This is a Silk story (not a crossover) based on the Murder Call mystery "Corpse in a Car Boot" posted at in January 2001, and that story was inspired by the Silk Stalkings episode "Soul Kiss". Confused? See author's notes at the bottom. On with story:

Corpse in a Car Boot
by Kilohana

It was 5.45am on a balmy early summer morning as Chris Lorenzo stood beside the burnt out car and shook his head at the sight of the charred human remains in the boot. Closing his eyes he ran a hand over his face as he thought of how he was going to break the news to Rita. Glancing again at the horrific sight before him he thought about the death his man must have had. It seemed almost certain that he was still alive when the car was torched and Chris shuddered as he thought about the terror experienced by the victim. And this was not just any victim, it was one of their own, the plates on the car had confirmed that and although Chris had never liked the dead man he had been Rita's lover and now he had to tell Michael Price's family that their son was dead and he had to break the news to Rita as well.

It was shortly after 6.15 am when Harold Price answered the front door to be greeted by two uniform officers who delivered the news of his son's death.

"Oh Dear God no", Harold cried causing his wife Edna to come running to see what the matter was.

"Harry what is it", she glanced fearfully from her husband to the two police officers. "What's happened?"

"It Michael love", Harold Price sobbed as he wrapped his arms around his wife.

"He's dead love. Someone went and killed our boy", he held the woman he loved tightly as she sagged in his arms and wept for their only son. After several minutes he turned to the senior officer and asked. "How did it happen? How did Michael die?"


It was just after 6.30 by the time Chris arrived at Rita's apartment and he swallowed hard as he glanced at Price's front door. Then taking a deep breath he pushed Rita's doorbell and waited for her to answer, his heart pounding in his chest as he waited. He knew the news he was about to deliver to her would shatter her and he also knew he'd be there to give her the comfort that she needed at this time.

"Chris." Rita opened the door and smiled at him but her smile died as she saw the serious look on his face. "Oh God Chris, what's wrong?"

"Rita can I come in?"

"Yes of course." She held the door open for him. "What is it, Chris? Has something happened to Jennie?"

"No not Jennie", he wrapped his arms around her. "It's Michael, Rita. Michael's dead."

"What?" Rita pulled out of his arms. "No, that's not possible!"

"Rita, he was found burned to death in the boot of his car, and", he drew her close as her legs buckled and she started to weep against his shoulder.

"Are they sure", she asked. "I mean..."

"Rita we're sure." He led her to the lounge and eased her onto it before sitting down next to. "You've got a key to his apartment haven't you?" Rita nodded.

"Could I have it please? I want to take an unofficial look around. Just in case there's something important in there that might indicate why this has happened."

Rita nodded and walked on shaky legs to where she kept the key Michael had given her. "I'm coming in with you", she told him. "I want to go in with you."

Chris didn't argue. This he knew was Rita's way of coping and he wasn't going to stop her. Together they left her apartment and entered Michael's All was quiet as they walked into the lounge room. The pair moved slowly towards the bedroom where Rita had suggested they start. Slowly, with a shaking hand Rita pushed open the door of Michael's bedroom blinking back tears as she did so. They entered the room and stopped dead at what they saw. There on the bed and still sound asleep was Michael Price, and Rita gave a small cry of relief which caused him to stir from slumber and turn in the direction of the sound.

"Huh", he shook his head. "What's a happened", he blinked to clear the sleep out of his eyes. "What's going on?"

Rita and Chris told him what had happened. He immediately called his parents, who after a lot of screaming, finally calmed down. He had explained that it was some sort of mix up and that he would come over and see them later. Chris called work and told them what had happened. Now they had an unidentified corpse on their hands, one that would be very hard to identify, as it had literally been burned alive.

Michael hadn't used his car since the previous night. Someone must have stolen the car and put the body in the back, maybe to make everyone believe he was dead, though it didn't really work for long. Rita was over the moon that Michael wasn't dead after all and Chris excused himself saying he should get back to the office. Rita said she would need to have a shower and get dressed and then she'd come into work as well.


On the drive back, Chris's thoughts drifted to Jennie Taylor. She was everything he'd ever dreamed of, perhaps with the exception of Rita, but she was off limits anyway, he was happy to be her best friend. He had met the attractive, young actress during an investigation a couple of months back, things were going great between them, she had made him a very happy man, they were even talking about moving in together. His thoughts came to a halt as he pulled into a parking space in the Palm Beach Police Department.

Captain Harry Lipschitz was talking to a young woman when Chris entered the office.

"Ah, Chris", he said. "This is Verna Dale. Her husband has been missing for several days. I have just told her how little we know about our latest victim. She described the rings her husband used to wear."

"And?" Chris held his breath.

"We might have a match. Dale's dentist has been contacted, the dental X-rays are on their way to Diana by messenger."

Verna Dale was crying silently. "Pardon me", she whispered, "I do prefer to know, but it's so hard... We were fighting, last time I saw him..."

"Perhaps you would like to tell detective Lorenzo about it", Lipschitz said using his friendliest voice, "or shall I fill him in?"

"Please, if you would?"

"Okay", Lipschitz murmured, and patted her back briefly. "The couple were on holiday at something called the Institute of Cosmic Connection, where they would learn... hmmm... how do I put this...?"

"We had sexual difficulties", Verna said, and blushed. "We wanted the people running the place to help us. Brad was convinced it would be like a second honeymoon. Oh God..."

"Four couples live on the premises for one week, they have counseling and various workshops", Lipschitz continued slowly. "Separate bedrooms, no sexual contact until the last night. The place is run by three people, one Mr. and Mrs. Plasmeyer, and Shirley something, she's more of an assistant. Mr. Plasmeyer got a bit too friendly with Mrs. Dale, he offered her private sex lessons..."

"I could never do that", Verna sobbed. "I just couldn't!"

"... which of course, she told Mr. Dale about", Lipschitz continued. "He got quite angry with Plasmeyer, and threatened to go to the media and expose the whole bloody circus."

"I never saw him again after that", Verna cried, "I tried to calm him down, Plasmeyer just offered to help, that there was no way I wanted... but he was so angry, I couldn't calm him, he was so angry... We went to our rooms, but the following morning he was gone. The Plasmeyers said he'd left during the night..."

"I see", Chris said slowly. "Institute for Cosmic Connection, huh?" He had heard about it before. In the last year, three people had committed suicide after a stay at the institute, and at least one of those suicides could have been murder, but their colleagues Tom and Cassy had been unable to prove it. "Yes", Lipschitz said. "I want you and Rita to work on this, but officially, I'm giving it to Tom and St. John. As of now, I want you to take Mrs. Dale to the morgue and wait for the results of the victim's ID. Give Rita a ring, tell her to hurry up and meet you there. When you're finished, come and see me."


A few hours later, he was sitting next to Rita in the Captain's office. The dead man had been identified as Bradley Dale, his heartbroken wife been taken care of by relatives, and they were ready to begin the hunt for the murderer. "I have been on the phone all morning", Harry said slowly, "and I doubt you're going to appreciate what I have to tell you." Chris grimaced. Now what?

"We need somebody to go in undercover at the Institute for Cosmic Connection", Lipschitz continued. "We have a special force to take care of such tasks, but unfortunately, their schedule is more than busy these days, and they asked us to take care of this ourselves. I know the two of you know each other well, and are used to working together, and you are familiar with this kind of work. If somebody can get away with playing a couple, and still do a good job, it's you two."

Chris looked at Rita. He knew Jennie and Michael would hate this, but it didn't sound too bad to him. They would even have separate bedrooms, and according to Verna, none of the workshops at the institute were too exotic. "I have a brochure here", Harry said. "Talk it over, you two, and let me know. Soon. Today."


"Hey, look at this", Chris teased. He and Rita were at the park munching sandwiches. "Have you ever heard of a cosmogasm, Rita?"

"A what?"

"Cosmogasm. According to this sheet of paper, it's the ultimate thing that can happen between two people, when the energy from their joining elopes out to space to mingle with the energy of every other cosmogasm..." He burst out laughing.

Rita shook her head. "Sounds like a scam to me. How much is it?" "Ten thousand dollars a week."

"For a cosmogasm? Sounds like a bargain." She laughed. "Michael could probably cope, but how will Jennie take it? She's a lot more jealous of me than Michael is of you."

Chris didn't bother telling her that Michael might not be jealous of him, but he sure was jealous of Michael, and did his very best to hide it, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Not that he had inappropriate feelings towards his partner, he was just concerned about her well-being.

"I'll have a long and serious conversation with her", Chris sighed, then smiled. "And of course, I'll have to make it up to her."

"I like her", Rita said, and meant it. "I don't want to cause any problems for you two. But I seriously want to catch that killer, and I think we'll find more answers undercover at that institute than we ever would find as police detectives."

"It's separate bedrooms anyway, at least until the last night. We just have to make sure we solve the case before that."

"Or fake the cosmogasm", she said, mock serious.

"Or fake the cosmogasm!" They doubled over laughing.


"No", Jennie stormed at Chris. "Absolutely not!" She threw her script at him and stalked out of the room. Chris picked it up and followed her.

"Jennie, listen to me."

"No Chris", she turned on him with tears in her eyes. "Why don't you stop and think about how I feel about all this? Besides how in hell can you and she go undercover as a couple when you've been pictured with me in almost every magazine and on television as well? Everyone knows that we're a couple. These people at Cosmo whatever it is are scam artists and ruthless to boot. They'll know you're a cop the minute they lay eyes on you and...", her voice trailed off and she dissolved completely into tears.

"Jennie", he put his arms around her but she pushed him away.

"Don't touch me", she told him. "If you're going to do this then..." She wiped at her eyes. "Why does it have to be you? Why can't her boyfriend with the sloppy clothes do it? He's the one who works in sex crimes and this Cosmo place is all about sex!" She sat on the edge of the bed and gazed up at him. "I'm being unreasonable aren't I Chris? It's just that I'm worried about you and I don't like the idea of you and Rita being together like that."

"Don't you trust me", Chris asked her, he had to know and he waited for her answer.

"Yes I trust you", she replied through her tears. "I'm sorry I'm an emotional mess and..."

"It's okay sweetheart." Chris went and put his arms around her. "I love you so much, you know that don't you and this assignment is just part of the job and I'd never do anything to hurt you ever."


"I don't like it", Michael told her as they had dinner together that evening, "but nothing I say will change the fact that you're going to go ahead and do it anyway", he paused. "I still don't see how Lipschitz thinks you can pull this undercover bit off. I mean Chris was in Woman's Day just the other week with Jennie at some social function, and these people aren't stupid and they sound damn dangerous to be honest."

Rita simply nodded. She could understand Michael's concerns on that score, but at least he wasn't making an issue about it. Reaching over the table she squeezed his hand and smiled at him. "I know why you're worried and believe me before we go in I'll bring that to Cap's attention although I'm sure he'd have thought about that." Changing the subject she asked: "How's your Mom and Dad?"

"They're fine", Michael said, and closed his eyes. "I can't believe that they were put through that this morning. I mean I realize why everyone thought it was me." He shook his head and reopened his eyes. "Mom was in a terrible state, so was Dad and they'd already told my sisters before you and Chris turned up in my bed room this morning." He took a sip of his beer before continuing. "They hate me being a cop you know but they understand why I stay on in the job even after it almost killed me last year and...", he stopped. "Hey I've got an idea. What say we put it to Lipschitz that you and I go in as a couple, and that Chris and Jennie book themselves in too? Now with Palm Beach's hottest couple there we could just blend into the background", he saw the look on her face and grinned. "Okay it was just a thought", he held up his hands in mock surrender. "Now", his grin grew even wider. "What would my favorite girl like for dessert."

Rita returned his grin. "Hmm", she pretended to think hard. "Some of that Mango Swirl ice-cream you have would do down well."

"Vixen", he laughed as he started to clear away their dinner plates. "That's not what I had in mind."

"I know", she told him, "but I feel like Mango ice-cream and I promise you, Michael, once I've had my sweets you'll get yours." She watched as he disappeared into the kitchen thinking about what he'd said about this case and wondering if the Captain would go for it. It was worth some thought because Chris had called and Jennie had been terribly upset at the thought of Chris and Rita spending the week together at a Sex Farm as she'd put it.


Jennie had finally fallen asleep after crying on his shoulder. She had been having a bit of a hard time lately, a stalker had made her nervous and constantly on the edge. She'd been having nightmares for a few weeks; sometimes she even woke up crying. Chris helped her as much as he could, she seemed to be getting a lot better, and although the stalker hadn't been caught, he seemed to have left them alone.

He gently threw the comforter over her when the phone rang. He grabbed it and answered it immediately, not wanting to wake Jennie. "Lorenzo", he answered quietly.

"Why are you whispering", Rita asked him.

"Ah, Jennie's asleep. Sorry", he said as he closed the bedroom door gently.

"What's up?"

"Well I was just talking to Michael about this whole thing. I know this might seem really insane and everything, but you did say Jennie wasn't happy about this whole thing and everything", Rita told him.

"Yeah and", Chris said wondering what she had in mind.

"Well, Michael suggested maybe him and me should go undercover? I mean you are fairly well known by now Chris, you might stand out", Rita told him.

"You might too Rita, you've been a few magazines and everything", Chris pointed out.

"Well it's either that or you and Jennie book in and me and Michael", Rita shot back at him.

"Rita, I don't want to put her in any more danger", Chris told her. "She's been through enough the last few months, don't you think? Besides, think of all the media coverage, as if Jennie would want that splashed all over the papers!" The bedroom door opened and Chris spun around, Jennie facing him. "What's wrong", she asked him. "What wouldn't I want splashed across the papers?"

"Ah", Chris started. He gave her a brief run through of what Rita had suggested.

"But I don't know if it's a good idea Jen," Chris told her. Jennie thought for a moment. Maybe she should do this, it meant spending a week with Chris...

"Ok, I'll do it", Jennie told him.

"What? Jen, you really should think about it." Chris told her. "It could be dangerous."

Jennie cut him off. "Exactly, which is why I don't like the thought of you going there." Jennie told him.

"Anyway I don't know if Cap will run with it", Chris said to her. "And what about media? They'll get a hold of this as well."

"HELLO?" Rita yelled from the phone. They had been ignoring her for several minutes now. "We can talk about it in the morning", Rita told him when he came back. "Bye."


Harry had OK'd everything. He said as long as Miss Taylor agreed, it was fine, but he did want to speak to her first. Chris wasn't happy. He didn't want Jennie in this sort of danger. She had been through enough. But Harry had said he had been worried that Chris's newfound celebrity might jeopardize the investigation. Damn! He didn't want Jennie to have to go through anymore then she already had. Bloody hell!

Rita met Diana and George for lunch, and the three of them were discussing the last case when Rita suddenly told them about the undercover gig.

"So we decided that Michael and Jennie should come too", she ended.

"Are you crazy", George exclaimed. "Rita, I thought you had more experience than that!"

Rita just looked at him.

"Think about it, Rita", he said, calmer now. "The best people to send in undercover are people who know and trust one another, but that aren't too close, and definitely not romantically involved. I'm sure Lorenzo is professional enough to keep his mind on the case instead of his girlfriend, but what if something threatened her? And Price. You didn't see Price a few months ago, when Diana told him you and Lorenzo were missing."

"Neither did you, George", Diana commented. "But you're right. Rita, he freaked."

"It could just as easily have been him that got shot", Rita said quietly. She was beginning to understand. As much as she would have preferred to explore her and Michael's cosmic connections, she and Chris would be a better team. She had never had a better friend, or closer companion, there were nobody she trusted more to cover her back. Being with Michael, and working with Chris, seemed the perfect life. But Jennie didn't know that. Shit, why did life have to be so complicated?

"Why don't you let Jennie and Michael stay in the surveillance van", George suggested. "If Lipschitz was willing to let the two of them in on this case, he shouldn't have a problem with them being there. And you and Chris would know they were safe, and concentrate on the case."

"And Jennie wouldn't have any reason to be insecure about you stealing Chris from her", Diana smiled.

"Yeah", Rita sighed. "I really wish she would relax about that. First off, I'm not interested in Chris, and secondly, I wouldn't stand a chance anyway. I don't know what to do, should I go and talk to her, or stay away?" She paused.

"There's another thing, guys. Jennie's famous, her boyfriend too. Just about everybody knows what he looks like. A lot of people know what I look like too. How safe is this?"

"You could bleach your hair, cut it shorter, and maybe wear colored contacts", Diana said. "Less makeup, and very different clothes. Less color, brown business suits, or something. And Chris... hmmm... Maybe slightly curled hair, colored contacts, perhaps grow a beard..."

"We don't have time for that", Rita said.

"It's not that difficult to make him look very different from before. How would you like him with a beer gut?"

Rita laughed. "That would help. But it's his face I'm worried about. A beard would be great, but it takes several weeks to grow, and a fake beard can't be glued on and expected to last a whole week!"

"Think about it, Rita", Diana grinned. "He always wears a colorful suit and tie, I don't think I've ever seen him in anything else. If he wore jogging bottoms and a t-shirt with a big belly underneath?"

"This seminar is expensive", Rita pointed out. "It's not like any tramp could afford it. He mustn't look like something the cat brought in."

"Sunglasses", George said. "Blue sunglasses, or those mirror ones. And expensive jogging bottoms. Really rich people think they look sporty when they wear them. And white trainers. New, white trainers."

"Oh, come on", Rita complained, "he's the sporty type, what do you think he wears when he plays basket ball?"

"How about a brown business suit", Diana suggested.


Rita stood outside Jennie's house wondering whether or not to ring the bell. She had made sure Chris was still at work, but hadn't called to check if Jennie was home. Suddenly the door opened.

"Rita? I thought it looked like you. Chris isn't here, you know."

"Ohm, I know. Actually, I was in the neighborhood and thought I'd stop by to see how you were, I'm sorry, I should have called first."

"No problem, come in." Jennie sighed. She was never sure what to make of Rita, but as she didn't expect Chris to give up his job, she knew she would have to see her from time to time.

They went into the lounge room. "Would you like something to drink", Jennie offered. "Tea, coffee, or something cold?"

"No thank you, I've just had lunch."

They sat down.

"Now", Jennie said, "what's on your mind. I've figured that you weren't "just in the neighborhood". Chris doesn't know you're here, right?"

"Nope. Jennie, I need to tell you a few things, and I'm not really sure how to, so please, if you need to, yell at me afterwards, when I'm finished?"

Jennie was slightly confused, but also worried. "Sure."

"It was my idea that you and Michael should come along to that stupid sex farm", Rita said. "You're worried about me being alone with Chris in a place like that, and believe it or not, I do understand. I'm sure you know you can trust him not to cheat on you?"

Jennie nodded.

"Do you know that you can trust me too?"

Jennie didn't answer.

Rita sighed. "I know I wasn't particularly friendly towards you in the beginning", she said, and decided to be honest. "I thought Chris was stupid to risk his career for you. Not that any of us thought you were guilty, but technically, you were a suspect, and he got involved with you. Also, I got shot and was in a lot of pain, and sure, I wanted him to be happy, but I needed him pretty badly, and he wasn't there for me. It was very easy to blame that on you. I have never felt so alone in my life."

"I'm sorry", Jennie whispered.

"It was hardly your fault", Rita said, smiling softly. "And I think it was mostly in my head, I was depressed, and didn't handle it very well. But he... he helped me. He risked his career for me too, and offered me a shoulder to cry on. He can manage both of us in his life, Jennie, I know I mean a lot to him, but he loves you. He's my friend, my partner and I trust him with my life, but there's nothing romantic in those feelings."

She paused again. "I am really worried about this undercover thing", she said after a while. "Chris can't concentrate on the case if he must keep an eye on you. And he will feel the need to, one of the possible suspects is known to offer private sex lessons to those who can pay, and we have no idea if he'd take no for an answer. I can't concentrate if I'm afraid of what Michael will do if he thinks I might be in danger. I was going to suggest that you and him stay in the surveillance van instead of going in."

She looked at Jennie. "I promise Chris will be in less danger if it's just him and me there. We're not romantically involved, but we know each other well, and know how the other will react in different situations. Also, I don't know how much he's told you yet, but part of the plan, I mean the institute's plan, is that couples have separate bedrooms all week, until the last evening, when they're supposed to... well, you know. We'll just have to solve the case before that." Rita sighed again. "If you're in that van, you can hear anything that's going on, and he could pretend you're his sister or mother or daughter or mistress or whatever, and call you every day."

"I trust you", Jennie whispered, "I'm sorry if I've been a bitch, it's just that I've been very alone for most of my life, and I'm so afraid of loosing him." A few tears were streaming down her cheeks, she tried to brush them away, but new ones kept coming.

Rita touched her shoulder. "Hey..."

"Don't worry about me", Jennie tried to smile, "I don't sleep well, I get like this all the time, it drives Chris crazy, he thinks something's wrong all the time."

"Tell you what", Rita said, trying to ease the pressure, "I never steal my friends' boyfriends."

Jennie understood where this was heading, and began to laugh through her tears. "I'll be your friend if you'll be mine." They shook hands, and laughed until Rita's phone began to make impatient noises.

"Wow", she said while fumbling for the talk-button, "I better get back to work. Rita Lance. Yeah, yeah, relax; I'm on my way. Hey Sam?" She looked at Jennie, who began to giggle silently. "No, I haven't been messing up, give me a little credit, all right? You've been talking to Diana or George, haven't you? No, you idiot, listen to me, I'm sitting next to somebody that actually agrees with me. Yeah, I do have friends you don't know about. Why don't you talk to her?" She passed the phone to Jennie while rolling her eyes, then placed her fingers in her ears, causing Jennie to laugh hysterically.

"So Michael you see what I mean don't you", Rita reached out across the table and covered his hand with her own.

"Yeah", Michael nodded and covered her hand with his so that hers was sandwiched between. "I guess all my police training went out the window that day I knew you were missing. I guess I can handle working surveillance", he shrugged. "I guess I could even manage to keep company with an actress. Might even help her learn her lines for this mini-series or whatever she's in.

"I know that Chris will take good care of you", he gave her his best boyish grin. "He'd better or he'll have me to answer to."

"We'll look after each other", she told him squeezing his hand just as his mobile sounded and cursing under his breath he answered it.


"Are you sure you're all right with this", Chris asked Jennie as he sat beside her in the lounge room. "I mean..."

"Rita and I had a long talk and I know that you're nothing more then working partners. I guess I've always known that but I've never really had anyone in my life you know that and I was worried that I'd lose you."

"You're not going to lose me", Chris held her tightly. "I also promise to call you every night, sis", he grinned at her. "Rita is going to phone Michael too but if I have my way he'll be grandpa for her."

"He's younger than you", Jennie said. "And he's sort of sweet too, but his hair..."

"I know", Chris whispered in her ear. "Every hairdresser in the city would kill to get him as a customer, but why are we talking about him?" Chris nuzzled her neck. "Lipschitz has given us the rest of the afternoon off so what say we..."

"Oh yes please", Jennie sighed as he scooped her up and carried her to the bedroom. "Does this mean that you and Rita go in undercover tomorrow?"

"No not for a couple of days yet",' he kissed her neck. "Rita's going to the hairdresser to have her hair color changed this afternoon and she's going to pick up some clear blue contacts or something. Should be interesting to see what she looks like."

"Hmm", Jennie agreed. "Chris I know we're going to all go out for dinner one night but what say you invite Michael and Rita over tonight for a get together. Rita and I are just starting to really get to know each other and I think you and Michael could be more friendly towards each other as well."

"Whatever you want", he nuzzled her neck some more. "But it can't be a late night because we have an ultra early start in the morning." He eased her down onto the bed and took her in his arms once again.


Rita looked at her new image in the mirror and wasn't sure what she thought of it. Her brown locks had been changed to a light blonde, slightly curled, and a few inches shorter. The colored contact lenses she'd purchased made her eyes look like a piece of sky, she'd experimented with some different shades of make up. The end result was someone who looked a hell of a lot different from the woman she'd been this morning and sighing she picked up her purse and keys and headed out the door. She was wearing an emerald blouse that matched the new color of her eyes, and cream skirt. As she rang Michael's front door bell she wondered what his reaction would be.

"Rita", he opened the door and stood dumbfounded as he stared at her. "Rita you", he shook his head. "Oh Wow!"

"Aren't you ready yet", she glanced at her watch. "Come on we have to be at Jennie's by six thirty and it's already past six. And we'll have to find a cab and..."

"So we'll be late", he told her cutting her off mid sentence as he grabbed a jacket that he probably wouldn't need. Jennie had told them that it was casual dress and he was wearing a sky blue polo shirt and jeans that made his blue eyes seem even bluer.

They found a taxi straight away and Michael teasingly told her that she hadn't need to worry had she while the cab driver kept glancing at the beautiful blonde in the back seat and her handsome escort.


The evening had been going well with lots of laughter and they all seemed to be getting along, even Michael and Chris hadn't had a go at each other. Chris and Jennie couldn't believe the change in Rita's looks and Jennie had felt some of her insecurity returning until she reminded her self that Rita was in love with the blue eyed man who currently sat with Chris sharing a "war" story of some sort that Chris had asked him about.


The next morning:

Michael winced as he came back from his early morning run. As he inserted his key into the door he felt a short sharp pain in his side, which took his breath away for just a moment. Taking several deep breaths until the pain subsided he then entered the apartment holding his side as he did so.

"It's about time you got back", Rita appeared from the kitchen and smiled at him then frowned as she saw him holding his side. "What happened?"

"Oh", he shook his head. "I think I've pulled a muscle or something. I'm sure it's nothing too serious. Have I got time for a shower before breakfast."

"Oh I think so", she gave him a kiss on the cheek. "Think you can be out of there in twenty minutes."

"Of course I can", he kissed her cheek then disappeared into the bathroom. Twenty five minutes later Rita was ready to go and see what was keeping him when he staggered into the lounge room where she sat waiting for him, watching the Today show on channel Nine.

"Rita", he whispered, Rita not hearing him the first time. "Rita", he tried again. "Rita I don't feel so well. I, Rita, I think I'm dying", he gasped through the pain, causing her to turn around and cry out in fright at the sight of him. All the color had completely drained from his face leaving him as white as a ghost and she saw that he was shivering uncontrollably despite the fact that the sweat was rolling off him.

"Michael", she sprang to her feet and raced to him and putting her hand on his forehead she discovered that he was burning up with a fever and his eyes were dull and glazed with pain. "What is it? What's wrong?" Rita was scared, she didn't think he was having a heart attack but then again she didn't know what was happening to him and as she went to put her arms around to help him to the lounge he cried out in agony and doubled over clutching at his side moments before his legs buckled and he half fell into her arms as his knees hit the floor, his eyes rolling back into his head as he lost consciousness.

Frightened though she was Rita went and called an ambulance then went to the bathroom and got a damp face washer that she placed across his forehead, and kneeling beside him held his hand. As they waited for help to arrive he drifted in and out of consciousness, moaning with pain as Rita sat with him, tears of helplessness running down her cheeks. All she could do was hold his hand and tell him that he was going to be all right. That everything was going to be all right.

The ambulance officers arrived 10 minutes after they'd been called and immediately told her that Michael had a ruptured appendix and that it was poisoning his system as they spoke and that it was imperative that they get him to hospital ASAP.

Rita nodded as they told her which hospital they were taking him too and after making the necessary phone call to his parents she went to her own apartment where she quickly changed and headed to the hospital. The ambulance officers had said that Michael was in an extremely grave condition and she prayed with all her being that he'd be okay.

An hour later she was sitting with Michael's parents and sisters Kelly and April when the doctor approached them.

"Mr. and Mrs. Price", he addressed Michael's parents. "Your son is in an extremely grave condition but we're giving him antibiotics and hopefully he'll be all right. He's asleep at the moment but you'll be able to see him in about half an hour and only two at a time. He'll be fairly groggy anyway and you won't be able to stay long", he turned to leave. "The nurse will show you to his room when you're able to see him." Then the doctor was gone leaving five very worried people who loved and cared about Michael Price wondering and worrying because the doctor had said Michael with the right treatment should be all right and not that he would be all right.


Rita was sitting next to Michael's bed, holding his hand.

"No", she said, "how can I go there with you in hospital? Not a chance, Michael, they'll have to find somebody else."

"Rita, listen to me, the doctors said I'll be fine, I won't die this time either, I made it, sweetheart. I just need a few more days in bed, one week. That's the week you need to catch your killer. We'll stay in touch by phone, I'll be your sick, old grandfather that you have to call two or three times a day, just to make sure he hasn't fallen over, or had a heart attack, or forgotten to eat his dinner." He grinned at her. She still wasn't convinced. He decided to tease her a little. "I'm sure Jennie can sit here and hold my hand, Rita, I'll be fine. When I'm half asleep, I can't even tell the difference." "That wasn't funny", she grunted, and looked him over. It was only two days since he had been operated for his ruptured appendix, but he already was a lot better.

"It's too late to find another lady cop", Michael continued. "You and Chris have rehearsed and planned, you even look, walk and talk like Tessa Thompson and Steve Martin."

She smiled at his comment. Chris too had changed looks. His character was slightly over-weight, with a soft, but heavy belly made from a special rubber-covered foam often used for medical purposes. As long as he was wearing something on his upper body, nobody could tell it wasn't fat, even if they hugged him. His hair had been extended with several inches, he now had dark golden curls in a ponytail, and the same technique was used to lengthen five days worth of stubble into a bushy beard.

"Are you sure about this", Rita said, drowning in his eyes.

"I am sure", he whispered. "A man died in the boot of my car, I need you to find out who placed him there."


Chris and Rita walked hand in hand towards the impressive mansion with the small and tasteful sign saying "The Center for Cosmic Connection".

"Wow", Rita whispered, feeling a bit awkward as she knew their colleagues in the van parked just outside the stone wall could hear every word. Jennie had decided to spend time with Michael in the hospital instead of being bored in the surveillance van, and Rita wasn't exactly sorry. It would have been even harder to play Chris's lover if she knew that his real lover was listening to every comment she made.

"Isn't this great, honey", Chris thundered merrily, then pulled her close and kissed her cheek. She blushed involuntarily, but decided that Tessa Thompson was a blusher, and smiled.

"You're so sweet to me, Steve", she began, then added through clenched teeth as his hands traveled down her back: "Watch where you place those hands!" He smacked her bottom while apologizing with his eyes. They had company.

"Welcome to the Center for Cosmic Connection!" A tall, skinny blonde dressed in a tight, little white dress was holding the door open for them. "You must be Tessa and Steve, I'm so happy to meet you. I'm Shirley." She extended her hand to them. "Come", she continued, "the Plasmeyers are expecting you."

Chris smiled, then placed his arm around Rita's shoulders and followed the blonde into the house. The air was perfumed and heavy, Rita couldn't quite place the odor, incense maybe? She zoned out as Chris began to talk to their hosts. The man was dressed in wide trousers, and his silk shirt was open all the way to his navel, while his wife wore a loose silk skirt and a matching shirt tied beneath her breasts.

How the hell were they going to pull this off? Would they have to kiss much? She could cope with his straying hands, but what if they had to kiss and cuddle, what if she got turned on and he noticed? Or worse, what if she couldn't stand it and was unable to hide it? And with their microphones and senders, every word they said would be taped and heard by their colleagues, and possibly Jennie, and maybe Michael, they had no privacy, no chance to discuss...

"Tessa? Hello? Sweetheart?" She looked up, feeling stupid, as she immediately blushed.

"You didn't hear anything, did you", he laughed, "don't worry, I'll fill you in. Karen wanted to know what brought us here, and I told her about the brochure we got at the health food store."

"Oh yes", she smiled, trying her very best to look like a saint.

"You see", Chris continued, "Rita sometimes has a little problem with... she doesn't always... succeed... you know?"

The Plasmeyers looked very understanding.

"Oh yeah", Rita said, a bit annoyed. Like he would have any idea...! "Maybe I wouldn't have any problems if you could hang around for more than 30 seconds!" Ouch. Chris didn't like that one, she could tell. Well, he deserved it.


"Really, I'm alright", Michael said to Jennie. "Mum and Dad said they were coming back later. They should be here in half an hour. Why don't you go down and work surveillance? I'm pretty tired anyway and might get some sleep before I have any more visitors."

Jennie nodded slightly. "Ok, if you're sure", she said, standing up.

"I'm positive", Michael told her.

"Ok, might se you later", Jennie said just as a nurse came in to check on Michael, kicking Jennie out the room anyway.

Jennie turned her phone on again as she walked out of the hospital and gave Captain Lipschitz a call to ask if it was alright to join surveillance. He didn't have a problem with it and told her to park down the road of the van as not to arouse any suspicion. Jennie thanked him before heading off to join the surveillance group, run by Tom and Cassy.


Rita and Chris had finally unpacked their bags in their separate room and were to meet the three other couples, which would also be staying there. They headed down to a large room, that had probably been a lounge room once upon a time. They were the first ones there but soon everyone else was there, including Mr. and Mrs. Plasmeyer, who told everyone to sit in a circle on the floor next to their partner.

"Now firstly I'd like to welcome you all to Cosmic Connections. I'm sure you all will have a wonderful time and hopefully learn something", Richard Plasmeyer said. "Now, we always start these sessions with introductions, so we're going to go around the circle and you have to state your name and why you are here, the sort of problems you are having. That way not only can we help you with that problem, you'll also feel more comfortable around the people you'll be spending time with over the next few days."

He pointed to an older couple that sat opposite to Chris and Rita. "How about you two start?"

"Ok", nodded the older woman. "I'm Sylvia. My husband and I have been having troubles between us for a while. Our marriage is great, but we're just not sexually compatible anymore." Her husband, Myron, had very similar things to say.

"Very good. Now, how about you two", Plasmeyer said, pointing to one of the couples sitting next to the detectives.


Meanwhile Jennie had just arrived at the surveillance van. "Hey look, it's Steve's mistress." Tom said laughing. Cassy smiled at the comment. Jennie didn't think it was that funny but didn't say anything about it. "What's happened so far", Jennie said, taking a seat in the back of the Ford Van. There was technical equipment everywhere. Tom handed her a pair of headphones. "You can take a listen yourself. At the moment everyone is talking about why they can't do it properly."

Jennie looked at him for a moment before putting the headphones he had given her over her head and listened. "And our last couple", Jennie heard a man's voice say. Then she heard Rita talking. "My name is Tessa, my husband and I have been having some problems. I'm not sure what the problem is really, it just seems that Steve is only interested in himself now."

"That's not true", Chris suddenly shot back. "It's not only me who isn't interested anymore."

"Yes it is", Rita told him. "You're having an affair with your secretary, not caring about anything. That's why we haven't been together intimately for awhile!"

Plasmeyer interrupted them. "Right, well it seems we have a lot of work to do over the next few days."

In the van Tom laughed, this certainly was going to be fun listening to Rita and Chris talk about their sexual problems with Chris's current girlfriend listening in the van!

Jennie frowned as she listened to what was being said. She didn't like this, were they just playing out their roles of a couple with problems or were they basing their fictional problems in fact. No, that wasn't the case. She was just being silly. She and Chris had a wonderful relationship and,' the sound of Mr. Plasmeyer's voice as he spoke to Rita and Chris pulled her out of her thoughts.

'I can see you have a lot of issues to sort through Tessa, Steve," Plasmeyer was saying. "Now Tessa you have accused your husband of straying but could that not be due to your inability to reach climax, your inability to orgasm."

Rita glared at Chris. He'd been the one to start Plasmeyer on this subject.

"Like I said before, Richard, if Steve could hold on for more then 30 seconds then it might be different but for him to wham bam thank you ma'am and then he turns his attention to the sports channel."

"I think I get the picture. Now I know there is a lot of hostility between you both but you wouldn't be here if you didn't want to sort out your differences so I suggest you both go back to your rooms and have a think about exactly why you're here."

Rita and Chris both muttered their agreement and as they walked back to their rooms Chris chuckled. "So old Michael is a thirty second wonder hey?"

"No", Rita hissed through clenched teeth. "We're expected to be acting and that's what I'm doing. Besides if you hadn't made that comment about me when we first arrived", she shook her head. What was the matter with her anyway? The sexual inability was all part of the act for heavens sakes. Then again why had Chris, even in jest assumed that she and Michael had bedroom problems? Oh he was just being an ass she told herself, nothing more and nothing less. Her sex life was more than fine, it was pretty damn good and that was why it was taking every ounce of acting ability she had to pretend it wasn't. "I'll see you later", she told Chris when they arrived at the door of her room. "I have to ring Gramps and make sure he's okay", she then entered her room and closed the door before Chris could reply.

"Gramps hey", Tom laughed. "And let me tell you folks Grandpa is 28 years old, six foot, blue eyes and a bloody awful mane of hair. But he's obviously a Tiger in the sack though our Rita isn't the type to kiss and tell is she." The two detectives burst out laughing, Jennie giving them both a baleful look before she took off her head set and left the van. She'd heard enough and was going home.


Alone in the safety of her room Rita picked up her mobile phone and dialed the number of the hospital and was put straight through to Michael's phone. "Hi Grandpa", Rita replied after he'd answered. "Just phoning to make sure you're okay."

"I'm fine", Michael said, imitating an old man. "Your a kind sweet girl to worry about your old gramps the way you do."

"Well I love you Grandpa, you know that don't you?" ,p>"I know that", he smiled even though she couldn't see him. "I love you too baby."

"I have to go now", Rita didn't want to hang up but knew she had too. "I'll call you tomorrow."

"I'll look forward to it", Michael told her before disconnecting the call and leaning against the pillow he closed his eyes and hoped that everything was going along okay.


Jennie was half way home when her mobile rang. It was Nick their director on Espresso and they had a problem. The second and third films of next weeks show had been ruined during processing and they were going to have to spend tonight and the next three days re-shooting the lost work. Sighing Jennie turned her car around and headed for the studio. At least she'd have something to do now to keep her mind off Rita and Chris and their undercover assignment.

Rita turned her sender off, and decided to take a shower to cool down. There would probably be dinner tonight, and they would be expected to behave like adults by then. Jennie had been worried about her and Chris getting too friendly in this place, hah, she couldn't remember when they'd last argued this much. Under the running water, she managed to block all thoughts of Chris from her mind, and concentrate on the case they were here to solve. Of the three suicide cases that might be connected to the institute, only the last one had made Diana suggest that this could have been murder. She had found two tiny, red spots on the victim's chest, like first grade burns, nothing serious, nothing that would kill. Of course, there was no way of telling if Bradley Dale's body had similar marks on it. He had died in the boot of Michael's car, his lungs were intact and proved that. Question was, did Michael have anything to do with it, as in somebody wanting to get back at him, or was he just unfortunate enough to have his car at the wrong place at the wrong time? She was relieved he wasn't here with her. If Richard, Karen or that blonde bimbo had anything against Michael, she was glad he wasn't anywhere near them.

A soft knock on her bathroom door pulled her back to reality.

"Sweetheart?" It was Chris's voice. "Are you decent? Can I come in?"

"Just a sec", she shouted, "I'll be right there." She grabbed a long t-shirt, and wrapped a towel around her waist. Decent enough, at least she was covered from knee to neck. She poked her head into the bedroom. He was sitting on the bed.

"We need to talk", he said silently. "Is your sender on?" She shook her head.

"Mine neither." She went to sit next to him. "Did I go too far back there", he asked. "Insinuating things about your love life, I mean."

She sighed. "I don't want to share my bedroom stories with you, all right?" "Rita", he whispered, and tried to look into her eyes. She pulled away from him.

"How was Michael", he continued in the same hushed voice.

"Fine." She lifted her shoulders.

"So Steve has an affair with his secretary, huh? Now what on earth would it take to pull him away from a woman like Tessa? She's stunningly beautiful, smart, exotic, witty..."

"Tessa is frigid, you said it yourself."

"Well, if Steve doesn't have much staying power, I don't blame her."

Rita released the breath she'd been holding. "Do you think old Dickie-boy is shagging Blondie", she asked.

"Either that, or she's frigid too." That did it. She began to giggle.

"Come on", he begged, "it wasn't that funny." Then he reached out his hand.


She took it without thinking.


They went through two interesting days, where they learned to sit next to each other during meals, his left arm around her, and her right arm around him, he holding the knife in his right hand, she holding the fork, and then, try feed one another. So called teamwork, very amusing. They had the soul search, where each couple had to find a peaceful spot, sit down face to face and stare into the other's eyes.

All the time, Dick Plasmeyer was very attentive towards Rita, Chris was almost afraid of leaving her alone in her room at night. Then, they had the sensual massage session. Erogenous zones were off limits, but it was a warm day, next to the pool, nobody was wearing more than they had to. It felt incredibly intimate, and it shouldn't.

"Ohm, sweetheart", Chris grinned. He was on a plastic bench, backside up, with Rita leaning over him, her hands kneading his back through his thin shirt. "Why don't you slide down and do my legs, dear?"

"Sure", Rita teased, "which one do you want broken first?" She buried her fingers in his sides, tickling him. Then she bent down to his ear and whispered: "Karen is coming, see if you can get something out of her, I'll go get my sunscreen or something."

The next moment, he felt Mrs. Plasmeyer's cold fingers on his shoulders. He resisted the urge to flinch.

"Taking a break, is she?"

"She just went to get her sunscreen, you know, she burns." He let the double meaning linger in the air, and hoped Rita would forgive him if she ever heard this. "Ah, this is just right", he lied, "Dick is a lucky man, you are just amazing!"

"I think you and your wife look pretty amazing together too", Karen said. "You look so close."

"Yeah, we are, we are. Tell you what though..." Chris lowered his voice. "I'm not sure about Dick, I think he's paying a bit more attention to my wife that he should."

"Is he now?" Karen's voice was ice cold. "He's a very talented... I'm sure he's just trying to help her."

"I'd still prefer that he kept his distance."

"I'll tell him." Rita came back the same moment, and Karen got up. "I'll see you later, Steve, Tessa."

Chris laughed into his pillow. "What was that all about", Rita asked.

"I'll tell you later", he whispered, and reached for the bottle of massage oil.

"Come on, lie down, I'll do you."

They suddenly heard a scream, and Nancy, one of the other guests, came running out to the terrace. "Come quick", she cried, "oh God, I think she's dead!" Chris and Rita rushed into the house, and found Shirley in a heap on the floor at the bottom of the stairs. They looked up, but couldn't see anything. Chris felt for a pulse, then looked at Rita and shook his head. He hoped they hadn't blown their cover now.

"She's dead", he said shortly, then added in a louder voice: "Better call the police, even though it's obvious that this is an accident."

Rita managed to get a few tears to run down her cheeks. "Steve", she cried, "that poor girl, I've never seen..."

Chris got to his feet and pulled her close. He made comforting sounds while stroking her back. They hoped somebody had called for help by now.


Diana turned up with a team that was all new to Chris and Rita. Lipschitz had wanted to make sure the Plasmeyers didn't recognize too many of his officers, hoping to hide the fact that the police was aware of how many people connected to the institute had turned up dead.

Diana pulled Rita to the side before she left. "Two little, red marks on her upper chest", she murmured. "Broken neck, but that probably happened in the fall. I wonder if those marks indicate that the victim was unconscious when she fell, will have forensics check into that and let you know. Be careful." Officially, Shirley's death was a tragic accident, and life at the institute went on. Only two people were even more alert than before.


It was after dinner that night and Chris and Rita were on their way down to the lounge room for another session. "Any thoughts partner?" Chris asked quietly, his arm around her waist. "Nothing sweetheart", Rita told him just as quietly.

Rita and Chris were deep in conversation but stopped talking as Dick Plasmeyer walked into the room. "You two are early", he commented, the session not staring for another 10 minutes or so. Chris and Rita smiled at him and Dick sent an extra special smile to Rita.

All the couples had finally arrived and Karen Plasmeyer was handing out some mats. Each couple got one. "Right, now after that terrible accident this afternoon, I'm sure everyone is understandably upset. But this session should certainly be enjoyable to everyone."

Meanwhile Jennie had just arrived back at the van. They had finally re-taped all the damaged material and Jennie had decided to drop into surveillance. "Hey", Jennie said to Tom and Cassy and they turned to face her. "Oh boy", Tony said under his breath.

"What's going on", Jennie asked. She had talked to Chris every night and had she called surveillance during the day just to find out what was going on. She knew that the Plasmeyer's personal assistant had been killed, made to look like an accident, but was more then likely murder. Tony handed her a headset, letting her find out on her own what was going on. He didn't want to be the one to tell her that her boyfriend was currently exploring Rita's erogenous zones and soon Rita would be doing the same thing with Chris!

Chris was extremely uncomfortable. It wasn't that bad, nothing too full on was allowed, only massaging and touching, but it didn't make any difference. God knows what tomorrow sessions would hold if this is where they were at already. They still hadn't gotten the evidence they needed and they had to leave the day after tomorrow. Tomorrow night was the night that Rita and Chris were supposed to spend the night together.

Jennie could hear a lot of moaning, but knowing what Chris sounded like, she hadn't heard him. She could hear Dick Plasmeyer guiding a couple, telling them what to do. It wasn't Chris or Rita, as she heard the couple answer. She couldn't help but feel a little jealous. She knew there was nothing between Chris and Rita, they were just partners and friends, but still... She was brought out of her thoughts when she heard Dick say, "Ah Tessa... Steve, what seems to be the problem?"

Jennie listened as Chris as Steve explained to Dick that Rita/Tessa wasn't responding to him as they'd been told she would. Dick then started to talk the pair through their moves and Rita started to moan softly as Chris caressed her in her most sensual spots. Rita knew that she had to act as if she was now enjoying this and she softly moaned Steve oh Steve. It was however a case of the old saying close your eyes and think of England, well Rita was thinking about Michael and she was so glad he couldn't hear what was going on at the moment. Even though she knew he'd know it was part of the cover she was pleased he wasn't sitting in on surveillance. Then a thought hit her - Michael wasn't there but what if Jennie was? Oh Dear God. Would she realize that this was all just an act? She was brought out of her musings when Dick started to explain to her it was now her turn to pleasure her partner.

Pleasure her partner! Jennie stiffened in the chair as she continued to listen to what was happening between Rita and Chris. Oh God this wasn't right and what they were doing to each other were almost the exact same things that Jennie and Chris did every night. Pulling off her headset she stood and turned to the two detectives and smiled.

"I'm tired I think I'll head home."

"Jennie it's all just an act", Tom told her. "Chris loves you and Rita loves Price. You have to understand if they don't go through with this they could both end up dead and burnt alive in the boot of some car. Now you wouldn't want that to happen?"

"No", Jennie told him. "But it also doesn't mean that I want to sit and listen to them going through these erotic exercises either. Goodnight guys", she headed out of the van and getting into her car headed home. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I love you", Rita whispered into her phone. "I can't wait to get out of here and for you to be out of hospital so that we can explore our cosmic connections."

"Neither can I", Michael grinned as he listened to her. "God I miss you and I'm sick of being stuck in this bloody hospital bed. I get out tomorrow and the morning can't come quickly enough."

"I can't wait to get home either and", she paused and Michael heard her say. "Richard? What are you doing here?"

"Oh I just came in to see how you were my dear. I mean you and Steve still seem to have some problems and tomorrow night is well, you know and", he saw the phone in her hand. "Oh I'm sorry I didn't mean to interrupt."

"It's okay." Rita found it hard to find her voice. "It's just my old grandpa I have to check up on him", she lifted the phone back up to her mouth. "Night Pa", she whispered. "I'll talk to you tomorrow. You take care of yourself and I'll see you soon", she disconnected the call before Michael could reply. A cold fear swept over Michael. Rita was in trouble, that sleazy Dickie-boy Plasmeyer was making a move on her and there was nothing he could do. He couldn't call Lipschitz to send in the troops and he new Tom and Cassy would have heard the conversation as well and that their hands were tired as much as his were.

They didn't have anything to link the Plasmeyers to these murders and suicides. They didn't have anything and Michael knew that he wasn't going to get any sleep tonight. Glancing at the clock he carefully slipped out of bed and hurriedly dressed. He was checking himself out and going to the surveillance van and hell, high water and wild horses wasn't going to stop him. (Silly boy but what do you expect?)

"Well my dear", Dick sat down beside her and started to stroke her neck. "I think I could show you a few maneuvers that will help the situation between you and Steve", he felt her cringe beneath his touch. Hell this bitch was a frigid one. Well he'd soon fix that. "So what do you say Rita my dear. Are you willing to let me teach you everything I know?"

Just before dinner, Chris had gotten a call from Diana, she and her friend at forensics had figured out what had been used to create the two red burns on the victims: a stun gun. He had left the meal early, while Rita did her very best to entertain everybody, preventing them from leaving too. Unfortunately, she hadn't managed to keep at least the Plasmeyers there for long enough, Chris had to hide in the couple's wardrobe while waiting for them to fall asleep. He had noticed Richard sneak out of the room when Karen was asleep, and followed him. Rita's sender was off, unfortunately, she hadn't expected company, but she was still wearing it, and managed to switch it on without Dick noticing. When he pulled her covers away, and tried to lie down on top of her, she'd had enough, and kicked him in the balls, rolled out from underneath him and hit him again, in the face this time.

"What the hell are you doing", she screamed. Her arm hurt, but at least Dick didn't appear to be armed in any way. He was in the other end of the room, clutching his crotch.

As soon as Chris saw that Rita had things pretty much under control, he ran to get Karen, and as he had expected, she was wide awake the moment he suggested they swap partners for the night.

"Can't you keep your libido in check just for ONE night", she yelled at her husband when she and Chris reached Rita's room. Rita went directly into Chris's arms, crying. It was fairly easy to fake this time, she was badly shaken, the hand she'd hit Dick with hurt like crazy, and she suddenly remembered that he could have been armed, that he could be their killer.

"This is a scandal", Chris roared while keeping Rita's face towards his chest.

"What kind of place is this? We could sue you for this!"

"I wanted to learn about our cosmic connections", Rita sobbed into his shirt, high enough for Karen to hear, "and then I nearly get raped!" She couldn't see anything, but from the feel of Chris's hand, she could tell he was pleased with the couple's reaction.

"Believe me", Karen said while looking at her husband, "this was not part of the deal. If you want to leave, I will understand, there'll be a full refund, of course."

This wasn't part of the plan. Sure, Dick Plasmeyer was a sleaze, but they hadn't proved anything, they had nothing to tie him to the murders.

"Of course", Karen continued, "I you want to stay, I'll personally make sure that this doesn't happen again."

Rita pulled back slightly, looking into Chris's eyes. "Well", she said slowly, "things were beginning to happen for us, weren't they, Steve?"

He nodded. "I'll stay if you'll stay", he said. Then he added for the benefit of the Plasmeyers: "But Dick better stay far away from my Tessa!"

Dick lifted his arms in surrender, and Karen led him out of the room. "Thank you so much for being so understanding", she said, and closed the door behind them. Rita leaned her head against Chris's chest again, shaking. He thought for a moment that she was crying again, then realized she was laughing, and joined her.


Out in the van, things were hectic. Tom was on the phone to the shop, having somebody check if Richard Plasmeyer had any history of sexual crimes. Cassy kept listening to what was going on in Rita's room. She figured that if Chris decided to stay there that night, she shouldn't tell Jennie. Any police officer would see the necessity of the two detectives staying together, but Jennie might not, and she figured Chris ought to be the one to explain that to her, not her. She was also happy with the sender that Chris had managed to place in the Plasmeyer's bedroom. This was getting highly entertaining. She just wished she'd had a camera too, but had to make do with her imagination.

Karen: You stupid son of a bitch, you ought'a go straight back home and muck out stables! (slapping noise)

Dick: Hey, that wasn't necessary! (quiet rustling)

Karen: What the hell did you do it for, anyway?

Dick: That couple has problems, so I wanted to help.

Karen: Bullshit, they are closer than most married people I've ever met. (more rustling)

Dick: When I got in there, she was on the phone, which is fair enough, but she used her mobile, not the phone in her room.

Karen: So?

Dick: And she was wearing a little box, I felt it, just above her waist.

Karen: Have you ever heard of walkmen, discmen and minidiscplayers, Dick?

Dick: Who wears them underneath their clothes? (quiet for several minutes)

Karen: Are you saying she could be a cop?

Dick: What I don't get is why the cops should care so much about a few people getting drugs to help them enjoy sex more. Sure, not quite legal, I know, but...?

Karen: You stupid idiot. If you'd kept your libido in check, I wouldn't have to take care of the problems you created. Shirley was ready to go to the press, so was that Dale person last week, and...

Dick: YOU, it was YOU? YOU did that? I'm not a part of that!

Karen: Oh yes you are, if I'm going down, so are you, my dear!

Cassy decided to give the detectives a call early in the morning. Everything was quiet in Rita's room, she knew they needed as much sleep as they could get, and if the Plasmeyers got up to something, she and her partner would have time to call in the cavalry.

Just then, Michael arrived, clutching his side. "How is she", he panted, "we were on the phone when that sleaze moved in, how is she?"

"Come sit down", Tom said. "Cass is listening to the Plasmeyers, we have a wire in their bedroom now, she'll stay on guard. Everything is quiet in Rita's room, we think Chris's with her, and they've left both senders on." With a smile, he added: "Nothing inappropriate going on."

"Don't worry, I'm not the jealous type. They are a lot safer together than in separate bedrooms."

"We think so too. We've agreed to let Chris explain that to his lady friend though."

Michael grinned. "Sounds wise."

"Anyway", Tom chuckled, "you better be careful not to piss Lance off, Price, she kicked that guy in the nuts and hit his head so bad I'm amazed her wrist didn't break!"


At breakfast the next morning, Karen was briefing the four couples of today's workshop. Rita's heart sank when she heard what was in store for them: "... French kiss for an hour, the Soul Kiss. And once you've started, don't let go of that embrace..." This wasn't fair this really wasn't fair.

"Shit", Chris whispered as they walked slowly round the garden, hand in hand, looking for the perfect spot. "I hope our respective halves aren't in the van right now. And if they are, I hope they put their fingers in their ears for an hour or so."

Rita looked at him, not sure how to handle this. She was tempted to turn her sender off. There wouldn't be anything happening for the next hour, except the two of them kissing. Shit, how did they get into this mess?

"We'll turn the senders off, guys", Chris whispered under his breath, while pretending to caress Rita's hair. "We'll be alone for the next hour. We just can't do this otherwise, it's too bloody difficult. The suspects are watching. We can't fake. Use the binoculars to keep an eye on us, we can see the wall from here, so you should be able to see us. If anything gets ugly, page me, all right?"

"I've worked out how we can do this", Rita said as soon as their senders were switched off. "We'll just pretend we're kissing somebody else." Chris leaned closer and began to place butterfly kisses along her jawbone. She grimaced, and pulled away.

"Come on, we've got to make it look good", he whispered.

"Yeah but we don't have to make it feel so good..." She looked him in the eyes, and begged him silently to understand how difficult this was.

"She's here", Chris suddenly whispered. Karen was standing in the window, looking at them. Rita closed her eyes, and as Chris kissed her, she found his hand, and clung to it. This wasn't supposed to feel this good. Michael, oh why couldn't she had been with Michael now, under instructions to French kiss for an hour? Everything was turning to mush inside her, she felt like crying, but couldn't, not until she was alone in her room.

"I'm sorry about everything", Chris whispered against her lips. She smiled. She had to. Steve was telling Tessa how beautiful she was, wasn't he?

They held hands when they walked towards the house, senders still off.

"Do you wish Jennie was here with you instead of me", Rita asked silently.

"Truth? Sometimes I almost wish she didn't exist! Nor Michael. Then I feel rotten, I love her for heaven's sake, I can't live without her, this is like a different world, I'm confused, and feel guilty for touching you all the time. Under normal circumstances, you could file a sexual harassment suit against me and win!"

Rita wasn't sure what to say to this, she just squeezed his hand in what she hoped was a friendly manner, and sighed.

"I wish the four of us could have a nice, long evening together again", Chris murmured. "I had so much fun that night. And when Jennie opened up to you and Michael... I'd heard most of it before, but not all the details, and I didn't realize quite how much it must've hurt her growing up like that. I feel like I should protect her from the big, bad world. Now that's caveman attitude for you!" He grinned sheepishly.

"We should turn our senders back on", Rita sighed, and looked up at him.

"I'm trying not to think of how much fun Tom and Cassy are having on our behalf these days!"

That made Rita laugh. "Maybe we ought to buy ourselves some more of this time alone", she suggested, "I mean, this place stirs up funny feelings, and maybe if we were able to talk it over... I mean, we're actually learning to love each other here, and I quite like my life the way it is now, working with you, being with Michael. Jennie is my friend, I'm terrified of messing up."

Chris nodded. "Same here." Then he added: "I wonder if they spice our food. Don't know about you, but I've been feeling really weird these last couple of days, half stone or something. And when I'm alone at night, God I miss Jennie, and I keep forgetting who I am, and Steve really wants to sleep with Tessa!"

"That might explain it then", Rita said, relieved she wasn't the only one. She'd felt quite horny every evening, except for the first one. Last night, they'd shared the large bed, fully dressed, wrapped up in separate blankets. She knew the only reason he was there was to make sure she was safe, but it still felt wrong, she had no idea what to say to Jennie and Michael about it.

"So", Chris continued slowly, "if they spice everybody's food, they get horny women who can't wait to jump their lovers by the end of the week, and old Dickie-boy will have an easy match if he tries to "help" the ladies out of their misery..."

"I think we ought to call in", Rita suggested, "hear if they know anymore of what the Plasmeyers have in store for us. We know she did it, but can we prove it?"


Jennie had arrived at the surveillance van just to hear Tom say, "So, come on Michael, you and Rita ever done that?" No one had noticed Jennie yet and Michael said: "I don't kiss and tell, mate. That's for me to know and you do just forget about, alright?"

"What's going on", Jennie asked, to which the three others turned their heads so quickly, it was a surprise they all didn't get whiplash.

"Jennie", Michael said, "Tom was just being his usual appalling self." To which there was a protesting "Oi!" from Tom.

Jennie nodded. "Anything I should know about", Jennie asked. "What's happening at the institute," she said, taking a pair of headphones. The senders had been turned back on.

"Not much", Tom said, not wanting to be the one to tell Jennie that her boyfriend had just been kissing Rita for an hour! Jennie certainly didn't look convinced. "Come on, what's going on?"

No-one in the van knew that Karen and Richard Plasmeyer was standing outside the van and was listening to their conversation. "Sweetie, maybe this isn't such a good idea?"

She cut him off. "Don't you Sweetie me, you bastard, this is all your fault anyway, to just shut up and do what I tell you alright?"

In the van Tom knew Jennie was going to find out and told her. "They had a session this morning where they had to kiss their partner. French kiss them for an hour." Jennie's head shot up quickly. What?

Michael noticed. "Don't worry Jennie, it's just an act." Jennie certainly didn't look happy. "I know what you mean. Rita my girlfriend and Chris is your boyfriend. Steve and Tessa aren't. Don't worry."

Karen couldn't believe her luck. Their real partners were here as well. It would be even worse when she had to kill them. She chose that second to bust into the van and Dick followed her. The four occupants turned to face the sudden entries into the van. "Don't move anyone", she said to them. She scanned their faces, taking notice of the women. "You", she said indicating Jennie. "Come over here, and you three don't try to be the hero. We won't think twice about shooting this bitches head off her shoulders."

Jennie glanced at Michael who looked just as helpless at the other two did. She knew they had no choice but to do what she said and slowly Jennie got up and went over to her. The woman grabbed her upper arm hard and pulled her right next to her. Jennie suddenly felt an electrical shot in her neck and then everything went black and she hit the ground hard.


Chris and Rita wondered were the Plasmeyers had gone to. They hadn't seen them for a while but the next session wasn't supposed to start yet. The other couples were all outside, enjoying the wonderful day, but Chris and Rita weren't. They were inside hoping to find something to link the Plasmeyers to the murders. They were just going down the stairs when they came face to face with the couple. Before they could say anything, Karen said "Don't yell, just go up the stairs. Dick has a gun and he'll shoot one you if either of you try something." Rita and Chris looked at each other. They knew they had no choice. Besides, surveillance would hear what was going on and send help.

They were led into a small room upstairs, away from any of the guest rooms.

"What do you want", Rita asked.

"The real question is, what do you want", Karen shot back. "We know you're cops. We also know about your surveillance van out there", she told them. "Two of your colleagues are out there plus your two lovers. Jennie and Michael isn't it?" Rita and Chris both felt their stomachs lurch. Shit. What was Michael doing there? "What have you done to them", Rita demanded.

"Not too much, missy. Just used a stun gun on them and tied them up in the van." Richard looked very uncomfortable, obviously he didn't want to be there. "Oh and did I mention there's a bomb under the van that I can detonate at any time", Karen said matter-of-factly.

Both Chris and Rita looked horrified.


Meanwhile in the van Michael was slowly coming too. His hands were tied behind his back, his feet too. He could see Jennie on the floor next to him still unconscious. He tried to undo his binds. After a few moments they had come undone. Whoever had tied them hadn't done a very good job. Tom and Cassy were also tied up and unconscious. He looked up at all the surveillance equipment had been smashed. He turned around and heard a quiet groan. It was Jennie. "Jennie", Michael exclaimed, going to undo her wrists and ankles. "Michael", Jennie said drowsily. "What happened?"

"She used a stun gun to knock us all out. He have to get out of here. You untie Cass and I'll get Tom."

A few minutes later the others had come out of their haze and they all raced to get out of the van, but the door was locked. "Shit", Michael muttered. He indicated to Tony. "On the count of three we kick the door alright? 1,2,3.' There was a bang and the door flew open. They all got away from the van. "Shit we need a phone to call for help. Everything was too smashed up in the van and the Plasmeyers took ours.'

"Hang on", Jennie said producing her mobile phone from her jeans pocket. "She didn't take mine, obviously didn't notice." Jennie was worried about Chris. God knows what could happen in there.

Michael took the phone off her. Damn, no service. "Alright Jennie and Cass you two stay here, Tom you come with me. We have to try and get a signal on the phone as we can call help."

Meanwhile Rita and Chris were still trapped with the Plasmeyers. "Now this is what's going to happen. You two go downstairs and don't try anything. We're going to go out the front slowly and up near the lake."

Chris and Rita looked at her. They couldn't tell if she was bluffing or not about the bomb. So they did as she said. They were outside and in the middle of nowhere. Rita thought she might be able to hit the gun out of Richard's hands. Chris was close enough to hit the bomb switch from Karen's hands as well. They glanced at each other letting each other know they had had the same idea. They both spun around but neither was quick enough. Karen pressed the switch and suddenly there was a thunderous bang and flames shot up through the trees and Chris and Rita's hearts missed a beat. "WHAT THE HELL DO YOU TWO THINK YOU ARE DOING?" Karen yelled at them. "NOW MOVE! You two can see what's left of your friends", she told them pushing them both forward. Dick didn't like this one bit, but she had told if he didn't do what she said, then she would kill him. He had no choice. They came across the van. It was still on fire, only charred remains were left. Chris felt his stomach hit the ground and Rita felt her world come crashing down, Chris having similar thoughts.

There was a loud ringing in Chris's ears and his mind screamed NO as he looked into the smoldering ashes of what was left of the van and it's occupants. She couldn't be there, couldn't be dead, even though his mind was telling him the opposite.

Chris could see something shiny near his foot and he had a look at it and what he saw made his heart shatter again, the second time in the last few moments. It was the silver bracelet he had given to Jennie when they had been together a month. She had loved it and had worn it everyday since. He leant down and picked it up, running his fingers over the slightly blackened delicate silver chain. This couldn't be happening, it couldn't. They had shared so much, were really close. They had loved each other. He had had a wonderful surprise for her when he got of here. Jennie couldn't be dead, she couldn't. Not like this. Not like this! Not burnt to death in an explosion. Chris could hardly control his breathing, his chest feeling tight and constricted.

Rita too didn't want to believe Michael was dead. Had he come into her life, just for her to lose him? Maybe he wasn't there. What she saw out of the corner of her eyes, made her inhale sharply. It was the watch she had given to him for his last birthday. The band was broken, probably in the explosion. Why did this have to happen? She looked over at Chris and saw him holding a silver chain, he looked as though his world had come just been blown apart. He looked like he could scream and cry at the same time. His eyes had a haunted look in them and Rita knew she probably looked the same.

"Don't worry." Karen waved her gun at the two detectives. "Death will not part you for long you'll be joining your loved ones sooner then you think." "Christ Karen", Richard was almost weeping. "You've just killed three cops and Jennie Taylor!"

"And I'm going to kill two more pigs, keep that fucking gun on them Richard while I one of the guns I took off the pigs", she chuckled. "Killed with their colleagues gun, and tied up with chain and tossed into the river. Oh I love it." She pulled Tony's service Glock from her waistband and dropping the stun gun smiled an evil smile. "Now I think it's only fair for it to be ladies first."

"Drop the gun Karen!", Michael appeared out of nowhere a gun in his hand and murder in his eyes. "Drop the guns both of you because I could take you both out before you even twitch or blink."

Rita could have cried. Michael was alive and that meant that Jennie, Tom and Cassy must be too because she knew that Michael wouldn't have left them behind and simply saved himself. That was something that she was 100% sure of. "What?" Karen spun around at the sound of the supposedly dead cop abusing her, ready to squeeze the trigger and take out this fucking bastard, but Michael was too quick for her and two rounds exploded from his gun, both bullets finding their mark. One taking Karen in the arm the other in the shoulder.

Dick dropped the gun as soon as Price had started shooting. "Don't shoot me", he pleaded as he sank to his knees. "It was all her idea. She was going to kill me if I didn't go along." He blinked back tears. "I'll tell you everything", he sobbed. "I'll tell you everything I know."

At that moment the wail of sirens filled the air and within thirty seconds the entire area was swarming with police.

"Michael", Rita ran to him and threw her arms around him. "I thought you were dead", she stroked his face lovingly. "She said she took all your guns", she blinked back her tears of joy as she looked at the gun in his hand. "How?"

"Ankle holster", he grinned at her, holding her tightly never wanting to let her go. "Funny thing is people don't go looking at the ankle", he kissed the top of her head. "Life-saving trick if you ask me."

Rita smiled through her tears. "You're all okay", she glanced past him to where Tom and Cassy were escorting Jennie to the scene.

"Chris", she cried.

"Jennie", he ran to her and swept her up in a warm and loving embrace as he swung her off her feet and pulled her close.

"Hey", Tom pouted. "Don't you guys care that we're both okay as well", he turned to Cassy. "Guess not." She took the hint and gave him a quick hug.

It was several minutes later when Karen and Dick were being lead away in cuffs. Karen to the ambulance where she would be taken under police guard, Dick to the paddy wagon that stood waiting for him.

As she was lead past Price her face became a mask of fury and she hurled a string of unrepeatable abuse at him.

"Yeah, yeah", he drawled. "I've been called far worse than that, and by scarier and more murderous bastards than you." He gave her a smirk. "Anyway what you say is true. Its all too true because I tend to get that way when some asshole tries to murder me or my friends." He turned away from her and putting his arm around Rita led her over to where Jennie and Chris sat on a park bench and together they waited to be interviewed by their colleagues on exactly what happened.

Later that night

Rita, Chris, Michael and Jennie were all together again in Jennie's apartment taking solace in each other's company and not one of them mentioning what could have happened out in the field today. After an enjoyable dinner of take away Chinese and making small talk Rita and Michael left leaving Jennie and Chris alone.

"Jennie", Chris took her hand. "I want to tell you how much I love you and how much I appreciate how understanding you were during this case when I had to pretend to be Rita's lover."

"I was jealous at first", Jennie snuggled up close to him. "And I didn't like it when I was listening to you and her being intimate but Tom and Michael both explained to me at different times that it was part of the cover and", she shrugged her shoulders and caressed his cheek. "You need a shave mister", she told him.

"I know", he sighed. "Jennie when I thought I'd lost you. When Karen took us to that bombed out van. If that had happened I don't know how I'd have gone on. I felt so empty inside when I thought I'd lost you. Words can't describe how I felt then or how I felt when I knew you'd somehow gotten out of that van before it blew."

"You've Michael to thank for that", she told him. "He got us all out. He's a good man Chris and he loves Rita. He loves her a lot."

"I know that", he untangled himself from her embrace and walked over to his briefcase. "I've got a little surprise for you sweetheart."

"What?" She sat up and watched him approach with a small wrapped package.

"What's this?"

"Just a little something special for a special lady", he smiled at her and watched as she tore off the wrapping paper and squealed in delight at the beautiful gold, diamond and emerald earrings that lay nestled in the jewelry box.

"Chris", her eyes were filled with tears as she looked up at him. "You shouldn't have."

"I wanted too." He nuzzled her neck. "And this weekend we're taking a romantic trip for two to Sanibel. Just you and me and some of the most spectacular views in Florida."

"Oh God I love you Chris", she sobbed as she threw her arms around him. "I love you so very, very much."

"And I love you lady", he scooped her up and carried her to the bedroom. "More then you'll ever know."


Rita and Michael lay curled up beside each other in bed. Rita had told yet again how shattered she'd been as she looked at the burnt out van and how her world had fallen down around her when she'd found the watch she'd given him. They'd talked and made love and talked some more before making love again and finally Michael rolled over and stroking her cheek whispered. 'I think we need to get away. Maybe a weekend in Sanibel? I know how much you love that place.'

"That sounds perfect." She kissed his neck. "Just you and me and that glorious beach."

"I like that idea", he smiled and pulling her close whispered seductively. "How about a kiss sweetheart?"

"French, Aussie or American?" She grinned at him.

"Anyway it comes darling", he lowered his lips on to hers. "Anyway it comes."


The next morning the papers were full of Jennie Taylor's near escape from death and how a police officer off duty had saved her life and been instrumental in the arrest of Dick and Karen Plasmeyer. It also carried the story of the murders that Mrs. Plasmeyer had committed and how her so called loving husband was rolling over big time to implicate his wife in the murders and how she had threatened him with death if he didn't help her kill the police detectives who were undercover at their institute and their colleagues in the surveillance van.

It was another case with a successful conclusion and another victory for the officers of PBPD.

*****the end*****

I'm not really the author of this story, I only wrote about 1/3 of it, and changed all the names plus a few minor details afterwards. "Corpse in a Car Boot" was originally written by Amanda, Lynne and yours truly, and published on the list. I liked the story so much that I asked my co-writers if I could rewrite and post it as a Silk story, and they said yes (big thank you-s and hope you don't hate what I've done to our story ;-) ). In the original, Tessa went undercover as Rita, so that's why Rita went undercover as Tessa in this version. If you want to read the original storyline (which will keep you occupied and/or sleepless for several hours, I promise), go to It all began with "Espresso" in November 2000, "Corpse" was published in January 2001. Feedback is always welcome at Linda and Lisa: thanks for posting :-) Legal stuff: all Silk Stalkings characters (which should be everyone except Jennie and Michael's family I think) belong to Stephen J. Cannell, Stu Segall Productions and USA Network.

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