Dinner For Two, Please
By tuna.dc

(Or How To Do 101 Favors For Other People In Under 24 Hours)

Rita thought she had been dreaming....that the blasted alarm clock had been going off repeatedly, interrupting her peaceful sleep, however, she finally realized that what she thought was a dream, was actually reality. Chris' arm had been floating over unconsciously and tapping the snooze bar for apparently close to one hour now. Every nine minutes, she angrily thought about it, urrrrghh, she'd been hearing that annoying blip over and over for nearly sixty minutes. She sat straight up in bed and looked at Chris, still half dead to the world. It would take at least a land mine to wake him up this morning. The whole week had been a bear. And yesterday was the worst. They hardly had a minute alone to themselves. It was an absolutely, exhausting, seventeen hour day yesterday for both of them and even though they'd be dragging most of the day today, they could not afford to be late. And here they were already....one hour behind. The alarm sounded again, Rita shook her head and watched Chris and how he unknowingly reached over and let his hand come crashing down on the clock. He must have wanted to kill it subconsciously, for it was teetering near the edge of the night stand it sat on, inching it's way toward the big alarm clock factory in the sky, every time he went to bash it. She smiled as she saw it.

It was about seven am now, they both needed to be downtown at headquarters no later than 8:05am to brief Harry. Harry's clock ran like TBS, five after the hour and you were right on time. At 8:06am, you'd be late in his book.

They had gotten in at three am and decided to try to get some sleep. Of course, that didn't happen. The downside to living with and being engaged to one's somewhat unofficial partner, was that no matter how hard they tried sometimes, work always came right along home with them. They ended up sitting in bed, sharing a bowl of popcorn. At first they just sat and talked about common, everyday things, the house, the upcoming wedding etc., and soon they were discussing their latest murder until about 4:30am, when Rita looked at the clock and groaned that if they didn't go to sleep immediately that she would resign from the force and become a school teacher. They both laughed and miraculously fell to sleep shortly there after. Not that they weren't used this routine by now, after all, they had been partners and best friends for over six years now. Often they'd find themselves hanging out at one or the other's place, discussing a case and unknowingly letting their own life filter in from time to time. That's how they'd become such good friends in the first place. Spending time together, and over time it was the being together part that they learned was indeed what their love was based upon. They'd die without it.

Rita took a deep breath and got up slowly. She figured she'd grab a shower first and allow Chris to sleep an extra five or so minutes. She walked around the bed and quietly turned off the alarm, then headed off to the bathroom.

Somehow the nine minute alarm syndrome was ingrained in Chris' head. His arm went to smash the clock, even though it didn't start to buzz. He slowly woke up and saw that Rita was not beside him. He heard the shower running and mischievously grinned. In less than ten seconds he had hopped in the shower behind her. She smiled as his bare skin and weight came in contact with hers. He hugged her from behind and let his cheek rest on her shoulder. She turned her head to the side and gave him a quick peck on the lips. "Good morning Sam," she said cheerfully.

"Mornin'," he mumbled, still not fully awake.

She let his arms slip around her tighter as she lifted her own and set them on top of his. His hands slid along her stomach, lightly and gently, running upward, under and across her breasts. She closed her eyes. He began to nuzzle along her neck and onto her shoulder. She felt herself falling under his spell. She slowly opened her eyes, wanting and needing him to continue, but knowing this had to stop right now. "Chris?" she began, a little shell shocked already, from his touch.

"Mmmmm?" he murmured against her wet skin.

"Chris?" she paused as his lips found the spot that actually could make her melt on demand, "Chris," she said again.

"Rita.... Rita..... Rita....." he breathlessly and jokingly imitated her plea. Laughing a little, he added, "what do you want to ask?"

She giggled at her own weakness and turned to face him, the hot water pounding on her back. "We have to stop, we're running way behind," she said running her fingertips around in a circle on his chest, secretly hoping she could make him weak in his knees too, if only for a brief second. She bent her head down and trailed a few nerve tingling kisses right where her fingertips had been.

The combination of her innocent touch and seeing her standing there in front of him, naked, granted her, her wish. She could see his eyes glaze over and she knew she had him.

He shook his head in despair. "I didn't even hear the alarm go off yet," he said giving her a kiss, trying to persuade her to let him continue.

"It did for about an hour straight," she explained, "you kept hitting the snooze bar, don't you remember?"

"All I remember is you saying something about being a school teacher and me dreaming that I didn't want to be late for your class," he said diving in for kiss number two, a slightly more erotic kiss than the previous.

She pushed his head away and giggled, "It's after seven already, we have to be in Cap's office by eight."

"8:05," he corrected her.

"Listen, I'm all done in here, finish up and let's get going, maybe we can ride together today ok?" she said, pulling away from him and exiting the shower and grabbing a towel.

He watched her leave, staring at her outline through the beveled glass doors of the shower. Love could be so damn good and so damn painful sometimes, he thought to himself as he quickly showered and shaved.

He stepped out of the bathroom, back into the bedroom, where Rita had begun to get dressed, that was right after she had made up the bed, of course. He shook his head and laughed to himself as he passed by her fluffing the pillows. She was walking around in a black slip, with her hair still wrapped up in a towel. Settling down to a somewhat comfortable existence, albeit one with some strange hours suited Rita Lee Lance to a tee, he thought. She loved the control and organization of running and maintaining a household, just as she did her own career. "You all done in the bathroom?" she asked as he walked by giving her a kiss. He stopped walking and reached out for her. He comfortably let his hands meld to the feel of her silky hips. He reveled in these simple moments of contact with her. Did she have any clue what a simple touch did to him?

"For now, it's all yours, I still need to brush my teeth," he said, forcing himself to peel his hands away from her.

"There's coffee in the kitchen, I just made a couple of cups," she called out from the bathroom, just before she turned on the blow dryer.

What to wear? Chris opened the door of his closet. He picked out a mustard color, long sleeve dress shirt and a Jerry Garcia tie that had some matching mustard flecks in it. His Mother had sent him the tie a few Christmases ago, after she had personally met Jerry Garcia at some type of charity affair. She thought Chris would be impressed. He liked the tie and the fact that his Mother actually had given a bit of her time to select it especially for him. But the fact that it arrived from Rio De Janeiro, well after New Years...well, the sentiment just wasn't all there. He selected a midnight blue suit to complete his ensemble and just as he was tightening up the knot, out came Rita from the bathroom, still wearing just the slip, but now her make-up and hair were styled and shaped. She was well on her way for the day.

"Ooooh, I love that tie," she said, spying it and Chris, in the mirror he stood in front of.

"I believe this selection is called 'basketball,' Chris began, "he named all his tie's you know? I saw Garret Evans the other day and he had one on called 'Dogs.' It was pretty cool too. 'Ol Jer was a true artist in every sense of the word I guess."

"So are you saying? That you are or were a dead head?" she asked knowing he was really neither.

"Hey, I went to a few of his concerts," he defended himself, "but no, I never followed him around religiously, if that's what you're asking," he paused, "I think his ties are cool too," he added flopping his down and smoothing it out over his chest.

"You have one tie of his Chris! If you liked them so much, why don't you have more?"

He scrunched up his face at her logic. "Busted, aren't I," he said.

She nodded and grinned as she slipped on a skirt and blouse and pulled the matching jacket off the hanger. "So do you think your Mom picking out the 'basketball' tie was just a fluke or what?"

"Sure Sammy, go ahead and spoil the magic," he smiled, "I'd like to think she knows me well enough to know how I feel about basketball."

"The whole world knows how you feel about basketball," she replied, slipping her jacket on. "Um, I hate to tell you this," she started.

"Tell me what?" he asked as he stopped dead in his tracks.

"The bathroom sink is doing it again," she explained in the most simplistic terms she could think of.

He heavily sighed. "I keep forgetting to get that 6/10th's metric pipe wrench. I have every other blasted one except that one. I asked Cap if he had one, what a joke that was. He probably doesn't know a wrench from a hammer," he laughed. "I'll try to remember to pick one up some time, maybe this weekend. But it's gotta be a Snap-On tool to go with my set. They last forever. You can't get them everywhere," he rambled. "Anyway, I'll get to it, I promise, in the meantime, let me go work a little temporary magic on it," he said giving her another kiss. "Hey, you forgot the perfume this morning," he said pulling away, noticing that he didn't get a whiff of her usual intoxicating scent.

"Yeah, I'm out, you'll have to take me au natural today," she said as she headed for the kitchen and a quick cup of coffee.

At 7:42am, Chris came walking into the kitchen with his shirtsleeves rolled up and his tie flung back over his shoulder. He tossed his suit coat on the back of the one of the kitchen chairs. He plucked a coffee cup out of the cupboard and poured himself a cup. He saw Rita sitting outside on the patio, reading the morning paper. He slid open the door and joined her. "We gotta leave in about five," he said, "anything interesting in there?" He grabbed the sports page from her lap.

"I'm looking at the sales papers," she answered.

"Ok," he paused, "so anything you want on sale?" he asked.

"Lots I want, nothing really that I need," she said with a smile. "I'm ready anytime you are," she said watching him balance his cup of coffee while trying to turn the page of the paper. "Why don't you just set the cup down Sam? It might make it easier," she laughed.

He absently heard what she said and put the cup on the ground beside him. "They got a college basketball preview in here already, the season doesn't start for another month or so," he let out a 'ha.'

"And where is your beloved Michigan in the poll?" she asked.

"Barely even registering, it's the same old thing, you know, Duke, North Carolina, practically everyone in the ACC," he said, beginning to loose her with his basketball jargon.

"What's the ACC again?" she asked, wanting to show an interest in something he liked.

"Atlantic Coast Conference," he explained continuing to read, "that's where Duke and North Carolina play in."

"Oh," she started, "so is that cute little Wojo guy gonna play again?" she wondered.

"He graduated remember?" he said, still lost in he article.

"So he's a pro now?" she asked.

"Not at 5'5" he's not, I think I read or heard somewhere that he was gonna coach though," he said, folding up the paper and tucking it under his arm, "should we go?"

"I'm all set," she replied.


It was actually 8:08am when they sauntered through the Palm Tree doors of the Homicide Department. Cap was immediately standing in the doorway of his office, "You two are late, get in here now," he bellowed.

Chris rolled his eyes and allowed Rita to enter first. They both sat down in chairs across from Harry's desk.

"Nice of you two to show up this morning," he started in on them, "I just figured maybe you'd rub off on him Lance and not the other way, but I guess I was wrong," Harry nodded to Rita. Chris wanted to butt in and say something but Harry kept right on going. "Maybe you two can manage to get in here on time like everyone else. How many more rules do you two have to break anyway?" he sarcastically ended.

"Well, we were here until almost three this morning Cap, is anything wrong?" Rita sensed a potential problem was looming, while trying to defend herself and Chris.

Cap shook his head for flying off the handle, "Nah, well yeah, I guess so," he said shrugging a little, "Frannie was in a fender bender yesterday. Well, to the other car it was a fender bender, our car looks like the end of the world, it's down at the body shop already. They said it'll be a few days at least and now with the weekend coming up, Frannie's supposed to go with some girl friends down to Fort Lauderdale for a canasta tournament this weekend and she was gonna drive. She doesn't trust the gray hairs she goes with to drive. So I have to let her take mine and I guess I'll be without a car this weekend and I wanted to head down to Miami for a baseball card show. Plus I gotta take her over to the doctor's office at two, to have her checked out for any injury. She's been complaining about her knee all night long, she kept me up."

Chris and Rita looked at each other and smiled. Chris nodded at her. She knew immediately what he was thinking. "Cap, you can use one of our cars, please," she begged.

"Nah, I couldn't, you guys need them too," he put up his hands.

"We're not taking no for an answer Cap, you and Fran do so much for us, the least we can do is let you borrow one of our cars for a few days. It's no biggie at all," Chris interjected.

"We're just gonna probably hang around at home anyway. You and Fran both have plans, you should go," Rita added.

"So which one would you prefer Cap? Rita's sporty convertible or the all purpose-all terrain Chris Lorenzo Jeep Grand Cherokee?" Chris said proudly.

"You selling it to me or letting me borrow it Lorenzo?" Cap asked with a smirk.

"Ha," Chris let out, "your choice Cap," he added.

"Are you really sure you want to do this?" he asked them again.

"Cap, come on, yeah we do, so what's it gonna be?" Rita chimed in.

"Ok, ok, I'll take the LeBaron, since Lorenzo here, seems so fond of the Jeep," he said.

"Good decision Cap," Chris said with a grin. "We came together this morning, but we'll pick up Rita's car over lunch so you'll have it this afternoon ok?"

"I really appreciate this you guys," Cap said.

"Good, so are we forgiven for being late this morning?" Rita questioned.

"This time I'll let it slide. So where are we on the Hennessy case?" Cap said.

Chris whipped out his notepad and began to turn a few pages to his information. "Dorothy Hennessy was 45, married to and divorced from Lawrence Hennessy of Stimco Inc. They have two children, a daughter, Charmaine who is 20 and a son, Mitchell who is 19. The daughter lived with the Mother, the son is away at school at Northwestern. Lawrence still lives in Palm Beach too, in a five-bedroom condo on the waterfront. The divorce according to him and the kids was amicable. They claim that they were still friends."

"They all say that, Lorenzo. Did you find anything out on cause of death or anything?" Cap asked.

"According to Diana, it's some kind of blunt object to the back of her head. She thinks Mrs. Hennessy may have been struck more than once too. I guess she found several layers of bruising initially. I'm going back to talk with her right after we finish in here," Rita said.

"What about you Lorenzo?" Cap asked.

"I'm still trying to get some more background info on Lawrence and even on Dorothy. This whole family is fairly tight lipped. There's not a lot of info out there on any of them. So, I'll be cozing up to my computer for a while," Chris explained.

"Alright, just keep me posted, I'm starting to hear some rumbling from up top on this one and I'm not quite sure why, so let's try to turn it around...." Chris let out an overpowering yawn which interrupted Cap's pep talk, "whattsa matter Lorenzo? Not enough sleep? Nah, don't answer that, I don't want to know."

"Cap we worked till almost three am this morning, remember? So yeah, I didn't get enough sleep, Rita didn't either, but that's it, I swear, we're both just tired," Chris explained.

"I've heard all the excuses in the book Lorenzo, in fact I've used most of them myself. You know how Frannie is, she practically invented love, I swear, so you two are not fooling me one bit," Cap said as Chris and Rita both rose from their chairs and were ready to head out. "So you two don't have any plans for the weekend huh? Already falling into the 'you don't know what to do with each other' stage right?" Harry prodded them.

Chris gave him a puzzled look while Rita tried to explain, "No, it's more like the 'we've got a wedding to plan and a mortgage payment to make' stage. You gotta do what you gotta do Cap, you know?" she said sauntering back to her desk.

Cap grabbed Chris by the arm and held him up momentarily, "Lorenzo, you've got yourself one hell of woman there!"

"Believe me Cap, I know," and in a lower tone he added, "don't let her fool you though, this week has been exhausting for both of us, I think we're going end up sleeping all weekend long. And I'm talking eyes closed, snoring, sleeping," Chris explained. "So don't worry about using the car, we're happy to help."

"Yeah, I bet, and thanks kid," Harry said grinning.


Chris moseyed back to his desk. It was piled high with files, folders and computer printouts. He groaned as he walked past it to find his chair, which was beginning to turn into overflow from his desk. About eight phone messages were strewn across his chair.

"Your desk is a disaster area," Rita commented while on hold on her phone.

"Thanks for noticing," he replied sarcastically.

"You know, technically as your supervisor, I should tell you that you have to clean it up today. I mean, you're bringing the whole office down Sam, look around," Rita said.

Chris scanned the room. Sure enough, she was right. "Does it have to be today?" he said tilting his head.

"Are you suggesting you have something more important to do Sergeant?" she asked with the faintest of grins.

"Let's see," he paused tapping his lip with his index finger, "there's this homicide investigation that I'm trying to solve. And then I thought maybe, I'd have dinner with my fiancée tonight. I really haven't seen her all week in a social setting that is," he said giving her a romantic stare.

"So what you're saying is that your personal life comes before your professional life, Sergeant Lorenzo?" she questioned.

"All I'm saying is that my supervisor is one very understanding lady. She knows that I'll get to my desk one of these days. She's very compassionate about her officer's personal lives. She knows how important they are to ones sanity," Chris continued.

"I've heard the same thing about her. You're a very lucky man," she said, sitting up quickly as the person on the other end of the phone had finally picked up. Chris grinned at her and she smiled back while she began to talk. "Yes, Ms. Blair, this is Lieutenant Lance, from the Palm Beach Police Department," silence as Rita listened, "yes, that's correct, we're investigating the murder of Dorothy Hennessy," silence again. "Well if I could just stop by later this morning perhaps and speak with you for a few minutes, face to face, yes, that would be fine. About 10:30 then? Ok, thank you Ms. Blair," Rita hung up. "Ok, I'll get with her later this morning and she better not keep me waiting for hmmm, eight minutes," Rita said looking at her phone for the time duration of the call. "Sometimes these people have no realization about how valuable time is in a homicide investigation," she said shaking her head.

"We're talking about murder here, Sam, that's inconvenient to everyone, all the way around," Chris said, now standing and trying to sort through some of the mess at his desk. A pile of folders slid and landed on Rita's desk. He went to gather them up, "Sorry Sam," he said as he casually brushed along side of her. He gave her a smoldering look.

"You know, I really have to see about getting my own office again, soon," she said, watching him gather up his mess and enjoying the closeness between them.

"I would really like that too, Lieutenant Lance," he began, "a little privacy, a locked door, closed blinds, brings a whole new meaning to the word work, wouldn't you say?"

She eyed him up and down in return, "I believe that you are catching my drift exactly Sergeant." He was loosing himself right there in the squad room. Just a few carefully chosen words, the way she lowered her voice to say them and the body language she used to convey it all had him reeling. "For now though, get to work and I mean real work Sergeant," she added, totally shattering the moment.

"Somehow I sense that you are just enjoying this whole Lieutenant thing just a little bit too much, am I right Lieutenant?" he said, scowling his face at her.

"It is mine to enjoy, isn't it?" she said raising her eyebrows. "Listen, I'm gonna head down and see Diana, then hopefully get over to see Ms. Blair by 10:30am. How 'bout I meet you in the parking lot at noon and we can eat lunch at home and pick up the car for Cap?"

"You told Ms. Blair that it would only take a few minutes and yet you're blocking off an hour and a half for her?" Chris looked up at her.

"Ok, you caught me, I'm gonna go run a few errands ok. I was going to go last night, but we both know that was impossible, so I'm gonna do it this morning ok? I'll have my phone if you need me for something else," she said.

"Sounds like a plan Sammy. Say, maybe you could pick something up for our little dinner tonight," he said.

"I was planning on stopping at the grocery store," she answered matter of factly, not catching his drift.

"Who said I was talking about food?" he said, watching her shake her head as she walked out of the office.


Sometimes the life of a police Lieutenant wasn't quite so bad. Although she was somewhat exhausted this morning, Rita set the pace for her morning, which turned out to be slow and casual. She had called Diana down in the morgue and they agreed to go for coffee around the corner from police headquarters. They'd mix a little business with pleasure. First they'd discuss the case, then they'd focus in on their personal lives. It had been a few weeks since the two of them had done any serious friendship- type activity. It was one of those things that Chris never really understood. It wasn't that he was jealous of Rita having a friend like Diana, it was just that, well as Rita described it, the friendship between two women was quite a bit different from the friendship of two men. As an example, Chris would be content to play basketball for three hours with his best friend, the extent of their conversation would be, 'hey, nice shot man, and 'thanks, see you next week.' She tried to explain to him that women's conversations went a bit deeper. He tried to suggest then that it was like the conversations they themselves had. Rita agreed to a point, but still defended that it was uniquely different. His face frowned and all but gave up on ever trying to figure out just what she was talking about. It was best for him just to leave it alone.

Rita walked down to Diana's office and knocked on the partially open door. "Anyone here," she said, peering in to see Diana furiously writing down some notes.

"Hi, Rita, come on in for a sec. I just want to finish jotting down these findings, hang on ok?" she said, still scribbling.

"Sure no problem," she said, walking in and looking around Diana's tiny but efficient office. Diana had a couple of large pictures up on two of the walls, very bright, colorful, abstract type prints. The rest of the room was largely work related. There were shelves stacked with medical books and magazines. On the corner of her desk was a 5x7 of Tre and Diana.

"You know what I hate about work?" Diana began.

"What?" Rita said, sitting down on the chair across from the desk.

"Work!" she said.

"Yeah, it does get in the way doesn't it!" Rita chuckled.

"So, we're going for coffee right? I need it bad girl," Diana started to rise.

"You and me both, I'm running on about three hours of sleep this morning, I need caffeine so bad, I might need you to start a direct line into my vein," she joked.

"Three hours huh, you two aren't slowing down one bit are you?" Diana asked suggestfully.

Rita threw her a glare, "we worked, that's all! Till about three am. Why is it that no one is believing us?" They started walking down the hall.

"Because we all know both of you. You know, you two fought off your feelings for each other for so long already, I think we all see you now as some out of control fire. You may cool down momentarily, thinking you're under control, but then someone just pours a little more kerosene on ya and you're right back at it," Diana explained. "Face it Rita, the two of you won't stop for a long time!"

Rita shook her head in disbelief, "Not that we'd want too! I didn't know our relationship was such a hotbed of gossip for everyone?"

Diana laughed out loud, "Are you kidding? The story of you two is legendary around here. Every day I hear something new, some new rumor. It's better than 'Melrose Place.'

"So what's the latest?" Rita's interest was definitely peaked.

"Basically, everyone's trying to figure out how you managed to stay partners and how you got promoted. Some people are saying that Chief Sondheim is your real Father, others are saying that Chris' Mom paid him off," she stopped and giggled and wanted to continue but couldn't, "that is, either with money or some other way," she raised her eyebrows.

"Well, we're not officially partners anymore! Oh God, I hope Chris doesn't hear the one about his Mother," Rita noticed Diana was holding back, "wait there's more isn't there?" Diana nodded, now laughing hysterically. Rita stopped her from walking, "what? Tell me what else?" she said, now laughing too.

Diana couldn't stop laughing, between the guffaws, she managed to choke out, "someone even suggested that you're sleeping with Sondheim and that Chris doesn't know."

Rita started laughing just as hard as Diana. Then she got really serious, "I am, they're absolutely right." Diana stopped and looked at her stoic face. For a second she believed it. Rita started laughing again, as did Diana. "Sondheim is not only old enough to be my Father, he's old enough to be my Grandfather. He's bald, overweight, has bad teeth, smells like a Cuban cigar, and looks like Ernest Borgnine on a good day. What would I possibly see in him? Besides an opportunity to get ahead that is?" She laughed when she questioned herself. Chris is gonna die when he hears this."

"I can't believe how ridiculous people can get, I guess it just beats their own lives," Diana said.

"Yeah, maybe. You know rumors are one thing, I just hope no one gets out of hand with any of this though. Something like that could get end up hurting a lot of people," Rita responded.

The hot, humid air of late September hit them as they stepped out of the air-conditioned building. "So, are you hearing anything about me and Tre?" Diana wondered.

"Well, I must swing on a different grapevine than you, because all I've been hearing is how happy the two of you look out in public," Rita began. "Plus, your whole situation is different, it's ok for the two of you to date. You're not breaking any rules or anything."

"But people still gossip anyway, Tre heard something the other day, he won't tell me, but it really upset him," Diana started, sounding a bit saddened.

"Diana, you know how sensitive Tre is, he lets everything get to him," Rita said trying to cheer her back up.

"I know, that's why I'd like to find out what he heard, to find out for myself if he's just jumping off the deep end again," she said beginning to smile.

"Maybe Chris can find out, I'll be glad to ask him," Rita offered.

"You know how guys are Rita, they never talk about stuff like this," Diana said.

"Yeah, I know, but believe me, Chris will love doing this. And I'll be able to prove a point," she said.


While they had their coffee, they began to discuss the murder of Dorothy Hennessy. "I don't think Mrs. Hennessy was surprised by the person," Diana began.

"What makes you think that?" Rita asked.

"The reflex when you get hit from behind like that is that your arms raise up on impact. The muscles in her arms were completely relaxed," Diana explained.

"So what are you saying?" Rita looked puzzled.

"That's my job for the rest of the day. I think the blows to the back of her head did indeed kill her, but I also think that something else put her into a state of euphoria or unexpectedness perhaps," Diana said, "I just got the feeling, she didn't know what hit her."

"So, maybe drugs?" Rita questioned.

"Maybe, I'll know more after I run some tests. You might want to start seeking out more than one suspect," she said with a smile.

"I might want to seek out one suspect to begin with. We have no leads at all on this one. Her kids loved her, one is away at school, with an alibi, her ex-husband was very pleasant, he doesn't appear to have any grudges. It's a very tight-lipped family. In fact, the whole neighborhood has been quiet. It's weird, but no one heard or saw anything suspicious," Rita responded shaking her head.

"Maybe she had a lover?" Diana offered.

"If she did, no one is saying anything. I'm meeting with the live-in house cleaner later this morning. Hopefully, she'll give me something I can use," Rita said. She glanced at her watch. It was only about quarter to ten. "Say, do you know where I can find a Snap-On tool?" she asked Diana.

"A what?" Diana said.

Rita giggled. "It's a long story, but the short of it is, I want to give Chris a little surprise tonight and I have to find a 6/10th's metric pipe wrench and it has to be a Snap-On, otherwise it won't be exactly what he wants," she laughed some more as she explained the situation.

"You know the gossip I could start with this?" Diana asked.

"Yeah, but you won't," she laughed. "I'm serious, do you know where I should even start looking?"

"How about a hardware store?" Diana said.

"I called Home Depot this morning, they don't carry the Snap-On brand," Rita said.

"Hey, Mordente's Place is right around the corner. They are so upscale they just might carry whatever it is you're looking for. Let's take a walk," Diana said, getting up, with Rita following close behind.

"This place is so expensive. Chris wants to do wedding registry with them as a joke, just to see if anyone really shops here," Rita said as they walked.

"They oughta be on Worth Avenue with the prices they charge. But I bet if anyone has that brand, it's gonna be them," Diana said as they entered the glitzy, quirky hardware store. They were immediately greeted by a delightful elderly gentleman named Arthur.

"Good morning ladies, welcome to Mordente's Place, my name is Arthur, may I be of some service to you?" he pleasantly said as he held the door open for them. As they entered, he followed closely behind them and another elderly gentleman took his place at the door, ready for the next customer.

"Talk about great service," Rita murmured to Diana.

"At Mordente's Place, we believe excellent customer service is why we stay in business," Arthur said, "and I apologize for listening in, but again, how can I help you this fine morning?" He sounded like a television commercial that was totally unrealistic, but here they were being treated like queens by this charming man. "I assume this is your first time here, am I correct?"

"Yes, yes it is Arthur," Rita began, "and I'm looking for a 6/10th's metric pipe wrench and it has to be a Snap-On tool. Do you carry that brand?

"Absolutely Miss, please follow me," he said, leading them to the tool area. "Snap-On tools are the best made. They are guaranteed for life, don't ya know? Usually only contractors or companies spend that kind of money on tools. They're a bit pricey, but well worth every penny. Having a plumbing problem heh?" he inquired as he continued to lead them.

"Yeah, well, actually Arthur, the tool is for my fiancé. He says that he has every size except the 6/10th's and apparently that's what the pipe needs," she somehow felt compelled to tell Arthur the whole story. Diana fell behind and held her laughter in. Rita caught her smiling broadly out of the corner of her eye.

"I'm surprised he didn't write down the exact thing for you. Most men do when it comes to these things. He must trust you implicitly to just have you put it to mind," Arthur continued to banter.

"It's actually going to be a present for him Arthur. He hasn't had the time to pick one up himself, so I thought I'd surprise him and give it to him as a gift of sorts."

Arthur flashed a smile of his own, "Aren't you a peach? My Mary was the same way, God rest her soul. It's those little things that stick out in a man's mind. We all act like it's not a big deal, but we remember, believe me hon, we remember. Makes us feel real special," he emphasized the real. Rita smiled warmly in return. They stopped at the display. "Now you're sure it was a 6/10th's?" he asked again.

"Yes, I'm sure," Rita said.

Arthur plucked one off the rack and handed it to her, like he had just pulled out the sword in the stone. Rita reluctantly held the heavy metal object in her hand, while trying to figure out how much this would set her back. Apparently, Mordente's Place didn't believe in price tags.

"That's the one," Arthur said as he stepped back and watched Rita hold it.

"Oh, it's beautiful, Rita!" Diana said sarcastically, "Chris will just love it," she added, playing up the whole situation.

Rita glared at Diana and turned back toward Arthur, "So how much is this little baby going to cost me Arthur?" she asked.

"It's actually on sale today for $44.95, all the Snap-On's are on sale this week," he explained. "Shall I ring it up for you?"

Her heart skipped a beat when she heard the price. But she heard Chris' voice telling her that it had to be a Snap-On. She also knew that his Dad, also known these days as Moneybags Benny, had gotten Chris started with the tool set years ago. Every holiday and birthday he added to Chris' collection, she knew he'd settle for nothing less. And to be honest, he probably shouldn't. She also cursed Benny a little for spoiling Chris, but here she was about to do the same. "Will you take a card Arthur?" she asked.

"Absolutely Miss, absolutely," Arthur replied. "Would you or your friend be needing anything else today?"

Diana shook her head and held up her hands, "Not for me, I'm not engaged yet Arthur, but I'll definitely remember Mordente's Place when I am," she said with a laugh.

Arthur nodded politely. "Follow me please," he said.


They walked out silently and as soon as Arthur closed the door behind them, they busted out into laughter. "What an experience that was!" Rita said. "Chris better appreciate this," she added

"That is one great store," Diana said, spinning back around to look at the front. She waved at Arthur who stood waiting at the door for his next customer. He waved back.

"It should be for $44.95. It's a wrench for crying out loud," Rita said, pulling it out of the bag to look at it.

"Careful, don't drop it," Diana said jokingly.

Rita placed it back inside the bag, "Can you keep this in your office till later? I don't want Chris to see it yet," she asked.

"You're going to trust me with it? I'm honored," she said. "Sure no prob, I'll have my patients guard it for you."

"With what, their lives? Thanks," Rita said laughing.


"Lorenzo, get in here, now!" Cap shouted from inside his office.

Chris was making no headway on either his desk mess or the homicide case. Was Cap gonna call him on it, he wondered as he saved the file on his laptop and headed into the familiar office? "Yeah Cap, what's up?" he said, sticking his head in the doorway.

"Come in and close the door," Cap began. Chris followed orders and plopped down in a chair. Cap began to talk into the speaker of his phone. "Yeah, Lou, he's here, go ahead," he said.

"Hey Chris, it's Lieutenant Hudson, how you doin'?" he asked.

Chris sat up a little straighter in the chair, "Good Lieutenant, how 'bout yourself?" he asked in return.

"I'm doing fine," he said shortly. "I need a favor Chris, right away," he added.

Chris glanced at Cap who quickly nodded his approval, "Sure, what's up?"

"I'm down at the gym right now, we're doing some training with a new batch of rookies. Ben Robertson just twisted his ankle something fierce, he's a great boxer, you know? That just leaves me with Daggert. He needs a partner and I need to get these guys through this session this morning. Harry said you could maybe help," Hudson said.

"What do you need me to do?" Chris asked, a little unsure of what lay ahead of him.

"We're doing the boxing run Chris, and Robertson and Daggert are the only certified guys we got. But then I remembered that you can more than hold your own in the ring. I remembered you sparred with Newlin a few years back. You still box don't you?"

Chris started to shake his head, "not in a ring Sir, just for exercise mostly," Chris tried to explain, "I don't think I'm ready for that," he tried to get out of it.

"Listen, it's just for a couple of hours, like I said, we gotta move these guys through this today and Robertson is out. Come on, Daggert won't hurt you," he added.

Like hell he wouldn't. Chris immediately began to think back to his own rookie training. Hudson was right, Robertson was a great boxer, but Daggert was even greater. At the time, Chris had only been in a ring once or twice before. Thank God he had athletic talent. He was lucky enough to get in one pretty good punch on Daggert during the session. It had sent Daggert to the ground for an eight count. The next thing Chris remembered was being hauled out on a backboard. Daggert didn't like getting hit and if someone was lucky enough to tag him, he would make them pay the price. In his nineteen years on the force, Daggert had only been sent to the canvas twice, once by Robertson and once by Chris. Daggert never forgot and neither did Chris. Chris just avoided him anytime he was in the same area. He didn't even know Daggert's first name. He was as solid as a rock and twice as mean. At forty years old, he was showing no signs of slowing down or getting soft. He had gotten his badge at the tender age of 21, by 22 he had been critically wounded. His days on the street were over, his career turned to the training of other officers. For a number of years he trained men and women that were older than he was. His only way to survive was to show that he was tougher than they were. He had the respect of just about everyone. Everyone that it, except Chris. Chris respected Daggert and all that he had earned and accomplished, but when he had sent Chris down to the canvas, Chris felt he did it with malice, with revenge and hatred. He had done it to hurt Chris. And Chris had no respect for that. After all, they were both on the same side was how Chris saw it. Chris heard Lieutenant Hudson's voice in the background pulling him out of his memory.

"So, you and Daggert show these guys some punches then you go three rounds. You know, you show them how it's done. You'll be done by noon, I promise," Hudson said.

"You know Lieutenant, I'd love to give you a hand, but I'm really not prepared to do this. Maybe give me a few days to work out a little?" Chris nearly begged him.

"I can't do that Chris, I can't let these guys slip that far behind. It's gotta be this morning. I'll just tell Daggert to take it easy on you," Hudson promised.

Chris grimaced a little at the phone as Harry looked on. "I think you need to sweeten the pot Lou," Harry said into the speaker.

"Ok, ok, I was holding this out as a last resort. The Department's willing to give you and Rita each an extra week of vacation. I guess they think you'll need it for the wedding or the honeymoon," Hudson was saying.

Chris perked up immediately, "You're serious? Both of us? Just for getting in the ring with Daggert?"

Harry shook his head affirmatively. "Yeah, Chris, we know all about what happened the last time you got in the ring with him. We knew we'd have to ante up," Hudson explained.

"Well, I guess I'll be down in about fifteen minutes," Chris said.

Cap hung up the speakerphone, "it beats cleaning a desk, doesn't it Lorenzo?" he called out after him ad Chris exited the office.

"Not if he beats the daylight out of me it doesn't," he muttered to himself.


Chris headed down to the locker room. He always kept some workout gear at work. The department had a fairly nice gym for shooting baskets as well as some nice equipment for lifting weights and toning up. It beat joining a health club. As he entered, he saw Hudson marching out the four recruits. Three of them were about his size, the fourth one towered over him and outweighed him by at least fifty pounds. A few other officers were in the locker room preparing for a workout. Chris strolled over to his locker and noticed Daggert out of the corner of his eye. He hadn't changed from the last time he saw him. He certainly had his game face on. He always had his game face on. Daggert felt the stare and glanced over to see Chris. He nodded out of courtesy and continued to tape up his hands. Chris kept on walking and shook his head.

"Hey Lorenzo, I just heard you're ready to get carried out on a backboard again, good luck man," Derek came by and slapped Chris on the back. Derek and Chris had been rookies together and Derek had seen the whole episode years ago.

"You're funny Derek," Chris said, "Don't you have some place else to be, like maybe work perhaps?"

"And miss the fight of the decade? No way! I'm the one who told Hudson that you boxed! He wanted me to get in the ring with that chunk," Derek sat beside him. "I told him that I had a hang nail," he said holding up his finger and chewing on it.

Chris looked disgustedly at him, "You told him what?"

"That I have a hang nail or that you boxed?" Derek said, acting innocent.

"That I box?" Chris began, "You know what happened the first time. I can't believe you'd tell him that I'd fight him."

"See that's where you've got it all wrong Christopher, you're going to box him, not fight him. Remember boxing is a science, an art form of sorts," Derek said, putting his arm around Chris' shoulders.

"The only thing that makes it an art form is that the canvas is gonna be splattered with red. And that'll probably be my blood," Chris said, stripping off his tie and dress shirt. "Geez, Derek, you know Daggert has never forgotten me. We make sure we avoid each other at all costs. He's probably sorry that he didn't kill me the first time around."

"Daggert's not that kind of guy," Derek said seriously.

"Yeah, well you're not the guy who landed a punch on him that gave him an eight count remember?" Chris said in his own defense. "I'm only doing this for the extra vacation time. I figure I'll dance around, jab a little, protect my face and run like hell if he comes after me. It's only three rounds, right?"

Derek laughed, "Right!," he said with little enthusiasm, "well then, I'm your corner man this morning and that sounds like a good game plan. Let me grab some tape and get you ready for Mr. Daggert," Derek said, standing up.


Daggert walked past them as Derek was fitting the gloves on Chris' hands. Chris could feel his heart start to race. Daggert was a muscle head from top to bottom. His little toe could probably bench-press a few hundred pounds. You'd never know from looking at the guy that he was on a medical. He could outrun, out box, out hustle most of the men on the force. As for the women, boxing was still optional for them and only one had been brave enough to attempt it. She went down four seconds in. Rita said she'd rather concede defeat, than get in a boxing ring with the likes of Daggert. He had a wild-eyed, sinister, frightful look on his face. His intensity was endless. The only guy he hung out with on the force was Robertson. Daggert was married and had two kids. They never came to any police functions. But Daggert always was in the honor guard when an officer was killed. He was definitely a rare breed.

Derek gently slapped Chris on the face, "you ready man? Let's go!"

Chris came too and nodded. "You got the mouthguard?"

"Yeah, and the spit bucket and the bandages and the backboard," Derek added.

"For a corner man, you're not very motivational," Chris said, trying to loosen up.

"Ok, how's this, let's win one for the Gipper," Derek said, following Chris into the gym.

"That's better but it's the wrong sport," Chris said, bounding up the three steps into the ring. Derek climbed up, but stayed on the outside of the ring. The four recruits sat in a straight line, listening closely to Lieutenant Hudson who was wrapping up the lecture on boxing. It was time for the practical lesson.

Chris lightly jogged around the ring and threw a few air punches just to stay loose. He had warmed up in the locker room area, so he was just maintaining his level of exercise. In the other corner Daggert stood still, merely throwing punches from his statue-like position. He glared at Chris.

Lieutenant Hudson climbed up into the ring and called them both to the center. "Ok, first let's show these recruits the punches. Chris, let's have you demonstrate on Daggert. We'll save you for the real thing in a few minutes, ok." Chris and Daggert both nodded.

"Ok, listen up, we're just gonna take a few minutes to show you the punches for real, not what they look like in a book, Sergeant Lorenzo here will throw them, Officer Daggert will receive them," Hudson explained to the four young men.

Daggert had no problem blocking or taking any of Chris' shots in this preliminary lesson. Not that Chris was trying to hurt him or anything, but he wasn't fooling him in any way either. He was about to face the longest nine minutes of his life.

Hudson once again stepped forward to talk to the rookies. "What we're about to do now is give you an actual three round lesson right now. Sergeant Lorenzo has graciously agreed to leave his cushy homicide desk for this morning to help us out here. Officer Robertson twisted his ankle this morning and will be out of action for a few days. And I've got a promise from Officer Daggert here, that he'll show little mercy for Sergeant Lorenzo, he wants you to see the real thing." Chris gave a head nod and smirked when he heard Hudson say that. "Ok, you guys ready?" They both nodded. "Let's show 'em how it's done."

Chris went over to his corner and spit out his mouth guard. "Give me some water," he said to Derek. Derek obliged. "Did you see the look in his eyes?" Chris asked him.

"Not to worry, he looks that way all the time," Derek tried to make a joke.

"You know we could really stop crime easily with this guy on the streets, all we need to do is clone his face and post it up around town. He'd scare anyone straight," Chris said.

Hudson walked over to their corner, "I thought you said you were ready?"

"I am, I am," Chris said as Derek shoved the mouthguard back in his face. He held onto the top rope and did a deep knee bend and came bobbing back up and spun around. He tapped his gloves together and tried to avoid eye contact with "Attila" Daggert.

Chris heard the bell sound. It sounded remotely like the alarm clock this morning. He headed toward the center of the ring. He tried to stay with the basics, light on your feet, up on your toes, gloves up to protect and counter, keep moving. He quickly glided around the outside part of the inner ring, almost running at times, trying to stay away from Daggert. Daggert circled directly in the center of the ring. He was on the prowl for Chris, he knew and Chris knew it.

Chris threw a few jabs that Daggert easily blocked and countered. Chris' head snapped back every time Daggert tagged him. He just needed to keep moving and stay away from his right hand. That's what had put Chris down the first time.

During the first fight, Chris had slipped in a left hook that had clocked Daggert in the temple. For a brief minute, young Chris Lorenzo showed a bit of promise as a boxer as Daggert had taken the eight count sitting on the canvas. The minute Daggert got up, any promise was quickly erased as Daggert stalked Chris, backed him into a corner and began to pummel him. The round ended. As Chris was helped back to his corner, someone asked if he wanted to quit. He shook his head, probably not understanding the question, rather to clear the cobwebs. The fight was allowed to continue. Just seconds into the next round, Daggert once again hunted Chris down and delivered the shattering right hand to Chris' head. He went down like a ton of bricks and was out cold for nearly ten minutes. It was one memory Chris was glad he couldn't remember.

Daggert's style hadn't changed much. He still tracked down his opponent, waiting and plotting for his opportunity. Chris just wanted to get through the nine minutes. Daggert thought of it as his own daily, personal mission. He certainly took his job seriously.

As the first round was coming to an end, Chris didn't realize that he was slowly and intentionally being backed into a corner. Daggert was coming closer and left Chris no way to get out, except through him. Chris put his arms and gloves up, protecting his head, leaving his body open to some crushing, breath-taking, blows. He heard the bell sounding the end of the round or was it this morning's alarm clock?

He thought he saw Daggert smile as he passed him and headed for his corner. He was sucking up air so fast he thought he'd hyperventilate. Derek held out a water bottle as Chris spit out his mouthpiece. Chris drank in the water, until Derek grabbed it away from him, "that's enough, Chris, you're gonna get sick." Chris nodded shakily, unable to speak at first,

"Dying," he breathed out.

"Nah, you're doing great, keep it up, just keep moving and don't get caught in the corners," Derek said.

"Already......Dead," Chris gasped.

Hudson walked over and looked Chris over, "can you continue?"

Chris nodded and Derek put his mouthguard back in.

Round number two began and Chris only needed to last six more minutes. The round was very similar to the first. Chris moved around the ring, jabbing from time to time. His mind was focused less on Daggert and more on just how out of shape he was for this and how much Rita would owe him for an extra week of vacation. That was his mistake. He just was having a hard time focusing. Daggert took advantage of it right away. He easily pushed Chris against the ropes and started landing smashing body blows. Since he wasn't in a corner, Chris was able to duck out from under and move away from him for a few moments. Daggert was still on the attack. This time he caught Chris with a right hook to the side of his head. Chris went sprawling to the mat. Before Hudson could count, the bell, or was it the alarm clock, sounded again.

Chris got up by himself and headed back to the corner. Derek poured some cold water over his head, which immediately cleared Chris' foggy brain. He sucked in air through both his nose and open mouth. His nose had started to bleed. Derek was quick to try to stop it.

"Told you.....bloody canvas," Chris choked out.

"That's nothing, I think you got him scared now Chris, that little duck move off the ropes was a good maneuver. Keep it up," Derek said.

Chris eyes filled with disbelief that Derek would even try to make him think he was doing anything to Daggert.

Hudson came over once again to check on Chris, "one more to go Chris, whattaya think?"

He nodded, "let's go."

The bell sounded on the final round.

Chris came out slowly, using his glove to brush away the perspiration that was pouring off his face. Before he finished wiping it away, Daggert was on top of him. Starting with more body shots, he landed one that knocked the wind out of Chris. He began to crumple over as Daggert nailed him with an uppercut to the chin. For a moment, he was out on his feet. He came to long enough to grab onto Daggert, clinging to him, trying to catch his breath and clear his head. Daggert pushed him off like a rag doll. Chris fell back and felt the ropes cushion him. He quickly put his hands up to protect his face. He peeked out to see what Daggert was up to. Daggert had dropped both his hands and was coming toward Chris. Chris' left hand rose up and clocked Daggert's jaw. Daggert's legs began to buckle. Chris bounced off the ropes and tagged Daggert with a right hand that sent him reeling backwards. Chris was just as surprised as Daggert was. He kept coming toward Daggert delivering blow after blow to his head. Daggert wasn't protecting himself at all. After a flurry of punches, Daggert finally fell down to the mat. Lieutenant Hudson stepped in between the two of them and pushed Chris back to a neutral corner. Chris moved back in shock. He had actually put Daggert to the mat again. He took his glove and adjusted the headgear he wore, making sure that he was seeing what he thought he was seeing. He glanced over to Derek who was all smiles and gave Chris the thumbs up. Daggert took an eight count and got back up. Chris moved back to the center of the ring as Hudson asked Daggert if he wanted to continue. Daggert didn't have to answer. He had that look in his eye.

Chris saw it right away and knew that death was indeed a possibility. His insides groaned from top to bottom as he saw Daggert inch closer to him. His head pleaded to his feet to get moving and stay moving. There couldn't be too much time to go in this final round. Chris started to move around the ring, avoiding all contact with Daggert. Daggert's eyes were focused on Chris. He chased him and cornered him. Chris tried to grab onto to Daggert's arms, knowing that if he didn't, Daggert would knock him down easily. Daggert wasn't willing to let Chris dance or hang on, he wanted to fight and he spun Chris around toward the center of the ring and immediately threw his right hand to Chris' head. Was that that alarm clock again?

The next thing Chris saw was Daggert standing over him in the locker room. Chris groggily tried to keep his eyes open. He heard Derek's voice in the background, "The doctor's on his way down," Chris heard him say.

"He's coming to now, I gotta get back to the rookie's," Hudson was saying.

Daggert turned away from Chris and said to Derek, "why don't you go wait for the Doc, I'll stay with him."

Chris' eyes began to focus now and he took in a deep breath and saw Derek heading out of the locker room. He'd have to remember to talk to him. What was he doing leaving him alone with Daggert? He exhaled and turned his head to see Daggert coming back toward him.

"Lorenzo, you gotta be nuts," Daggert was saying.

Chris moaned, "you're telling me," he attempted to laugh and sit up. He quickly decided against both.

"Just stay there, don't even be trying to get up yet," Daggert said, sitting down beside the training table that Chris was laying on.

"Oooh, don't worry, I might just live the rest of my life here, which, by the way I'm feeling, shouldn't be too much longer. Just tell Rita I loved her," he said, closing his eyes.

"Why in the hell would you even climb in the ring with me again?" Daggert began. "I figured you had enough twelve years ago. You've been avoiding me for that long."

"I had a carrot dangling in front of my face and I'm proud to say I earned it," Chris said.

"I hope it was worth it," Daggert said.

"It's extra time for my honeymoon, I'm sure it will be," Chris said, lifting his arms up and covering his eyes. "Why is it that you want to kill me anyway Daggert?"

Daggert laughed, "Kill you? Me kill you? I don't want to kill you, I just hate being put on the canvas. I never have. It challenges my manhood."

"It's just a sport Daggert," Chris said.

"I know that, I just can't get it through my thick skull, sometimes," Daggert replied.

"Well I can attest to that comment, not much can," Chris laughed again.

"Listen, I'm sorry, I really didn't mean to hurt you," Daggert said.

Chris finally felt strong enough to sit up. He shook his head and gave Daggert a small smile. "It's ok, I'll survive. But I guarantee you that I'll never get back into the ring with you ever again, no matter what anyone promises me."

Daggert nodded. "I understand." He got up and started to leave. He suddenly stopped and turned around. "Can I ask you something?"

"Sure, what?" Chris asked.

"It's a favor actually," Daggert began, "I work with these kids over in West Palm. Mostly teens. There a pretty bad bunch. Some have already served time. But I go over there once a week and teach them how to box. It started out with five kids. Now there's nearly thirty. I need some help. Robertson's been helping from time to time, but he's getting up there in age, and his family needs him too. So I was wondering if you'd consider it. You've got a hell of a left hand," Daggert rubbed his jaw, "I think you could teach them a lot. You're a helluva cop too."

Chris soaked in all the words Daggert was saying. He was so wrong about this guy for so many years. "Yeah, sure, let me know where I need to be and when, I'll see if I can work it out. It sounds great Daggert. I'd be glad to help."

"Good, I'm glad," Daggert actually smiled, "And it's Tim, my first name is Tim. I'll be in touch, alright?"

Chris nodded and thrust out his hand, "Chris, it's good to meet you Tim. Good to meet you, and next time when you want to ask me a favor, just ask, don't make me get in the ring with you ok?"


Ms. Blair was impatiently waiting for Rita to arrive. She had a schedule to maintain and didn't appreciate having to readjust it on account of someone else. Rita pulled up to the mansion a few minutes past 10:30am. Ms. Blair met her on the walkway leading up to the house. "What is it that you need to know anyway, Lieutenant Lance?" Ms. Blair wanted to know.

"I was wondering if you could tell me a little about Dorothy Hennessy, her husband perhaps, or her family. Anything out of the ordinary that you may be able to shed some light on, that is," Rita began as pleasantly as possible.

"I just work for them, I don't get involved in their personal lives. It's better that I don't remember anything," Ms. Blair said.

"Surely, you must see or hear some things that seem a little odd to you Ms. Blair," Rita began, "I see that you've been their housekeeper for nearly twenty years now. Every family has some incidents from time to time."

"Yes, that's true, but nothing out of the ordinary, as you put it. Just everyday things. Money, kids, jobs, all those things. But this is a good family. I'll not stand here letting you think otherwise," she said defensively.

"I'm not saying they weren't," Rita said. Ms. Blair quickly interrupted her.

"They went through the divorce pleasantly enough. All of them were sad for a while, but it's past now and things have been good. This is a good family. You'll have to look somewhere else to find Mrs. Hennessy's killer," she said as they reached the door. She quickly went inside, leaving Rita standing with her mouth open.


Rita pulled up to the station shortly after noon. Chris sat outside on a grassy incline, apparently waiting for her to arrive. She parked the car and walked over to him. He had his suitcoat off, laying next to him, hands behind his head, knees up, soaking in some rays, sunglasses on.

"Sergeant Lorenzo, don't you have any work to do?" she called out to him. He barely moved.

"That would be negative, Lieutenant. Even if I did, I don't think I could do any right now," he said, remaining in the position he was in.

She plunked down beside him and pulled off his sunglasses, "and just why is that," she said reaching down and brushing her lips against his. She could feel his mouth form a smile. She pulled back to look at him and noticed a puffy, slightly black eye. "Oh God Chris, what happened," she went to touch it.

"Ow," he shouted and winced as he began to sit up, "Sam, please don't do that," he said, gingerly putting his own hand near his face to protect himself.

"What in the world happened?" she said, turning on a motherly charm.

He began to stand up slowly, aching from head to toe. "Would you mind just driving me home, I think I need a little nap instead of lunch. I'll tell you as we go, do you mind? he said.

"Sure, no problem," she said, putting her arm around his waist. He wrapped one arm around her shoulder and actually leaned on her a little for support.

"Ohhhh," he moaned a little as they walked to the Jeep. "I did something this morning that I will regret for the rest of my life," he said.

"Are you going to tell me or do I have to guess who or what did this to you," she said, again reaching up for his face. He pulled his head away just in time.

"Come on, Sam, it hurts worse when you do that, I'm serious," he said, glancing down into her suspectful green eyes.

"So then tell me, maybe you'll feel better if you do," she said.

"I doubt that," he said with a little chuckle. "Let's just say that in order to give you and I something, I had to do something I really didn't want to ever do again. And besides that, I ended up volunteering to do something else too," he said. She didn't understand him at all.

They reached the Jeep and she opened the door for him to get in. "You," she looked at him and softly kissed him near his swollen eye, "are not making any sense." He smiled as she closed his door and walked around and got in to take the short drive home.

He briefly told her about the extra vacation time he had earned for them, which made her grin and smile up a storm. Then he proceeded to tell her about the boxing exhibition with Tim Daggert. She heard the name and knew right away from Chris' past stories that he had been in one doozy of a fight. She listened to him tell her what he could remember and how Derek had been in the corner and then how Daggert asked Chris for a favor.

"It certainly sounds like you've had quite a morning. I never thought you'd ever consider getting back in the ring with Daggert. You actually told me one night, when you were slightly intoxicated, that you were afraid of him. You said he was the only person you knew who could kill you with his bare hands. You said, even if you had your gun, you'd be afraid." Rita laughed. You're sure the doctor checked you out and you're ok? Chris?" He didn't answer. She glanced over and saw that he had fallen asleep in the car.

She pulled into the driveway. What was she going to do now? She couldn't carry him in. Maybe she could just let him sleep in the car, while she went inside and grabbed some lunch. Nah, she couldn't do that either. She took her hand and rubbed his thigh gently and called out his name, "Chris, hey, come on, we're here" he barely stirred. She tried a little harder and touched the unmarked side of his face, "Hey George Foreman, we're home, let's go inside and you can stretch out on the sofa for an hour or so."

He woke up and turned to see her smiling face, "I feel better already," he said. She kissed his waiting lips and turned to get out of the Jeep. He followed behind her slowly.

Once they were inside their house, he made his way to the living room sofa and kicked off his shoes and fell back onto the couch. He was asleep again before you knew it. Rita made herself a sandwich, went into the living room. She sat down in a comfortable chair and put her feet up on the stool that sat in front of it. She slid off her shoes and smiled as she noticed Chris sleeping soundly again. He was gonna have one heck of a shiner. She pulled out her notes from the Hennessy case and began to look over them.

Before long they both had drifted off to some badly needed sleep. Rita woke up at about 12:45 and saw Chris slightly curled up on the sofa. He looked so comfortable and peaceful that she hated to wake him, but they needed to get back to work. She went and sat down on the floor beside him, near his face. His handsome face was not quite so handsome as nearly one quarter of it continued to swell and change color at a rapid pace. She just wanted to kiss it to make it better for him, but knowing how painful it already was, she settled on eyeing up his tender lips instead. Her hand reached up to his forehead and she lightly pushed his hair that was mashed down, back into place. She just froze and stared at him some more. Sometimes she regretted that they both held there true feelings for each other in for so long. But she also treasured the friendship they had built and knew that their future relationship had a solid foundation for all time because of it and because of all the things they had endured together. Looking at him, she wondered how either one of them had held out so long. He was beautiful through and through. She knew anything was possible, she believed it with her whole being, because she loved him more every day, and she never thought that was possible with anyone.

Rita couldn't hold back any longer. She had enough of thinking, those lips of his were like a welcoming beacon calling out to her and beckoning her to come in. She delicately brushed against them, sliding her hand deeper into his hair as she did. She turned her mouth away and let her cheek slide along his own awakening lips now. Instinctively he started to kiss her cheek, still half asleep. She heard him take a deep breath. She ran her other hand down along his arm, coming to rest in his own hand. She watched his body come to life, stretching out slowly. As he awakened even more, his face and his lips began to meander on their own, over her cheek, on to her nose, skimming across her eyelids. She felt him smile as he kissed her and returned one as well, to him. His hand released hers and trailed up her arm to her shoulder and neck, finally burying itself first in her soft hair, then behind her neck, kneading softly and lovingly.

"It's time to wake up," she murmured against the side of his face.

He ignored her at first and continued softly kissing her, it was moments before he answered. "Ah, I knew this was real, no dream ever felt this good," he said as he began to nibble along the side of her neck and throat. He dragged his lower lip up the long part of her throat, coming to rest upon her chin, then back around to her neck. He stopped for a bit and just held her close against himself. She could feel his warm breath along the side of her neck. His hand and arm cradled her head still against him. He loved the feel of her delicate skin. He said, "I love you so much," in a low, hushed tone. He held onto her like this for an eternity it seemed.

"You're not falling back to sleep are you?" she asked in a voice barely above a whisper. She almost didn't want to ask him, because she was enjoying having him snuggle her so closely and peacefully.

He shook his head no and tenderly began to kiss her again, this time working toward her mouth. When their lips met, they began slowly at first, savoring the touch and feel of the other, building slowly and passionately. He slipped his hand down and around the front of her body, inching his way closer to the silky fabric she wore covering her breasts. He undid a button on her blouse and reached inside. She let out a little sigh as he found one and began to massage it as gently through the fabric as his lips were tantalizing hers. They paused to take a breath, running their noses side to side and up and down. Her hand skimmed through his hair again and down to the back of his neck. He began running his mouth back down her chin and onto her throat, his hand now making its way to her other breast.

The phone began to ring.

Rita began to pull away, Chris tried to hold her close. "Chris," she said stretching out his name, knowing he was in agony.

"I am going to cancel our phone service," he moaned, finally pulling back and laying his head back on the sofa.

She reached over to the table and grabbed it from the handset. "Hello," she said pleasantly, glancing at Chris who still had his eyes transfixed on her. She smiled at him as she buttoned her blouse back up.

"Hi Benny, how are you?" she greeted him in return. She looked over to Chris who was now shaking his head. "No, we came home for lunch today," she continued, "no, lunch, that's all," she paused now shaking her head at Chris, "right, a sandwich and a cup of coffee, just food. Yes, your son IS a very honorable man," she laughed as Chris grinned. "So how come you're not working? Is everything alright?" Chris sat up quickly on the couch and moved to the edge of the seat.

"Is something wrong?" Chris said quietly. Rita shook her head no and smiled.

"That's not till February, remember? Benny, you don't have to do that. Well, we haven't gotten that far in planning yet. No, were not sure of that either. That, we definitely want to do. But we'll do it ok, we just have to sit down and figure it out. Hmmm, I never thought about that. It's a possibility. I actually kind of like that. Benny, I'm am going to love having you as my Father-In-Law, you are the best. I am so glad that such charm runs in the family," she paused and grinned at Chris. "I love you too, here's Chris," she said handing the phone to him and kissing his forehead as she stood up and started to get herself together.

"Hey Pop, you ok? How was the check-up on Wednesday, you never called. Good. And the blood count? That's a bit low, what did the doctor say? Ummhmm, yeah, well listen to him. If it gets too cold up there, you can come down here and stay with me and Rita. No Pop, it's no trouble. We'd love having you." Chris stood up and walked into the kitchen and went to the refrigerator and peered inside for something to snack on. "Yeah, I'm still here, well you're rambling Pop. It's February, February 13th. Listen Pop, you're sure you're ok? Alright, I believe you, you always have a lot on your mind, I know. What case? Yeah, I think I did read something about that. Six figures, wow, yeah I see how that would tend to clutter your mind, all that math and everything. No, you don't..... Come on Pop, we can't....... I know that's what Rita said too, she's right. Alright, we'll think about it. Yes, I promise. Yeah, ok, I'll watch for it in the mail. And I'll look it over. If it's something we agree on, of course I'll sign it. We will look it over carefully. And we'll call you if we have any questions. Maybe we'll just deal with Mike. I know he'd enjoy that. It might put you in your place too. Yeah, I miss you too Pop, you take it easy ok? Love ya, yeah, bye," Chris said hanging up the phone.

He turned around and saw Rita making another sandwich along the opposite counter. He let out a heavy sigh. Then he let out a 'ha' and shook his head. She didn't even bother to turn around. "He wants to pay for the wedding," Chris said.

"I know, he told me too," she continued to pile some sandwich meat on top of the bread.

"How do I tell him he doesn't have to do these things? I mean for crying out loud, I'm 33 years old and he bought me the car I'm driving," Chris ran his fingers through his own hair.

"Do you want cheese on your sandwich?" Rita asked, ignoring his tirade.

"Do we still have any of that sharp cheddar?" he asked raising his eyebrows. She held up the cheese for him to see. "Then yes, I'll have some of that, Sammy, are you even listening to me?"

"Of course I am, you just said you wanted cheese on your sandwich," she said giggling.

"I mean about Benny. You know he's gonna keep after us until we break down. Whatta you think?" he asked in a whiny tone.

"He's your Father Chris," she stopped.

He walked over and stood behind her, placing his hands on her hips, "Oh no, no, you're not pulling that on me, remember we're in this mess together. And I know you don't like this any better than I do. How do we say no without hurting his feelings?"

"Who says we have to say no?" she asked, turning in his loose embrace, delivering the sandwich to his mouth. He took out a bite.

"So you think we should let him, but he said that you told him no too," Chris said, chewing and swallowing at the same time.

"You shouldn't talk with your mouth full," she said, moving toward the sink. "And yeah, I said that, but that's always suppose to be your first reaction when someone offers you a ton of money. It's called being polite."

"Ah, reverse psychology in a way huh?" he said, already half way done with the sandwich.

"Well I don't think we should let him pick up the entire tab, but we should probably let him help out, he obviously wants to," she said, rinsing off some dishes.

"I think I'll let you tell him, he listens to you," Chris said, downing the last bite.

"He listens to you too, when you have the nerve to tell him. How 'bout we both tell him," she said handing him some paper towel. He nodded. "You know he wants to send us on our honeymoon too! That I said absolutely no too," she said.

"Agreed, and besides, if he helps us out with the wedding, we'll easily be able to afford a honeymoon on our own," he said with a smile.

"Christopher," she chastised him.

"It's true," he said turning serious, "he's also sending me, err, us I mean, his legal papers for a living will and trust and power of attorney, that kind of stuff. He wants us to look it over and sign it. Just in case, I guess," he said sadly. He dropped his head.

She watched his mood change completely and went to him and gathered him into a hug. "It's just a natural thing to do Chris. You're his only son. It doesn't mean he's gonna die tomorrow," she said rubbing his back. "I think it's probably a good idea. And you know how much he loves you, this is just one way he likes to show it. We've talked about this before. Granted, it takes a little getting used to, but it is kinda fun, don't ya think?" she asked, trying to lighten his spirit.

He pulled back and saw her eyes glistening with happiness. "Yeah, I do. I love that blasted Jeep, and the fact he's sending George to college, now the wedding! Damn, he's shrewd, all those years helping out me and Grandma Rose, he's certainly done alright for himself. I'd love to sneak a peak at his bank account and stock portfolio sometime. Maybe I should have become an attorney?" he replied.

"Maybe you should ask him if you're that interested, he'd probably get a kick out of it, you know he loves it when you show an interest in him," Rita offered. "He's your Dad Chris, you don't have to be afraid of him," she added.

He crinkled his nose, "I'm not afraid of him," he said standing up a little straighter.

She nodded her head affirmatively, "oh yeah, you are! You always have been, ever since I've known you. You're still nervous around him, even if it's just on the phone. I can tell."

He scratched his head and looked at her a little puzzled. "I am not in the least bit afraid of my Father," he repeated.

"Ok, so that wasn't you that was AFRAID to call him and find out what happened when you were five right? You were just acting normal when you were in here beating on the floor with a sledgehammer?" she said staring at him.

"That was a little bit different," he tried to defend himself.

"And what about not telling him you were going to the police academy until you were ready to graduate?" she continued. He cleared his throat. "And the fact that you always think that him being a lawyer is so much better than you being a cop?" She was about to continue when he interrupted her.

"I think I get your point, you can stop anytime," he said. "Why didn't you ever tell me this before?"

"Probably because your Father's only been a real presence in your life as of late. You never really talked about him all that much," she said.

"So maybe it's because having him around is so new to me?" he asked.

"Could be, but I bet you were always like that, I don't think it's something that just comes on, maybe it's cuz he just wasn't around a lot, so when you did see him, you just didn't know what to do or say, so you were just afraid."

"Thank you Dr. Mel," he said a bit astounded.

She laughed. "I'm sorry, I don't mean to analyze you, cuz I love you," she said catching his face in her hands and rubbing gently, avoiding his black eye.

"I know and you're probably right. It's like now, I'm afraid to say something wrong, I don't want to loose him again. Does that make any sense?" he asked.

She nodded, "yes it does. You should talk to your Dad, soon," she added.

"You're right," he said, "and I will," he said giving her a quick kiss, "and we need to finish what we started on the sofa."

She reluctantly pulled away, "we do, but we can't right now." He groaned. "But I do have a favor to ask you," she started, giving him one last kiss.

He smiled and held it for as long as he could, "Name it," he said

"I need you to talk to Tre," she began, "apparently he heard some kind of rumor or something about him and Diana. He won't tell her, but it's clearly bothering him, and in turn, it's bothering her."

He turned away and looked annoyed. "Ah, Sam, come on, I don't want to get tangled up in this. Who cares what other people think?"

"See this is exactly what I was talking about the other day. Women discuss this stuff. You guys have no concept of it. I just thought, maybe," she stretched out the maybe.

"No, ok, stop right there," he said, holding up his hand. "What is this gonna get me?"

"Does there always have to be a reward?" she asked in shock.

"Look, I almost got the life beat out of me this morning to give you an extra week of vacation," he justified, "so yeah, it does deserve something."

"Did I ask you to do that?" she wondered.

He laughed. "Ok, fine, I'll do this, I'll play your little game. But don't be surprised if Tre doesn't tell me a thing. He's probably forgotten all about it already."

"I'll be waiting," she said, picking up her purse and exiting the house. "See you back at the shop," she added.


Rita pulled up in the LeBaron and parked. As she stepped out of the car George Donovan practically came out of nowhere and began to talk to her. "Rita, I need you in court late today. The Barrientes case got pushed up this morning. We just finished opening statements, we're on lunch right now and I gotta call witnesses beginning at 3pm. Can you be in court by maybe 4 or 4:30."

"Geez George, good afternoon to you too!" she said smiling at him, while continuing to walk.

"I'm serious here Rita, can you be there?" he said.

"I suppose I could be," she began, "I'm really surprised George, no trial prep, you're just gonna feed me to the wolves?"

"It should be an open and shut case, but now I'm already worried cuz Judge Hendricks brought this case on today, out of the blue. So don't talk to me about being unprepared," he said in true Donovan hysterics.

They ended up walking toward the roach coach. George offered to buy her some lunch, which she declined, but she settled on a glass of ice tea.

"Is there something else going on George, do you need to talk about something personal perhaps?" she always could read George like a book.

"Rita, you know me so well. Yeah, Andrea is hitting me up for an increase in child support. I'm an ADA for crying out loud, she knows the kind of money I pull down. And I know Richie is getting older, it costs more, but do you know she's got a job that's bringing home six figures now?" Rita sympathized. "Maybe I should have just stayed married to her, it'd probably be a lot less of a hassle."

"Can you fight it?" she asked.

"I'm trying, but it doesn't look good. So I'm filing a counter action asking for joint custody, to hopefully eliminate the rise in child support," he explained.

"Well I hope it works out for you George, and yes, I'll be in court around 4pm," she said, rising up and walking away.

As she did she heard a familiar voice call out to her, "Rita, hey Lieutenant Lannnnnnce," Daniel yelled, running up to meet her.

She turned around to see him, "hello to you too, Daniel, how ya doin?"

"Just fine and yourself? No lasting effects from the dreaded chicken pox?" he asked.

"Nope, all better, and definitely glad that it is over, how's Mel doing?" she asked in return.

"Wonderful, she wants to sleep over again, and did Chris actually take her to play basketball by the way?" he said.

She nodded, "yeah, he did. You should have seen them too! We went over to the school yard by the house and he was working her out like she was some kind of professional. I don't know which one had more fun."

"Well, from what she tells me, you're quite the expert at Hi-Ho Cherry-Oh too," he said with a smile.

She giggled, "we'll have to have her over again soon, I promise. It just ended as such a disaster."

"Alls well that ends well, right?" he said, "Listen, I have another biiiiiiiiggggg favor to ask you!" he started.

"Oooh, sounds interesting, I'm all ears," she replied.

"You're not gonna believe this, but Sus and I share the same birthday. It's weird, I know," he began.

"That's not that weird," Rita said, "so what does that have to do with a favor?"

"I'm getting there. See every year we try to top each other as well as what we did the prior year. So this year I want to give her a surprise party. We've never done that one yet. I think she'd be shocked. Whatta you think?" he asked her.

"It's a lovely idea, where does the favor come in?" she wanted to know.

"I need you to keep her occupied, while everyone arrives. You know the drill. Can you do it?"

"I suppose, when's the date?" she asked.

"Well, it's still a couple of weeks away, but I've gotta start doing the planning and getting things lined up. Great, I will count on you," he said, reaching down and giving her a quick peck on the cheek. "You are one of the best Rita."

"Hey Doc, keep your lips off my fiancée," Chris yelled from the opposite side of the parking lot, spotting Daniel planting a kiss on Rita.

Both Rita and Daniel turned to see Chris coming toward them. "Hiya Chris, how's things?" Daniel said, noticing the eye and then said to Rita, "Damn, girl, you need to take it easy on this guy."

Rita jabbed him in the ribs. "He got it boxing this morning." Daniel gave them both a curious look. "Can you believe I have to be seen around town with that?" she said, sarcastically giving Chris a smile.

"I'm good man, real good," Chris started, "and it is from boxing, with Tim Daggert, here at the academy. Hey, while you're here, we got a touch football league starting in a couple of weeks. Sunday mornings about 11. Do you wanna play? We need some more bodies, so I'm asking around," Chris asked.

Daniel started shaking his head. "Yeah, definitely, I played in high school and college, it sounds great, just keep me posted alright? I gotta go, I got a new patient coming in like ten minutes ago. I'll talk to you both later. Thanks Rita, I'll keep you informed and Chris, just let me know when and where," he said, waving and walking away.

"Don't tell me we're babysitting again?" he asked.

"No, well, at least not anytime soon. And quit acting like you hated it," she started as they walked inside to the homicide department. "He wants to have a surprise party for Susan, and asked if I would keep her occupied on the day of the party, that is until the surprise."

"And what about me? Do I get to help him bake the birthday cake?" he said.

"I don't know, maybe you could offer to if you'd like," she replied sarcastically.

"Don't you get tired of doing all this stuff for everyone else all the time Sam?" he asked.

"They're are friends Sam. Besides, you're playing basketball, helping with boxing, playing touch football and a million other things too," Rita said.

"And you're doing the shelter, babysitting, hiding people out from their surprise parties. Then throw in work. It just seems like we haven't got anytime hardly for each other," Chris said.

"Ah, but we've got tonight, remember?" she said lowering her voice.

A smile grew from his lips. "Yes, we do have tonight, don't we?"


They sat across from each other at their desks. "So, Sam, did you find anything out this morning?" Rita asked, perusing through her messages.

"No, you might say I had other things on my mind, like Daggert's right hand," he said, touching his black eye. "I was trying to punch them up in my computer but I kept drawing a blank." She giggled at his boxing references. "What about you?"

"I had an interesting visit with Ms. Blair, the Hennessy's housekeeper," she began, "she's kind of rude. She didn't have too much to say. She's very loyal to the family. But I still have this feeling like she's hiding something," she explained.

"So maybe we both go back there and talk to her, I'm always up for a little good cop, bad cop," he said.

"Maybe, but I think we should check some of the neighbors first. That might point us in the direction we want to go in," she added.

"So what did Diana have to say about cause of death?" he asked.

"Blunt instrument to the back of the head. She suspects that Mrs. Hennessy wasn't surprised. She's checking on whether or not she had any drugs in her system, that may have clouded her mind. She'll let us know later today, I hope," Rita said with a smile.

"I guess we start with the neighbors then huh?" Chris said.

"Yep, let's get to it," she answered.


As they proceeded to try to leave the department, Chris got paged to the front desk. "Aw, now what?" he said listening to the loudspeaker. "I tell you what Sam, I'll meet you over at the neighborhood. You got your phone so I can find out where exactly you'll be?" he said.

"That I do. I'm going to start right next door at the Vollman's ok?" she replied.

"Ok, hopefully I won't be too far behind you," he said, heading in the opposite direction from her.


"Hey, Sergeant Lorenzo, you are in the building," the rolly, pollie desk Sergeant greeted him.

"Sergeant Herman, whatta ya know?" Chris greeted him with a grin.

"Me personally, not a heck of a lot. I try to let most stuff go in one ear and out the other. Saves a lot of time, ya know kid?" he joked.

"You page me?" Chris asked changing the subject.

"Ah huh," said Herman, "there's some guy down in the detox tank that's been screaming for you for the last hour or so. We never thought you'd never get back from lunch. You and Lance, you two don't get enough after hours or what?" he said like a friendly uncle.

Chris grinned, "let me ask you Sarge, if you got someone like Rita at home, you gonna bring a sack lunch to work or what?"

"You're a very smart boy," Herman laughed. Chris grinned.

"So who's the drunk that's looking for me?"

Herman started shuffling through some papers. "Ok, here it is, some guy named Dunn Cotton? What the hell kind of stupid name is Dunn Cotton?"

"It's Cotton Dunn, Sarge," Chris said pointing to the comma. "Cotton Dunn."

"Well, it's still pretty stupid to me. Maybe you can get him to shut up though," Sarge said.

"I'll give it a try," said Chris.


"Big 'C' what have you gotten yourself into this time?" Chris asked as he walked up to the holding cell that contained Cotton and twenty others just like him.

Cotton looked up from the bunk he was sitting on. "Chris, buddy, you gotta get me outta here now!" he implored.

"Cotton, I don't have to do anything," he said, glancing at the riff raff that was taking up residence in the musty smelling cell. "What happened to you anyway, I didn't know you were a drunk?"

"I'm not," he screamed, "you know I'm not. I'm not exactly sure what happened that's all. Can you just get me outta here, can't you see I don't belong?" Cotton cried.

"Look Cotton, there's obviously some reason why my fellow officers locked you up in there. I have to let you serve your time. There's no special treatment here at Palm Beach PD, you know that," Chris said, enjoying seeing Cotton squirm.

"Come on, Chris, how many times have I given you help over the years. You gotta have some clout around here, please," Cotton begged.

"You need to do better than 'I owe YOU one" Cotton. First, why don't you tell me what happened, why are you in there?" Chris said.

"Uhhhh," Cotton mumbled and Chris started to walk away.

"Chris, buddy, wait," Chris stopped and turned. "Alright, alright, I'll tell you," Cotton said.

Chris walked back toward the cell. "I'm listening Cotton, better make it quick, cuz I got work to do."

Cotton first noticed the black eye now, "Geez Chris, what happened to you?" Cotton asked with some concern.

Chris was irritated that he changed the subject. "That's it Cotton, I told you I don't have time for this," Chris said, leaving again.

"Chris! Ok, ok, geez, I was just concerned for you," he said.

"I'm ok Cotton, now tell me fast," Chris replied.

"I was down at the Harbor Club with some friends, the next thing I know, I wake up and I'm in here," Cotton explained.

Chris scowled his face, "a little slower please, let's have the paperback version instead of Cliff's notes. What were you doing a Harbor Club, isn't that a little rich for your blood?"

"I had a date," he said in his own defense.

"You said friends, Cotton, not date, or were you dating a group of women?" Chris asked.

"Are you gonna let me tell this or not?" Cotton asked angrily.

"I would like that, yes," Chris replied.

"I was double dating, with Atticus mind you, and two very lovely French ladies," he said.

Chris laughed, "What kind of scam were you two running?"

"It wasn't a scam, it was a date, honest Chris, I swear," he looked a little worried. "Maybe I did drink too much, but I never drink too much to not remember anything, I'm worried about Atticus and the ladies. I can't remember Chris."

Chris looked at what appeared to be a serious look on his face. "For some odd reason, I believe you this time Cotton. Hang on, we'll see if we can get you out," Chris said

Chris pulled a few strings and got Cotton out. He took him up to his desk so that he could make a few calls to see if he could find Atticus. After the fourth call, he reached him. He found out that Atticus was ok, apparently he had been dumped in an alley. Everything was taken off of him, except for his clothes, which is what had happened to Cotton. Between the two scam kings, they figured the so-called French ladies had out-conned them. They had been left in two different locations. Atticus had found Beauty and was at his apartment resting. Cotton asked if Chris would drop him off on his way to meet Rita. Chris, in a weak moment, agreed.


"So 'C,' you know anything about the Hennessy family?" Chris asked as he drove Cotton to Atticus' apartment.

"You mean the 'Psycho' house?" Cotton said with a scary laugh.

"What," Chris said looking at him briefly, "what are you talking about psycho house?"

"You are talking about Dorothy Hennessy, right, the one that just got murdered?" Cotton asked.

Chris nodded, "yeah, and what are you talking about?"

"There house, haven't you heard all the rumors over the years. People say they see the shadow or figure of someone, sitting in a wheelchair in that house. Pretty spooky stuff if you ask me. Bring along Ghostbusters if you get a search warrant for that mansion," he said.

"I've already been in there Cotton, I didn't see anyone in a wheelchair," Chris explained.

"Hey, you asked if I knew anything, I'm telling you what I know. It's kind of a legend in the making, ask around, I'm sure others know about it too," he said, getting out at the apartment complex.

"I will, you can believe that," Chris said, parking.

Cotton leaned in the open window. "Thanks Chris, I guess maybe we're even for awhile now, right?"

"Even my ass, Cotton, you got a long way to go yet. I'll talk to you soon, See Ya," he said, pulling away.


Chris dialed up Rita on her cell phone. "Yeah, Lieutenant Lance," the familiar voice greeted him.

"Sammy, where ya at?" Chris replied.

"Hi Chris," she began, "listen, give me about half an hour to forty minutes ok?"

"Sure, why, what's goin' on?" he wondered.

"Donnie just called me, I'm not sure what he wants, but he says it's important. So I'm on my way over there now," she explained.

"This must be the day for cooks, cuz I just had to get Cotton out of the drunk tank," he explained.

"I didn't know Cotton was a drunk," Rita said surprised.

"He's not, let's just say he and Atticus ran into some pretty powerful French champagne," he said with a grin. "I got my phone, just call me when you're ready to meet over there. I got some info from Cotton I want to look into anyway. Have you heard anyone say they saw someone in a wheelchair at the Hennessy house?" Chris asked, "or that it's a psycho house?"

She laughed when she heard him say that. "Noooo, I haven't, listen maybe Cotton needed to dry out some more if he's telling you stuff like that."

"That's just it Sammy, he was dead serious and sober as they come. I believe him. I'm going back to check out my computer to see if there's a long lost relative somewhere. I'll wait for your call," he said.


Chris headed back to the office, that is right after he stopped off at the mall. He stepped inside the large, upscale department store and picked out a bottle of Rita's perfume. He wanted to surprise her with it tonight. On his way out, he stopped at the video store and rented "Double Indemnity" with Barbara Stanwyck and Fred, 'My Three Sons," MacMurray. He still had never seen it and Rita talked about how great it was from time to time. "A chick flick," he thought to himself, but whatever would help make the night a little more special, meant a lot to him.

Walking into the Police Department, he bumped into Susan, Daniel's wife. She was carrying Melanie, who spotted Chris right away and squirmed down out of her Mother's arms and made a mad dash for, you guessed it, his legs.

Chris looked down as the little blonde force engulfed him. "Squirt, what have I asked you to stop doing to me?" he said with a smile.

"Not hug your legs no more," she said, tilting her face up to see his, but not loosening her grasp.

He reached down and picked her up and gave her a little toss in the air. "You don't listen very well, do you?" he asked her as he tickled her under her chin. She giggled.

Susan walked up to them, "She listens alright, it's comprehension and understanding that we're working on. Hi Chris, how are ya?" she asked.

"Just fine, and yourself?" he asked.

"Good, we just stopped in to visit Daddy," she said.

"What happened to your eye Chwris, it's ugly," Melanie said, reaching for it. Chris pulled back his face from her little fingers.

"Yeah, it is ugly," he began, "and it hurts too. Someone hit me a little too hard, Squirt, that's all," he tried to explain.

"Mummy and Daddy say you shouldn't hit other people," she said.

"And they're right, this was just for fun though, just a little accident, do you understand?" he asked her.

"I think so," she said, squirming down from his arms. She ran over to the vending machine to have a peek at it.

"Chris, I have got a huge favor to ask you, do you have a minute?" Susan began.

"Sure, shoot," he said.

"Daniel's got a birthday coming up and I want to have a surprise party for him," she blurted out.

Chris had to stifle a laugh and a grin. "So, what can I do Susan?" he asked, already knowing what was coming.

"I need someone to keep him occupied. It's on the 25th, that's a Sunday. Maybe around noon or one o'clock, do you have any plans?"

Chris nodded no, "Actually, Susan, I think part of the plan may be in place. I asked Daniel if he wanted to play in a touch football league on Sunday mornings. And I think that's the week we're gonna start. I'd say we're set!" he grinned.

"You're the best Chris," she said kissing his cheek. "I'll call Rita and maybe she can give me a hand preparing everything."

"I'm sure she'd love to Susan," Chris said smiling from ear to ear. He couldn't wait to tell Rita.

Melanie came running back up to them, "Mummy, can I have some candy, pleaseeeeeee," she squealed.

Susan started rifling through her purse for some change. Before she could find any, Chris was headed over to the vending machine, calling Melanie over to show him, just what she wanted.

"I want that, no, no that, no that one, no this," she said excitedly. Susan met them over by the machine.

"Why do you guys always spoil her? Daniel's the same way," Susan said.

"We can't resist you girls with your gorgeous faces," he said giving Melanie a raspberry kiss.

"That one, Chwris," she said, pointing to the Skittles.

"That one it is then, would you like to push the button?" he asked her.

She nodded and jumped up and down. He lifted her up and she made her selection and watched it fall into the holding tray area. She slid in her tiny hand and plucked out the Skittles. She opened them up carefully and began to eat them one by one.

"Melanie, what do you say to Chris?" Susan asked her.

"Want one?" she held up the bag for him.

"Sure," he said with a laugh.

"I meant the magic words," Susan said, amused but not totally pleased with her daughter's manners.

"Please do you want one?" she asked Chris.

He laughed even harder.

"Melanie, you need to say thank you to Chris for buying them for you, ok?" Susan asked the little girl.

"Thank you Chwris," she said with a big smile.

"Well, you're welcome Squirt, now can I really have one?" he asked.


Rita pulled up the long driveway to Donnie's house. She had no clue what he wanted this time. He gave no indication on the phone. Just that he needed to see her this afternoon. With Donnie, it was never a 'come when you can' thing, it was pretty much a 'get over here now!' thing. She hated giving in to him and rushing right over, but most times it was something fairly important that Donnie had to tell her. Granted he usually went about telling her in some subtle way, but the fact she got a lot of dirt from him, made him a very valuable informant.

She knocked on the front door and was led into the dinning room by Giovanni, Donnie's house servant.

"Well, if it ain't Rita Lee Lance, and it's Lieutenant now too isn't it?" Donnie greeted her by standing up near the dinner table.

"Isn't is a little early for supper Donnie, or just late for lunch?" she asked.

"Neither, it's just my mid-afternoon snack, a little anti-pasto. It's good for what ails ya," he explained.

"Well, nothing is ailing me right now," she said a little coldly, "why am I here Donnie?"

"Rita, bella, sit down, relax, you youngsters today do everything too quickly. It's not good for you, strains the heart," Donnie said.

Rita sat down grudgingly, she knew if she didn't, she'd never get the info out of Donnie. He liked to think he was in control of every situation. "Ok, Donnie, I'm sitting, what is it?" she asked.

"You sure you don't want to try a bit of this Genoa Salami, it's cut paper thin, it's moto benne. My Grandfather's personal favorite, all the way from the old country.

She glared at him, "I'm sure it's moto benne Donnie, but I've eaten lunch already and I've got plans with my fiancée for dinner. I don't want to spoil my appetite."

"That Lorenzo, he's a lucky man. I don't think he realizes just how lucky though. I bet he's not thinking about having any food, so to speak, for dinner," Donnie teased.

Her glare remained fixed on him.

"See, Rita, that's the beauty of anti-pasto, it's just a snack so to speak. It won't spoil your dinner, it's gonna enhance it, whet your appetite so to speak, come on, you gotta try the salami, please for Poppa," he begged.

She annoyingly grabbed a slice and rolled it up and popped it in her mouth. The salty, slightly greasy, tingly meat did indeed whet her appetite. It was delicious. "I hate to say this Donnie, but your snacks are better than what I eat at mealtime," she said with a smile.

Donnie smiled in return. "See, I'll turn you into a wannabe Italian yet."

"Doubtful Donnie, very doubtful, but the salami is very good," she said, waiting for him to talk and tell her whatever it was he wanted to say.

"I heard you and your, hmmm, he's not technically your partner anymore is he, what do I call him then?" Donnie asked.

"Sergeant Lorenzo," Rita said politely, shaking her head.

"That'd be the day!" Donnie exclaimed, "Anyway, that jabeeb that rides your coattails got assigned to this Hennessy murder right?"

"Yeah Donnie, what do you know about it?" she asked.

"There's a rumor that someone else is living in that house," Donnie began.

"Yeah, I know, it's haunted right?" she said sarcastically.

"No, that's not what I said," he began, "where'd you hear something crazy like that anyway? As if a good police officer like you would believe such nonsense."

She laughed, "you're right Donnie. So who else is living in this house?"

"That I don't know doll, but like I said, I just heard the rumor and now I'm passing it along to you. You're the detective right?" he said, feasting on some cheese.

That's all you've got Donnie?" she questioned.

He nodded, "I thought you'd want to know, so you can investigate it."

"You could have told me that over the phone Donnie," she said standing up.

"And miss the pleasure of your company, I could not have done that and kept a clean conscience," he said.

"Don't lay it on too thick Donnie, it's not becoming," Rita replied, grabbing another piece of salami on her way out the door.


Chris sat at his computer, running name after name, looking for some kind of connection between the deceased and someone who might be living in that house. He kept coming up empty.

Tre pushed open the palm tree doors and sauntered over to his desk. He sat on the corner of it and stared at Chris for a moment.

"Dang, man, I heard you got popped this morning, I wish I could have seen that one. Daggert took you out huh?" Tre began.

Chris looked up from his computer, "Yeah, well I put him on the canvas too," he tried to justify his face.

"Uh, huh, well I just saw Daggert ten minutes ago and his face looks like it always does and there wasn't any of your glove prints on him. Man, he beat the shit out of me in the academy. Then the next day, Robertson did. I knew right then and there that boxing was not for me," Tre rationalized. "You ok?" he asked.

"Yeah, it's just a black eye, it'll go away, like in a year or two," he joked. "So what brings you to homicide?" Chris asked him.

"You! Rita told me you wanted to talk to me about something," he said.

"She did!" Chris said surprised, "When?"

"Right after lunch, I saw her down by the roach coach with Donovan," Tre said. "So what's up?"

Chris laughed. "She didn't think I'd do it on my own," he mumbled.

"Didn't think you'd do what?" Tre asked him.

Chris shook his head and began to explain to Tre what was going on. "Rita and Diana have this thing going, they think they have deeper conversations than us guys do. So they're out to prove it," Chris started.

"So where do I fit in?" Tre asked.

"Apparently you heard some gossip about you and Diana and you won't tell her. She knows it upset you and she thinks you're hiding it from her," Chris said. Tre laughed out loud. "So, I'm supposed to find out what the rumor was, tell it to Rita, so she can tell Diana and you two can work everything out," Chris finished explaining.

"That'd be great, only I don't know what the hell she's talking about," Tre said. "When did this supposedly happen?" he asked.

"I don't know, a few days ago maybe. That's all Rita gave me, man," Chris replied.

Tre rubbed his forehead trying to think back. "I honestly don't have a clue Chris, should I make something up," he said laughing.

Chris joined in the laughing too and then got serious. "You know you could make something up, and we could play this one to the hilt, whatta ya think?"

Tre glanced at him, "no way man, they'd never fall for it," he paused, "do ya think?"

"I'd say it's worth a shot, we just have to come up with something good," Chris said.

"How 'bout I heard she was having an affair with you," Tre began.

"No one would believe that Tre," he said shaking his head.

"Alright then, she's having an affair with Rita," Tre tried again.

Chris rolled his eyes, "Forget about me and Rita, it's gotta be about the two of you Tre."

"Oh man, I hate this, it's stupid," Tre said.

"So maybe that's it, Tre, we don't need to come up with anything. We both just keep playing along like it's something horrible. That'll drive them crazy. We don't need to tell them anything. We'll let their own imaginations figure it out," Chris said proudly.

"That is perfect Chris, you are the master," Tre said, bowing to him.

As he said this, Rita walked in and went over to her desk. "Hi guys," she said.

"Hey Sam," Chris said.

"Hi Rita, how's everything?" Tre asked her.

"Good, how 'bout you Tre?" she replied.

"Great," he said, but in a sorrowful way, making her think that everything wasn't.

She noticed his dejected expression. "You sure Tre?"

"Yeah, everything's fine," he said again in a monotone.

"Listen, if I interrupted something, I can go make some calls from another desk or something," Rita offered.

"Nah, I'm just heading out," Tre got up from the corner of the desk. He reached out to shake Chris' hand. "Thanks a lot Chris, for listening and understanding. I'll talk to you soon," Tre said, walking out.

Chris watched him walk out and shook his own head in despair. Rita soaked it all in. "So, is it really that bad?" she asked almost in a whisper.

"Huh, what?" Chris said, looking up at her.

"Tre's rumor or whatever, what is it, is it that bad?" she asked.

"Yeah, it's bad," Chris said sorrowfully.

"Can you tell me?" she asked.

Chris bit his lip, "I don't know Sam, I'm really surprised he told me. I tell you, if it was me, I'd have died and took it to my grave. I wouldn't want anyone to know that," he laid it on thick.

"So whatever it is, it's true?" Rita kept digging.

"Yeah, it is," he began. "You know Rita, I don't feel right about telling you. Let me talk to Tre some more and see what else I can find out first, ok?" Chris said seriously.

"Sure, whatever," she replied watching him sit back down at his desk. What was he up to now, she wondered. "So, do you want to know what Donnie had to say?" she began, changing the subject.

He looked over the piles of paperwork on his desk, "Yeah, is it about the case?" he asked.

"Ummhmm," she said and began to tell him about the mysterious person. "I think we should get a warrant and search that house from top to bottom for this mysterious figure or body or whatever it is," she explained.

"Donnie said the same thing as Cotton?" he questioned.

"Well, Donnie said it wasn't a haunted house, but someone else is living in there," she said.

"I've been running the Hennessy's all afternoon, I can't find any brothers, sisters, siblings, aunts, uncles, or long lost relatives anywhere Sam, but this is getting strange now," Chris said.

"You're right, when have Cotton and Donnie ever told us the same story?" she said.

"Let's go talk to Cap," he said, getting up and heading toward Harry's office.

Rita knocked lightly on the open door, "Cap, can we talk?" she asked.

"Come, come," he waved them in. "You two got anything yet on this Hennessy case?"

"Actually, we think we do, we want to get a search warrant for the entire house and grounds," Rita began.

"Why?" Cap said.

They proceeded to tell him about Cotton and Donnie.

"What judge do you think will give the two of you a warrant based on the here say of a con man and a mobster?" Cap asked.

Chris and Rita looked at each other. They knew Cap was right. They needed at least one other person who would verify this mystery person story. They decided to head to the neighborhood after all.


They started by hitting the pavement, going door to door, just like Girl Scout cookie sellers. The only problem was in this rather upscale neighborhood, no one wanted their cookies. They never had so many doors slammed in their faces.

"I think it's you Sam," Rita began, "I mean, look at your face, if you came up to my door with that eye bulging, I'd think twice about telling you anything too," she said laughing.

"Fine, I'll go wait in the car, Lieutenant," he said, as he started turning back toward the car. She grabbed his arm.

"Oh no you don't. I'm kidding. Someone is gonna talk, we just gotta try everyone," she said.

"You know, all it's gonna take is one person to back this little tale up, then the judge will have to give us a warrant," Chris said as they arrived at the next door.

Rita nodded and knocked. A pleasant lady of about forty came to the door. "May I help you?"

"Mrs. Gormer?" Rita asked, glancing at her notes.

"Yes, that's correct and you are?" she asked.

"Lieutenant Lance, Sergeant Lorenzo, Palm Beach Homicide. We'd like to ask you a few questions about the Hennessy's if we could?" Rita said as saccharine as possible.

"I don't know them at all," Mrs. Gormer said, immediately closing the door.

Chris and Rita stood on the porch in shock.

"And you thought it was me?" Chris asked, glaring at her. "I didn't even say anything! And I had my good side facing her, she didn't even know I had a black eye. I'd say you're loosing your touch Sammy."

They started walking down the path toward the next house. A little boy snickered at them, while hanging from a tree. Chris looked up and spotted him.

"Hey you, what's so funny?" he asked the boy of about twelve.

"You two!" he said.

"And just why is that?" Rita asked, getting a little angry now.

"Everyone knows what you want to know, but they're not gonna talk!" he said.

Chris and Rita gazed at each other, then back at the boy. "So why don't you come down here and tell us," Chris said.

"Who says I know anything?" he said, scooting a little higher.

Chris dug into his pocket and pulled out a twenty-dollar bill. "Uncle Andrew here says you do!"

The boy came down instantly and tried to grab for the cash. Chris held it high above his head. "What's your name?"

"Alex," he offered.

"Alex what?" Chris said.

"Alex Gormer, this is my house," the boy said.

"Well Alex Gormer, what do you know about the Hennessy's?" Rita asked, grabbing the twenty from Chris and handing it to Alex. She took a big chance, he could have easily run off with the money leaving them with nothing.

"You must mean the person. We all see it, sometimes it's in the windows," he said.

"Do you know if it's a man or a woman?" Chris asked.

"Nah, I can't tell, and I never heard anyone else say anything either. My Mom says I should stay away and forget what I saw. But I think that's who killed the old lady," he said with innocent honesty. "And it's still in there, I saw it this mornin'"

"Let's go talk to your Mother Alex," Rita said, leading him back to the front door.


Mrs. Gormer was not too happy with the presence of her only son standing in front of the two homicide detectives. "Alex what have you done now?" she asked him.

"Alls I did was tell them about the person in the window at the Hennessy's, it's not like I saw the murder or anything," he said, holding his head down to avoid his Mother's glare.

"Mrs. Gormer, we'd like to have a few minutes of your time now," Rita said politely. The woman stood back and let them into her home.

"Alex, why don't you go upstairs and play," Mrs. Gormer said, showing Chris and Rita into the sitting room.

"Mrs. Gormer, have you seen this person or figure in the Hennessy house?" Chris began. She didn't answer at first, she just turned away and stared out the front window. "Mrs. Gormer?" She still did not respond. "Mrs. Gormer, we could take you and Alex downtown and do this there," Chris said getting a little bit tougher, "Is that what you want."

"There," she said pointing out the window, "right there, in the upper window, do you see?" Chris and Rita both moved toward the window and saw the figure. "Does that answer your question? Do you still need me and my son to go downtown now?" she asked, a bit angry herself.

"No ma'am, we can take it from here ourselves," Chris said, squinting at what he was seeing.


Chris and Rita exited the Gormer home and headed toward their car. "We could have just sat in the car and kept it under stakeout," Chris began.

"Ok, ok, I feel as stupid about this whole thing as you do alright, does that make you happy?"

"No, my twenty dollars back would make me happy. That kid was shrewd," Chris said irritated.

They got into the car and Rita picked up the radio and requested a search warrant for the Hennessy House. They called for back-up units to assist in the search and secure the house. They wanted no one going in or coming out. They weren't sure who or what they would find when they entered, they knew they wanted to be prepared.

The warrant and the back-up units arrived about twenty minutes later. Chris and Rita strolled up the front pathway leading to the front door. Ms. Blair answered the door. "Ms. Blair, we have a search warrant for this house," Rita said, holding up the document, "it allows us to search from top to bottom, room to room. We have reason to believe that someone else is living in this house and they may be directly related to the murder of Dorothy Hennessy."

"No, no, you can't. You can't just barge in here like that and turn everything upside down. I'll not let you," she said, trying to close the door. Chris put his foot in the way to block it and pushed it open.

"Ma'am, we do have the legal right. If you try to block us or any of the officers, you will be charged with obstruction of justice, do you understand?" Chris said.

"I've told you people, there's nothing here, no one is left, why won't you just leave it alone?" she said hysterically.

"Ms. Blair, do you understand what Sergeant Lorenzo told you?" Rita asked as Chris was waving in some of the officers. Ms. Blair began to sob and she nodded her head in understanding. "Ms. Blair, are you ok? Is there something you'd like to tell us?" Rita asked.

She began to speak, not making much sense to either Chris or Rita. "You just won't.....I can't let you....what will happen......no you can't do this....I will not allow it.......you'll...." her voice broke off with the convulsions of sobbing. She buried her head in her hands.

"Sergeant Lorenzo!" Detective Geoff Morgan stood at the top of the stairs and called out to Chris.

Chris looked at Rita who was trying to comfort and quiet Ms. Blair. She nodded for Chris to go upstairs and find out what exactly was up there.

Chris met Geoff at the top of the stairs. "Whatta ya got?" he asked in a hushed tone.

"Sir, you need to take a look for yourself," Geoff said a little sadly. "There's no need to worry, he's not armed or dangerous."

Chris brushed past him and walked into the room. Another officer stood next to the figure who was sitting upright in a wheelchair. The mysterious figure was a man of about twenty. He was mentally and physically challenged. The officer was happily and politely conversing with the young man, who returned neither sounds nor actions.

Things began to wrap themselves up within the hour. Jonathan Jordan Blair was the son of Ms. Blair. His Father was Lawrence Hennessy, a fact that had just recently surfaced in the Hennessy household. Dorothy Hennessy was going to let Ms. Blair go, saying that her services were no longer required. The two women had been arguing in front of Jonathan, when Ms. Blair revealed who her son's Father was. Given the fact that Jonathan was older than both Charmaine and Mitchell, the Hennessy children, Ms. Blair was threatening to sue Dorothy for any inheritance or child support that her son would indeed be entitled too, if she was forced to leave. The two women began to have a 'cat' fight of sorts as Jonathan took it all in. He had grown up in this somewhat loving house, till now, that was, and was scared by what he was now witnessing. He began to maneuver his electric wheelchair toward the two women, in order to break them up and as they continued to fight they edged closer toward the wall, where a large floor lamp stand stood. As Jonathan got closer, his chair banged into the lamp and sent it crashing on the back of Dorothy Hennessy. Ms. Blair stopped immediately and went to lift it off her, which confused Jonathan and as she set it upright again, Jonathan out of control emotions sent it crashing down again on top of Dorothy Hennessy. It took Ms. Blair quite a bit of time and effort to subdue Jonathan. Ms. Blair quickly hid Jonathan away in another room of the huge house. No one else knew but her what exactly had happened. Lawrence, Charmaine and Mitchell never thought to suspect Jonathan in any way, so naturally he never came up in conversations with the police. Ms. Blair simply wanted to protect her only child from any action that might be taken against him.

Given the circumstances behind Jonathan's mental and physical state, no charges would be filed. The death would be ruled accidental and the case would be closed. Jonathan would be sent to an institution for testing, and then later, placed in a permanent facility where he could have the care and treatment he required. Ms. Blair would also be evaluated and would be placed on some kind of probation for her failure to inform the police of the situation.


They got back to the station by 4:15pm and as they walked through the doors, Rita realized that she had promised George Donovan that she'd be in court sometime around four. "Listen Sam, I gotta get down to court, I almost forgot, Donovan's gonna kill me," she said, grabbing his suit coat, giving him a mild whiplash.

Chris grinned, "well you're in the right place for a homicide," he joked.

She gave him the look. "I'll just meet you at home, ok, I have no idea how long this will be?" she said turning to head back down.

"Sure, I'll just get a ride so you can bring the Jeep ok, and I'll start dinner alright?" he called after her as she scurried down the hallway.

Cap entered the department from the other direction. "Dinner? Huh Lorenzo, who's coming over?"

"That's dinner for two, Cap, sorry to disappoint you, but we've been planning this all day," he laughed, "all week actually."

"That's great kid, but I want the preliminary on the Hennessy case on my desk before you go anywhere today, understand?" Cap said.

"Not a problem, I'll have it ready for you in fifteen minutes," Chris said with a grin, knowing he could easily bang out the report and get to fixing one very special dinner. "Say, Cap, would you mind giving me a ride home?" he asked, following Cap toward his office.


Chris thanked Cap and quickly got out of the car and headed inside. Free at last he thought, no work, nobody else's kids, no more favors, no place to be but here, alone with Rita. That is as soon as she got there, which didn't really bother him at the moment, cuz they had talked about having a nice dinner together alone, and given that she wasn't home yet, meant he could get started on preparing the dinner.

The first thing he did was head for the stereo where he found some mellow, jazz cd's and popped them in and turned the volume up just enough so that he could hear them in the kitchen while he was cooking.

Then he headed back to the bedroom and shed his work clothes and pulled on a comfortable pair of jeans and a lightweight sweater. And on toward the kitchen to start up on what he hoped would be one very special evening.

He popped his head into the refrigerator to see what he could come up with. He spied some chicken breasts, fresh broccoli, zucchini, peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, mushrooms and onions. He started taking it out of the refrigerator and placed it on top of the counter. He could work with this easily. He also had noticed some fresh fruit and quickly stored the info as a possible dessert entrée.

He found a pretty quick and easy recipe for baked seasoned chicken breasts and decided that was what he was going to try. He smiled to himself thinking of Rita and how much she toiled over a recipe. Here there was step by step instructions to follow and yet she always made such work out of it and things usually ended up disastrously for her as well. But she never gave up, she kept on trying, knowing some day she'd get it right.

He whipped up the seasoning and coated the chicken breasts and set the pan in the oven to begin the baking. He didn't need to start the vegetable thing he had in mind just yet so he headed into the living room to kick up his feet and rest for a few minutes.

He sat down in an easy chair and closed his eyes as the soothing music filled his soul. He didn't fall asleep, rather he just was content to sit there and relax. He didn't hear the Jeep pull up or Rita come in through the patio door.

As she entered, her nostrils were filled with the aroma of baking chicken. It smelled wonderful. She saw the vegetables scattered on the counter and heard the jazz playing in the background. Chris was going all out tonight. Apparently, he hadn't heard her come in as she peered from the kitchen doorway into the living room and saw him resting in the chair. She decided to surprise him a little of her own. She pulled out a linen table-cloth from a drawer, found some candles and set out some china and silverware on the table. He may be the wiz at cooking, she thought, but she could definitely set the mood. She found a bottle of wine and opened it and filled two glasses. She walked into the living room carrying the glasses in one hand. As she passed him sitting in the chair, her free hand slid across his shoulders and he immediately opened his eyes and greeted her with a smile.

As she came in front of him, she gave him a 'prelude' kiss, handed him a glass of wine and sat on the floor in front of the chair. She leaned against his legs and took a sip from her glass.

"It's about time you got home," Chris said.

"It's only about quarter to six, that's a lot earlier than I thought I'd be," she said and added, "Thanks for doing the preliminary report."

"That's what so-called partners are for right?" he said. "How was court?"

"The usual," she began, "tell me what happened Lieutenant Lance, in your own words, of course," she laughed recalling how cases and trials all seemed to run together at times.

"Then I guess that's enough talk about work isn't it?" he asked, squirming past her to stand up and reach for a small, wrapped package to give to her. "This is for you," he said, handing it to her and sitting down on the floor beside her.

"What?" she grinned, looking at his glistening blue eyes, "What did you do now? And when did you find the time to do it?"

"Why don't you just open it and quit asking so many questions Detective?" he said grinning back at her.

She set down the glass of wine and carefully began to unwrap the floral paper. Chris rolled his eyes at her delayed and practical movements. "Just open it Sammy, please?" he begged.

Her hand tentatively ripped the paper off, revealing the bottle of her perfume. She smiled as she saw it. "oooh, thank you," she said.

"I can't have you running out of a necessity now can I?" he said taking it from her and spraying some on her neck. He reached in and kissed the area and said, "mmmmhhhh, that's much better now."

The moment didn't last very long. Much to his displeasure, she stood up and went into the kitchen and came back with something behind her back. Now it was her turn. He wondered what she was up to. She giggled as she saw him looking puzzled at her.

"And just when did you have time to shop today Ms. Lance?" he questioned.

She sat back down on the floor and handed the oblong box to him. Diana had found some paper to wrap it up it and surprised her with it on the way out of the office that night. "Never mind, Mr. Lorenzo, just open it," she grinned.

He set it in his lap and began to imitate her and her delicate way of opening gifts. She slapped his shoulder, "funny, now come on, open it," she said.

He ripped it open in seconds and saw the Snap-On tool he had been searching for. It was like Christmas in October for him. "Alright Sammy, you remembered!" he said like a little boy. He shed the plastic liner it was wrapped in and held it like it was pure gold. "It's perfect, it's just what I wanted, thank you!" he said.

"Your welcome," she said, delighted that she had gotten the right one and ecstatic that he was so happy about it. She reached behind her and pulled out the bag she had carried in too and pulled out two videotapes. "I also got you these," she began, "maybe we can watch them later. I know I always make you sit through the movies I want to see, so I thought we could watch something you would like instead, for a change."

He grabbed the videotapes from her and checked the titles. The first one was 'Hoosiers,' a basketball tale, the second was 'Rocky,' which, when he saw that he let out a 'ha'.

"I figured maybe you'd like to see someone else get beat up for a change. And I didn't know if you've ever seen the other one or not, the clerk said it's very good," she explained.

"Sammy, you're the best," he dove in again and gave her another kiss and reached back under the sofa and handed her the video he got for her. "When we're through with these, maybe we can watch this," he said, giving her 'Double Indemnity.'

She grinned and leaned in and kissed him, "I love this movie, you will too."

"How could I not? It's got Fred 'My Three Sons' MacMurray in it," he joked.

They scooted close together and Chris put his arm around her. "How long till dinner?" Rita asked.

"Another twenty minutes or so, I still have to do up the vegetables. Would you like to help?" he asked, nuzzling the side of her neck.

"Do we have to do that right away?" she asked, raising her hand to caress his cheek and tenderly kiss it.

"Mmm, we still have about five minutes I guess," he said, now kissing her neck.

"I think we should make the most of our time then," she said, seeking out his lips. They both moaned as their mouths collided in a 'Friday's here, no more work for two days, we don't have to leave the house,' celebratory, mind numbing kiss.

His hand glided around her neck, tenderly kneading away the tension she had stored up. As he kissed her mouth, he pulled back long enough for her to hear him say, "Geez, Sammy, you need to relax more."

"I don't think that'll be a problem for a few days. At least I hope not anyway," she began looking lovingly into his eyes. His hand wandered down to her shoulders where he felt the same tightness. "Turn around, let me start your treatment," he said with a smile. She obeyed his command, though she hated missing the sensation of his caring lips. He began a gentle massage and as he did, he moved closer and closer toward her. She could feel his warm breath flutter her hair and hit the back of her neck. He leaned around and kissed her cheek. "How's that feel?" he asked.

"Much better, you and those magic hands Sam, I can't live without 'em," she replied as she tried to find his lips, but he had begun to move away and stand up, taking her with him.

"Good, because it's time to cook," he said happily as he began to lead her into the kitchen. Along the way, he took her into his arms and began to dance her around the living room floor, holding her closely, momentarily, then spinning her around, playfully under his outstretched arm. They laughed as they made their rhythmic way to the kitchen.

Dinner was about to become one hot meal.

They started out on opposite ends of the kitchen doing different tasks in order to prepare the meal. Somehow they kept bumping into each other, be it an accident at first, but working into planned movements as the minutes flew by. It was, "take a taste of this," "ummm, check out the chicken, it's just about ready," "can you hand me another knife," "did you ever try this before," "ohh, is this good," or "will you give me a hand with this." Each question or statement meant the closer they got to each other, a smoldering look, a gentle touch, a soft kiss or some other kind of intimate, loving emotion passed between them.

Dinner itself was the same way, even though they both were eating exactly the same food and drinking the same wine, they couldn't help but share and trade what was on the other's plate or glass between them.

Soon enough they were finished. They sat at the table, with the candle light flickering, sipping at the remainder of the wine, holding hands.

"That," Rita began, "was a wonderful dinner." She gave him a smile and squeezed his hand.

"Well, we've got some fresh fruit that we can have for dessert," he said, but secretly hoping she'd maybe want something else instead.

She squished up her nose at his suggestion, "that's not exactly what I was hungry for now," she answered, reading his mind.

Chris leaned in and let his nose wander up and down along side hers. In a low whisper he said, "What did you have in mind?"

"If I have to tell you, you're no kind of detective, detective," she answered seductively.

"We'll just have to see about that, now won't we," he said as he moved in so close to her face, without actually touching her. She could see the heat fire up in his eyes. She waited an eternity for him to make a move, she could make out the shadow of his beard along his jaw. She caught his masculine scent, a spicy aroma, as it tingled clear down to her toes. She watched the muscle in his cheek flutter and then focused on his lips. He finally brushed his lips so painstakingly soft across her cheek. She turned her head slightly and let her own lips meet up with his. When he broke off from this soft embrace, he let his thumb graze along her bottom lip. She gazed into his eyes and saw that they had darkened to a deeper shade of blue. His lips curled up into a small smile, she couldn't help but return it.

Suddenly she got up from the table. He sat there in a momentary stun. When she was at the doorway she turned and asked him, "are you coming?" She enjoyed leaving him with that perplexed look on his face, especially knowing that he wouldn't be perplexed that much longer.

He didn't answer right away as she had turned back and was about to keep walking. His silence and lack of movement now had her stunned for a second. What she didn't know was that he sat there at the table drinking her in from behind, head to toe. That beautiful hair, wonderful body, curved in all the right places and those exquisite legs of hers. Her physical beauty completely mesmerized him.

"Chris?" she said, spinning back around to see his hungry face, "you're still hungry aren't you?" she added.

He came too, "yeah," he began, "but I don't think I'll ever get my fill," he said, rising up to meet her.

She purposely waited in the doorway and as he arrived, he planted his hands along the sides of her, pinning her against the wall. Rita felt her heartbeat start racing as her lips parted. Her insides quickly turned to liquid. She waited and then, there he was, his lips over hers, teasing gently, claiming them as his own, sending sparks and flames shooting through ever nerve in her body. Rita wrapped her arms around his neck, bringing him closer, holding him nearer. Chris deepened the kiss that they were now locked in, delving past her lips, seeking out her tongue.

He heard a joyful sound of pleasure come from deep within her throat as they tasted each other. His hands and arms now clung to her hips, drawing her closer. She eagerly pressed against him, wanting, needing to feel the form of his muscular body. She welcomed his strength. He moved his lips off of hers and trailed kisses along her jaw and chin, then down her throat. One of her hands rose up and weaved through his hair. He raised his head and looked into her eyes. Rita could see that he was breathing rapidly already. She pulled him closer and their lips met again. This time with more intensity than before. He pressed against her hotly, his lips claiming sole possession of her for all time. Her hips crushed against his. He groaned in pleasure.

He breathed in the familiar smell of the perfume he had bought for her. He wanted to taste all of her and savor every scent of her. His heartbeat intensified inside him as she pulled up the sweater he was wearing and ran her hands under it. One hand snaked around and began to terrorize the muscles of his back. He kept on kissing her, deeper and deeper, letting his tongue swirl around her mouth. Rita moaned softly.

His hands reached up and slid off the suit coat she still wore, giving way to the silk blouse below. He cupped one of her breasts in his hand. She strained to get closer to him and his touch, sensing how perfect they were for each other, fitting tightly against each other's body, curve for curve. Ever so lightly, he ran his thumb across its tip, feeling it harden on contact against his palm. His other hand sought out the other and achieved the same result. He continued to swirl around the nipples, teasing them with his light touch. Rita's hands dropped out from under his sweater and grabbed hold of his shoulder's, kneading them and moaning deeply from his touch.

His kisses now ran down her throat, onto her collarbone, nibbling along the way. He was right about one thing, his hunger for her would never be completely satisfied. Everything about her, her scent, the way she felt, how she moved, how she tasted, filled his senses.

Now her hands clung to the back of his head, turning it, so that she could meet his lips with hers. She plunged inside, meeting up with his tongue again in playful battle. Her arms slid down to his back and she felt his muscles tremble. Slowly, she lifted her leg and wrapped it around his hips, pulling Chris closer.

Chris wanted her so badly, but not standing in the doorway, he wanted this night to be a little more special. He knew if he didn't hurry, that it would indeed happen right then and there. Out of breath, he broke off the kiss, his lips still touching hers, he murmured, "Sammy, let's move to this to the bedroom," he sucked in some badly needed air.

Her reply was equally as exhausting, "yeah," she managed to expel. Their hands and lips still joined to the other's body in some way, they made the rather long journey down the hall to their bedroom. This time she led the way, he moved in behind her and began kissing the back of her neck, at first right through her hair, then using his hands to brush it up out of the way, so that his moist lips could relish on her warm skin. She reached behind and grabbed one of his arms and dragged it around front, resting on her stomach. He began to gently caress it as her arm slid on top of his, rubbing it to and fro.

When they reached the bedroom, his stayed behind her, urging her to stay close to him with every touch and move he made. Chris continued kissing her neck, nibbling and softly biting behind her ears, while his hand now began to unbutton the front of her blouse. When he got it open, he wandered up and sought out one of her breasts, running his fingers around it. She threw back her head against his chest in sheer delight. Backwards they moved slowly together, near the bed. Chris fell backwards, taking her with him, holding her close against him, now both hands reaching and finding her breasts, teasing them into hard peaks.

She squirmed a little in his grasp, turning her head toward his, seeking out his lips. When she found them, her hand sought out his cheek to keep his lips right where she wanted them, locked in to hers. She rolled off to the side of him and as she did, he broke off from the embrace and stood up beside the bed, first shedding the sweater he wore, then his jeans and underwear. She watched him achingly, missing his touch, desperate for all that he was giving to her. Her hands rested on either side of her head, waiting for him to come back to her. He knelt down on the bed beside her and smiled warmly, knowing that she had agonized through the loss of contact with him. One warm hand began on her stomach, circling around and trailing up, while his head leaned down and began kissing her chest, working up to the tender inner side of her neck. His tongue and teeth licked and nibbled along the way. She settled in against his body, shifting to get closer. Her hand reached over and detailed the feel of his chest for her mind. It was strong and muscular with just a sprinkling of hair on it. Reaching lower to his hard, firm stomach and lower still, till she heard him groan deep from within his throat.

One of his hands clutched her chin and his head swerved up and met her lips in a hard, driving kiss, he thrust his tongue deep inside her mouth. His other hand reached back and removed the bra she was wearing. After that had been accomplished, his lips trailed down her neck, onto her chest and then fastening on to a milky, white breast, taking its rigid tip into his mouth. Her arms clung to the back of his neck for a few moments then began to stroke and caress his back as he moved from breast to breast. When his lips left one, his hand took over, tenderly, erotically teasing and massaging, as he suckled the other. Rita was on fire, melting under his touch. His lips moved down farther, across and around her stomach, his hands followed downward, slipping her out of her skirt, stockings and panties. His hand tenderly cupped her between her thighs.

She placed soft kisses in his hair as his lips played around her navel, his fingers danced upon her breasts, once more, lightly and sensuously. She arched against him, her heart racing out of control. Then Chris came to her in the midst of this heated wildfire. Rita's hips moved upward and she grabbed his broad shoulders. She didn't want to wait any longer and neither did he. A deep, fulfilling moan escaped from his lips as he thrust into her long and deep. Reaching down, he plunged his tongue inside her mouth, matching stroke for stoke. He flung his head back as Rita wrapped her legs around him, calling out his name. She burst into millions of pieces and Chris joined her a moment later.

He rolled over to the side and took her in his arms. She curled next to his overheated body, wrapping one of her legs over his thigh. His breathing began to regulate. Chris ran his fingers through her hair and his other hand wandered over her stomach and to the curve of her hip, coming to rest in her softness. She rested her head against his chest, placing feathery kisses over and over his sweaty skin. She could tell the minute he fell asleep, as the muscles in his entire body relaxed. She felt his breath on the top of her hand. She turned her head slightly and saw that he indeed had dozed off. His eyelids lightly fluttered, he was already dreaming. She smiled. There was no better place to be in the world, than there in his arms.

He woke up a few hours later, in the same position, Rita snuggled closely to him. The blanket was covering them. She must have pulled it up, he thought. He kissed her hair softly and inhaled deeply. She woke up immediately and looked up at him and his contented face.

"That meal was definitely better than the chicken," she said sleepily, kissing his warm chest.

He grinned and nodded, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to wake you," he said beginning to stroke her.

"It's ok, I was just dozing," she said, raising her head to kiss his waiting lips, as they both began to sit up a little bit. There they sat wrapped in each other's embrace.

"I forgot to tell you about Daniel and Susan," he started after a long period of silence.

"What about them?" she asked.

"Well, it turns out that Susan is planning a surprise birthday party for Daniel too. Same day, same time, and I have to keep him busy," Chris said with a laugh.

Rita giggled, "and just how are we gonna pull this one off?" she asked.

He threw his arms out to the side, "I have no clue, but maybe we should both just stop doing favors for other people for awhile," he said.

"In theory, it sounds like a good idea, but this is reality and that's not gonna happen," she explained. He nodded. "So what did you find out from Tre?" she continued.

He let out a 'ha.'

"What?" she began, "what's so funny? He seemed so bummed this afternoon. Alright, what's going on, are you playing fair?" she asked, tickling his side.

"I never play fair, you know that," he said reaching for her. She jumped out of the bed and headed out of the room. "Hey, where ya going?" he asked.

"To get a movie, you sneak," she said and added louder, "I'll get you for tricking me someday Mr. Lorenzo, paybacks are hell."

"Not if they're like tonight's payback," he muttered to himself as she came back into the room carrying one of the video's in her hand. She popped it into the VCR and crawled back into bed beside him.

"I heard that too," she said kissing his black eye, making him wince a little.

"Which one is this?" he asked.

"The basketball one," she said as the movie began. They snuggled close together. "I hope it's got some kind of a story to it, and it's not just a lot of artsy basketball shots," she added.

"Would you do me a favor and give it a chance please?" he asked.

By the end of the movie, Rita was a mess of tears. The little, small town team had won the championship game. "I guess that means you liked it huh?" Chris asked wiping a budding tear from her cheek.

"That was beautiful, I didn't even mind that it was about basketball, and when that little Ollie character made the free throw, I thought I was going to die," she said, still sniffling.

"I guess it's time for 'Double Indemnity' then, right?" he asked, jumping up to retrieve it from the living room.

Before he got to the door, she called out, "Chris?"

He turned, "Yeah?" he said.

"Do ME a favor?" she asked.

"Sure," he said waiting on her words.

"Come back here and forget the movie for now," she said as he obliged her request.

"Sammy, anything for you, anytime," he said, locking her in a kiss.


The End

copyright October 1998


Thanks again to Lisa & Linda for posting.

Keep the comments coming....I love hearing from you all. Whether it's good or bad, whether you love or hate the storyline, let me know.

As always, Chris, Rita, Harry, Frannie, Ana, Benny, Diana, Lieutenant Lou Hudson, Danny Newlin, Derek, Grandma Rose, George, Andrea, Cotton, Atticus and Donnie Dogs DiBarto are creations of Stephen J. Cannel and Stu Seagall....which by the way...did anyone out there ever like 'Hunter' or 'Hardcastle and McCormick?" Also Cannel Productions.

The rest of these crazy characters are mine.....and it's a cast of thousands again.....Tre, Daniel, Susan, Melanie, Geoff, Garret Evans, Dorothy Hennessy, Charmaine, Mitchell, Lawrence, Ms. Blair, Chief Sondheim, Arthur, Mary, Ben Robertson, Tim Daggert, Mike (Benny's Law Partner), George, The Barrientes Case, Judge Hendricks, Richie (George & Andrea's son...I know they had one...but I can't remember them ever naming him...so I'm taking credit), The Vollmans, Sergeant Herman, Giovanni, Mrs. Gormer, Alex Gormer and Jonathan Jordan Blair

TBS....belongs to Ted Turner.

Jerry Garcia is dead...he's also a founding member of The Grateful Dead. His ties are cool.

'Melrose Place' is an Aaron Spelling Production.

Ernest Borgnine is well, himself

Home Depot and Snap-On Tools really exist, independently of each other, of course.

George Foreman is still boxing at 50. (Dang!)

Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck are awesome in 'Double Indemnity.' Rita is right! I don't know who the producers are.

Skittles are a candy, I don't know who makes them, and I'm too cheap to buy a bag....cuz I personally don't like them, just to find out who makes them.

'Hoosiers' is a great flick, I have no idea who the producer is though and I'm also too cheap to rent it just to find out. It's also meant to say 'hey' to Joy and thank her for all the nice, kind, wonderful stuff she says about my writing. The Hoosier state is full of champions in my book!

The reference to DUKE is because they rock! And also to say 'hey' to my pal from NC. Hope you're doing ok! College hoop season is right around the corner and we are going to the final dance....I can feel it! It's a good thing this wedding is slated for February...cuz March is truly gonna be Mad this year.

Any 'fingering' is purely accidental and unintentional Samy!

And just a 'hey' in general to everyone who writes to let me know that they like reading these somewhat 'trashy' little episodes. If you can't stand the heat...don't look in Chris and Rita's kitchen, cuz you'll get burned! Go ahead and comment on that 'T' All I can say is THANKS! Hopefully I can keep up with this pace.

If you want to write, and I'd love hearing from you....you can reach me at tuna.dc@mailexcite.com.


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