For those of you who have been waiting so patiently, here is part 6 of

Friends, Lovers, and Liars.

When we last left Chris and Rita, a most unexpected suspect was standing over David' s dead body with a smoking gun. The question is: how did Jillian wind up a killer? This is a work of fiction, based on the USA series Silk Stalkings. Any comments can be sent to

Friends, Lovers, and Liars, Part 6

There was a long moment of shocked silence, before anyone reacted. Richard was the first to recover, and he began by barking, "Drop the gun, lady!"

Jillian, her face pale with shock, let the gun drop onto the desk. Richard quickly cuffed her, while Rita used a pen to pick up the gun.

Chris found his voice, and asked hoarsely, " Why, Jillian?"

Richard looked sharply at him, "You know this woman?"

Chris nodded, and replied slowly, "Yes, we-uh-used to see each other." Jillian pleaded, " I didn" t do it, Chris!"

Rita looked coolly at her, " Oh, really? You' re holding a gun in an office with a dead body, just seconds after we hear shots fired" Rita cautiously sniffed the gun barrel, "and you' re holding the probable murder weapon. How do you explain THAT?"

Jillian's thoughts were chaotic. I can' t tell them the truth, she realized. It would ruin everything. But I can' t let them charge me with murder, either. A plan formed quickly in her head, and she forced herself to calm down. " Chris, you know me. You used to love me. I could NEVER take another life. This is all just a horrible mistake."

Chris looked from Rita to Jillian, "Then why were you holding that gun?"

Richard held up a hand," Wait a minute-I need to Mirandize her. You have the right to remain silent" The words frightened Jillian even more.

" Please let me tell you what happened! I was just walking down the hall to the gift shop, when I heard shots. A man came flying out of this office, and pushed me in the open door. He ran off before I realized he' d put the gun in my hand. Why won' t you believe me?"Jillian finished tearfully.

" We want to believe you," Chris said soothingly

"Why were you here?" Rita asked.

"I just TOLD you!"Jillian said sharply.

"No, why were you here in Vail?" Rita pressed.

Chris was irritated by Rita' s tone, "Hey, Sam, we can ask her that later. We need to get rid of that crowd out there. He indicated the growing number of people milling in the hall outside the tiny office. "Come on"

Confused and inexplicably angry, Rita joined Chris in dispersing the crowd. The local authorities cordoned off the hallway, and Richard led Jillian away.

"Chris, you have to help me," Jillian called out desperately."Please!"

" Where are you taking her?" Chris asked.

"County jail for booking," Richard answered.

"I'll be there as soon as I can," Chris promised. "Meanwhile, call a lawyer."

The detectives from Florida supervised the evidence gathering in the crime scene, speaking to each other only when necessary. Rita was beset by a wealth of negative feelings, and she didn' t like the loss of control. There were so many unanswered questions, and she resented Chris' attitude towards Jillian, but she said nothing to him. By the time the body was removed, and the office sealed and locked, it was nearly five o'clock.

Chris' growling stomach reminded him of the hour, and the fact that their meager breakfast had been nearly twelve hours ago. Rita watched as he locked and sealed the office door. He turned and put his arm around her, " How about a late lunch, or early dinner?"

She shrugged off his arm, and walked away, "Don' t you want to see to Jillian first?" she countered bitterly.

He ran to catch up to her, " Rita, wait!"

She stopped, but wouldn' t face him, " Why should I?"she muttered, appalled at the tears stinging her eyes.

He spun her around and held her by the shoulders, " What is WRONG with you? I asked you if you wanted to go get something to eat. Jillian isn' t going anywhere," he added dryly.

"You said you wanted to help her," Rita replied, her green eyes blazing.

Chris groaned in frustration, " I want to help Jillian, but I can go there after we eat."

"Well, I' m going with you," she insisted.

"Whatever you want to do," Chris sighed. She let him put his arm around her as they walked towards the restaurant. The pianist in the lobby was playing ' Hark the Herald Angels Sing,' Christmas being just a week away.

Chris looked at her tenderly, " Remember the first night we spent here?" he whispered into her ear.

Ritas' throat was still tight with unshed tears, "Yeah," she squeaked, her arms tightening around his waist.

His hand stroked her hair, " I want us always to be like that, crazy in love. Nothing and no one will come between us, sweetheart, I promise."

She lifted her head, " I hope you' re right,"she said solemnly.

" I promise you," he said, as they found a table.

There was little conversation between them as they ate. Both detectives were tired, and a little letdown after the excitement of the day. Still, they did the grilled seafood and vegetable platter justice, and shared a large slice of chocolate cake for dessert. Chris glanced at his watch, as he signed for their meal. " I suppose we' d better get going," he said reluctantly.

"Yeah, we have a ton of paperwork waiting for us," Rita sighed.

"And Jillian" Chris reminded her.

"I was hoping you forgot about her,"she said wryly, getting up from the table

"Now, now be nice," he pleaded, putting his arm around her.

" I don' t want to be nice," Rita groaned. " I want to go upstairs, take a long hot bath, and crawl into bed with you. I do NOT want to sit in the sheriffs' office doing paperwork half the night, and in the county jail, interrogating your ex-lover. Sue me, it' s been a long day."

"I know it has been a long day. I'm sorry, Sammy," he sighed.

" Not your fault," Rita replied, looking up at him. "Look, the sooner we get there, the sooner we get back."

Chris didn' t answer, just squeezed her arm as they walked out to the Lexus.

At the county sheriff'' s office, they added their documents to the pile of evidence already there. The Colorado authorities were friendly and most helpful. The place was still swarming with Federal agents, which puzzled Chris and Rita as each took a computer terminal, and filed their reports. Then there were the witness statements, taken by another Federal agent and signed by the Florida detectives. Their eyes blurred as they perused the hard copies of their statements, and the nightmare wasn' t over yet.

Richard gave them the bad news as they got ready to leave for the county jail. Chris asked if Jillian had a lawyer, and if she' d been arraigned.

Richard looked shocked, then motioned them to a private office. "Guys, there' s something you don' t know. David was a Federal agent, and there' s no bail for murder of a Federal agent."

They looked at each other stunned. Rita recovered first, "Then why the hell didn' t someone tell US that?" she yelled.

Richard shook his head, " Because" he faltered. " Because we're not sure he was um-still on our side".

Chris groaned, " Well, it's a damn fine time to tell us."

Rita glanced over at her partner, "Why would Jillian shoot a Federal agent?" She didn't!" Chris objected.

Richard laughed harshly," Well, then who did? This " mystery man" she was yammering about?"

Rita sighed, and strode restlessly around the room. "I have to agree with Chris, I find it hard to believe she did it."

Richard slammed a file on the table, " Then you explain it!"

"We can't," Chris said finally." Maybe if we talk to her, she' ll tell us. "Maybe" Rita waved her hand. " Maybe she' s protecting someone."

Chris shook his head; " I don't believe that for a minute."

Rita snapped a pencil in two, frustrated, " Oh, really? When was the last time YOU saw her? How do you know who she hangs with in Boston?"

Chris opened his mouth to retort, then realized he HAD seen Jillian, and recently. A fact that his partner and lover was NOT aware of. He was going to explain that, but something told him this was not the time or the place. Rita' s attitude worried him. " I have no idea," he said. "Why don' t we go ask her?"

Rita nodded and followed Chris from the office, silent.

Jillian was in an interrogation room, eyes red-rimmed and puffy. She ran to Chris immediately, and threw her arms around him, "Oh, thank God you' re here. Can I leave now?"

Chris put her gently away from him, and sat her back in her chair. He was weary but kind as he told her,"Jillian, that isn't gonna happen. You will be held without bail. Didn' t you know that?"

Jillian started to cry, " My lawyer told me the guy was a Federal agent, but I didn' t shoot him!" Her voice rose hysterically.

Chris became impatient, "Well, SOMEONE shot him! You said someone put the gun in your hand. Who was it?"

Jillian tried to calm down, "I don' t know, I keep telling you that."

"You' re a doctor, you' re trained to be observant," Rita said acidly. " Describe him."

The doctor closed her eyes, formulating a good lie. " He was, um, medium height, black hair, slight build. It..uh... happened so fast," she faltered, tears of despair trickling down her cheeks.

In spite of that, Rita felt little sympathy for the doctor. She saw Jillian as a threat to her newfound happiness with Chris, and she couldn't explain why. Which is why Jillian' s next words shook her to the core."Chris, you know I could never lie to you. In spite of all that' s gone before, I still care about you, and I know you care about me. I saw it in your eyes the other night. You told me you were glad to see m ,, that you wanted to come to Boston." Jillian said sweetly, casting a furtive glance at Rita's reaction.

Rita said nothing, but her lips went white, the sign of someone who's received an unexpected blow.

Chris said quietly, " Jillian, I was glad to see you, but I wasn' t really planning to go to Boston. I was trying not to blow our cover,"he indicated Rita. " What I said to you mostly came out of shock. I' m sorry if you made anymore of it than that."

"Then you won' t help me?"she whimpered.

"We' ll help you all we can, but you have GOT to tell us the whole truth," Chris said earnestly. "Your story is crap, and any prosecutor will tear you to shreds. You stand accused of killing a Federal agent. If you want out of this, I repeat, TELL US THE TRUTH!"

Jillian sighed, " I have."

Rita asked, " What were you doing here in Vail?" Jillian smiled slightly, " Vacation. You know how I love to ski, Chris."

Chris nodded. " A lot of people know you were here?"

"No, but I had been planning this trip for quite awhile," she replied. Another lie.

Chris pondered that." Well, We could check that angle."

Rita cleared her throat, " Not tonight. It' s late and we have all had a long day."

Jillian sighed, "Yeah."

After promising they would be at her arraignment the next afternoon, the detectives made their way back to the hotel.

Out of a silence, Rita asked, "When did you see her and why didn't you tell me?"

Chris cautiously negotiated a turn." It was outside the nightclub, the second or third night we were here. I couldn' t tell you there, without blowing our cover, and then when we got back to the hotel. I forgot."

"You FORGOT?" she asked icily.

"I was more interested in making love to you than telling you about a chance meeting with someone who' s part of my PAST!" he was getting angry, too.

"Oh."Rita paused, letting his words sink in.

"Sammy, you have no reason to be jealous," Chris calmed himself, and reached for her hand. " YOU' RE the one I love, not her."

Tears stung her eyes, " I' m so sorry," she whispered."I-things are just so new between us. I guess I' m a little insecure."

Chris pulled to a stop in front of the hotel. The clock on the dashboard read 1:30 AM. He turned and hugged her fiercely, " I will love you forever."

"I love you so much, Chris," she sniffled against his shoulder.

" Really?"his tone turned teasing." How much?"

She lifted her head and whispered in his ear," Let' s discuss that in bed"

He chucked happily, 'That's all I need to know," he answered as they walked towards the elevators, arms entwined.

Chris slid the keycard in the door, and turned to Rita, " Just a second," he grinned, scooping her into his arms, and carrying her over the threshold.

In spite of herself, Rita laughed," You' re crazy, Lorenzo!"

"Oh, yeah, crazy about you,"he deposited her on the bed, and leaned over to kiss her

"You do realize,"she gently bit his lower lip, "that we' re not married anymore?"

"So does that mean," he teased, lying on top of her, " that we can' t make love anymore?"

She laced her fingers in his hair and whispered raggedly, "God, I hope not."

Chris started undressing her, sitting her up to remove her sweater, unzipping her jeans,"Well, we better remedy that situation right now,"he murmured, his lips searching for her nipples through the silk bra.

She greedily took possession of his mouth, tugging off his clothes in turn, rubbing her hand over the bulge in his shorts. "Hurry" she insisted.

"I want to go slow," he protested.

"I DON' T!" she said hoarsely.

Chris gave in," Okay, you' re the boss,"he laughed, giving her what she wanted.

Their lovemaking was desperate, intense, as if they were trying to wipe out everything that happened that day. They fell into a deep, almost drugged-feeling sleep, scarcely staying awake long enough to whisper one last " I love you."

In another part of the hotel, Eric was wide-awake, grinning at the contents of the purloined love letter Chris had written to Rita. Well, nothing a little forgery couldn' t fix. He added" Dear Jillian" to the beginning and" Love, Chris" at the end, in an amazingly accurate duplication of Sgt. Lorenzo' s hand. Now, to find a way to get the letter to Jillian. Ah, yes, he remembered. He could buy a little help, if need be.

Next, he needed to get out of here. A first class plane reservation for one Daniel Moss, to New York. A meeting with his publisher, book deal and fat bank account in hand, then on to sunny Palm Beach, to win his Rita. Lorenzo was such a Boy Scout, the time he' d spend trying to extricate the unfortunate lady doctor from her legal troubles would be to Eric' s distinct advantage. Rita would be devastated to realize that her precious Christopher was cheating on her with Jillian, and reaping the financial rewards of having a rich doctor as a lover. Eric laughed out loud as he remembered his creative banking practices. By the time the whole mess was cleaned up, Rita would have dumped the erstwhile Lorenzo, and come running back to him. True, it was on the rebound, but she' d learn to love him. Eric' s expression hardened, and if she didn' t, too bad. She was going to be his, for the rest of her life

And that' s part 6! So, Eric has plans for our Rita. Will our heroes figure it out before it' s too late? Stayed tuned for part 7! It' s taken me awhile to get this part up, due to work constraints, and I appreciate your patience.


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