"Bogart, Pizza and the Boogie Man" by Linda and Joy

"As an Adult you learn to deny some things, some for fun, some for shame, and some just for plain survival. You can deny your age, weight, taxes and even the fact that you are a Republican, but there is one thing that won't be denied... your heart."

Chris sat in his loft thinking about the events of the last couple weeks. He had gone undercover as a male escort/prostitute named Jack Lucas to see if Angela, the head of an escort service, was guilty of the murder of one of her employees, but the killer turned out to be Laura St. John, the daughter of a Senator. Then, the women's volleyball tour came to town, and Chris and Rita had to investigate the murder of Kiki, one of the players. Chris also got to spend some time with Tia, or Sport as he called her. He had dated her sister back in high school, so he and Tia had gotten to know each other pretty well.

These cases, however, were the furthest thing from his mind. About a week earlier, Cap had sent Rita out on a date with his godson, and it turned out that he was gay. Rita was a little disappointed by this because she and Matthew, Cap's godson, had so much in common. Chris remembered the conversation they had after Rita told him of her disappointment. She'd said that people who had many things in common and liked each other should be together, and Chris pointed out the fact that they had a lot in common, but weren't together. And before he knew it, Chris was admitting to Rita that he'd thought about them being together. He almost wanted to take the words back as soon as he'd said them. Then, when he read his fortune cookie saying 'Destiny is right under your nose', he was more convinced than ever that he belonged with only one woman- Rita Lee Lance. Even Tia saw it when she was in town. She told him it was something about the way that they looked at each other that gave it away. The only thing he had to do now was convince Rita that they were made for each other.

The knocking at his door brought Chris out of his thoughts. He got up off the couch and opened the door to find Rita on the other side with a pizza box and a six pack in her hands.

"Hey Sammy! Come on in," Chris said while moving aside so Rita could get in the door. She came in and placed the pizza and beer on Chris's counter. Chris closed the door and stood there just watching Rita as she opened the box and started to dig in. 'God, she's beautiful!' he thought.

"Are you gonna help me eat this or what?" she asked with her mouth full of pizza.

"Of course, I am. When have I ever passed up pizza?"

"I can honestly say that in all the years I've known you, Sam, I don't think you've ever passed up pizza."

"Well, there's your answer," he said as he picked up a piece of pizza. "You know what's on TV tonight, Sam?"

"What?"

"Maltese Falcon comes on in fifteen minutes, and Casablanca comes on later tonight!" he said with excitement.

"You're favorite movies on TV on the same night? Well, I guess I know what you're doing tonight."

"You bet, Sammy. You wanna stay and watch 'em with me?"

"I don't know. It's already a quarter to nine. By the time Casablanca is over it'll be around one or two in the morning. That's kinda late to be driving home, don't ya think?"

"Well, you can have my bed for the night, and I'll bunk out here. Pleeeeeeeease!" he said taking on the voice of a pleading child.

Rita took one look at his face and couldn't resist. "All right, all right. I'll stay."

"Thanks, Sammy. Let's go get comfy on the couch." They brought their pizza and beer over to the couch and curled up under Chris's comforter waiting for the movie to start. When they finished their pizza, Chris got up and shut off the lights. Then, he went back over to the couch and put his arm around Rita. She didn't protest. She just laid her head on his shoulder and went back to watching the movie, which brought a smile to Chris's face. For the first time in his life, Chris barely watched any of the movie. He spent almost the whole night staring at Rita. "Wasn't that a great movie, Sam?" he asked when it was over. When he didn't get a response, he looked over and noticed that Rita was already asleep. Chris didn't want to wake her, and she was still lying against him, so he too went to sleep on the couch.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

In the middle of the night Chris was woken up by Rita talking in her sleep. "No, donít go. Please Chris, donít go!" He tried to make out what Rita was saying when she screamed. "Leave me alone. Donít do this. You will regret it. Chris, where are you? Chrisssssssssssssss!" He couldnít bear the thought that he would hurt her, even in her dreams. He gently shook her and whispered in her ear.

"Sammy, wake up. Come on Sammy." she woke up and looked into his eyes and for some reason he could see anger in her eyes. She jumped off of the couch and tried to compose herself. "Sammy it was a dream. Are you all right?"

"Yeah," she ran her hand through her hair and looked at Chris in a questioning manner. "I just had a really bad dream Sam."

"Want to talk about it?" he said quietly as he walked up to her and put his arms around her.

"Remember that time we busted the Frat kids that were raping the new campus freshman?"

"Yeah, the Edwards case. So.." he questioned her.

"Well, those three boys had me pinned down on the table, and you walked in and looked at me with disgust on your face and then you just turned and walked away. You left me there. How could you just leave me there Chris?" she had tears in her eyes as she looked up at him. Chrisí heart ached with that question. How could she ever think he would let anyone hurt her? How could she not know that he would give up his life for her?

"Sammy." As he tightened his arms around her, she broke out of his embrace and walked over to the door.

"Chris I think I will just go home ok? Iím sorry, I know it was just a dream." she grabbed her purse and was out of the door before Chris could get another word out. He stood there in his loft at 3 oíclock in the morning in complete shock of the nights events. He was going to have to tell her. He couldnít bear the thought of her not knowing exactly what she meant to him. If tomorrow were to never come, she had to know how much he loved her.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Chris walked through the palm tree doors of the Palm Beach PD a little early the next morning. He wanted to talk to Rita before they got caught up in a new case, but he was disappointed when he didnít see her there yet. He went over to the coffee pot to get a cup for himself because after Rita had left last night, he hadnít been able to sleep at all. He looked down at the coffee pot, and of course it was empty. What was it that Rita had told him about making coffee? ĎTwo for the pot and two for each cup, right?í he thought to himself. The coffee was done by the time Rita got to the office.

"Hey, Sam. You want a cup of coffee. I just made some," he asked.

"Yeah. Sure," she said as she took a seat at her desk. Chris poured them each a cup and brought them over to her desk. He handed a cup to Rita and then made himself comfortable on her desk.

"So, how are you this morning? Anymore nightmares?" he asked concerned.

"No. What do we got here? Any new cases?" she asked changing the subject.

"Uh-uh. No way am I letting you change the subject on me, Sammy. Weíve got to talk about what happened last night."

"Nothing happened, Chris. I had a bad dream. Thatís all."

"It was more than a bad dream. You woke up screaming."

"Thatís usually what happens when you have a nightmare, Chris."

"Come on, Rita. We have to talk about this, and you know it. I would never leave you like that, not even in your dreams."

"Fine, Chris. If you want to talk about this, weíll do it. But not here."

"Then where? And when?" He wanted to make sure that she wouldnít just Ďforgetí about this later, so he had to get all the details straight now.

"You can come over to my place after work tonight, okay?"

"Great! Iíll be there, Sammy," he said with excitement as if heíd just overcome a large hurdle. He walked back over to his desk.

"Whatever. I still donít see what the big deal is," she said trying to shake their conversation off as nothing when in actuality, she was just too scared to face her feelings for Chris. For a while now, sheíd been starting to feel more for Chris then friendship, but she couldnít tell him that or sheíd risk their friendship. She was ready to give up any chance they had for a romantic relationship so they could keep their friendship. It was the most important thing in Ritaís life, and she didnít know if she could live without her best friend.

She decided to forget about the whole situation or sheíd never get any work done. She took a sip of her coffee hoping it would wake her up because she too hadnít gotten any sleep after sheíd left Chrisís apartment.

"Ewww! Chris what did you put in this coffee? Itís horrible!" she said after sheíd taken a sip of her coffee. It had definitely served its purpose and woken her up.

"It canít be that bad," he said as he took a sip. "Uck!" he said crumbling his face up. "Youíre right. Thatís gross, Sammy."

"When are you ever gonna learn that itís one for each cup and one for the pot?"

"One? I thought you said two."

"Well, that explains it, Sam."

"Hey! Whatís all this playing around out here? Get back to work. These cases arenít going to solve themselves," Captain Lipshitz said as he came out of his office and saw his best detectives bickering over how to make coffee. "Lance, Lorenzo? Are you finished with the paperwork on the Johnson case yet?"

"Yeah. We finished it last night, Cap."

"Good because thereís a DB waiting for you over on Ocean Blvd."

"Okay, Cap. Weíre on our way." Chris and Rita left their conversation back at the office and headed over to Ocean Blvd.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

As Chris and Rita got out of the car, Diana was waiting for them. She had a very sad expression on her face. "Diana, what is wrong?" Rita asked concerned about her friend.

Diana just looked up at Rita with tears welling in her eyes. How was she going to tell Rita that one of her best friends was murdered last night. "Rita.....", her voice wavered and Rita put her arms around her.

"It is going to be all right. Whatís the matter honey?" she hugged her good friend trying to comfort her. Chris stood watching the two of them. Diana looked at him while Rita consoled her. Dianaís eyes told Chris that Rita was going to be very hurt. He acknowledged her by nodding his head.

"What is it Diana? You can tell us." he said to her trying to brace himself for whatever she was going to tell them.

"Rita.." she leaned back and looked into her friendís eyes, "Tina Maxwell was murdered last night."

The next thing Rita knew, everything was fading to black. Chris saw that she was going to pass out so he grabbed her. "Sammy!!!!!!!!!!!!" He caught her in his arms before she hit the ground. When Rita came to, she was in Chrisí arms and he was wiping her face with a cold wet cloth.

"Chris...what happened?" that is when she saw Diana walking toward her with a glass of water. She remembered what Diana said to her. "Sam, not Tina. No Sam, Please tell me it was a bad dream again." she looked up in his eyes begging him to tell her it was a dream. But instead she saw her partner looking down at her with his eyes welling with tears, too.

"I wish I could Sammy. Iím so sorry, Rita." he held her close to him as she cried in his arms. Tina Maxwell was Ritaís first partner. They came up through the ranks of the police department together. Tina was there for Rita when her parents were killed by the drunk driver. Chris was finally able to calm Rita down enough to start asking Diana questions. "Diana, how...when...." he looked down at Rita worried. He wasnít sure how much more she could take. Rita saw his expression.

"It's all right Sam, Iím all right. Go ahead Diana." Rita started to slowly sit up and get her bearings.

"She was strangled. It happened about 1 AM. Something else was strange. She had her gun drawn. Why didnít she use it?" Diana asked puzzled.

"Thatís because she knew the bastard that did this to her. She could never hurt someone she loved." Rita was standing now and she was starting to get very angry. Chris knew she was referring to John Danielís. He was Tinaís boyfriend. Tina had come in to work last month with a black eye and Rita tried to get her to leave him then. But she couldnít, she loved him. A few hours later, Chris was pounding on the coronerís door to signal that they could drive off. Rita was standing by her jeep watching him.

"Sammy, it is late, letís go get some coffee OK?" he was very concerned about her.

"She is never going to get married. She is never going to have kids. She loved him and this is what he did to her." she said with venom.

"Come on Sammy. Letís go." he was trying to distract her, but it was not working.

"How many more of these are we going to see Chris? When is it going to stop? It is always the same. I canít do this anymore." she stated as she tried to get into her car. This statement scared Chris.

"Itís going to be all right Sammy. Come on letís get you home. You are exhausted Rita. You havenít had a decent nights sleep in a week." he escorted her over to the passenger side of her jeep. She was in no condition to drive. She was almost in a catatonic state. When he got in he noticed she was just staring in front of her, so he put her seat belt on for her. "I promise we will get him Sammy." he caressed her cheek and she didnít act like she knew he was in the car. She was starting to really scare him. "She just needs a good nights rest." he said to himself trying to calm his fears.

When they got to Ritaís apartment, she was already asleep in the car. He tried to wake her up enough for her to walk. He opened the car door and she got out. As they were walking up her stairs, she lost her balance. "Thatís it. Come on Sammy, to bed with you." Chris picked her up and carried her up to her apartment and then to her bed. He was so worried about her that he decided to sleep on her couch.

Not even a hour later, Chris was waken up by Rita screaming. He ran up to her room and saw Rita sitting up in her bed and she was covered in sweat. She was hugging her pillow and she was crying. He went straight to her and enveloped her in his arms. "Shhh. it was a bad dream." she still didnít know he was in the room with her. After a while she fell back to sleep in his arms. He lay her down on her pillow and pulled the covers up over her. "Sammy..." he stroked her cheek and then kissed her forehead and headed downstairs to the couch again. Twenty-five minutes later she woke screaming again.

Chris was up in her room in 30 seconds. "Thatís it Sammy. I am staying right here with you. Scoot over." he asked her, but she didnít hear him. He got under the covers with her and he pulled her into his embrace. "Go to sleep sunshine. Iím not going to let you out of my arms." he kept stoking her hair and lovingly reassuring her and within minutes she was back to sleep. This time an hour went by and Chrisí heart just about stopped as heard her scream for him at the top of her lungs. "Sammy, Iím right here." he shook her to get her to wake up. She needed to know he was there for her. "Sammy, wake up and look at me." he was shaking her when he finally saw that she recognized him. She looked at him and started to cry.

"Chris help me. I feel like I am going insane. Chris help me please....please help me." she kept begging him over and over. Chris did the only thing he could think of to reassure her that someone was there and the someone loved her. He laid her back down on the pillow and kissed her. First the kiss was gentle and warm and comforting, but soon it was deep, hot and full of wanting. "Oh Chris, make love to me. Make love to me. I need you so much." she begged him kissing him passionately. Chris groaned into her mouth as her tongue dipped deep into his.

"Rita, I love you. Iím not going to let anything happen to you." he stated as his hands started to wonder down her body. He was cupping her breast in his hand and she was moaning in pure desire. Just as he started to lift her nightgown up and over her head, Chris was woken up by Rita screaming again. That is when he realized that he was dreaming. Trying desperately to calm down his highly aroused body, he took Rita into his arms and tried to reassure her.

"Chris, help me please. I feel like I am going insane." she begged him. This startled him. That is what she said in his dream. "Chris help me." she was sobbing into his chest.

"Ok Sammy, I will find someone to help." He reached for the phone and started to dial Melissaís number. With Rita in his arms crying he tried to talk to Melissa.

"Chris, is that you? What is wrong?" she heard someone crying in the background.

"Melissa, could you come over? I need your help. Please." he begged her. He didnít care if he sounded desperate.

"Sure Chris what is it?" she said as she started getting out of her bed.

"Itís Rita, she needs help, Melissa. Please come right away!" he gave her Ritaís address and waited patiently for Melissa to arrive.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"Chris? Chris, itís Melissa. Open up." Chris was watching Rita who had finally fallen back into a fitful sleep. He quickly got up off the bed and went to answer the door so Rita didnít wake up.

"Melissa, thanks for coming. I know itís late, but somethingís wrong with Rita, and I donít know how to help her," he said in panic.

"Okay. Calm down, and tell me what happened."

"Well, I guess it started last night. Hell, for all I know, this could have been going on for weeksÖ months."

"Whatís going on Chris?"

"Dreams. She keeps having these dreamsÖ more like nightmares, and she wakes up screaming in the middle of the night. She was at my place last night, andÖ"

"Your place?" Melissa said softly with raised eyebrows. Chris responded without even taking her question into consideration. He would usually come back with a smart remark, but he was too worried about Rita.

"And we fell asleep watching some movies. Then, Rita woke up in the middle of the night screaming from a nightmare."

"Did she say what it was about?"

"She mentioned something about one of our former cases, where she went undercover to bust a Frat house for the rape of several college women. She said, in her dream, I saw them trying to rape her, and I didnít helpÖ I just left her there."

"She knows youíd never do that, Chris."

"Well, I wanted to talk to her about that tonight, but we got called on a case. One of our cop friendsÖ actually a woman that Rita went through training withÖ was murdered today."

"Iím sorry."

"Thank you."

"So, is that why you called meÖ to talk to Rita about the death of your friend?"

"Thatís part of it."

"What happened?" Melissa asked fearing something else had gone wrong.

"Rita was in no condition to drive, so I drove her home. I didnít want to leave her alone, so I camped out on the couch, and she woke up screaming like three times before I called you. I just got her back to sleep about ten minutes ago. Can you help her?" he asked, his eye filled with concern and love for his partner.

"Iíll definitely try. Thatís for sure."

"Great! I want her to get as much sleep as possible first though, so will you wait?"

"Yeah, of course."

"Thank you, Melissa. When she woke up screaming, I didnít know what to do. I was so scared. IÖ I canít lose her."

"Iíll do whatever I can, Chris. I promise," she said as she put a comforting hand on his shoulder.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

An hour later, Rita woke up to an empty bed and heard laughter filling her apartment. She was a little hazy on the details from the time she found out that Tina had been murdered to this point, but she remembered waking up screaming and falling back asleep in Chrisís arms. She wondered where he was and who was laughing downstairs, so she slowly got out of bed and walked down the stairs to find Chris and Dr. Melissa Cassidy talking and laughing on her couch.

"You really went undercover as a stripper?"

"Yes, unfortunately," said a sulking Chris. Melissa kept laughing.

"Boy, would I have liked to sit in that club that night."

"Well, I was there, and it wasnít a pretty sight. It was really weird to dance in front of all those women."

"I donít know. Iíd say you did a good job," Rita said from the bottom of the stairs.

"Sammy? Are you okay?" Chris asked, jumping up from his seat on the couch and running over to Rita.

"Yeah, I guess."

"Do you remember what happened?"

"Not really. The last thing I remember was falling asleep in your arms."

"You woke up screamingÖ several timesÖ and I laid with you until you fell asleep."

"Hi, Rita," Melissa said, making her presence known.

"Hi, Melissa."

"I called Melissa after your last nightmare. I didnít know what to do, Sammy," he said with sadness in his voice.

"Itís okay, Sam. Thanks. So, doc. Am I hopeless?"

"I wouldnít go that far. What do ya say we talk for a while?"

"Thatís my cue to leave," said Chris.

"You donít have to go, Sam."

"Actually, I think itís better if he does," said Melissa. She had a feeling that both Chris and Rita were hiding personal feelings from each other, and she knew Rita wouldnít open up to her if Chris was still there.

"Thatís okay. I have to go home and shower anyway. Iíll come back and if youíre up to it, weíll go to work together, okay?"

"Okay. Thanks for everything, Chris," she said as she gave him a hug. He hugged her back and then left her apartment.

"So, where do we start?" Rita asked.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Chris went home and took a shower and showed back up on Ritaís door step almost two hours later.

"Sammy, are you home? Come on Sammy open up. I brought breakfast." he yelled while pounding on the door with his foot. When Rita opened the door, she was still in her bath rob with her hair up in a towel. "I hope you like blueberry muff...." Chris was startled when he looked into her eyes. They were the clearest he had seen them in weeks, heck months. "Sammy, you look so much better. How did it go with Melissa?" he smiled at her while she took the bag from his hands.

"It is funny Sam. I always thought talking to a shrink was just a bunch of bull, but I do feel better now. Matter of fact, Melissa has a new patient." she smiled back at him.

"Thatís great Sammy. Do you want to talk about it?" he asked while putting cream in his coffee.

"Not right now Sam, but I promise you, we will be having a long discussion about it very soon." she grinned at him seductively. The look in her eyes blew him away. He was wondering what they would need to talk about.

"Right now my friend I need to go get ready for work." she smiled while taking a bite out of his muffin. She started walking up the stairs when she turned around, "Sam, thank you for being such a wonderful friend. I donít know what I ever did to deserve you, but I promise I will repay you someday." she said lovingly to him.

"Thatís what best friends are for Sammy." he gave her the Lorenzo smile. "Now hurry up and get ready so we wonít be late. I am too tired to deal with Cap yelling at us today. I donít think he would understand the reason we are late is because we were together awake in your bed all night." he stated seductively while wiggling his eyebrows up and down at her.

Rita smiled back at him and started back up the stairs, "In your dreams Sam!" she stated as she closed the bathroom door.

"Every night Sammy, every night." he said to himself.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Chris and Rita are back at their desks finishing the paperwork on John Danielís plea bargain to Manslaughter. Rita was still so angry at George for accepting it. After a while she calmed down and knew that George would not have accepted it if he could have nailed him with murder. George was a good friend and a great ADA. Thinking about Tina and last night, Rita started to remember her talk with Melissa.

"Where do we start?" Rita asked Melissa.

"How about we start with the very first nightmare. How long have you been having them?

"It started two months ago..."

"Rita, you have been having nightmares for two months and you never told Chris?" she sounded shocked.

"Dr..."

"Rita, call me Melissa. This is just a friendly chat between friends ok?" she smiled.

"Thanks Melissa. I couldnít tell Chris. You know how protective of me he is. He would drive me even crazier if he knew."

"Ok since you brought it up. If Chris is so protective of you and you know he would not let another soul on this earth lay one finger on you, why do you think you would have a dream that he left you when you needed him most?" she asked Rita already knowing the answer herself.

"WellÖ ummmÖ aahhhÖ" she didnít know the answer for that.

"Could it be that your deepest fear is that he would leave you? Rita, I have known you and Chris for awhile now and I can safely say that he is the most important person in your life and that you are the most important person in his. You have some very heavy duty emotions buried so deep that the only way they can vent is through your nightmares. You have a few decisions to make. You and Chris need to have a long hard talk. I know you probably donít want to hear this right now because you have a lot on your mind already, but think about it ok?

Rita realizing that Melissa was right, just nodded her head to acknowledge she understood.

"Rita do you feel comfortable enough with me to come and see me at my office officially? If you donít, because Chris and I used to be involved, I could find another doctor for you. You need to talk to someone Rita."

"Am I that crazy?" she laughed.

"Nope, you know what I think you have to be one of the most sane people I know. Its just that you carry to much of the pain alone. Let someone in Rita. Let me in." she hugged her.

"Sammyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!" Chris finally got up from his desk and walked over to her. "Is anyone home?" he knocked on her head. When she popped out of her memories she looked up at him and smiled.

"Just what do you think you are doing my fine friend?" she said jabbing him in the stomach.

"Iím trying to get you out of the daze you are in. Cap just walked in with Donavon and he wants to see you in his office NOW!" he smirked.

"Ok, Iím on my way." she said as she pushed herself away from her desk. Twenty-five minutes later George, Cap and Rita walked out of Capís office over to Chris.

"Lorenzo, you are going to be flying solo for a few days. Rita is going out on loan to vice." Cap noticed the startled look on Chrisí face.

"What without me. She is my partner Cap!" he kind of whined.

"Knock it off Lorenzo, Lance is going to be partnered with Michael Price to investigate the death of a Congressmanís daughter." Cap was already closing the door to his office when Chris looked at Rita. She just rolled her eyes and sighed.

"Great this is just what I need." she said while straightening her desk up.

"Just tell him no Rita. You donít have to do this." he said concerned.

"What and miss the chance to work with Batman?" She thought about what Melissa said this morning and she needed time to think. This would be perfect. "Besides Chris, I think you and I could use a break for a little while." she could not look him in the eyes as she said that.

"Why partner? Have I done something to upset you?" he was hurt by her statement.

"No Chris, there are just a few things I need to think about and I need some time and space to do that." her eyes begged him to understand.

Seeing the look in her eyes pleading him not to ask anymore questions he agreed. "Oh, ok Sammy. If space is what you need, space is what you will get." he walked out of the office with a very hurt expression on his face.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Rita felt bad that sheíd hurt Chrisís feelings, but she didnít know what to do. She knew they had to talk, but they couldnít do it at the station. After Chris walked out, she wanted to wait for him to come back and make sure he was okay, but she had to go meet her new temporary "partner", so she left the homicide division before Chris got back.

After meeting Detective Michael Price, Rita stopped by Melissaís office on the way back to her apartment.

"Hey Rita. Come in," Melissa said when she opened the door.

"Thanks."

"So, whatís up? I thought we had an appointment for tomorrow. Is something wrong?"

"Yeah. You could say that."

"Uh-oh. What happened?"

"Nothing big. I got put on loan out to Narco without Chris, and when I told him that I thought it was a good thing because we needed some space, he just walked out on me. I only wanted some time to sort things out, but now he thinks that he did something wrong."

"Rita, can you answer a question for me?"

"Iíll try."

"Why do you think that Chris didnít want you to take this assignment without him?"

"I guess he doesnít trust anyone else to watch my back, and I can understand that because I wouldnít trust anyone else to back him up either."

"Why do you think heís so overprotective of you?"

"Because weíre best friends. Why? Do you think itís something different?"

"UmmmÖ I wouldnít say that exactly. Yes, he protects you because heís your best friend, but I think itís more than that."

"More than that? What do you mean?"

"Rita, have you ever thought of you and Chris asÖ well, more than friends."

"You mean as lovers? No," she replied quickly.

"No?"

"Well, not really."

"Not really? So, you have thought about it?"

"All right. Yes, Iíve thought about it, but that canít happen. It just canít."

"Why not?"

"First off, the department would split us up as partners, and I already told you that I wouldnít trust anyone to back Chris up except for me, and vice-versa."

"So, youíd let the job stand in the way of your happiness?" Rita didnít answer. "Whatís your other reason, Rita?"

"IÖ Everyone Iíve ever cared aboutÖ"

"What Rita?"

"Theyíve died, okay?" she said defensively.

"So, you think that if you love Chris, then heíll die too?"

"Yes! I canít lose him, Melissa. Heís everything to me."

"RitaÖ letís look at this a different way, okay?"

"Okay."

"Do you love Chris?"

"Of course. Heís my best friend."

"And are you in love with him?"

"IÖ"

"Rita, you can tell me. It wonít go farther than this room. I promise."

"Yes," she said softly.

"Whatíd you say?" Melissa asked. Sheíd heard her answer, but she had to get Rita to be loud and clear in her answer, so she knew without any doubt that she was in love with Chris.

"Yes! Iím in love with Chris." Rita couldnít believe that those words had just come out of her mouth.

"And heís alive, right?" Rita looked at Melissa and saw where she was going with this. She didnít say anything. "Rita, I think you know what Iím trying to say here. Just because you havenít told Chris that youíre in love with him yet doesnít mean that youíre not. And if you are in love with him, and heís still alive, then that should tell you that your theory about everyone you love dying isnít true."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Rita walked out of Melissaís office with a dazed look on her face. "I Love Chris Lorenzo." kept running through her head.

"Lance, LANCE!" Cap yelled for the fourth time that morning.

"Ah, yeah Cap?"

"Do you know where your partner is?"

"Michael isnít in yet Cap." she turned to look at him.

"No I mean Chris. He didnít report to work this morning. Since you are his best friend, I thought you would know where he is."

"What do you mean he didnít report to work. He didnít call?"

"Would we be having this conversation if he would of called Lance?" Cap said annoyed. He was just worried about Chris. He would have called.

"Iím going to run over to his apartment ok Cap?" she said running out the door. She was gone before Cap could even protest.

Rita made it to Chrisí apartment in record time. She kept banging on his door. She knew he had to be home, his charger was in the parking lot. "Sam open up. Come on Sam." the fear in her voice was very evident. Giving up on him answering she used her key and stepped inside. "Chris? Chris?" she said from room to room. When she got to his bedroom she heard him moan. Opening the door she poked her head inside and went to the bed to investigate. "Chris are you all right?" she said very concerned.

"Sammy? I donít feel very good." he moaned in pure agony. "Its so cold in here Rita." he sounded very weak. Rita sat on his bed and pulled back the comforter. He was very hot and he was drenched from sweat.

Feeling his forehead, she became very frightened. He had a very high temperature. "Chris what is wrong?"

"I donít know, I just donít feel well." he moaned again. Rita started to get up from the bed to get a cold washcloth to try and take some of the heat from his head, he grabbed her wrist. "Please donít go Sammy, I know you said you need space, but please donít leave me." his eyes begged her to stay.

"Settle down Chris. I would never leave you." she said as she tried to soothe his weary mind. "Sam let me get up and get a cold wash clothe and call you a Doctor ok. I will only be gone 5 minutes." she smiled at him.

"You promise?" he said almost like a little boy.

"I promise, Sweetie. Now close your eyes and try to sleep." she pushed the hair off his forehead and kissed him.

Rita called the office to let Cap know she found him and that she wanted to take the day off to take of her "Partner". He agreed. She would be too worried about him to get any work done anyway.

Five hours and one doctor visit later, Rita finally sat down in Chrisí living room to drink a quiet cup of coffee, or so she thought. Chrisí fever was spiking again and he was calling her name.

"Rita? Rita? Where are you?" he was scared to death. "Sammy I canít find you. Where are you?" he was delirious.

"Iím right here Chris." she tried to reassure him by sitting down on the bed and gently caress his face. She noticed his fever was very high again so she got up to wet the cloth again to try and bring the fever down. The doctor told her he had a bad case of the Asian flu that he would be all right in a day or two. While in the bathroom he called for her again.

"Sammy? RITA!!!" he screamed and sat up straight in his bed. When Rita got back into the room she laid him back down on the bed and put the cloth back on his forehead. The coolness of the cloth gave him some relief, and it also woke him up out of his dream state. When his eyes met hers he grabbed her and hugged her.

"Whatís the matter Chris?"

Holding her tighter he kept mumbling over and over, "I thought I lost you, I looked everywhere for you."

"Donít worry handsome, I am not going anywhere. I am here for the night so lay back down." he wouldnít let her go. He was still shaking.

"Rita I am so cold." he was miserable. So Rita did the only thing she could think of to warm him up.

"Move over handsome." she smiled as he tried to move, but he was so very weak. "Never mind, I wonít need the room if I am in your arms" she said as he sighed in contentment for the first time that night.

"That is where you belong Sammy. Forever." as he had her in his arms he started to calm down. Rita noticed that when she was around, he was at peace. Whenever she wasnít in the same room he started to panic. She wondered why that was. The days activities were pretty hectic on her so she fell asleep in his arms. When she woke the next day, she was still in his arms and he was awake watching her. "Morning Sunshine." he smiled weakly at her. "Hey what exactly happened here last night?" he wiggled his eyebrows up and down at her.

"Believe me Sam, nothing happened. When it does you will remember it my friend." she got up to go get the thermometer to check his temperature. He must be imagining things. Did she just say when it does happen? No, he is just so sick he is hearing things.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Later that morning at the office, Chris and Rita were doing some paperwork. Rita had begged Chris to stay home and get some rest, but since his temperature was down, he came in anyway.

"Lorenzo, what are you doing here? From what Rita told me yesterday, I thought you were on your death bed!"

"No, I just have the flu Cap, but I would be bored all day at home by myself, so I came in to do some paperwork."

"Are you, at least, feeling any better?"

"Yeah, Iím feeling a lot better."

"Good because Price just called in sick. It seems he caught the same bug you did."

"Great! So, where does that leave us on the case? We were supposed to go undercover tonight, Cap," said Rita.

"Yeah, I know. Lorenzo will have to take Priceís place for the time being. Are you up to it, Chris?"

"Yeah, Iíll be fine."

"Good." Cap went back to his office.

"So, bring me up to speed Sammy."

"Well, one of Palm Beachís richest menís daughter died of an OD. Michael and I were investigating her boyfriend."

"You think he was her supplier?"

"Yeah."

"So, whatís this undercover thing tonight?"

"Michael and I were gonna go undercover as a couple looking for a good time, if ya know what I mean."

"Oh, I canít wait," he said while wiggling his eyebrows.

"Get your mind out of the gutter, Sam," she said as she threw her pencil at him.

"Hey! I should write you up on charges of assault with a deadly weapon, Sammy." She gave him a Ďyeah right!í look. "So, where and when is this thing going down?"

"Weíll head over to that club Night Sweats at about seven oíclock tonight, okay?"

"Yeah, sure. Iíll pick you up at your apartment."

"Okay, Sam." They went back to work, each thinking of the night ahead of them.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

At six forty-five that evening, Chris knocked on Ritaís door.

"Come in, Sam. Itís unlocked," Rita called from upstairs. Chris walked in.

"Hey! You shouldnít do that. What if it wasnít me at the door?"

"Iím a cop. I can handle myself. Besides, what burglar would knock?"

"Good point, but you still have to be more careful, Sammy. It could have been some nut job out there."

"It was a nut job out there!"

"Hey! I take that personally," he said half hurt and half kidding.

"Iím sorry, Sam. Iíll make it up to you," she said cryptically as she walked down the stairs. Chris was starting to wonder about all the comments Rita had been making about their relationship lately. Could she be feeling the same way about him that he felt about her? íThatíll have to wait till after this case,í he thought to himself.

"Sam? I asked you what you think of the dress? Are you okay? You looked like you were in a different world there for a second," Rita said bringing Chris out of his daze.

"Yeah, Iím fine, and you look great, Rita!"

"Thanks," she said with a shy smile.

"All right. Letís hit the road, Sammy."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Chris and Rita had been at the club for an hour before they spotted their man.

"Hey, Rita! Is that him?" Chris asked, casually motioning toward Todd Barnett, the guy that had just walked in the door.

"Yeah. I think so."

"Then, itís time to get to work," Chris said as his hand traveled up Ritaís leg and under the hem of her dress. He brought his head down to hers and started to nibble at her neck. When he heard Rita moan, Chris knew that they werenít just playing a role anymore. They were both enjoying this too much, and they didnít want to stop. Chris pulled back and looked into Ritaís eyes, then he leaned in and kissed her with more passion than he ever thought possible. Rita responded to his kiss by thrusting her tongue into his mouth and running her hands through his hair. When they realized where they were and broke the kiss, Todd Barnett was gone.

"Damn! We lost him, Sammy," Chris said, still out of breath from their kiss. Chrisís head was still close to Ritaís. She practically felt his words as they exited his mouth.

"Forget it for tonight, Christopher," she leaned in toward his ear and whispered pleadingly. "Take me home now." All Chris could do not to jump her right there at the bar was back away from her and hold out his hand, which she took willingly.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Chris and Rita were walking out to his car arm in arm. When he reached the passenger side of the car, she looked up at him and smiled. Before he knew it he was kissing her. He didnít know how long they had been standing there making out, until they heard some cat calls in their direction. Pulling back from her, his eyes locked on hers. The pure look of desire he was sending her sent a shiver completely down her spine. "Rita...." he said softly.

Covering his mouth with her hand she smiled at him and repeated her plea, "Take me home now Sam." He opened her door and then they were on their way. When Chris got in she moved over to the middle of the seat so she could sit by him. He turned to her and smiled. He wanted her so badly. Seeing the love in his eyes, she took his hand in hers and then watched the road in front of them.

ĎYou can do this Lorenzo, you are a grown man and her apartment is only 20 minutes away,í he said to himself as he looked deep within himself for control. Then Rita turned to watch him while he drove. She could not believe that she hid the feelings she had for him for so long. She reached up with her free hand and started to run her fingers through his gorgeous black hair. As she did this Chris held her other hand tighter in his. Before he knew it she was laying her head on his shoulder and humming with the radio. She was so happy. She didnít know that she could be this happy. She couldnít hold in her joy any longer. She started to kiss his neck very lightly. As her mouth reached his ear she spoke seductively to him.

"Sam." was all she said, but when he heard her say it with so much desire, he closed his eyes and tried to rain in his highly aroused body. She was trying to drive him insane was all he could figure. As he pulled into her apartment complex and put the car in park, he reached over and dragged her onto his lap.

"Sammy, what are you trying to do to me?" he stated longingly into her ear. It was his turn to drive her insane. He ran his hand in her hair and pulled her head back so he could kiss her beautiful neck. He was tasting her up and down her neck, stopping to nibble on her ear when he heard her moan. This brought him back into reality. He opened the car door and slid out from underneath her. Without losing contact with her hand he helped her out of the driverís side of the car. As he closed the door she pushed him up against the car. She started to kiss him passionately. All he could do was give into her advances. He wrapped his arms tightly around her and joined her in the sensual duel that she started. As they pulled apart to get some air, he ran the back of his hand over her cheek. "Arenít you scared Sammy?" he whispered to her because he knew he was. His legs were shaking.

"No, Iím not scared with you, Chris. I always feel so safe and loved when I am with you." she looked at him with big green eyes that screamed she was in love with him. With a smile and a sweaty hand he walked her to her apartment. She handed him her keys and he opened the door and let her walk ahead. Not sure what to do next, Rita offered him some coffee. She was heading to the kitchen when he stopped her by grabbing her arm.

"Iím not hungry for coffee, Sammy," he said looking her straight in the eyes with a smoldering hot glance. He had her enveloped in his arms when she spoke.

"What are you hungry for, Sam?" she said while placing her arms around his neck.

Picking her up and carrying her up the stairs to her bedroom, he remarked, "You." and then her kissed her so slow and deep she thought she was going to go through the roof.

"Oh God Chris, donít stop." she was begging him as he laid her down on the bed. He quickly laid down beside her and started to make love to her.

"Iím never going to stop loving you Rita." was the last words she heard as they finally stopped hiding from their true and real feeling for each other. The next thing Rita felt was the sun shining on her face through the window of her bedroom. When she lifted her head she realized she was still in Chrisís arms. She laid her head back down and smiled. Her movement woke Chris up. Looking down at the woman in his arms he smiled and wrapped his arms around her tighter. "Good Morning Sunshine," he stated loving while kissing the top of her head.

"Hi, handsome." she smiled up at him.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"Lorenzo, LORENZO!" Cap was standing right beside him wondering where he could possibly be. Chris was jolted out of his happy memories of last night by Cap yelling at him.

"Oh...yeah Cap. Whatís up?" he asked fully aware of his bossí annoyed attitude this morning.

"Wipe that grin off your face, Lorenzo. What is going on with you and your partner?"

Chris got a panicked look on his face, "Nothing, why do you ask Cap?" Could Cap tell something was going on with them. He wished that he and Rita would have come into work together this morning. She would know what to say to Cap.

"Well, she just called in sick. She said she woke up feeling great this morning, no I think she said she woke up feeling WONDERFUL this morning (Chris grinned) but as she started getting ready for work she got sick all of the sudden." Cap was puzzled. Cap knew something was up, but he was feeling kind of strange himself. He started to feel his breakfast not agree with him.

"Cap whatís wrong?" Chris noticed him looking green. "I bet you and Rita got the Asian Flu from me. You better go home Cap. Let me take you home." he went into Capís office and got his jacket for him and walked him out to his car.

"Chris I donít feel too good." he was about to get sick.

"I know Cap, I called Frannie and she will be waiting for us at your door ok?" he said sympathetically. He knew how terrible this flu was by experience. As he drove Cap home he informed him that he was going to stop by Ritaís place and check on her. "Cap I need to check on Rita and make sure she is all right. I donít want to leave her alone so I will be taking today off as a personal day ok?" Cap was in no condition to argue so he just nodded his head. "Michael will be in today and he can cover for Rita and Me." As Chris pulled up Capís driveway, Frannie was outside waiting from them.

"Frannie I donít feel too good." he said like a little boy.

"I know Heschy, come on I will put you to bed and you will feel better in no time." she said soothing him. Chris stood back and watched as she worked her magic on her husband. He wondered if he and Rita would act like that when they are an old married couple.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

So, whatíd you guys think? We love feedback, so send your replies to either JoyLepper@aol.com or sb4ever@geocities.com.

I (Joy) would like to thank Linda for writing the story with me. I had a great time doing it. It was our first joint effort inspired by Edgar and Albert. If you liked it and would like more please let us know. One more thing, everywhere you turn you hear them talk about people you meet on-line and how they are often nut cases or terrible people, but I have to say I have met a lot of the most extrordinary people thru the Silk Stalkings Fanfic. I am very grateful that I have gotten to share just a little bit of your lives because of it.

Unfortunately, the characters of Chris Lorenzo, Rita Lee Lance, Harry Lipshitz, Fran Lipshitz, Tina Maxwell, Todd Barnett, and Diana donít belong to us. We did, however, borrow them for this story.

Also, we want to thank Lia and Classic Moments for a couple of our scenes (we kind of borrowed them and twisted them a little), but they were inspired by "A Friend in Need."

 

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