Close your eyes and go back in time... when did you first see The Last Kiss Goodnight? 1995? 96? 99? Go back to that day. You see Chris get shot, you see Rita devastated. Next week, Chris is buried, a pregnant Rita leaves Palm Beach, off to raise her child somewhere safe. Guess what? It all really happened. But one week later...: Hmmm, did I just say "really happened"? Correction: It was really meant to look that way! Now, one week and many tears later: :'-(
Chris sighed deeply and stroked Rita's forehead. It was slick with sweat "One more hard push, now", the doctor said from between her legs. Chris sighed again, clutching Rita's hand. She didn't scream, didn't pant, just lay there, crying silently.
"A boy", the doctor said. "It is over now."
Chris kept his eyes fastened on Rita. She was staring at an invisible spot above her, tears streaming down her cheeks.
"I know it doesn't help much right now", one of the nurses said, "but you still have each other. Hold on to one another. You can see your son later."
Still no response from Rita. Chris gave the nurse a weak smile. She held her thumb up for them, then left the room.
"We can take him with us, Sam", Chris whispered and crouched down next to Rita's bed.
"This is supposed to be a happy moment", she murmured. "Painful and happy. It was painful all right, but I'm not happy."
"No. I'm not happy either. I feel horrible, Sam. If I had told you they had to fake my death, maybe he..."
"Don't go there, Chris", Rita suddenly said with a stern voice, sitting up with a grimace. "If I had stayed in bed for the entire pregnancy, maybe we would still be... What I mean, there was no way for us to..." She began to cry again, squeezing his hand.
The doctor came back in. "I have been informed of your situation", he said. "Do you want to bring the little boy with you?"
"Will she be well enough to travel?", Chris asked.
I have to examine her again, and I would like to keep her here over night, but I am pretty sure she will be all right physicly after that."
"You mean like post natal depression", Rita smiled through her tears.
"I mean you and your husband will have to be aware. You have just lost a baby. Both your lives have been turned upside-down in less than a week. One or both of you could get depressed without any family, doctor or collegue there to realiZe what's going on. You two have to look after each other."
"I think we can manage that", Rita whispered and looked at Chris.
"Right, Sam?" He nodded his approval.
"Good", the doctor said. "I assume you will want to bring the boy with you, bury him near your new home? His ashes, that is."
"Can we see him first", Rita whispered. "Hold him?"
The nurse came back a few minutes later, carrying a tiny bundle of soft material. "We didn't have clothes small enough", she said with a sad smile, "but we found this old blanket. It is the softest of them all. I am so sorry for you."
Rita began to cry again. Up until this moment, she had managed to think about it as a dead fetus, a late miscarriage of sorts, but now she was holding a tiny, tiny stillborn baby boy in her arms.
The nurse and doctor stepped back as Chris sat down next to Rita, stroking the baby's head with his finger, slowly letting his pent up grief loose. &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&
They were on board Donnie's private jet, holding each other as they lied in bed. They knew they were headed for Australia, but they didn't know which route they were taking. Donnie had kept it a secret, claiming he would be the only one to know.
"I don't want to join the mile high club this time, Sam", Chris murmured with his arms around Rita. She didn't answer, just made a snorting noise.
"Do you, maybe, perhaps, want to have another child one day?", he continued.
Rita stayed silent for several minutes. "I think so", she said in the end. "But not for a while yet. Not until it stops hurting. Not until I feel strong enough to handle it if it goes wrong one more time. And I have no idea how long that will take. Maybe I will be too old by then. Maybe it will never happen."
He hugged her then, letting his tears flow again. &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&
They sat next to each other on the passenger plane from Tel Aviv, both dressed in black, Rita wearing a headscarf, and Chris brown contact lenses and small glasses.
"Are we supposed to look like Jews or Turks now", Chris sighed.
"Can you manage a Greek accent", Rita asked. "Let's hope nobody asks us something using that language, I wouldn't understand anything."
"We could be third generation Greek immigrants from Ireland. I can manage an Irish accent if I'm pushed into a corner."
"Let's hope you wont need it."
"You don't have faith in me, sunshine?"
"It's not a matter of faith", she sighed.
Chris looked into her eyes. "You are thinking about the bambino, aren't you?"
Rita didn't answer, so Chris continued: "I wish there was something I could do to make it easier for you. I feel so helpless."
Rita squeezed his hand. "Not here", she whispered. He stroked her fingers softly, making sure she knew he was there when she needed him. &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&
They were on board a private jet again, one that belonged to a friend of DonnieS' who had been told he was flying Donnie's God-daughter and her husband. He had insisted on escorting them to Singapore, leaving them no time for private conversation.
"My darling Carolina", Chris said when Rita was about to answer a question from their host. "Do not trouble your pretty little head with such questions."
"But Alexandre...", she began.
"Your husband is right, dear", their host said. "Business is not for beautiful little women to trouble their heads with. You should go shopping, spend the money he earns for you, be happy and give him many sons." Rita looked down on her lap, hoping she looked like the obedient airhead she was supposed to be, secretly raging, knowing she would get Chris for this later. And Donnie, provided she got the chance. Anger was easier to control than grief. &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&
They landed in Sydney a few days later, having used several different planes and just as many false identities on their journey.
"What is the plan now, Rita", Chris asked, reading a letter from Donnie over her shoulder. They had collected their few belongings from the baggage carousel and were eager to leave the airport.
"We're to find a lady cop named Tessa Vance", she said. "Damn Donnie!"
"Read this:"She's like you, doll, beautiful, stubborn and impossible to bribe."
"In my world, that is a compliment, Sam."
"Yeah, but that is all we know about her, Chris, no age, no looks, no nothing, and she doesn't know we're coming. This is a big city, you can't just go ask the newspaper boy if he knows Tessa Vance!"
She gave him "the look" .
"Come on, Rita, maybe she's a famous cop. Anyway, what have we got to loose?"
Rita looked at him again, making him squirm. "You are serious", she asked. "The newspaper boy?"
"Fair enough", she said in a voice he was beginning to recognize, "there's a newsagent over there, why don't you ask whoever's selling where Tessa Vance lives. Or works. Meanwhile, I'll go and check for a public phone with a phone book."
Chris couldn't see anybody selling, so he picked up a newspaper from the rack and began to read, expecting somebody to turn up any time. Ten minutes later Rita tugged at his sleeve.
"So", she said, "what did he say? You got an address yet?"
"Matter of fact there's nobody here to ask", he replied.
"What", Rita exclaimed. "That's strange. Have you looked behind the till? Is the cash register locked?"
"Rita, we're not cops anymore, remember? We can't just go and check if the money's locked away or stolen."
Rita strolled closer to the till, and leaned over it. "Damn", she murmured when she spotted a lifeless hand on the floor, the body hidden from her view.
"Something's wrong", she said. "We better call the police. I think there's a dead body behind there, and I'm not climbing over to make sure."
"Cops, Rita? What if they think we did it? They will know we're hiding something, we can't tell them who we really are!"
"What if somebody saw you reading that paper for ten minutes, Chris, or spotted me hanging over that counter, or worse, finds my finger prints there. We better make that call, or we risk more serious problems. Are you with me on this, partner?"
"Maria and Samuel Barry", he mumbled, "on holiday from Canada. This is the first day of our honeymoon, how could something like this happen to us?"
Rita shook her head and smiled at him, then ventured over to the nearest public phone and called the central police station. "My name is Maria Barry, I am not sure, but I think I may have found a dead body, I was too afraid to check, I could only see the arm, the rest is hidden, but I think... The address? The shop is called The Daily News, it is near the airport bus terminal, I am just a tourist, I don't... You do? Thank you. Yes, I will wait. Thank you. And please hurry!"
Half an hour later the area was swarming with police officers. Chris and Rita kept their distance, but realized they couldn't leave before they had given statements.
There was indeed a dead body behind the counter. He had a gun in his hand, and appeared to have shot himself, but it struck them both that hiding under a counter before pulling the trigger did seem a bit odd. A female officer was video-taping the entire scene, while another appeared to be examining the body.
A tall, dark haired man had taken his time to look at the crime scene, and then headed towards Chris and Rita.
"Detective Hayden, Homocide", he said and flashed a badge. Rita swallowed. How long was it since she and Chris had done the same. One week? Two?
"You two found the body", the detective continued. Rita nodded her head yes.
"My husband was reading the newspaper", she said, fighting her tears, then remembered that Maria Barry never had seen a dead body before, and that tears wouldn't be such a bad thing in this situation. "He wanted to buy a newspaper, but nobody was here to sell it", she sobbed. "I finally went to the till, thinking maybe someone was in the back room or something, but then I saw that hand on the floor. Please, officer, we are on our honeymoon, we don't know what is happening, what will happen to us? We haven't done anything, we are honest people."
"You did the right thing, Mrs. Barry", the detective smiled. "We will have to take your statements, and I would prefer to do that downtown, then you can go back to your holiday. Do you have hotel reservations?"
Chris shook his head no. "Maria has an old friend here", he said. "We wanted to surprise her, but we have lost her address. Perhaps you know her, her name is Te..."
The same moment, the detective turned and yelled "Over here, Tess". Chris and Rita followed his gaze as a young, smartly dressed woman joined them.
"My partner", the detective said, "detective Vance."
It can't be this easy, Rita thought. Something is doomed to go wrong, we can't be this lucky! &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&
When they reached the police headquarters, Rita quietly asked detective Vance if she could use the restrooms, guessing that that would give her an opportunity to talk to the woman alone. She guessed right.
"I'll come with you", the young detective smiled.
"I am sorry for all the trouble", Rita said, playing her role, "I have never... This is awful, like a bad dream."
"I know. Hopefully you'll be out of here soon and ready to get on with your holiday."
They reached the restrooms, and Rita paused outside a stall.
"Detective Vance", she said seriously. "Please don't take this the wrong way, but do you know a man called Donnie "Dogs", or Donnie "Donuts" Dibarto? He told me to seek a lady cop named Tessa Vance and tell her he's my friend."
"You're a friend of Donnie", Tessa asked in an unbelieving voice. "I thought you said you were Canadian tourists? Your name isn't Maria Barry, is it?" She put her hand on the door, attempting to leave the room.
"Please", Rita said, "hear me out. My real name is Rita Lee Lance, I'm a police offiCer, resently married to my partner at work, Chris Lorenzo, who is being questioned by your partner this very minute. I'M not carrying any weapon, we are in a police station, what have you got to loose?"
"Ok", Tessa said after a moment of consideration. "But not here. A man like Donnie being a friend of the family is not something I want my collegues to know about. They may not understand."
"I know what you mean", Rita whispered and felt her eyes fill. "I am... we are on the run, not from the law, but from men the law can not protect us from. There are prices on our heads, and we dared not trust the witness protection program back home. Donnie informed us of two corrupted officers, and we have no reason to believe that they were the only ones. Here, I have this letter for you. It is not signed, he said you would know why."
Tessa accepted the letter and opened it. A quick look was enough to inform her that this woman was telling the truth. The letter was indeed from her parents' old friend.
"Tell you what", she said to Rita with a heartwarming smile. "As soon as I can get you and... Chris, was it... out of here, I will drive you back to my place. We can talk more when I get home tonight." &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&
"Tessa, you don't know these people! How can you offer them a place to stay just like that?" Steve was raising his voice, causing Tootsie and Fisk to turn their attention from the dead body on the table to the arguing detectives. Fisk shook his graying head at Tootsie, mumbling something about youth, receiving a warm smile for his efforts.
Tessa ignored her older collegues. "They are friends of a very good friend of my family", she said to Steve, "a friend that would do anything to help me. And besides, they need help."
"Very well", Steve said shortly, "then perhaps you can let me stay as well?"
"So you can be my knight in shining armor", she joked.
"All right, Steve, if it makes you feel better, you can stay as well. After all", she added, a hint of sarcasm in her voice, "I have a huge apartment with plenty of spare beds! Now will you get off my back so I can work? We have a killer to catch here!"
"Really", he said using the same tone. "I hadn't noticed."
"You ready", Tootsie asked, scalpell in hand, and without waiting for replies, she pointed at the victim's hand, the one that had been holding the gun. "No trace of gun powder", she said. "Either this man shot himself wearing a glove that somehow disappeared, or somebody killed him."
Steve whistled softly. "The newspaper delivery guys had seen the victim at six this morning when they dropped his papers off. He appeared to be alone. Is there any chance that the couple who called it in had anything to do with it? That man is hiding something, I'm sure of it."
"Steve...", Tessa pleaded. "You don't know all the facts here."
"How well do you know these people then? You have never met them before, right, all you have to go by is an old friend of your father who you remember from your childhood. Your father has been dead for many years, Tess, yes, he was the best, but how can you be sure that..."
"Shut up, Steve, leave my dad out of this!" With that, she left the room, banging the door after her.
"Nice touch", Tootsie mentioned to Steve, shaking her blonde curls in the process. "Nearly made my patients wake up and leave. She been like that all day?"
"I better go after her", he said.
"Leave that to me", Fisk said and removed his rubber gloves. "I knew her dad personally, not only by reputation. What did you do to piss her off like that, Hayden?"
"I wish I knew that", the younger man sighed.
"Did something happen today that reminded her of the old saint", Tootsie asked. "Could it be his death day or something?"
"Imogen", Fisk began. "I was on vacation when he got murdered, and don't remember all the details, but his death day is months away. Besides, it happened well over a decade ago, Miss Vance was a mere teenager at the time."
"What has that got to do with it", Tootsie asked. "Fourteen is a very traumatic age to loose a parent."
Steve sneaked out the door wondering where he could find Tessa, when he spotted her a few feet down the hall, staring out of the window. He walked over to her, put his hand on her arm. She turned towards him.
"Sorry", he said.
"Yeah", she sighed.
"I know your intuition is good, Tess, but we can't rule out possible suspects based on what we think."
"I know. Therefore I took the liberty of checking their story. They did arrive by plane at 11.15 this morning, and by the time they could have fetched their baggage and cleared through customs it would have been at least 11.45, and they called the murder in at noon. At the crime scene, Tootsie estimated time of death to between six and eight. That rules the Barrys out."
"I still think that the man is hiding something, Tess."
"He probably is, but from what I know, it's nothing illegal", Tessa said. "Keep it quiet for now, please? You can come home with me after work, Maria promised they would tell me everything then. I feel I can trust her, Steve, I like her." 88888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888
Meanwhile, Chris was in Tessa's bathroom, under the shower, trying to wash away the awful helpless feeling that had followed him since his last day in Palm Beach. He was empty and confused, angry and frustrated, and had no idea what to do with the rest of his life. And he so badly wanted to hold a baby in his arms. A living, breathing, healthy baby. There had been so much death and misery lately, too much. If only...
He reached for the soap again, then decided he was clean enough for the time being, and turned the water off. Pausing by the door, he reminded himself that they were guests here, and got dressed before he entered the living room.
Rita was a few feet away from him, squatting in front of the fishtank, lost in thought.
"What is it with detectives and goldfish", he whispered and stroked her head.
"The only house trained living creatures that can cope with our lousy work hours", she answered without thinking. "And besides, they are calming, much better than certain other things."
"Rita", he murmured, thinking for an awful moment she was talking about their baby, "I'm scared."
"Aw, Christopher, come here", she said and hugged him. "It'll be all right, I am sure it'll be all right."
"Then why do I get the impression that we've swapped positions? You are the woman, you're supposed to bite my head off with grief for the baby, I'm supposed to tell you he was my son too, and I miss him just as much. I feel so empty, Rita, I wanted to see him grow up, I wanted to teach him how to play basketball, how to treat women, how to eat a greasy meal a day without dropping dead from clogged arteries!"
Rita kept holding him, stroking his back a little, letting him talk. "Sam", she said in the end, "some years ago you asked me if you would ever understand how my mind worked."
"And you said that I would never understand that... Rita, come on, I know I don't understand how your mind works, but I know you, you must at least be hurting!"
"Chris... he was my son too."
Chris sighed heavily, then pulled back a little and rested his mouth against her ear.
"We're not really getting anywhere here, are we", he whispered, then he realized Rita was shaking in his arms.
"He was my son too", she sobbed into his shirt, "I wanted to see him grow up too! You're not the only one who misses him, all right?"
"I'm sorry. Rita, I'm sorry, I never doubted... Rita, I love you, I just go crazy sometime, and you being the only one around..."
She pushed him away, and before he could stop her, she had locked herself in the bathroom. He could hear her crying in there, and cursed himself. Just because she didn't show her grief the same way he did didn't necessarily mean that she was having the time of her life.
"Please forgive me", he whispered against the bathroom door, then he went back to the sofa and sat down with his head in his hands, crying. 888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888
Tessa managed to leave her office at eight thirty, she dropped by Little Thailand to pick up some dinner, and reached her street just when Steve was pulling up outside her house.
"What are you doing here", she asked.
"I thought you said I could come over after work to hear the Barry couple's story", he exclaimed.
She smiled, so he decided to push his luck a little. "I even thought I'd take you up on the offer to spend the night", he said. "After all, I did paint my apartment last night, and I was rather light-headed this morning from all the fumes."
"I was joking, Steve, have you seen my apartment? It is a one-tiny-bedroom-and-one-slightly-bigger-room-apartment, for heaven's sake. Where were you planning on sleeping?"
"The bathroom? Tess, come on, I'm worried! I know you and these people have mutual friends, that you probably can trust them, but please let me stay, there's no way I can sleep knowing you have got two complete strangers in your house!"
"Where did you learn to be so protective", Tessa asked him with a smile.
"T. Vance's college for young gentlemen?"
Tessa playfully slapped his arm and gave him the hot food containers.
"Here, carry this, bodyguard, make sure nobody poisons it! By the way, would you like to stay for dinner?"
"Thought you'd never ask."
"Hello", Tessa called when she unlocked the front door. The tv was on, she spotted Chris in the sofa and Rita by the kitchenette. "Hi, guys, how was your day?"
Nobody answered, but Rita smiled at her. Tessa immediately sensed a hint of sadness in the air.
"I brought some dinner", she said slowly, "and this is my partner, Steve, you remember him? He's convinced you guys are going to murder me in my sleep, so unless you can convince him otherwise, we're in for a night in tight surroundings."
Nobody laughed. Tessa sighed. Ok, so it wasn't that funny, fair enough.
"Thank you", Rita suddenly said. "Both of you."
Chris got up and switched the tv off.
"We need to know more if we are to give you some real help", Steve said. Rita glanced uncertainly at Tessa, remembering her words about her secret friendship with Donnie.
"I trust Steve", Tessa said quickly. "He will not take it the wrong way."
"What was that all about", Steve asked.
"Our mutual friend is on the wrong side of the law", Tessa began. "That does not mean that I or either of these two have accepted bribes or other illegal favors from him."
"We're refugees", Chris murmured, but soon raised his voice. "Our friends and family believe that I am dead and that my wife here left home to raise our child in safety, our baby died without us being able to even hold him first, we're in a strange country on the other side of the world, we've had like our life's first real fight today, we still haven't made up, we're depending on complete strangers to..."
"Chris...", Rita said softly and touched his arm. "I'm sorry for what I said to you."
"You're sorry? It was me who..."
She looked into his eyes, calming him down. "I'm sorry too", he whispered.
"Apology accepted. This is what that doctor warned us about, Sam, we're both under a lot of strain here. It would have been hard enough without loosing the baby..." She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and turned around in his arms. "Now, Tessa and Steve, I am pretty sure you should know the entire story that made us show up here like this."
"How about we eat before the food gets cold", Tessa suggested.
They ate in silence for a few minutes. "Where do you come from", Steve finally asked. "I have guessed that you aren't from Canada."
"We're from Palm Beach, Florida", Rita said between mouthfuls of the delicious dinner, her first proper meal today. "Homocide detectives, partners for nearly five years. We pissed the wrong people off, and had to run for our lives."
"So you aren't really married, then", Steve asked, looking admiringly at Rita.
"Yes", Chris said quickly, "we are. All the way."
"We were partners and very good friends for many years", Rita continued. "Then things changed, I got pregnant, we got married, and things have basicly gone downhill from there. Chris had found some essential evidence to nail a dirty cop and a mob boss."
"And they knew they could get to me by taking her", Chris added. "So they did. With some help from Donnie Dibarto, Rita's and possibly Tessa's biggest admirer, I managed to fake my death so she would be safe. Only thing was, I didn't get a chance to tell her about our plan before it was set into action."
"Our baby died in my womb", Rita sighed. "Thankfully I was reunited with Chris before I found that out, otherwise I have a feeling I would have..."
Chris put his hand on top of hers, squeezed it slightly.
Steve looked at Tessa. A few thoughts of "damn, how lucky we are, not in love, not dealing with those kinds of criminals" crossed his mind, then "but oh how wonderful it would be if it was us exchanging glances like that" raced through his head before he managed to put the mere idea of it away somewhere safe. Tessa wasn't that kind of woman. He wasn't that kind of man. He could have a female partner without getting her in the sack, he really could. If he concentrated, he didn't even have to think about getting her in the sack. Damn Stevo, concentrate!
"Were are you on the dead newspaper boy", Rita asked.
"We've checked you two out of the case, if that's what you are worried about", Tessa said. "His name was Adam Wengate, he was a twenty-two year old student. We talked to his father this afternoon. Weird case."
"What do you mean", Rita asked. "Can you tell us, or is it confidential?"
"Just don't leak it to the press, all right", Tessa smiled. Both Rita and Chris promised to keep their mouths shut.
"Well", Tessa continued, "we had a long chat with the father, Alexander Wengate. He's the founder of Wengate Industries, if you've heard of that? Big company, heaps of money."
"So what was the kid doing selling newspapers", Chris asked.
"That's the interesting part", Steve said. "According to the father, they had a big fight a few years back, where he had challenged Adam to live without the family money. He had halfway expected Adam to act on it, but not that it would last. During the first year, they met once, and didn't have anything to say to each other, but lately their relationship was picking up. The father realiZed at one point that his son wasn't just trying to prove a point, he actually believed in what he was doing, and that got him the old man's respect."
"So basicly", Tessa said, "we have a rich, dead heir who worked his ass off for peanuts trying to be like everybody else."
"Adam got excellent grades at uni", Steve continued, "and his employers had only good things to say about him. He did good for himself, there's no reason to believe he wanted to end his life, and yet somebody tried to make it look like suicide."
"So the killer didn't know the victim", Chris suggested, "or..."
"Or the killer did know the victim, but wanted it to look like he or she didn't", Rita added.
"The father offered him a job", Tessa said. "He respectfully asked his son if he would consider a future in the family firm, developing it further into a solid company that would provide secure employment for all their workers. Adam didn't even have to answer right away, his father only wanted him to think about it, telling him it wasn't meant as an offer to a son and heir, it was an offer to a promising student."
Rita looked at Chris. "Does he have a brother or sister that might be jealous?", she asked.
"An older sister", Tessa said, "but the firm is more than big enough for both of them. Mr. Wengate mentioned that his daughter had pushed him into offering Adam the job, as she thought she and her brother would make a very good team one day."
"Ex lover that's after revenge", Rita suggested. "An ex worker feeling abused, and after revenge? Drug or mob execution?"
"Tootsie is doing the autopsy tonight, and Fisk was going through hair samples and fingerprints when we left. Tootsie's our medical examiner, Fisk head of forensics, by the way. We will know more tomorrow."
They chatted amiably for a couple of hours before Chris and Rita began to stifle their yawns.
"I'm sorry", Tessa said, "I'm probably keeping you all up."
"Yes", Steve teased. "But at least you wont be calling me in the middle of the night this time. I'm still taking you up on that offer to sleep here."
"You really are insistant today", she sighed. "All right, there's a folding bed in the closet. You can choose: the bathroom or share my bedroom."
"You're letting me into your bed", he asked, eyes wide open. "The guys are gonna be..."
"Not my bed, Hayden, bedroom", she stated and slapped his arm. "One wrong word to the guys at work and you'll be speaking in a rather high-pitched voice, mate!"
Both men frowned while Rita shared Tessa's knowing smile. 888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888
The house was quiet. Rita curled up next to Chris on the sofa which had miraculously changed shape into a double bed when Tessa pulled at the right places.
"I like these people", she whispered, "even though they talk funny."
"It's called Australian accent, dear", Chris teased, "and you better start practicing if we're gonna mingle properly."
"Really?" Rita leaned over and kissed him softly. "Goodnight."
"Goodnight? You expect me to fall peacefully asleep after a kiss like that?"
"Then you can stay awake", Rita mumbled and turned abrubtly away from him. "I'm not in the mood, all right?"
"Rita..." He touched her shoulder.
"No, I mean it, Lorenzo, I don't want to!" She shook his hand off. "I was teasing you, Rita, trying to be funny, I know we can't do it for weeks yet."
I wasn't laughing."
"Sorry, Sam, I love... Can I just hold you?" She didn't answer. Everything was liquid inside her, she was crying soundlessly and somehow didn't want him to notice and think that she cried because of him.
"Rita, please, at least let me see your face when I apologize."
She buried her face in the pillow. "Don't", she murmured, thinking he had nothing to apologize for, but not finding enough words to tell him. He turned away from her. A sob escaped her throat.
He leaned towards her again. "He was my son too", he whispered. "Please don't shut me out."
She couldn't form another word, but managed to find his hand and cling to it.
Tessa was having difficulties sleeping. She could sense more than hear what was going on in the next room, but that didn't really bother her. After an hour of tossing and turning, she sat up in bed, planning to go to the bathroom for a glass of water. Everything was quiet in the livingroom.
"Tess, are you all right?" Steve? What was he...? Oh, yes, spending the night, she remembered.
"Sorry I woke you", she whispered. "I can't sleep."
"So I've noticed. You never sleep, do you?" He gazed at her with dark, sleepy eyes, and with his hair standing straight up, he looked wonderful. She shook her head no.
"Wanna talk about it?"
"I'm not sure if I can. I've been like this for as long as I can remember. I hate the night sometimes."
"You reckon it can have anything to do with your father getting killed", he asked.
She sighed deeply. "That all happened a long time ago, Steve. I don't know, I suppose it is possible. It's not like I have nightmares or anything, at least not now, I just don't get sleepy. My head keeps me awake, it's too busy in there."
She sat quiet for a short while, feeling his eyes on her. "You know", she continued, "I had a friend at university, a really close friend. Then we became lovers, and that didn't do our friendship any good."
"I'm not sure if I believe in true and everlasting love, Tess, not after my own broken marriage, but I do like the idea of it. It would have been nice, don't you think?"
Not quite sure what he meant, whether he was making a subtle pass at her or only being friendly, she just nodded.
"Lay down, Tess", he whispered. "Relax. Feel the night. Did your mother stroke your back to get you to sleep when you were little?"
"I can't remember. Maybe."
"Can you imagine her doing that now?"
She tried for a little while, but it didn't make her sleepy. "I'm not on very good terms with my mother anyway", she whispered. He didn't utter another word, just raised from his makeshift bed and sat down next to her. She froze.
"Relax, Tess, I'm not coming on to you and I'm not going to boast to the guys at work tomorrow."
"It's not that I'm not attracted to you", she whispered.
"Do you remember that silly picture of us in the newspaper", he asked while softly stroking her back. "The one taken after you had fallen from a tree and landed on top of me, knocking me down so it looked like we were rolling on the ground? My mother called, asking me why I hadn't said anything about this woman, and when I tried to tell her that we were just collegues, she wanted to know why I hadn't asked you out."
Tess giggled into her pillow. Steve didn't say anymore, just kept stroking her, and she felt herself slowly falling asleep. He kissed the top of her head just when she was drifting away, wishing her a good night, and she was glad he was there, but too sleepy to tell him that. 888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888
The next day, Mrs. Wengate came down to give Steve and Tessa her statement. She was tall and trim, dressed in simple, yet elegant clothes. They estimated her to be in her early sixties, a bright, sharp woman that knew what she wanted, and how to get it. She was wearing dark glasses when she arrived, and as soon as she took them off, they noticed her red eyes. Grief. No crocodile tears. Real grief.
"I can't understand that he's gone", she began, trying to control her voice. "
"Mrs. Wengate", Tessa said, "when did you last see your son?"
"We had dinner together last week", Mrs. Wengate said. "I brought salad and a pai, and we sat in his room and ate it. I used to bring food over quite often, and we always sat down and talked."
"Did you ever take him out to eat? Restaurant, cafe?"
"I tried to in the beginning, when he first moved out, but he always refused. One day I made a salad and brought it to him with some fresh rolls, and he enjoyed that. That's when I learned. I had to act like I wasn't rich, he liked me then. It was so hard. I could bring anything homemade, and he would be happy, but bring takeout, no matter how cheap, and he would accuse me of being a capitalist and trying to buy his love. It wasn't like that to me, I only wanted his company, to see that he was all right, make sure he got a good meal. Mothers do that. I am not a very good cook, but he always asked me if I had made the food, and I never lied to him."
"How would you describe your relationship with you son, Mrs. Wengate?"
"I think he loveD me, and I adored him. He was a sweet boy when he was little, he had a temper, and could be quite cross if he didn't get his way. Maybe he was a bit spoiled. Yes, I think he was. His sister Nina is six years older than him, and we had almost given up hope of another child. Yes, I am afraid we spoiled him. Caring for himself was very good for him. He learned to control his temper, and he learned something about the real world that my husband and I could not teach him."
"What about Adam's relationship to his father and sister?"
"Adam and Alexander had several arguments over the years, they did not get on very well. It was the same with Adam and Nina. They could fight over the smallest details."
"Do you think Adam would have gone back to work in the family firm if he got a chance?"
"Yes, oh yes, I am pretty sure he would. Maybe not right away, but some time, yes, he would."
"How did Nina feel about that?"
"She would have to accept it, he was her brother. The firm is big enough for both of them."
"Did she ever say anything about wanting her brother as a collegue, or not wanting to work with him?"
"No, she didn't. Not to me, anyway. Siblings always fight. They would have learned to get along if they had to work together."
"Mrs. Wengate, do you know if your son had any enemies?"
"No, he was such a sweet boy, nobody could hate him. Even his landlady smiled at me when I came by, always telling me what a good son I had."
"Well, that will be it for now, Mrs. Wengate. Thank you for your time. Please do not leave the city, we might have to ask you some more questions."
Mrs. Wengate got up and left. Tessa turned to Steve, who had been quiet during the entire session.
"What do you think", she asked. "Is she and her husband talking about the same people?" 888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888
Chris and Rita were spending the day sightseeing. At lunchtime, they found a park and sat down for a short rest.
"Sunshine", Chris started, not sure on how to tell her what was on his mind. "You know, since we brought the baby's ashes with us and stuff..." He squeezed her hand and continued, "I was thinking, maybe we should give him a name, something to put on the head stone, if we get one. What do you think? We never really discussed names, we only called him baby, or bambino."
"Chris... I am not writing Bambi Lorenzo on that stone", Rita said with a mock serious expression.
"I'm not...", Chris started, then realiZed she was kidding. "Hey, you big tease!" He tickled her a little for her effort, then placed an arm around her shoulders. "Come on, Sam, I'm being serious here. I want to give our baby a name."
"How about Christian", Rita suggested. "Christian Lee, maybe? Something from both of us without being too obvious about our real identity."
"You know, Sam, I was kinda hoping, that if we ever have another child, that, if we want to then, we haven't already used that."
"You mean a Chris-name?"
Chris nodded his head yes. "I know those names are really common, but those mobsters looking for us, they really scare me, Sam. What if they figure it out?"
"Ian Lee, then?"
Ian Lee... I can live with that, Sam."
"Speaking of life, Chris, I'm starving. How about we change a few traveller's checques and get something to eat?"
"Great idea. How much money have we got?"
"As long as we don't have to pay for accomodations, we'll be all right for months. Donnie was going to set up an account for us as soon as he'd sold our apartments and my jeep. He could't do that right away, Harry would either get suspicious or flat out accuse him of stealing my money."
"How was Cap when you left? I never asked you about that."
"Sorry to loose us both, I think. He did wish me luck, and told me to call the minute I went into labor. I wish THERE was a way to tell him and Frannie that we are safe, Chris, they will worry so much about me when I fail to let them know."
"Maybe Donnie somehow can get a message through to them, if nothing else, a short note from you saying you are all right and happy? If you don't tell them about the bab... Ian, they will worry less about you."
"But they will want to see him, Chris, they are his God parents, they..."
"Would it be easier if they thought you were dead as well?"
Rita considered the idea for a moment. "Yes", she whispered, "I'm afraid so. They would be devastated, but they wouldn't spend the rest of their lives wondering and worrying."
"Let's think about that some more, shall we? Perhaps they can cope quite well with not knowing?" 888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888
Chris and Rita found a quiet, little cafe and sat down for a late lunch. "You reckon they have proper roach coach chili here, Sam", Chris asked. Rita rolled her eyes at him. He pouted, then smiled his special smile, the one he reserved just for her.
"As long as you're here with me, I can live without that chili."
Rita looked him in the eyes. "You better. Salad and a sandwich?"
"Nah, look here, Sam", he said and pointed at the menu. "Hamburger with everything for me, thanks!"
They placed their orders, and enjoyed cold drinks while waiting for the food to arrive. Another couple came in, a woman in her late twenties or early thirties, and a man slightly older. They sat down on the table next to Chris and Rita, and didn't bother to keep their voices down.
"No", the woman said, and smashed her hand against the table, "how can you say something like that, Dan, he's... he was my brother for heaven's sake! So we weren't the best of friends, but that didn't mean that I didn't love him!"
"Nina..." The man looked around him. "Nina, listen..."
"No, you listen, Dan! I will not sit here and hear you tell me I must be glad my brother's dead, there's nothing good about that!"
"Look, if you won't calm down we might as well leave, I'm not here to..."
"Fine, take a hike, Dan, see if I care!"
The man got up. "See you later", he said, and left. The woman got up as well, but headed towards the restrooms.
Rita looked at Chris. "Wonder what that was all about?"
"Beats me. Hey, look, the waitress' coming our way. Food!"
Rita looked from her salad to Chris's steaming hamburger. Not fair, she thought, he can eat anything and still look drop dead gorgeous. She swallowed. He ignored his knife and fork and lifted the entire thing to his mouth, opened, tongue curling over white teeth, jaws closing...
"Rita, get your mind out of the gutter", he teased. She blushed. He felt sorry for her. "Here, have a bite, love, how can I enjoy my junk food with yoU drooling all over it."
"What makes you think I was drooling over your food, Sam", she murmured. "Watching you devour it was much better."
Now it was his time to blush. She smiled innocently and started on her salad. 888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888
"He was too late for flower power and communism", Nina Wengate said in a harsh voice. "He thought he could make a difference in the world. Maybe he could have if he'd chosen a different route!"
"What do you mean", Steve asked, hiding his surprise of the direction this interrogation was heading.
"He thought he could make everybody happy if he didn't have any money. What kind of difference does that make in the world? How many people will that employ? He couldn't think wider than his own circle, smile to the world and the world will smile back. Look where it got him! He was such a jerk!"
"What makes you think he didn't intend to make a difference in the world? He was studying, doing quite well too."
"Then imagine how well he could have done if he had spent his mornings and evenings studying instead of working! If he had let daddy pay for his education, he would have had more time to read, and even better grades." Nina twisted her hands. "And been alive today", she added, fighting back a few stray tears.
"Miss Wengate, how would you describe your relationship with your brother?"
"Tough. We fought a lot, didn't agree on anything. I admired him, really, I did, but I couldn't tell him that, and now it's too late. He had the strength to live his own life, I hadn't. I earn my money, I work hard, but I'll never know if I would have managed without being my father's daughter. Our arguments... They could be pretty rough, but never physical, and I don't think our relationship was any worse than in other families. You know, siblings always fight."
"Do you know if Adam had a girlfriend, Miss Wengate?"
He was engaged. It would have been nice if we could go out on a date, two couples like that, but whenever I brought Dan with me, Adam got really hostile, they didn't get along at all. I mean, Adam and I fought a lot, but we did care about each other, he would be there for me if I needed him, and I would be there for him. It's not like we were enemies, but Dan and Adam, they were strange. Never fighting though, I just don't know how to describe it. It's like they were polite, but couldn't stand each other." 888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888
Tessa and Steve joined some of their collegues at the pub after work a week or so later. They weren't getting anywhere with the Wengate case. No matter how much Tessa twisted her brain, she couldn't make sense of this puzzle. Every night for almost a week, she had gone to bed no later than midnight, as she assumed her guests wanted or needed their beauty-sleep. With a stack of good books by the bed, she wasn't worried about not sleeping, but she couldn't make her brain fit the loose ends together. That was how they worked, Steve would bury himself in evidence and by-the-book investigation, she relied on her intuition. Why couldn't she see the murderer clearly this time?
"How are your guests, Tessa", Tootsie asked. "Has Steve calmed down about them?"
Fisk took a few sips of his water while wathing both women.
Tessa smiled and rolled her eyes at him. "Never knew him to be that protective. We had dinner together the first night, all four of us, and by the end of the evening, he actually laughed at Sam's jokes!"
"You ever asked yourself why Steve's so protective, Tess?"
Tessa didn't answer right away, a little bothered about the direction the conversation was taking. Looking around the room, she spotted Steve and Dee, a young, female constable, in their usual game of pool. Was Dee always standing this close to him, always laughing this much of his jokes?
"Dee doesn't stand a chance, Tess, and she knows it."
"I was wondering whether I should head home, or call Sam and Maria and ask them to join us", Tessa said, attempting to change the subject. She wasn't quite ready to start chasing Steve the way Dee had been doing for as long as she'd known them. Dee with her short chestnut hair and witty comments. Dee videotaping crime scenes while cracking sick jokes. Dee challenging Steve to a friendly game of pool. Night after night. Since when had that bothered her? Dee was her friend and collegue. So was Steve.
"Why don't you call them", Tootsie suggested. "Give them a chance to see how the average Aussie spends her evening."
Tessa grinned. "All right, I'll do just that!" 888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888
Chris and Rita arrived half an hour later. Tessa waved at them from her table, pointing at the two vacant chairs next to her. Steve and Dee were still busy playing.
"Hi, guys", she greeted them. "Good to see you."
"Good to see you too", Rita smiled. Chris stood quietly by her side, their arms touching. "Have you nailed the killer yet?", Rita asked in a polite voice.
Fisk coughed slightly, and Tootsie laughed.
"Sorry, no", Tessa said. "Things doesn't usually work that fast, you see." She knew Rita was kidding, and decided to play along to help her hide her true profession. "Maria", she said, "did you mean what you said about writing a mystery novel?"
Rita stared at her, unable to understand what this was all about.
Tessa didn't waste any time. "I was thinking we could fill you in a little on how we work", she suggested, "that way you'll know more about how crimes are solved."
"Great idea", Rita said, suddenly getting the point. If she kept meeting these people, she knew she would give herself away at one point, letting them know that she knew more about solving crimes than she was supposed to according to Maria Barry's background.
"Would you like something to drink, love", Chris asked her. "Beer?" She nodded.
"Oh, sorry, where are my manners", Tessa joked, and pointed at the two others present around the table. "Maria and Samuel Barry, this is Tootsie, also known as Imogen Soames, and Lance Fisk. And the bimbo playing with Steve over there is Dee Suzeraine."
"I HEARD THAT", Dee yelled.
"Oops", Tessa grimaced. "Touchy! Steve must be winning."
Chris got his two beers and stood by the bar for a few minutes watching Rita. She was wearing her black leather jacket and faded blue jeans. Her dark, shiny hair covered her shoulders like a soft scarf, she was gesticulating, waving her arms, laughing about something, obviously enjoying herself. He sighed, remembering a stillborn, little body in her arms, the tears, her heartbreaking sobs. How could she be this happy already?
"Come on, Maria", Tessa laughed. "The sister is way too obvious, you gotta learn this, mate. The murderer is never the obvious one!"
"Ok", Rita said and smiled wickedly. "The father did it! He didn't want his son to take over the business, how's that?"
Tessa was laughing so hard she had trouble sitting up straight, and even Fisk was smiling broadly.
"Honey", Chris interrupted, giving her her beer. "I think there's something called a motive. You know, look for the one having something to gain?"
"Yeah, that's exactly what I was going on about", Rita continued. "The father didn't like his son's ideas, and wanted to make sure he didn't get his hands on the firm's money. He'd only give it to the poor, or give the workers a too solid pay rise. He isn't obvious, Tessa! I bet he did it, I really do!"
Tessa couldn't answer, she was draped across the table, not able to stop laughing. The others looked at each other, shaking their heads. Steve suddenly appeared behind her with a wide grin plastered on his face, and while using one hand to keep her down, he began to tickle her. Tessa was crying for mercy and practically sitting on the floor before he stopped.
"And that blonde called me a bimbo", Dee sighed with a mock serious expression, and reached out to shake hands with Chris and Rita. "I'm Dee. Nice meeting ya."
"Sister's boyfriend", Rita suggested with a wide grin, revealing her ace. "Bet you didn't think of eliminating that one, Tess!"
Tessa suddenly sobered. "Damn", she said, "that's it! Why didn't I think of that? You're a genious, Maria!"
She grabbed Steve's arm and pulled him with her into a quiet corner. "Will you come home with me and watch the crime scene video tonight", Tessa asked. Steve looked questionly at her.
"I thought you had company?"
"Three's a crowd, four is two coup... ah, four is like all the weels, no fifth weel! Besides, they said they used to do that a lot, when they were stuck with difficult cases, they'd get takeout and a video and spend an evening together discussing the case."
Bet that wasn't all they did, he thought, and smiled. "All right."
"Besides", she teased, "I use to do that a lot on my own, about time you get a chance to see those tapes over and over again."
"Really?" He leaned closer and whispered into her ear. "Make sure you bring the interrogation tapes as well so we can get some action." His final words lingered in her head as she watched him walk out the door and disappear. She wondered what the heck he had meant, then went over to Chris and Rita to offer them a ride home. 888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888
A while later the foursome sat huddled together in Tessa's apartment. The weather had changed a lot to the worse on their way home, into heavy wind and rain that had made them all soaking wet on the short walk from the car to the house. Chris had got the coffee going with Rita more or less hanging over his shoulder to make sure he remembered how to measure, while Tessa popped a couple of frozen pizzas into the oven, and Steve tried to make sense of the bag of video tapes they'd brought from work. Tessa finally came to his aid.
"Here", she said and inserted a tape into her VCR, "let's start with the crime scene."
They sat through tape after tape. Rita ended up on Chris' lap, claiming she could see better from there, after the first tape. In the beginning of the third tape, the recording of Mrs. Wengate being interrogated, Steve sneaked his arm around Tessa, not bothering to find an excuse for doing so.
"What is wrong with that woman", Rita sighed when she saw Mrs. Wengate talk about her son. ""Maybe he was a bit spoiled"? Adam would have turned into a first class monster if he'd stayed at home. She even let him terrorize her after he'd left. Well, kind of. How could she let him treat her like that when she brought him food somebody else had made? She wanted to spend time with him, not spend time cooking for him." "She could have killed him off to make him stop? Would she be capable of that", Chris asked.
Steve shook his head no. "I see the motive, but she was devastated from the loss", he said. "Eyes red and swollen from crying. I don't think she did it."
"I would understand if she was the killer", Rita said. "Who's next?"
"The sister", Tessa said, unwilling to leave Steves embrace. Rita raised and changed the tapes, then sat down on the arm rest next to Chris.
"Lot's of anger in that one", Steve commented. "Smart girl, though. She might have done it."
Both Rita and Chris leaned forward to see Nina Wengate properly. "Sam", they said in unision, and began to laugh.
"You first", Chris offered.
"We saw that woman the other day", Rita said. "On a small cafe, must have been the day after we arrived. She was with a guy called Dan, they argued like hell."
"Dan's her fiance", Tessa said. "Works in the firm with her."
"Anyway", Rita continued. "Nina kept yelling at Dan telling him she wasn't happy that her brother was dead, and she could not understand how he could insinuate such a thing."
Steve whistled softly. "Now that's interesting", he said. "Why would she yell at him in public if she was the murderer? She would have wanted to lay low, play the role as the mourning sister."
Unless she wanted people to believe what you just said there", Tessa added, "but then again, how could she know that Chris and Rita was on that cafe and had anything to do with the investigation?"
Tessa leaped from her seat to change tapes again. Dan Tyler appeared on the screen. Everybody went quiet.
"Adam was a great guy", Dan said looking into the camera, "charming and funny, I really liked him, even though he was a spoiled brat wandering through life wearing blinkers." He smiled, looking like he didn't really mean what he'd just said. "Running a successful company isn't about oppressing your workers, you see, but about giving them a goal, someone to admire. I can't imagine Adam getting anywhere in life, but he was a nice and kind guy I would love to have as a brother-in-law. Nina on the other hand, is an impressing woman. She has the best ideas and drive..."
Tessa stopped the tape using the remote control. "This is weird. He seems to be the only one who believes Nina to be the best. He may be biased, but after working all those years in the firm... Something doesn't add up here."
Steve yawned. "Let's bring them in for more questioning tomorrow", he suggested. "It's two in the morning, how about getting some sleep, guys?" He raised and walked over to the window. "I suppose I should get going", he said, looking out on the miserable, streaming rain.
"You can stay if you like", Tessa said. "Might even give you half an hour extra sleep tonight as you wont need to drive home to get to bed."
He looked at her. "Who are you and what have you done to my partner?"
Tessa gave him a dirty look.
"Yes, please, I would love to stay, Tess, just quit looking at me like that, I feel like I've done something really bad!"
Chris and Rita laughed heartily. 888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888
"You sleepy yet, Sam", Chris asked when they were alone.
Rita shook her head no.
"Want a Lorenzo special massage, mylady?"
She smiled. "That sounds interesting, kind sir."
"You do remember, don't you, what Karen and Dickie-boy Plasmeyer taught us?" Without waiting for reply, he pushed her gently down on the bed and began to massage her back with firm, loving strokes.
"Mmm, you must've practiced", she murmured into her pillow, "if it had been half this pleasant back then I wouldn't have given you all that crap about loving you but not being in love with you."
He smiled at the memory. They had been undercover as lovers and had, among several other intimate things, been forced to kiss for an hour. Afterwards they had shared their views about love and friendship.
"Have you ever had any regrets", he asked. "About us, I mean."
"You keep that up and I'll tell you." His fingers were doing magical things to her neck, earlobes and throat, and she was in no hurry to make him stop that.
"Shush, I'm still counting my regrets."
Oh really?" He grinned, and immediately lay down on top of her, using his upper body to pin her down while he tickled her.
"Come on, Chris", she gasped between fits of laughter. "That's not gonna make me sleepy!"
"I don't wanna sleep, I wanna talk." He stopped tormenting her. She laid down on her back looking up at him.
He planted a gentle kiss on her forehead, then another one on her lips. "Tessa and Steve."
She didn't follow his line of thought.
"Rita, look at them, do they remind you of anyone? Best friends, partners..."
Rita smiled and nodded her head yes. She lifted one of her hands and stroked Chris' cheek.
"You reckon they've done it yet?"
"Chris!" She pretended to be shocked, but didn't quite succeed.
"Come on, Sam, do you honestly think they're as best-friend-y as they want us to believe?"
She giggled. "Nope. But I don't think they've done it. Yet!"
"Only a matter of time, Sammy", he whispered, pulling her close. "Only a matter of time." 888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888
"You sleepy yet", Tessa asked.
Steve looked up from his attempts of unfolding his bed for the night. "If I could get this one right, yes, I would be."
"Want a hand?" Without waiting for his reply, she got up and tried to make sense of the mess he had made.
"It's supposed to be quite easy", she murmured, trying to pull the right triggers.
Meanwhile, Steve had tip-toed over to her bed and lain down on top of the covers. She was wearing a long, cream colored silk nightgown, and the bedside lamp bathed the room in a soft light, making her fair hair look almost golden, and he had to concentrate pretty hard to behave himself. Still, he couldn't leave. "Wake me up when you're done, partner", he said and closed his eyes.
"Hey!" Slightly annoyed, she gave up on the folding bed and jumped into her own bed, nearly landing on top of him. "Who said you could sleep here, Steve?"
He didn't answer, just made soft snoring noises pretending to be asleep.
"Ok", she whispered. "You on top of covers, me under. Wake me up when you get cold, partner."
"You giving up already", he murmured.
"Yes, I'm tired, it's the middle of the night and you made a mess of my folding bed."
"Sorry. Do I still get to sleep here, Tess?"
She pretended to think it over. "Will you stay for breakfast", she asked.
"I'll make you breakfast", he offered.
"Will you stroke my back till I fall asleep?"
"If you want me to."
"I do. Stay, Steve."
He flashed his toothpaste grin, picked up the pillow and blanket from the folding bed, undressed to his boxers and t-shirt and got under the covers next to her. She lay on her stomach facing him.
"Backrub", he asked, not sure if she had meant that part. "Please. Makes me sleepy."
He placed his hand on her back, moving his fingers in slow circles. This was relaxing, definetely something he could get used to. He looked at her profile in the faint light. If only she hadn't been so young. What could she see in him? An older brother?
He quit stroking her. This wasn't right.
"I'm glad you're not my brother", she whispered. He froze. "But don't worry", she continued, "I'm not gonna boast to the girls at work tomorrow."
He relaxed and put his arm around her again. She nestled closer, sending shivers down his spine when he felt her breath against his chin.
"This is nice", he whispered.
"Yes", she sighed, "I could get used to this..." "
... if you let yourself", he finished the sentence for her.
She sighed again. "I'm not the only one holding back, am I, Steve?"
He shook his head no, not trusting his voice at this moment.
"What's going to happen to us, Steve?" Her voice sounded small and vulnerable, melting his heart.
"Nothing unless we let it." He gave her back and shoulder a firm squeeze. "I think if we keep hanging on to each other, Tess, we're not going to drift very far. But I thought, maybe, when this is all over, we could go out on a real date one day?"
"I would like that. Dee's gonna freak though."
"Tess", he murmured. "Tess, if we wanna stay partners, we should probably keep this quiet and low key."
Chris groaned and released Rita from his embrace.
Tessa knocked on the living room door again. Chris and Rita bounced up and pulled on their robes.
"Come on in", Rita said.
Tessa's smiling face appeared in the doorway. "Steve was going to make us breakfast", she said, "but he's dead asleep unfortunately."
"I'll get the coffee started", Rita said, "you go get ready for work, Tess."
"That's what I wanted to ask you guys about", Tessa said. "Would you like to sit in on the interrogations today? We always video-tape the session, so you can sit in the control room if you want. If anybody asks, I'll tell them you're writing a mystery novel or planning to join the police academy or something."
"Sounds good", Chris said. "We'd like that, wont we, Sam?" Rita nodded her head yes.
"Ok, I'll give you a call later. Now, shower, and then I can wake up Mr. Lazybones."
"Who are you talking about", Steve said as he entered the living room fully dressed and placed his arm carelessly around Tessa's shoulders. "I thought I was gonna cook you all breakfast today?"
"Have you seen the time", Tessa asked him, "we have to leave in twenty minutes."
"So? We can shower together and save heaps of time..."
She gave him an "in your dreams"-look for his effort, then went into the bathroom and locked the door behind her.
"Coffee, Steve", Rita offered.
"Yes, please, thank you." 888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888
Chris and Rita stood behind Fisk and another man presented to them as inspector Thorne in the small control chamber next to the interrogation room and watched Nina Wengate sit down opposite the table from Tessa and Steve.
"Why did you ask me to come back", she asked, clutching her fingers nervously. "I have already told you everything I know."
Rita looked at the young woman's face filling the small tv monitor, then took in the entire scene through the one-way mirror. Tessa appeared to be playing bad cop, Steve good.
"We figured there's still something you haven't told us", Tessa said and moved closer to Nina. "You didn't mention just how much you and Dan would have to loose if your brother came back to work with the firm. You and Dan had it all planned out, didn't you, you two would run the company together when your parents retired, but then Adam changed his tune and wanted to come back."
Nina's eyes widened. "You think I did it? Oh my God, how... Please, you have to believe me, he was my brother, I could never kill my brother, I could never kill anybody, I did not kill my brother, we were going to run the firm together, that was my plan, get him back!"
Tears were streaming down Nina's cheeks. Neither Tessa nor Steve said anything.
"I know a lot about running the company", Nina continued, almost hysterical. "I have learned it all, how to run it, how to analyse the market, all pure facts, but Adam, he had the instinct! Together we would have been unbeatable. Don't you understand, I had everything to loose by killing him, and nothing to gain..."
She wiped her eyes carefully, then stood up and talked calmly: "If you will excuse me, I would like to have my solicitor present from now on. Am I free to leave, detectives?"
"Yes, you are", Steve said, "but you may not leave the city." In the control room, Thorne whispered to the others: "Dan is next. They are leading Nina out, making sure she can't talk to him first."
Rita clutched Chris' hand, wishing she was back in her old job, wishing it was her doing the interrogating right now, her and Chris, or that she was in this control room with Harry instead of Fisk and Thorne, watching any of their old collegues instead of Tessa and Steve.
Dan entered the room.
"Good morning, detectives", he smiled, "I understand you needed to ask me a few more questions?"
"Have a seat", Steve offered.
"Yes", Tessa said and leaned closer. "You see, Mr. Tyler, we finally realised that you and Ms. Wengate had a lot to gain by getting rid of her brother..."
For a moment Dan looked like he had fallen from the moon, but he soon widened his grin again.
"I never thought she'd do it", he said, "in fact, I still can't believe it. Are you sure about this, detectives? I mean, she did promise to make me assistant director once if I got rid of her brother, but I never thought she meant it, she didn't seem the type." He shook his head in disbelief. "Just shows you never really know somebody, doesn't it?"
Rita looked at Chris, but kept her mouth shut as she didn't know if their voices could be heard in the interrogation room. Did they really believe this slime ball?
"That is interesting, Mr. Tyler", Steve said. "Why didn't you mention that last time?"
"Well, as I said, I never believed she would do it, and besides, she is my fiance, detective, I love her."
"Indeed", Tessa murmured, then raised her voice. "Well, Mr. Tyler, thank you for your time and cooperation. You have been very helpful."
Rita watched Dan leave the room with Steve and Tessa following him. Shortly after she heard yelling and screaming from the hallway, and bounced towards the door.
Dan was on the floor with Nina towering over him, kicking and beating him with clenched fists. "You ruined my life", she screamed, "how could you do it? How could you kill my brother and expect me to thank you? You've taken away the only one who understood me and stood by me no matter what! I hope you rot in hell, I hope you die slowly of something painful, you rotten son of a bitch!"
Rita watched from her doorway, amazed of the way things were turning out.
After a few minutes, Steve easily overpowered Nina and left her with Tessa to cool down. Dan was led back to the interrogation room, stooping and embarrassed, and ready to tell the truth.
"I have been in that company for most of my career", he explained, "and I wanted to run it, I wanted to run it so badly it hurt, and if it hadn't been for Mr. Wengate's children, I would have gotten my chance when the boss retired. They were born with silver spoons in their mouths, they had it all. Nina was good, I knew that, I could get my leadership through her, I realised that years ago. I tried to get rid of Adam, and I nearly succeeded too, with a little help from my cousin, who challenged Adam to live without his family money. How was I to know Adam could be both a hippie and a good student? How could I predict that he'd want to return to the firm after all? I had to get rid of him, you can understand that, can't you...?" 888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888
A small group of people were gathered around a small grave. It was raining softly through optimistic rays of sunlight. No priest were talking, no hymnes sung, just a handful of ashes being spread in front of an old headstone.
"Ian Lee, May 12. to May 26. 1912", the inscription said. 888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888
Rita took Chris' hand and walked slowly towards the group of police officers in the bar. They heard parts of the conversation, "how long are your guests here for, Tessa", and the reply: "they are here to stay, actually, we just need to find them a proper place to live."
"Hey, talk about the devils", Steve said when he spotted them, "look who's here. We were just talking about you two."
"Something good, I hope", Rita smiled.
"That depends", Steve joked.
"I hear you are staying, Maria", Tootsie said. "I'm glad to hear that."
"Why, thank you", Rita exclaimed, a little surprised as she hardly knew the older woman.
"Are you looking for a job", Tootsie continued.
Rita looked at her. "Definetely."
"Tessa here has been saying all these nice things about you, and I could do with an assistant who doesn't puke when she sees the insides of a dead body."
Rita grimaced, then smiled slightly.
"We basicly need help in forensics", Fisk interrupted, "Tootsie does most of the dead-body-stuff herself, but we need somebody to take samples, compare fingerprints and stuff like that. It's just part time, at least in the beginning, but it is a start. What do you think?"
Rita smiled broadly, then looked at Chris, who didn't look overly pleased. "Can I talk that over with my husband", she asked.
"We might be able to help you as well", Steve told Chris. "A friend of mine, who works at a down town high school have asked if I know of a reasonably young, tough and healthy man that can work some hours as a physical education instructor, and several as a student mate, or whatever they call it. They need to give certain kids a role model, and I figured you might be the man for the job, Sam. Talk about it, guys. You aren't alone, we're all your mates."
Chris smiled and put his arm around Rita. "What do you think, Sam", she said, "you reckon we've found a new home or what?" He smiled even wider and pulled her close. "My home is where you are", he whispered, "if you'd like to stay, I'll be happy to be here with you."
"One more thing", she whispered, "in a few months, I think I'll be ready to try and get pregnant again. If you still want to?"
"If I still want to? Of course I do, that's the best..." He lifted her up and swung her around. "I take it they are staying", Tessa yelled. "Cheers everyone!" 88888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888
It was their last night at Tessa's. A new home was waiting tomorrow.
"Good night, love", Rita whispered and kissed her husband.
"Sam, come on, you can't just kiss me like that and expect me to go peacefully to sleep, can you?" He said it with a wink that ruined every attempt of sounding serious.
Rita stopped to think. Chris took advantage of her hesitation and showered her face with butterfly kisses. Rita felt her self control quickly drift away.
"How quiet can you be", she murmured.
"I can be so quiet", he whispered against her chest, "that they wouldn't even notice if they slept next to us instead of in the next room." His lips closed around her nipple.
That did it. With slow movements, as an attempt to stop the bed from squeeking too much, she removed her clothes and started on his. The room was warm. Hot. She loved the feel of him against her. He was kissing her breasts, her neck, slowly moving up to cover her mouth, moving his fingers in lazy circles on her chest, pinching her achingly hard nipples. She resisted a moan.
A fire was building within her, settling between her legs. She reached down, wanting to caress him, make him fight for control. He jumped and squeezed his eyes shut, twisting his lips in a silent cry. She opened her legs, welcomed him.
He started to move into her, slowly, wanting this to last, wanting to keep it quiet, biting his lower lip to keep from groaning. Rita was moving her head from side to side, not making it easy for him, curling her toes in pleasure. Suddenly she gasped, stiffened, twisting her face in a grotesque grimace of joy. He couldn't hold on any longer, and felt his life's essence shoot from him and into her, making them whole again. 88888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888
Thank you for reading this far. Now, what do you think? At which point did you guess that this was a crossover? Wanna discuss whether the Sams should live happily ever after with several children, or whether Classic Silk and Murder Call really do have all that much in common? I'll be happy to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks to Lia for your valuable input & ideas when I was stuck, and thanks to Lisa for giving me understandable answers to all my questions, and for proofing, and thanks to both Lisa & Linda for posting. I like your page, guys :-)
Oh, nearly forgot: big thank you to everyone who sent me their imaginative attempts of spelling Karen's and Dick's last name, that was a great help: Plasmeyer, Plassmeyer, Plasmyer, Plasmire... ;-)
The Wengates and Dan Tyler are my very own characters (lucky me!).
We all know who Chris Lorenzo and Rita Lee Lance, Donnie "Dogs" Dibarto, Frannie and Harry "Cap" Lipschipz, Karen and Dick Plasmeyer belong to: Stu Segall, Stephen Cannel and USA Cable Network.
And guess what, Tessa Vance, Steve Hayden, Lance Fisk, Imogen "Tootsie" Soames, Dee Suzeraine and Malcolm Thorne are not mine either. Jennifer Rowe writes about them (if you can't see the show, look for the Tessa Vance books, they are worth it), and the Murder Call tv series is copyrighted by Nine Network Australia and Sourthern Star Productions.
Used without permission, please don't sue me, I haven't made any money writing this, I'm as poor as a church mouse, no infringement intended :-)
Thanks to Lia for your valuable input & ideas when I was stuck, and thanks to Lisa for giving me understandable answers to all my questions, and for proofing, and thanks to both Lisa & Linda for posting. I like your page, guys :-)
Oh, nearly forgot: big thank you to everyone who sent me their imaginative attempts of spelling Karen's and Dick's last name, that was a great help: Plasmeyer, Plassmeyer, Plasmyer, Plasmire... ;-)