling this, so why are you yelling at me?”

Terry sucked her teeth as she hurled a towel across the room at Conner. “You said you’d help, you schmo, this is for you, I’m not the one getting married midget.”

Conner smiled wistfully. “Aw, Terry, when you say it like that I get all warm and fuzzy inside.” She made a face as she let the sarcasm eat into her words.

“Screw you guys, I’m going home.”

Conner burst into laughter and met Terry as she came down the spiral staircase. “I’m just playing bean. What do you need. I am at your mercy, my liege.” Conner bowed deeply and got a swat upside her head for her efforts. Conner stood and followed Terry over to the stage area, where they sat down. “I say we do it in the Basillaca.”

Wide open brown eyes turned to the smiling blonde. “Are you trying for a one-way ticket to hell?”

“What can it hurt.” Conner raised her eyebrows and the women both broke into laughter. “Seriously, I just assume go to St. Michael’s and have it at that little chapel thingy. I mean it’s non-denominational, so we should be able to offend everyone and no one in particular at the same time. It’s small and it’s private.”

“I can do that. What’s the Amazon want?”

Conner smiled. “You’d think I just told her I was having her baby or something.”

Terry giggled. “Oh, so that’s why she’s so damn edgy, I thought she was worried about Monty Python sitting in a 2×2 cell.”

Conner groaned. “He’ll be out soon.”

“No shit, but it’s not like he can hang out around here. I hear there’s a swell price on his head.”

“That’s nice, maybe his goon will take him out.”

“I wouldn’t put it past him.” Terry shrugged and added quietly, “hell I’d do it myself for a small fraction of the price.” Conner smirked and squeezed Terry’s shoulder. They shared a smile of understanding and then Terry clapped her hands together and hopped off the stage. “Okay Daddy-O let’s motivate! I need guest lists, food, beverages, music and musak, color schemes, flower arrangements-

Conner groaned as she collapsed onto her back. “Can’t we just go stand, recite some cheesy lyrics, play a little Celine Dion, throw some rice cakes, and dance till we’re all good and drunk.”

“Fool, I may not be your mamma, but I’ll will beat you like thought I was if you don’t get up off your butt and help me.” Conner moaned as she was hoisted to her feet, she was about to throw a tantrum, when she noticed the tall form of the singer sneaking out of the back door.

“Oh no you don’t!” Conner scooted out of Terry’s grasp and pointed her finger at the retreating singer. “If I have to suffer, so do you.”

Blue eyes went wide as the singer held up her hands in a gesture of mercy. “I have to rehearse, yeah, yeah. Then I promised the girls we’d uh, uh, I don’t remember, but it had something to do with weight rooms, and I think I’m supposed to go and see my mom. I know you want some cheese bread from Cookie and she’s not hopping in the car.”

“Shut it woman!” Conner glared at the wincing woman and then broke into a smile. “I have been subjected to the worse tortures of my life, in the last hour, and I will not suffer this alone. I thought this was about me and you, twelfth of never and all that, so park it.”

Blue feigned hurt and pouted. “You can’t just use that excuse for everything.”

“Want to bet.”

“Yes, let’s.” The small woman advanced on the singer attempting to tickle her into submission, but Blue caught Conner around the wrists and held the smaller woman off while trying to tie her arms and knots.

Terry just watched the wrestling pair with amusement. “Are you two finished?” The two women in question broke apart from each other and looked at the floor like two ten year olds caught eating desert before dinner. “Now, look I love you both, but I am not doing this by myself. All I want is a few ideas to get the ball rolling and then you two can go play naked twister all day long.”

Conner clapped her hands. “Ooh my favorite.” Terry snapped at the blonde and Conner fought to keep a straight face.

Blue shook her head, but managed to keep from smiling. “Terry, I’d just assume marry her on a plank in a damn loin cloth.”

Conner’s ears turned red. “That is so sweet.” She gave the taller woman a kiss on the cheek. “And that loin cloth idea, doesn’t’ sound half bad.” Blue and green eyes met in mirth as they seemed to read each others thoughts, causing both women to yell out, “Theme!”

Terry didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. “Hell no! Hell no! There will be no theme!” The strength of her words seem to shake the wood beams in the next building and caused both woman to be on their best behavior. Terry huffed and sat down in a chair. “Now look here Abbot and Costello, there will be no theme here. No feather boas hanging from chandeliers, no female impersonators, no animal acts, nada, zippo. I still can’t decide if you should both wear white.”

Simultaneous looks of disbelief came over both Blue and Conner. The singer just pouted and Conner pretended that she was having chest pains. “Well I never!” Conner was trying hard to sound hurt, but her words came out with just a hint of a laugh.

Terry rolled her eyes. “You never what! Let’s not play that game missy.”

“I take offense at your thought that I have no virginal qualities.” Both Terry and Blue laughed. Conner glared at both women.

“Conner, honey, you haven’t been virginal since that senior week you spent in Ita-

Conner waved her hands frantically and gestured for Terry to stop talking before she could quite finish the sentence. Apparently, the presence of the tall woman hovering over her and breathing through her nostrils meant that more than enough had been said. Terry held in her laugh but not her smile as she watched the taller woman stalk up behind Conner and proceed to breathe down her neck. Conner turned to the side a bit, but kept her head down, knowing that if she saw that eyebrow raised high to the sky and those full lips pursed in question, that she’d crack.

“So what’s this senior week business?”

Blue’s purring alto rumbled through Conner, making the woman melt at the knees and go on alert all at the same time. “Welluh- you see, um, what had happened was, uh, it was you know, just seniors and um, well-

Blue raised a tapered finger to Conner’s lips stopping the woman from talking. “Just stop, just stop.” Guilty green eyes locked with amused blue.

“Kind of hanging myself aren’t I?”

The singer nodded and then tapped Conner on the nose as she held the smaller woman’s gaze. Blue licked her lips and grinned in a way that told Conner that telling the story might not be so bad. Blue intensified her gaze on Conner as she spoke to Terry who was off to the side, watching the encounter. “Terry, we’ll wear whatever color you want, I like orchids and tulips, she likes roses and lilies. You want some music ask Sam to give you the key to the truck and go knock yourself out.” The singer ran her finger along Conner’s jaw line and moistened her lips. “I don’t care what you eat cause I’m on a special diet. Anything else you want to know, will have to wait, because me and a certain young lady need to go have a long discussion about first-times and youthful excursions to·.Italy right.”

Even if Terry wanted to respond, she quickly found herself standing alone in the middle of the dining room floor smiling to herself as she watched her two friends rush off to “talk”. She slapped her thigh and laughed as she walked to the bar. “Maybe I should just tell everybody to bring SupersoakersÔ , so we can hose you both down.” She laughed at her words and went work on the plans.

* * *

Thirty days can be so fleeting when you’re enjoying the time or it can pass you by when you wish you were. Other times, thirty days can swallow you whole in its eternity. Sometimes thirty days can press upon you like 15 tons and the only thing one can think off of is never going back and never ever again sitting in the dark for thirty days. Even as the thin frame of Victor Montrose stepped out of the correctional facility, he knew that so called ‘Charm City’ had fallen out of like with him. Charm city had turned its back on Montrose and like any good man of infamy, if he was going to be cast out he was not going to go alone or go quietly for that matter. Only because of the money he had received, it was not surprising to Montrose that C.C. awaited him as he got into the tinted Jeep. C.C. was tempted to ask the man if he had lost a little weight, but he did have at least one brain cell left running on instinct, that told him to just nod and be quiet.

Montrose lit a clove and didn’t bother to lower the window. “Two days.” His voice was soft, but the concise words seemed to fill the back seat in volume. “What you do with the singer, you do on your own time, I would like it if you kept her busy though.”

“And Ewan?”

“Kill him. If you’re still alive in 48 hours burn it all and I’ll permanently make it worth your while.”

C.C.’s marred face lifted in what could be assumed as happiness. “Done.”

CH 15: ‘One for my baby·and one more for the road.’

It became quite clear to after the first day that the singer and Conner were never actually going to be apart from each other. Even when he saw Blue sitting outside of a boutique pretending to gag into her hat as she waited for Conner, the little blonde was always shadow by Vincent or one of the twins. All he was supposed to do, was deliver the girl to Montrose, but it was a little hard to deliver what you couldn’t package.

It was moving on well into the morning on the second day, when C.C. just decided to be the juggernaut that he was and stop trying to think his way through this one. He didn’t say she had to come to him in one piece, and knowing he had to go through Blue to get to her, he figured she’d be a little bruised anyway. C.C. didn’t quite understand his luck at being able to follow them on the long strip of route 70, he just figured they were taking a spontaneous road trip at 4:30 in the morning. They were driving with the top up on the Corvette, so he didn’t have to budge them to hard to get the desired effect. Conner noticed the large tank of a Sports Utility Vehicle bearing down on her car before she noticed the bend in the road. She let out a growl as she tried to down shift in order to let him speed past her. The sports car almost pulled off the desired effect, but the front bumper of the Suburban caught the right side of her hood and forced the car to the right, while she was trying to go left. She could feel the singer brace against the seat, as Conner yanked up the parking break and did her best to spin out of the sideswipe.

The car halted to a smoky stop as the car broke through one of the jersey walls and teetered over a small ditch. Even if the car slipped, it wasn’t like they were about to fall over a cliff. Before Conner could even pat herself on the back for insisting that driving like a maniac sometimes came in handy, she felt strong arms enfold around her as Blue pulled her into her body. Whatever question was coming to Conner’s mind, it left as she felt more than heard the crush of metal against metal, as the Suburban slammed into the car. Conner was sure she drew blood as her blunt nails dug into the singer’s body and the car began the first off four rolls, down the incline.

The small car landed on the driver side as it came to a stop and the bottom of the incline. Blue still held Conner to her as she felt the car stop rolling, which was not the same for her head. She swiped at the blood running from her head and looked down at the bundle in her arms. “You awake, lil’ bit?” Conner grunted. Blue smiled. “All right, I got to let you go, so I can get out of the car.” Another groan. “We’re going to go slow, so you don’t fall through the window?” She could hear Conner moan out the word ‘crap.’ The singer would have laughed if she wasn’t worried about the driver of the truck coming to finish. “I know, keep your eyes closed if you don’t want to see this.”

Conner eased back to the window. “Ugh, I feel like my eyeballs fell out, so don’t worry.”

Blue did laugh as she put her foot through what remained of the windshield and crawled out. “Hey, I want you to try to stand up and I’ll pull you out through the door.” With concern she looked down at the grimacing woman. “Conner you sure you okay.” She waited for the blonde to answer, even though for the most part she looked okay, even with the bloody nose. “Baby? You with me?”

Green eyes opened slowly and Conner smirked. “I think I broke my ankle.”

Blue sighed with relief. “That’s because you drive like it’s welded to the gas pedal.”

Conner chuckled as she began to move. “Wait till I get out of this car smart ass.”

Blue looked over her shoulder and tried to talk calmly when she couldn’t see or hear the truck. “The sooner you get out the longer you have to kick my ass.”

Conner could see Blue’s hands hanging in through the passenger side window as she got into a squat and proceeded to stand. Green and blue eyes went wide together as Conner saw what the tall woman sensed. A strong hand forced Conner back into the car as the shot rang out. Conner did the only thing she could do as she saw the tall woman fall to the ground; she screamed. Her heart was pumping and her ears were ringing, but maybe if she got out this wouldn’t have to end the way that it appeared to be going. Conner was frantically searching for a crow bar or The Club, all while keeping her eye on the still form of her lover. It was to dark to really see, but Conner could still make out the dark pool of blood on in the singer’s hair. She turned her head instinctively as the rest of the windshield was kicked in. She didn’t bother to struggle against the rough hand that grabbed her by the leg and pulled her out of the car. She winced in pain, but at least she knew her ankle wasn’t broken.

Conner kicked at C.C. with her free leg, but a punch to her kneecap stifled another attack. C.C. hoisted the blonde to her feet and put her in a choke hold as he drew the woman into his body. “Let me go you fucker! Let me just see her you shit!”

“You want to see her.” Holding onto Conner, he walked two steps to the still form of blue and kicked her in the side. No movement. She almost seemed to be stiff. C.C. grinned and for the first time in the past few moments Conner actually began to think the worse. “She’s all ready going into rigor. Fucking bitch!” He spit on the back of the tall woman and began to walk away with his charge.

Conner knew she was in no shape to struggle, but she wasn’t going to leave here without knowing, so instead of kicking and punching, she did the next best thing: she cried. Yes it was un-butch, it reeked of sissy tactics, and probably went against the grain of her feminist studies professor, but it was working. She sobbed and she wailed until she started hiccuping. C.C. groaned and stopped. “I will shoot you on the spot if you don’t fucking shut up!”

Conner took a small breath and sniffled. “Just let me see her. If öif she’s dead, I’ll shoot me for you.” Conner imagined herself to look like one of those pie-eyed porcelain figurines they sold on Home Shopping Network.

C.C. hawk-spit off to the side and shoved the blonde away from him. “You got five fucking seconds.”

Conner made a show of sniffing up the snot about to come out of her nose, instead of asking the thick-necked beast if he could even count that high. C.C. groaned and shooed her away. Conner fell over Blue’s body like she was acting out the role of Maria in a high school production of West Side Story. She appeared to be hugging Blue as she let her hand roam to the woman’s pants pocket. She called out God’s name a few times and was almost tempted to let out one of those gut-wrenching ‘Superman’ yells when she felt the rise of Blue’s chest. She fell over the woman again and heard C.C. groan.

“You’re going to make me laugh, in a second.” Her voice was softy and groggy like it sounded in the morning.

Conner let out a squeal of happiness that sounded like a sob to C.C. “Oh fucking come on, the bitch is dead, ding dong, let’s fucking go. I promise we’ll put you both in the bottom of the same ocean.”

Conner pressed her weight onto Blue in order to conceal the woman’s flinch. “Be cool, I got the beeper, you got the phone, give me ten minutes.” She whispered. She lifted up as she heard C.C. approach, and then pressed a soft kiss onto a warm cheek. Conner didn’t know which one of them was fighting harder not laugh as she did her best to make C.C. carry her off kicking and screaming.

When Blue was sure she was only listening to the wind in the trees, she moved. She sat up slowly and put her hand to the bloody bruise on her left temple. She let out a relieved breath and a shaky chuckle. If C.C. was a better shot, she’d be missing part of her skull. She knew she was too far away from Baltimore to call Vincent, but she hoped like hell that the girls were closer to Ocean City by now. She pressed two on the speed dial and rolled on her back as she waited.

She was taking deep breaths when Tan answered. “City Morgue, Guido speaking.”

“That’s funny that’s where I was heading.”

“You sound like you’re having an asthma attack. Who’s in the morgue?”

“Me actually.”

“Son of a bitch!”

Blue held the phone away from her ear as Tan bellowed to her sister in the background. “I’m on 50 East, just past Denton, by the broken jersey wall.”

“Where’s the shrimp?”

“Hopefully heading back into the city. She’s got the pager.”

“She’s alive good.”

“If she wasn’t you’d think I’d be calm, but let’s hurry this up anyway.” Blue barely waited for the dial tone as she dialed Vincent.

“Blue! Jesus, I’ve been trying to reach you.”

The tall woman got up to her feet and began a gingerly walk up the incline. “What’s up?”

“Gordy got hit.”

“Fuck! What happened?”

“Some chump was trying to start a small kitchen fire in Conner’s kitchen.”

“Damn it, that bastard’s trying to clean.”

“No shit.”

“Did Gordy make it.”

“Took one in the neck, nothing doin’.”

“Ah, shitshitshit. Too late to call Brusio?”

“I’m ahead of you. Be here in less than an hour.”

“Jesus, did he even wait for us to get out of the city?”

“I think he was expecting you to be here.”

“All right,” she took a deep breath as she reached the top and sat down on the jersey wall, “, you find that no good rat that is supposed to be her brother. Get Terry to my mom’s and stay put.”

“I’m not leaving you!”

“Vincent, if I don’t find Conner,” Blue’s voice dropped to a malicious timbre, ” you can forget about the wrath of the gods.”

“Do what you have to do·.and when you both get back we can all just stay put.”

Blue grinned into the phone and then hung up.

When Tan and Al showed up 15 minutes later the singer had changed into her work boots and exchanged her bloody t-shirt for a v-neck sweater and her hat. As she stood up, she looked down at her jeans and realized she looked like a walking Gap ad. She ignored the comical looks on her friends’ faces and got into the car. “Don’t even say it.”

Al just shook her head and pulled on to the highway. Tan sat back in her seat and picked up the leather jacket on the seat. “It could be a good thing, I would let a clean cut girl like you into my house.” Blue growled. “Here’s a jacket though.” Blue snatched the coat without looking at Tan.

“You got that shot gun?”

“You are not walking into somebody’s house with a shot gun, think of the mess.”

“How thoughtless of me.”

Tan and Al both smirked. “I will carry the shotgun, you get the hand cannon.”

“44’s are so messy though.”

“Perhaps, but they’ll blow the average man out of a plate glass window.”

Blue nodded. “True. Gimmie the semi and the sig.”

Tan clapped her hands together. “You want the machete too Rambo.” Blue turned in the seat and smiled ferally at Tan, causing the woman to hold up her hands in surrender. She spoke almost to herself, but loud enough so that they all heard her words. “Who needs machetes when you’ve got your hands.” Blue winked and turned back around in the seat as she loaded the guns in her lap.

“Hey is the car ready?”

Al turned to Blue. “What for?”

“I was thinking of sending you guys after Monty and me going to find C.C. or the other way around, personal you can have that rat bastard.”

“I was going to protest if you didn’t.”

Al laughed at her sister. “It’s pretty much ready. It’s not bright and shiny though and its still missing the hood ornament.”

“Well so much for the surprise.”

“Please don’t get any bullet holes in that car. I’ve been busting my ass on it for weeks. And no blood on the seats or nothing.”

“Maybe I should just go rent a car you think? Do we have time? ”

“Don’t get all testy. It’s a nice car and I wouldn’t want your little puddin pop to think we’d take the time to restore a damn Porsche, just to put some bullet holes in it.”

Blue sighed and squeezed the bridge of her nose. “I apologize for not appreciating your handiwork, but if I promise to just use it as a mode of transport and not a battering ram will you let me keep it.”

Tan folded her arms across her chest and sucked her teeth. She spoke in a nasal voice. “Fine fine, just fine.”

Blue rolled her eyes as Al grinned. “Does everybody watch that damn show? I mean it’s just little fucking one-dimensional drawings cussing at each other. What the fuck is that?!”

As serious as the woman was, neither Tan nor Al could hold in their laughter as the dark woman voiced her opinion about the cartoon in question. When she blurted out the question, “who writes a song called ‘Uncle-fucker'” she too realized how silly she sounded, but she dared not break into a smile. Instead she just groaned and focused on the speeding road. “Can this damn thing go any faster?”

Al broke into a sly grin. “Thought you’d never ask little lady.” Blue heard Tan strap herself in, Al pushed the overdrive button on the manual gear shift and opened up the Acura like she was testing it on the Autobahn.
CH 16: Queen of Pain
The beeper served the purposed of being a tracer, which made finding Conner very simple. The two cars raced each other through Howard County heading for Montrose’s house. It didn’t much matter who saw it first, but Blue slammed on the brakes as she did a 180 in the middle of the road and took off after the dented Suburban. The phone rang as she shifted gears and dodged traffic.

“Was that C.C.?”

“Yup, forget the house, it’s a damn trap.”

“No shit.” The line crackled with white noise and the sound of screeching tires came over the line. “Little problem.”

“Call Vincent, can you handle it.?”

“It’s just a football team with coaches.” The line went quiet as gun fire rang out. “Go get your girl·.and son of bitch!·uh, no bullet holes.”

“Same to you.”

“See yah.”

The singer dialed Vincent but the line was busy, so she took that to mean he was on his job. She couldn’t help but smile to herself as she broke into the beginnings of morning city traffic. Conner was going to love this car. By the time she realized where C.C. was headed, she had just enough time to take the back way. She avoided Charles street and road against the sparse morning traffic on Maryland. She stopped the car in the alley and hopped out as she found herself in the most surreal game of “Let’s make a deal”. Three doors, three choices, and the wrong one meant wasting time. Thank God empty buildings echo, so Blue heard Conner yell out from inside the building next to the restaurant.

Clouded by her enthusiasm, Blue forgot about C.C. as she blew through the back door of the building. At least she had enough sense to dive, which allowed her to avoid the advance of a rather shady man with a 2×4 in his hands. Blue hit the floor and rolled, but found her path obstructed by wood beams. She spun around her back so that she faced her attacker. The smile left his face as he looked down into the dark barrel of forty-five automatic. She pumped two bullets into the man, effectively lifting him off the ground and depositing him to the ground with a thud five feet away. Blue hopped to her feet, but couldn’t avoid the punch to her kidney from behind. She stopped the arm heading for her throat, stepped back, and rotated her hips, sending the man on her back over her shoulder. She kicked him in the head, more mad because it wasn’t C.C. than slowing the man down.

Blue began to head towards what was becoming the stairs and found herself diving for the rubble again as gun shots headed in her direction. She caught a glimpse of the gunmen and couldn’t help but grin when she realized it was Montrose. He was firing with one hand and dragging the still struggling Conner by the collar. Blue attempted to take the steps again, but another hail of bullets greeted her. She knew it was no longer Montrose and the arm hanging over the railing was too skinny to belong to C.C. The singer fired back and then holstered her gun as she found another way up, seemly the piping on the back wall.

“Monty, she better be in one piece when I find your ass, or I’m going to make Jeffrey Dahmer seem normal!”

The man who had been firing at her was walking towards the back wall towards her voice. She watched his steps through cracks in the floor board and shook her head, as he walked straight to her. She pulled out the gun as she leaned away from the pipe, holding on with one arm and pointed her gun under the floorboard and fired. She heard his gun rattle to the floor as he howled in anguish. At that she came up the piping and quieted him without even a second glance. She looked upwards as she could hear Conner shuffling behind Montrose. The building only had 6 levels and the top was no where near done, but that was probably the point. Blue started to go for the stairs only to come face with two foreign looking men.

She gave a lopsided grin to the men. “So for every level I pass do I get to rip out one of your major organs!” She shook her head and regarded her attackers. “Quick draw or you want to wrestle for a while.” She ran her tongue across her teeth, laughed, and charged the two men. A foot before she pushed off on her right foot and executed a forward flip, sending her behind the two men. The both turned at the same time, but she held two loaded guns in her hands. She wasn’t one to waste bullets so two well placed shots were all it took. She started to holster her gun when she realized that there had been another person in the room. She didn’t even have a chance to get the ‘fuck’ out as the board to her back sent her to her knees. She managed to avoid the blow to her head, but it was going to leave a nice bruise on her forearm all the same. Suddenly one pair of boots became two as she tried to curl into a ball and absorb the kicks to her body. She took a chance and fired one of her guns, which made her attackers stop long enough for her to move. She raised both guns and fired into the dust pile making them both scatter.

She spit out blood as she stood, and holster her sig and reloaded the automatic. She wiped the blood at her eye, and looked up just as she was tackled. She twisted her body as they fell backwards and she knew it was going to hurt, even before she felt the floor give under the weight of the man. Even if she hadn’t fired her gun into his chest, the nail embedded plank that he landed on would have done the trick. Her own nose just missed the edge of a nail as their bodies came to an abrupt stop. She slowly rolled off of the man and immediately began searching for her gun, before he body registered how far she fell and decided to shut down. Blue was on her hands and knees, when she head a gun cock. She blew out a breath and was all prepared to yell out Conner’s name with her dying breath. She braced herself as the gun fired. A long three seconds later, three seconds that shouldn’t have been, she stopped holding her breath and turned around.

The gun was still raised high went Blue made it to her feet. Icy blue eyes focused on listless green as Blue and Ewan stared at one another. She made no move until he lowered the still smoking weapon to his side. Nothing moved between them, not even the dust, that seemed to settle in their silence. Without moving Blue let her eyes track to the man, who lay on the ground, with an extra hole in his head. She turned her eyes back to Ewan and gave a slight nod of her head, as she squatted down and picked up her gun, which she holstered. “Thank you.”

He returned he nod in kind. “Thank you.”

Blue couldn’t help but arch her brow at his words. “For what?”

“For doing for her what I couldn’t.”

A wisp of a smile came to the dark woman’s face. “She doesn’t hate you.”

Ewan shrugged and started to say something, but both craned their necks towards the ceiling as they heard footsteps. Ewan curtailed whatever speech he was about to give and looked towards the singer with confidence. “Me and you?”

Blue grinned and nodded as she understood his thoughts. “We’re done.” She checked the clip in her gun and walked to the steps. Ewan called to her as she made it to the first step.

Green eyes grew hard with the conviction of his words even before he spoke. “You hurt her and I’ll come find you.”

Blue smiled fully as she regarded the man who wasn’t so much different from her own older brother when he was alive. She winked at what remained of green eyed demon. “I’m going to hold you to that McGreely.” Words that would have normally sounded like a threat were simply an invitation in this case, and with the grin that crossed his features she knew he understood. Ewan nodded and watched her disappear up the broken stairs and then he left.

* * *

When Blue bounded up to the third floor and about to go to the fourth, the labored walking that she heard before became a frenzied panic of rushing footsteps. Footsteps that were chased by gunshots and then the sudden explosion of all 116 pounds of Conner into Blue’s body. It was only on instinct that Blue didn’t attempt to toss the small body off of her as she was forced back down the steps. Blue eyes teared up as removed the handkerchief from Conner’s mouth and started to undo the rope around her wrist. For a split second, Blue almost wanted to put the handkerchief back in Conner’s mouth as the small woman began to brandish the singer with rapid fire kisses.

“Con, mmph, Je..bab..I-I can’t-” she stepped out of Conner’s reach. “I can’t get the rope off if you don’t stop.” Watery green eyes gleamed. “Where’s C.C.?” Before Conner could answer, a volley of shots rained down on the two women. Blue shoved Conner away from her as she dove in the opposite direction. “Red! Get out and find the girls!” Blue eyes searched for Conner, but heavy film of sawdust that rose from the commotion was destroying her vision.

The singer made it to her feet only to go flying to her back, as C.C. slammed into her. She felt her gun dislodged from the holster and skitter across the floor out of her reach. Blue gnashed her teeth together as slammed her palms against the side of C.C.’s head. He flinched enough for her to get up, but he moved right with her and hit with a barrage of punches just to prove he could keep up. She managed to fend off C.C.’s attack long enough to see Conner scurrying up the steps in an effort to get away from Montrose. The blonde was actually making headway until a thin arm reached out and grabbed her by her ankle, effectively upgrading her mild sprain to definitely twisted. Conner let out a yell as she slid down two steps to find the thin man grabbing her around the waist and attempting to pick her up.

Enraged by Conner’s yell of pain, Blue dropped her head and drove her shoulder into the cushy form of C.C. and drove them to the middle of the floor, as she attempted to run him over. She managed to get C.C. far enough away from her that she made it to the steps and grabbed Montrose by his belt and yanked him back. Conner broke free and headed back up the steps as Montrose fell backwards with Blue at his back. Admittedly, it wasn’t the best situation for her to be in, but at least Conner was getting away.

Montrose used his lanky body to his advantage as he drove a sharp elbow back and connected with Blue’s head. They rolled away from one another and Blue was greeted with a boot to her face. She groaned as she felt a tooth go loose, and then she was pulled up to her feet. “I want her dead C.C.” Even though her ears were ringing, she clearly heard Montrose and then heard him pound up the stairs. C.C. chuckled and then turned the dazed woman around by the collar and slammed her back against the wall. He drove his fist into her gut and stood back to watch her double over in pain. Blue moaned extra loud in pain, but in reality she was just about to get started. As predictable as always C.C. drew back his leg in the purpose of kicking her. She caught him at the ankle an inch away from her face and twisted as she stood up. C.C. howled in pain, but managed to stay on his feet

“I really like that tooth piggy.” She growled. Pale blue eyes bored into C.C. who was either in too much pain or just too stupid to realize that his number might just be up. Blue still held onto his right ankle as she kicked out her leg and connected with C.C.’s left kneecap. C.C. dropped to the ground like a puppet without its strings. “Let’s go piggy.” Blue spit out a wad of blood which probably had her tooth in it, and grabbed the man by his hair. She wanted this to be a much longer and torturous endeavor, but she had more pressing matters to attend to, so whatever this was to be it would be quick. She lifted the large man to his feet and worked him over like a worn punching bag. When her one of her punches missed his head and hit the brick wall, the tall woman knew she had done enough damage. He was still breathing, but he probably wasn’t going to be conscious for too long as he slid down the wall into a bloodied heap. Blue took a second to catch her breath as she rested her hands on her knees and shook her head at the man, who was actually still trying to move. She stood and sighed. “Fucking stay down piggy.”

She stumbled her way up the stairs and found Conner engaged in her own scuffle with Montrose. The tall woman hesitated for a moment as she decided what would best in the situation. Neither seemed to be aware of her presence yet, which meant the gun they were both vying for could be easily pointed in her direction and fired. On the other hand, tackling them both would probably send them all through layer of wood that the workman used as a blue-print. Blue waited until the gun seemed to pointed out of harms way and shouted to the blonde. “Midget!” was the first thing that sprang to her lips, but it did the job.

Both Montrose and Conner turned towards the singer, but Conner took advantage of the situation and drove her knee into Montrose’s groin. He reflexively stepped back which left him wide open to Blue’s running attack. It had been an attempt to just scoop him up and deposit him to the far wall, but Montrose didn’t look like he ever fought fair, so he wasn’t going to start now. While Blue controlled most of the thin man’s body, he still kept a firm grip on Conner’ wrist, so all three went down. They all heard the wood crack, but it was just a question of where and how long it would take to give. It didn’t take that long. They only fell one floor, but landing in piles of wood was just as bad as falling all the way down to the bottom. Blue called to Conner, when she realized it wasn’t her head that was wedge between her bicep and her ribs.

A shaky voice answered back. “Still here, but um..I’m fading fast.”

Blue tossed Montrose towards the wall and crawled on her hands in knees through the brown haze of saw dust, until she found Conner. It was really impossible to miss the blonde dangling from a broken beam of wood over a chasm that lead straight to the bottom with nothing to stop her but concrete. “Now if you set the wood on fire, I’ll really be a damsel in distress.” Blue began to chuckle but it came out as a groan as she heard movement behind her. Green eyes met blue as they said silent I love yous. Conner grinned. “Don’t worry I’m not moving.”

Blue really laughed this time as she rolled to her side and grabbed the gun she had lost before. She rose to her knees as she aimed it on, what she thought was Montrose’s attacking form. Instead, it was the bruised and battered form of Montrose being supported by an even uglier version of C.C. Blue gave a quick glance to Conner and reached her hand out to the woman as she held the gun on the men with her other hand. Blue bared her teeth as she regarded the two men. “You’re not walking out of here. No way no how.”

C.C. spit as he glared at the woman. “You going to shoot us both and save her too?”

A black eyebrow raised. “Did you grow a brain in the last ten minutes?”

“Fuck you! The board’s breaking and you don’t have enough time.”

Blue growled as she looked back to the breaking board. “Can you take my hand?” Conner made the attempt, but had to regrip even closer to the break when her hand slipped. Blue scooted closer to Conner and grabbed her writs. She knew she couldn’t pull her arm with one arm, and the way she was leaning over, she would barely be able to shoot straight. She held onto Conner and turned back C.C. and the barely conscious Montrose. She pulled back the hammer and aimed as best she could. At the least she’d hit one of them and maybe that one would bleed to death. “Pick a number piggy.”

C.C. stood upright as well as could, while supporting the slumping Montrose. “Do it you shit!” Blue gripped Conner harder around the wrist and wondered if the recoil would send them both over. Her finger hovered over the trigger as the room grew quiet and whatever rage she wanted to strike out with, left her as Conner spoke.

“Jasmine, let it go. Just let it go.”

Blue creased her face in the effort not to cry. “They’ll come back, they always do.”

“Jazz. Jazz, look at me. Please.” With obvious struggle Blue turned to face Conner and she knew what the blonde was going to say even before the words crossed her lips and she was all ready to agree. “You promised.”

At that, Blue tossed the gun and leaned both arms over the board for Conner to grip. With an easy swing, Blue pulled the blonde into her embrace. Blue moved towards the wall as she sat on her butt with the trembling woman in her lap, arms wrapped tightly around her neck, face buried in her shoulder. Blue squeezed Conner for all her worth and began to rub the smaller woman’s back as she called to the retreating figures of C.C. and Montrose. “I don’t ever want to see your faces again, you hear. Today, I had mercy, and know that if I ever lose her, you will beg me for the pain of this day. This is over and done.” She saw C.C. turn his head back to her before he descended the stairs and a silent agreement passed between them.

When Blue could no longer hear their footsteps she fell back against the wall and let herself release. It was more than a whimper, but it wasn’t quite a wail of anguish as she nuzzled her face in Conner’s hair and just breathed. They sat in each others embrace, rocking back and forth, for long enough to see dawn began to break across the sky and filter through the building. Conner began to settle as she emerged from the cocoon of Blue’s arms and touched her lips to Blue’s. Conner could feel the salt of her lover’s warm tears and she smiled as she leaned back.

“Hey.” She whispered.

“Hey you too.” Conner used the sleeve of her shirt to wipe away the blood from Blue’s forehead, her nose, and around her mouth. “How’s your nose?”

Conner winced in reflex as the pain registered with the thought. “Just a little out of whack.”

Blue used the frayed ends of her sweater to clean Conner’s face. She stared openly at Conner as she wracked her mind for the right thing to say. Conner brushed dark hair away from Blue’s forehead. “What is it?” Blue just shook her head and then breathed deeply as her breath hitched. Conner grinned. “You going to cry?”

“Nope.” Full lips formed a small pout as the dark woman fought the want to cry.

Conner chuckled and touched her forehead to Blue’s. “Thank you.”

“For what?”

“For loving me enough to let them go.”

Blue smiled and took hold of Conner’s hands. “I would have walked them to the car if you wanted me to.” Conner laughed until it became a sob. Blue sat up straighter and wrapped Conner’s legs around her waist. She lifted her chin as she looked into green eyes filled with tears. “It’s over I promise. We’ll go home and get on a plane and buy an island and just disappear if you want. Anything, anything.” Blue repeated the word softly as she feathered Conner with light kisses on her face.

“I just don’t want to lose you.”

“Then, I’ll stay home and knit.”

Conner sniffled and laughed out loud. “Would not?”

“Would too?” Blue laughed with her and then caressed Conner’s cheeks as she held her face in her hands. “Listen to me.” Green eyes focused on blue. “I don’t want to be anywhere but where you are. I don’t want to do anything that isn’t for you. If you want me to bake cookies or play golf, then let’s go join a country club.” The blonde shook with quiet giggles. “Okay, I won’t bake, but I do want to be with you and I just want to love you and make you happy and make love and give you the world and some cars and puppies and babies and-

A blonde eyebrow raised. “Babies?”

“Did I say babies?”

“Loud and clear.”

Blue shook her head. “I said babies? I-I uh, didn’t mean babies.”

Conner grinned. “You said it, you said-

Blue winced and shook her head. “Whatever, I said, that’s not the point-

“But you said-

“Shh!” Blue made a zipping gesture across her lips, which Conner mimicked. “I’m making a speech here.” Conner stopped trying to grin without much success and focused on the blushing woman. “Point is, I love you. Point is, I’ve probably always loved you even when I wasn’t sure I wanted to give you the time of day. We probably shouldn’t be together you know that? We should hate each other and we should have never met. But we did, and I thank God or whoever every day. I was forgetting what it meant to be alive and what it meant to give freely without want of reward. I forgot what it was like to look into somebody’s eyes and know that they love you for who you are, who you used to be, who you think you want to be, and even the person you will become.” She took a breath and nibbled at her lip as she searched for her next words. “I don’t think I know enough song lyrics to explain how much you mean to me and how much I love you, but if it takes me the next forty years to sing them all to you then I’ll do it.” Both women smiled. “To steal from Mr. Porter, Conner, “you’re under my skin·so deep you’re apart of me.’ I say it out loud and it’s still not enough, but if it takes me from this life to the next and the next to show you what you mean to me and how much better I am with you, then I’ll follow where you lead.”

Conner sniffled as the words coursed through her body like heat. She leaned in and kissed her with all the force she could gather up, regardless of how much her busted lips hurt or how much her body ached from sitting in one position so long. She pulled away breathlessly. “You’re only going to give me forty years?”

Blue bust into laughter that made her sides hurt and tears flow from her eyes. Conner laughed with her, until their heads ached from the laughter. “I figured you’ll wear me out in 30, but I’ll just be a vegetable for the last ten for your sake.”

“I wouldn’t want any other vegetable.”

“Oh puddins’, so sappy.” They both laughed and hugged each tightly. “Now can we leave, cause I’ve large splinters in my ass that can probably only be removed surgically.”

They both stood with caution and made their way to the steps. Conner stopped as she slapped herself in the forehead. “Where the hell is everybody else?”

Blue mirrored Conner’s gesture. “Oh shit! If they’re not in the hospital, they may need lawyers.”

“Do I want to know?”

Blue laughed as the two women briskly walked down the stairs. “Reckless driving for starters. Reckless endangerment. Firing a weapon in open air. Use of an illegal weapon. Speeding, destruction of property, assault, negligence, uh-

“I get the point. Anything else.”

Blue grabbed Conner’s hand as they made there way out of the back door. The singer smiled from ear to ear. “I got you a present.”

Ending/Epilogue: “And let’s give our viewers a big dating game kiss.”
Three weeks, four days, 6 hours, 32 minutes, and six seconds

“Where are you guys and why are you calling?” The normally smooth alto of the singer, was marred by the hint of nervousness.

Carmen laughed into the receiver. “Don’t worry, we’re in the car.”

The singer groaned and then said teasingly, “I thought I told Marcus not to let you ladies use the phone. No running up the bill.”

“Keep being smart and you’ll be running from me Legs.”

Blue smiled at Cookie’s friendly threat. “I got it. How much longer.”

“Child, be patient and let your mama and me enjoy this ride. These seats are softer than my bed.”

Laughter filled the air. “You want to sleep in a Limo now, Cookie.”

“I’ve done it before.”

“Once a slummer always a slummer, eh?”

Cookie chuckled. “Takes one to know one.”

“Oh that hurt Cookie, that hurt. Let me talk to ma.”

“You’ll never beat her you know that right?”

“Yeah, yeah. Lookie, when you get here, just ignore Terry she’s on some type of hyper pill or something.”

Carmen laughed. “And I guess you’re just running on batteries.”

“You can see me shaking through the phone?”

“Well I can’t see it, but something sure is vibrating louder than a weed whacker.

Blue actually looked down at her robe-clad form and then realized she was just being silly. “Whew, you had me going there for a second.”

“If you want I can tell you embarrassing stories about your dad.”

“I don’t know, I’m on the verge of puking, and well I think laughing might tip me over the edge.”

“Your father lost his lunch.”

The singer groaned. “Let’s not, I’m begging.”

Carmen held in her chuckle. “Okay, okay, but it’ll help.”

“NO! no, that’s okay. I believe you. In fact I’m feeling fine.”

“We’ll see you guys in a little while.”

Blue hung up the phone and then slid out of the chair onto the floor where she commenced to rolling around and holding her stomach until she was stopped by a pair of stocking feet.

“What in the name of all that is good and holy are you doing?” Blue lay on her back and looked at the scowling Terry upside down. She smiled lazily.

“She’s so nervous she’s about to blow chunks.” Tan limped into the bedroom without aid of her cane and sat in the chair where Blue once sat.

Blue sat up and rolled her eyes at her friend. “Shut up gimp.”

“Just until the hole in my leg heals.” She stuck out her tongue. “You about ready.”

“Well when you and the rest of the walking wounded get dressed, we will be.” Terry said with a snap as she moved through the room.

Tan grinned at Blue who was rolling her eyes as she got up off the floor. “She’s just yelling at me because she knows I’m to crazed to kill her.”

“Whatever, where’s your girl?”

“Probably hiding from El Dictator.”

“I heard that smart ass!”

“That woman has got ears like a dog.”

Terry stuck her head out of the bathroom. “What did you say about my dog.”

Tan batted her eyelids. “No one is talking about itty-bitty Percy-ville. Little rat.”

Terry laughed. “That rat weighs 60 pounds Tan and he can kick your ass.”

“The day a dog named Percival kicks my ass, I’m joining the witness protection program.”

Blue stood up and held her hands to her ears. “If you two are going to act like six year olds could you please do it elsewhere, you’re making my head hurt.”

Terry laughed as she walked up to Blue and pinched her cheeks. “Is the big baby upset?” Blue growled. “Down girl. Are you almost ready?”

Blue shrugged. “I’ve got three hours.”

Terry just rolled her eyes and her let her eye twitch. She wanted to yell, but she wasn’t going to. The woman took a deep breath and smiled politely at the grinning singer. “I’m not getting my blood pressure up over you, so don’t even try it.” Blue just smiled wider. “Take all the time you want okay, but in three hours if you are not standing in front of the clergyman·” Terry paused and licked her lips. “I will rip your spine out through your ass.” Terry lowered her voice until it was on the verge of being a purr. “You got me?” She pinched Blue’s cheeks and then left the room.

Tan broke into laughter as Terry exited. “She’s got your number girlie.”

The singer shook her head and stood. “Who do you think taught her that.”

“Whatever slim, but I bet you she’d do it.”

Blue stared at the door Terry just left from and pushed her tongue out through her teeth as she thought quietly. She snapped out of her daze and turned to the smiling woman on the bed. “She could so kick my ass, couldn’t she?”

The two friends were silent until Tan started to nod her head and giggle. Blue just shrugged and disappeared into the bathroom.

* * *

A much calmer Conner was on the floor in the living room, roughhousing with a coffee colored puppy. Terry stood in the doorway and stared at the blonde who was letting her dog have her way with her stockings.

“Is this your way of telling me you aren’t wearing stockings?”

Green eyes whipped up to Terry and she smiled. “Actually, Percy here is doing me a favor.” Conner laughed as the puppy bounded over her leg in search of the nylon. “They had a run, and Percy didn’t really like them, so we’re recycling.”

Terry smiled and knelt down next Conner so she curtail Percy. “C’mere you lil’ rat.” Terry scooped up the scrambling dog and scratched behind his ears until the stocking was no longer as appealing as stealing kisses from his mistress. “Whew! We gotta get you some gum baby.” Terry and Conner laughed. “So you about ready hot shot.”

Conner leaned back on her arms. “I just have to get into my duds and I’ll be cool.” Conner made a wave like motion with her hand.

Terry saw the tremble in small hands and looked at her friend. “Cool, huh?”

Conner blushed and put her hand back down. “I bet you ten bucks she’s not even ready. Better yet she’s rolling around on the floor groaning.”

“I bet you five your right.” The women laughed. “You make me laugh you know.”

“I know, but I promise it’s just nervous jitters of happiness. I mean she was just nervously happy right?” Conner suddenly sounded unsure.

Terry rolled her eyes and put the dog down as she stood up. “Your insane midget. I refuse to even justify that with an answer.”

“I was just asking.” Conner smiled coyly and then raised her hands in a gesture to be helped up.

Terry shook her head and lifted the woman to her feet. “Whatever, you clear on everything?”

Conner ran her hands through her hair. “What’s not to be clear on. Saunter down the aisle in my little crème colored outfit.” She paused and gave Terry a cheesy grin. “, meet her at the alter, we stare at each and giggle like crazy, then priest guy says some slightly religious stuff, Carmen and Cookie sniffle, then we pour out our hearts and try not to screw up the words. We exchange rings, mutually agree to kiss each other with respect to the people in the room, so no tongue·I think. Then the music plays again and we leave all cherry and teary eyed and go party half the night away until we sneak out and leave you all to your own devices.” Conner leaned on the vanity and smiled.

Terry rolled her eyes. “Okay smartass, be that way. I’m just making sure you’re not going to pull a Wilhelm on me and go praying to the porcelain god.”

Conner laughed robustly and then stopped abruptly. “All ready did.”

Terry smiled. “I knew it, Tan owes me three bucks.”

“Do you guys ever stop gambling?”

“I think I bet her that you’d ask me that.” Conner flung a plastic wrapper at Terry. “Don’t be sore, puddins’.”

Conner shook her fist at Terry and then sat in her chair. “Help me get dressed butt-munch.”

Terry clapped her hands and then drew up Conner’s hair in a high ponytail. “I’m thinking bows.”

Green eyes stared hard at Terry in the mirrors’ reflection. “If a bow comes anywhere near my head, I’m shaving it all off.”

Terry laughed, but released Conner’s hair. “I’m just saying I like it. It’s a softer you.”

“Do I want to be soft?” Terry shrugged and then both women laughed. “I’m still cutting it.”

“Just not bald.”

Conner pouted. “Blue said she’d still love me if I was bald.”

Terry leaned over her friend’s shoulder so that their cheeks were almost touching. “Sweetie, she was just lying to make you smile.”

Conner nudged her friend. “You sure know how to make a girl feel special.”

“That’s why I’m straight.”

“Give ‘Phia ten minutes and you’ll be peeling off your undies.”

Terry steadied the brush and cocked an eyebrow. “Yeah, I’d do her.”

Green eyes went wide as Terry went back to her task with no intention of making another comment. “Terry! You skank-

Terry put the brush down and cupped her hand around her ear. “Is that the doorbell I hear. Why yes it is.”

“Terry, you can’t leave now!”

She patted Conner on the head. “Doorbell Conner, doorbell. Buh-bye.”

Conner just rolled her eyes as she watched Terry prance from the room, with a stumbling Percy right behind her. She turned back to the mirror and pressed her palm against the glass, as she did her best to stare into herself. She seemed to be searching for the exact words of confidence to give herself. The exact words to prove that this was all real and that with any luck, the only mishap would be Percy taking a whiz on the carpet. A misty eyed Conner suddenly found herself smiling as her eyes fell on a picture of the singer, laid out on the couch in the throws of a peaceful sleep. Just the thought of the dark woman calmed Conner to the core and assured her better than any words she could have come up with. She couldn’t help but laugh as once again, she was sure that Blue had read her mind from where ever she was in the house, and was doing her best to tell Conner everything was okay. Conner put the brush down and sat back in her chair as her ears, and probably most of the upstairs, filled with a warm alto:

The mere idea of you—this longing here for you

You’ll never know, how the slowly the moments go

Until I am near to you

I see your face in every flower, your eyes in stars above

It’s just the thought of you

The very thought of you—my love.

* * *

Terry and Sam were both facing the small gathering of friends and family as they sat in the pews of the small church and awaited the arrival of Blue and Conner. Sam pulled at his tie for the tenth time in the last ten minutes and glanced over at Terry who was grinning a little too hard just to be happy. Sam closed the small gap between them and spoke quietly. “May I ask what you’re grinning at. You look like you swallowed a Cheshire cat.”

Terry chuckled but tried not to laugh out loud. “Just made a little executive command decision.

Sam leaned a little closer to the whispering Terry. “Such as?”

Terry wiggled her eyebrow. “Oh nothing, I just changed the processional song that’s all no biggy.” Terry shrugged.

Sam stuck his tongue between his teeth as he caught the mischief in brown eyes. “To what, Phyllis Diller sings show tunes?”

Terry let out a snort of laughter and quickly composed herself as she saw Conner and Blue standing at the opposite ends of the walkway prepared to meet in the middle. ” Go to your side Sam, there about to start.”

Sam glanced at the two women, who wore matching suits, that Sam best described as flowy and couldn’t help but smile at the picture they made. So different on the surface and even on the inside, but it had become impossible to imagine the one without the other. He grinned and then brought his glance back to the grinning Terry. “Tell me quick.” Terry kept her eyes straight forward as the music started. “Terry?”

Terry gave Sam a hard nudge as the two women started walking, but not before she whispered the title to him.

To both Conner and Blue, Terry and Sam made quite a pair as they both smiled from ear to ear. Blue figured they were both so happy that they couldn’t help but stand there with those goofy looks affixed to their faces. Conner surmised that the two decided to stop beating around the bush and just commit to each other. Sooner rather than later, both women would realize that their friends weren’t smiling on account of the joyous occasion, but rather on the tune that neither could get out of their head. Of course Conner would be mad, for a whole of 30 seconds, but well into the evening, the small blonde would find herself lazing ontop of a piano, focused on the blue eyes that were focused on her…belting out without a hint of shame…”She’s a Brickhouse and all was right with the world.

THE END.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s