Chris and Rita have been partners for over five years and I've been their Captain for three. I've watched them work the highest profile cases the world has ever known. They're the perfect pair as partners. Not only that, they're bestfriends. I've watched them laugh together, cry together and grow together. The only thing they haven't done together is admit what they feel for each other. I've watched them live in the land of denial for too long and now I guess it's up to me and Fran to clue them in on what everyone believes is true .that Chris Lorenzo and Rita Lee Lance belong together.
"Hey, Sam!" Rita said as she floated through the
swinging palm tree doors.
"Hi yourself, Sammy!" Looking up from a file Chris grinned to himself. The woman never walked into a room, she floated, glided or shimmied her way into a room. He noticed that from day one and she never failed to amaze him. Was it his fault that when those "Rita Lee Lance" hips swayed from side to side he got a massive woody? Of course not! Chris knew where the fault lay Society! It was society that said bestfriends make the best lovers, wasn't it? So there! It was their fault not to mention the fashion experts who designed Rita's clothes.
Taking in the hotpink number she was wearing as a form of business attire, Chris' mouth went dry. Was there no dress code in this place? Not that he didn't like what Rita had on. No. In fact, he loved what she wore every day. But did it have to be THAT short?!?
As Chris pondered these things, he watched with barely suppressed hunger as Rita sashayed her way over to the coffee machine. Her movements caused the slit in the back of her skirt to open and close as if playing a game of peek-a-boo. Allowing his gaze to burn its way down her body, he took time to admire her well-toned legs. Who could NOT look at Rita's legs? More often than a little, he found himself wondering what it would be like to have them wrapped around his waist as he .. WHOA! DOWN BOY! Chris mentally yelled at himself as he quickly turned his attention back to the file in his hand. Get a grip on yourself, son! This is your bestfriend you're foaming at the mouth over. If Rita knew what you were thinking, she'd kick your perverted butt!! Damn it was difficult having the hots for your bestfriend. Especially when she carried a gun.
Giving himself a mental shake, Chris tried to concentrate on the case. Let's see, he thought as he began reading the file again. He gave every effort toward concentrating on that file. He really did ..
..Body found near Cloverdale, he read. Male. Shot twice in the chest and once in the head. Okay. Completely naked, probably dead for several hours. Okay, Lorenzo, you're back on track. Completely naked . Oops, read that part already. Rita. No, won't go there! Rita naked. Umm, need to concentrate. So close but yet so far, Lorenzo. Uhhhh, let's see, let's see. What was I doing? Oh, yeah, the case. Okay. Body was later I.D.'d as David Hard-on. No, no his name was David Harden. That's it, David Harden, not Hard-on. What am I doing? .
"Reading a file, Sam," Rita said, answering the question Chris had no idea he'd spoken aloud.
Looking at Rita as if he thought she must be reading his mind, Chris swallowed hard.
"Uh, right, right. That's exactly what I'm doing, Sammy. Reading a file. Absolutely," Chris babbled.
Rita grinned at him in that way that suggested he consider therapy. If she only knew, Chris thought. If she only knew.
"LANCE, LORENZO! May I have the pleasure of your company in my office? NOW!" Their captain bellowed.
What did we do this time? They both thought as they got up and made their way to Cap's office.
"What's up, Cap?" Rita asked, her expression serious as she sat down.
"You know, Cap, if you keep yelling like that, me and Rita might start thinking you like us or something," Chris said, ever the smart allek.
Cap gave Chris a piercing stare over his glasses and stood behind his desk, hands on his hips. "Lorenzo, why can't you be more like your partner and just take a seat in peace without the smart remarks? For once in your life STOP BEING A WISE ASS!"
Chris grinned as he took the seat next to his partner. A quick glance in her direction revealed that she was grinning. God but she was gorgeous.
"Sorry, Cap," Chris finally said in mock-apology.
"Much better, Lorenzo. I called you two in here because I got word from Frannie that my detectives have not RSVP'd her invitation to the Policeman's Ball. My question is WHY?" Cap watched as his two sergeants cringed with guilt. Good! Let 'em feel guilty. Frannie had worked her butt off along with Karen Krane and many others to make this years Policeman's Ball a huge success. Chris and Rita were the only officers who hadn't answered the invitation. They'd both been to previous policeman's' functions before, but that was when they were involved with other people. It had been three months since Rita's breakup with Eric, and Chris' breakup with Jillian. Cap personally couldn't have been more happier when he'd heard about it. He never did like Eric to begin with. As for Jillian, well, she was "bitch" personified. The silly woman had the gall to think she could turn Chris into "Mr. Dr. Jillian" for Pete's sake. As far as Cap was concerned, it was good-bye and good riddance to both of them.
Cap knew that Chris and Rita deservered happiness. They were not only the best damn homicide team he'd ever worked with, but they were his extended family. Chris was like the pain-in-the-butt son he'd always wanted. Playful, kind-hearted, stubborn, yet strong, protective and fierce when he needed to be. Especially where Rita was concerned. Rita was the darling, sweet and affectionate daughter he'd always wanted. She was one strong cookie and a pleasure to be around. Yeah, both could be trusted no matter what, but they were both two lonely souls, Cap knew. He also knew that they were madly in love with each other and in serious denial. And anything he and Fran could do to get them on the right path, they would. Rules be damned! Both Cap and Fran knew that the Duo of Palm Beach PD were destined to be together in every way. So Fran thought, why not put both their names on one invitation, thereby, causing them to have no choice but to come together. Fran could always fib and say it was printed that way in error. Chris and Rita had fallen for it, hook, line and sinker. However, they failed to RSVP. Which meant they were stalling. Fran had already anticipated this and told Cap to make them feel guilty about the possibility of hurting her feelings. And it was working like a charm. His Fran was a genius!
"Well?!?" Cap asked again in as impatient a tone as he could muster without laughing. They looked like two lobsters facing death by boiling. He had 'em right where he wanted 'em.
"Uhhh ," they said in unison.
They looked at each other, hoping the other would come up with a good excuse. Neither one of them wanted to hurt Fran or Karen in any way. They knew they had to find a way to beg off, yet neither one could come up with a single, plausible reason.
Chris spoke up first. "Cap, we can't come to the party on one invitation. People would think we're a couple."
Rita looked at Chris as if he'd said something profane. "And what's wrong with people thinking we're a couple, Chris?"
Uh-oh, Cap thought, he's put his foot in his mouth. Hope he likes rubber.
Chris realized that didn't sound right so he tried a different approach.
"I'm just saying that if we were a couple the invitation would be okay, but since we're not a couple, then the invitation may mislead people."
"Mislead people into thinking that we're together?" Rita asked.
"Oh, give me a break, Chris. What you're really saying is that you don't want people to insinuate that you and I like each other. Or am I wrong?"
Chris looked at Cap, but Cap wasn't about to touch this one. He watched the two with all the attention one would give a tennis match. The ball was now in Chris' court. Cap hoped Chris wouldn't hit it out of bounds.
What did he say this time? Chris thought.
"Uh, Sam, did I say something wrong?"
Rita had to admit that she was being a bit silly, but the idea that Chris didn't even want to consider the possibility of them being together bugged her.
"I'm sorry, Chris. It's just that I'm still sore about Eric," she lied.
Chris was relieved and miffed at the same time. Relieved that she wasn't upset with him; miffed because she still had a soft spot for Eric Russell.
"It's okay, Sam. Forget it."
"Are you two done with your version of Peyton Place? 'Cause if you are, we can get back to the matter at hand. Frannie is expecting you two to be there whether the invitation was erroneously printed with your names together or not."
Chris and Rita had no choice. They would never hurt Fran. Seeing no alternative, they RSVP'd the party through Cap.
It was later on, as they were preparing to leave work, that Chris realized what an idiot he'd been in Cap's office. There he was using that dumb excuse about his concern with people thinking he and Rita were a couple, and Rita was still hurting over Eric. Didn't she deserve a nice night out? Didn't she deserve to be pampered and treated like royalty after that piss-drunk boozer left the way he did? The jerk had pretended he was dead, turning Rita's world upside down, and then had the nerve to try to come back into her life. The worse part for Chris was when Rita thought she was pregnant by Eric. Thank God it was a false alarm. He couldn't stand the thought of her carrying another man's child.
Although he knew his thoughts were going in a direction that could cause problems in their relationship, Chris had come to the point where he didn't care anymore. He loved Rita. Had from the very first time he laid eyes on her. She was everything to him. She was his world. He wanted to tell the whole world how he felt about her. He just hoped she felt the same.
Rita slowly walked to her car, her thoughts jumbled and confused. What was wrong with her? She was getting upset over the simplest things these days. Especially whenever Chris was around. She tried to act normal around him, as if nothing had changed, but it had.
Several months ago, after Eric left for good, Rita found herself alone and sad. Not because Eric had left. She'd come to a conclusion long before he had pulled the "pretend death" stunt that she no longer loved him (if, in fact, she ever had). Somehow she had convinced herself that she loved Eric when in actuality she loved Chris. Was in love with Chris. And because she couldn't have the man she wanted, she took the man she could get. Desperation made people do some stupid things sometimes.
Chris was heavily into Jillian and apparently still was. Jillian had invited Chris to come to Boston next week and Chris said he would. This was the reason Rita was so negative. She loved Chris and Chris loved Jillian. How was that for a twister? Jillian had gotten what she wanted. Well, almost. Chris wasn't going to move there like Jillian had planned, but he was going to visit her. He was going to see her on his vacation the week before the party. What if Jillian managed to convince him to come with him after all and Rita lost him. There was no way Jillian was going to allow them to maintain their friendship as jealous as she was. Rita decided that if you love someone, let them go. She would just have to go on without him, if that be the case. She hoped not.
By Tuesday, Chris packed an overnight bag and headed out to catch the flight to Boston. Jillian had had it in her mind that once she was gone he would miss her. Kind of an absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder thing. She didn't say as much, but Chris knew the signs. Chris had no intentions of moving to Boston. He was in love with Rita. He was only going to Boston for one night and after that, he was flying right back home. Back to Palm Beach. Back to Rita. Jillian wanted him to stay at her new home, but he chose to make reservations at a hotel and rent his own car. The farther away they were, the better. Not that Chris couldn't control himself. He only had desire for Rita. He trusted himself, he just didn't trust Jillian's intentions. Women did some sneaky stuff when they wanted a man badly enough. He wasn't about to fall into that trap. He didn't want to do anything that could jeopardize his future relationship with Rita. The less skeletons in his closet, the less he'd have to explain. Yes, he had a future with Rita. Rita didn't know it yet, but Chris was about to become her night in shining armor. Hopefully, he could put the smile back on her face that Eric had erased.
Rita was going crazy. Chris had left for the airport that morning to head to Boston. He had called her the night before to tell her not to work too hard and that he'd be back soon. She wished she could be a fly on the wall to hear what he and Jillian were going to talk about. He was being so evasive these days that she could only suspect that he may be thinking about staying in Boston. Well, at least he hadn't resigned from Palm Beach PD ..yet. No, she had to think positive. That was the only thing that kept her going. If only she had told him how she felt about him that day in the hospital after he'd been shot by Debra Bouchard. It would have been worth the risk of him possibly rejecting her advances than not ever having tried. There would have been no Jillian and no Eric. Why did she wait so long to admit how she felt? Hopefully, it wasn't too late. One thing was for sure, she was not going to let the opportunity pass her by a second time.
Tuesday evening seemed to crawl by. By Wednesday evening, Rita had expected Chris to call, but he hadn't. He was probably busy with Jillian. She hoped not. It was during her musings when the phone rang.
"Hey there, partner," the voice on the other end said. Rita knew for sure it wasn't Chris.
"You sound surprised to hear from me. Don't tell me you thought I'd forgotten about you?" Derrick McNeal said jokingly.
"Hi, Derrick. How are you?"
"Great. Miami is treating me like a king. Hehe."
Rita laughed. Derrick had always been cool.
"Where are you? You sound like you're outside."
"I'm driving down West Palm Ave."
That was her block. "Derrick, what are you doing?" she asked.
"Coming to your house. I know you weren't expecting me, but I got this invitation from Captain Lipschitz's wife to come to the Policeman's' Ball that I couldn't pass up. I'm staying at the Palm Inn. Just thought I'd drop by and see ya. Is that okay?" he asked belatedly.
"Yeah, that's cool. Since you invited yourself, why don't you bring a pizza on your way. You remember that pizza place we went to before, don't you?"
"Mario's Pizzas? Yep, I remember it. One pie, cheese, no anchovies, right?"
"Right," Rita grinned.
"See ya soon."
Rita and Derrick were having a great time reminiscing about the Debra Bouchard case and how much fun it was being "short-term" partners. They laughed about how Chris reacted when he'd heard about the shooting.
"I thought he was going to take my head off," Derrick admitted. "I've never seen him that angry before in my life."
"Well, he thought that George and I had gotten hurt. Besides, he was probably more upset about not having been there to watch my back than anything else."
"That amongst other things," Derrick said evasively.
"What do you mean 'amongst other things'?"
"Come on, Rita, you mean to tell me you didn't see the signs?"
"What signs are you talking about, Derrick?"
"A man doesn't react the way Chris did unless they're more interested than they're willing to admit."
Rita got up and started clearing the table. She needed to keep busy for fear she would buy into this moment of false hope. Could it be that Chris was more interested in her than he let on? Nah! He was in Boston with Jillian as they spoke. No, he was where he wanted to be.
Derrick kept silent. He knew it would be in his best interest to remain quiet until Rita was ready to admit what he already suspected. He wasn't about to play cupid, but that didn't stop him from watering the seed just a little.
"Well, I'd better get back to the inn. I met this great woman and we're going to bum around Palm Beach and see some sights tomorrow."
Rita nodded in agreement. Derrick gave her a hug and a peck on the cheek and was gone.
Thursday and Friday came and went with no word from Chris. Rita resigned herself to the fact that he was where he wanted to be. She wished him all the best.
It was Saturday, the morning before the night of the party and Rita had just come in from her usual morning jog. She was invigorated and in desperate need of a shower. After her shower, she ate breakfast and went to the pet store to pick up food for her fish. She remembered the first time she brought them home. Chris had helped her with the tank. Funny how everything she did reminded her of Chris. She never realized how much of a main character he played in her life. It was hard to let go when someone was that closely embedded in you. Hard but not impossible.
Rita had gotten dressed an hour before she headed out to the Odyssey Ballroom for the party. She wore a long, black evening gown made of Satin with just a hint of lace at the bosom. It was strapless and although she had a matching sheer shawl to go with it, it still showed off her creamy, white, blemish free shoulders and arms. Her black, strappy shoes complimented her feet causing them to look even more delicate. Many a head did turn the moment she walked into the room and by the time she made it to where Cap and Fran were standing, her dance card had been completely filled.
"Rita doll, you look absolutely beautiful, doesn't she Heschy?" Frannie Lipschitz said in her usual gruff, but gentle voice.
"She sure does, Fran. Rita, you look great," Cap said, smiling at the woman who had become more of a daughter to him than anyone else.
"Thanks, Fran. Thanks, Cap," she said. Looking around to see if Chris had shown, she asked, "Guess Chris decided not to come after all, huh?"
Cap and Fran had known Chris had gone to Boston, but they had no idea when he would be back. They could only hope that he would at least show up and tell, of all people, Rita what his next move would be. It wasn't like him to leave her hanging. Maybe the rest of the world, but not Rita.
"I'm sorry, doll, he never called to say a thing," Fran said sadly.
Rita nodded, eyes downcast. "Well, I hope he's happy wherever he is. I wish him all the best." She took a deep breath and set all else aside. "Hey, this is a party. Let's just enjoy ourselves, shall we?"
Rita danced the first four dances with a few of the men on the force. She tried to enjoy herself, but her thoughts kept drifting back to Chris. Had he decided to stay with Jillian? If so, did that mean their friendship was over? Did he miss her the way she missed him? Probably not. This thought made her all the more depressed, but she kept up a good front that everything was alright.
She chatted with Derrick McNeal and his date, Risa Taylor, reminisced with Karen Krane and laughed and whooped it up with her colleagues and friends. She'd only been there a good hour, yet she was more than ready to leave. Things just weren't the same without Chris. Would they ever be?
She was dancing with Kyle Sanders when she heard a familiar voice.
"Hey, Sanders, who told you you could dance with my partner?"
Kyle and Rita both turned around to see Chris standing there, his grin a mile wide, his arms folded in that cocky fashion.
"Hey, Lorenzo, I didn't know your partner needed permission," Kyle said jokingly.
He knew Chris and Rita's history and wasn't about to get in the way. He considered this dance over.
"Like you said, she is my partner," Chris said, pointing to himself to make his point.
"Wait a minute? Exactly which one of you cavemen do I belong to? Try neither," she said, trying to sound bemused when in actuality she was thrilled that he'd come. The thrill dissipated once she realized it could be the night he says goodbye. She decided not to expect too much.
The two men laughed as Kyle handed Rita off to Chris.
"Hey, Sam," Chris said with a smile as he gazed into her eyes.
"You look stunning!"
"Thanks," she said, blushing a little. Compliments from Chris always did this to her. "You clean up nice yourself, Sam."
He pulled her closer so that their bodies melded into each other and began to sway as one. Song after song, as each melody played, they danced. The men on her dance card realized that their opportunity had been shot once Chris had shown up, but they didn't mind. What could they say? Chris was one lucky son-of-a-gun!
Chris had worn a Louis Vuitton suit and smelled of Drakkar. Mmmm, Rita thought, he looks and smells delicious! The suit had been a recent present from Benny Lorenzo; the cologne, a birthday present from Rita two years ago. Funny he would wear it now.
Chris and Rita left the party together well after 2 a.m. and not once during that time had Rita asked him a thing about Boston. He understood why. She had probably come up with her own reasons as to why he'd been out of contact with her. All of them wrong, he was sure.
They had taken Rita's car because Chris had come to the party via cab. She had decided to drop him off and then go home, but once she got to his loft he refused to go in without her. Lord knows she didn't want to hear what he possibly had to say about his trip to Boston at this time of night when she was most vulnerable. However, she was dying to find out what had happened, why he hadn't called, and if he was going back to Jillian? The thought of what Chris and Jillian may have been doing together made Rita cringed. What was so wrong with her that Chris couldn't be doing those things with her? These questions did not help Rita in the least bit. She would just have to hear him out and whatever the outcome, accept it.
They were sitting on the couch listening to Kenny G. Chris had loosened his tie and kicked off his shoes. He was never really a tie man to begin with. The things near bout choked the mess out of him. He glanced over at his silent and very tense partner. She was sitting on the far side of the couch. So far that he almost had to stretch to reach her and pull her a tad closer. He noticed the way in which she jumped when he touched her. Well, not exactly jump but he could tell her nerves were on edge. Just as his were. Just how did a man tell his partner and bestfriend that he was in love with her? He guessed that the best way was to just say it. So
"Nice party tonight, eh, Sammy?" that was rich, Lorenzo, Chris chastened himself. 'Nice party tonight' my foot. Why don't you just ask her about the weather, idiot?
"Yeah," was her quiet reply.
Crash and burn! Lorenzo, come on! You've managed to romance more women than you can count and you mean to say you can't even say the right things to Rita? Chris kicked himself for sounding like a teen out on his first date, but when it came down to it, he loved Rita too much to just throw her a line. He had to be himself. Something he hadn't been with the others. Rita was better than that, therefore, she deserved better than that. He tried again.
"I guess you're wondering what happened in Boston, right?"
"Um, I guess I was wondering .a little," she said shyly.
Chris got up and began to pace. He'd never been so nervous in his life. After a minute or two, he sat down next to her; closer than he had been a moment ago. He could smell the scent of her perfume. Mmmmm .White Diamonds. He had given that to her the same day he gave her the friendship ring. She'd worn it many times before and it had had the same effect on him then that it did now. It drove him crazy. Was she the only woman who smelled so good. Even Ivory soap smelled erotic on this woman.
"Just so you know, I never had any intentions of making up with Jillian. I needed to talk to her. To get closure for her, not me. There were some things that she needed to understand."
He had her full attention now. She turned to face him.
"What kind of things?"
"Well, one, that I wasn't moving to Boston under any circumstances. Two, my life is in Palm Beach ." He said, letting the rest hang in mid-air.
"And, three. Well, three isn't something I can just tell you about, Sam," he said with a shy look.
"I don't understand. Why can't you tell me? I thought we could talk about anything. Look, Chris, if you're still in love with Jillian, it's okay. I'll just have to accept that and go on with my life. Long distance relationships don't last very long in my opinion, but if you and Jillian want to do this thing, that's fine."
"That's not what I meant, Sam. Jillian and I-"
"Besides, what business is it of mine. If that's what you want, I'm behind you 100%-"
"-are over. I was never in love with her because-"
"-no matter what you decide. If you want me to be happy for you,-"
"-I'm in love with you," he said on a goofy grin.
"-then I'm happy for you. You deserve to be happy. You're a great guy, I mea-" she was cut off once Chris' lips descended on hers
It was the only way he could think of to stop her ranting. She was obviously nervous and sometimes Rita had a tendency to go on and on without conclusion when that was the case. So, Chris kissed her to shut her up and allow what he'd just said to sink in.
What should have been a means to relieve Rita's nerves became a soul searing, heart stopping kiss. Chris couldn't stop and Rita couldn't think. Before either one could stop themselves, they were lying on the couch: Rita on top of Chris. Their lips only parted long enough to get some much-needed air, but they were right back in place once that necessity was taken care of.
Chris' hands roamed all over Rita's body causing a chill to coarse through her. A hot chill. Her shawl had fallen to the floor and Chris was slowly unzipping her dress at the same time nibbling one exposed shoulder then the other. She kissed the length of his jawline and the corners of his mouth. She could feel his arousal pushing at her, beckoning her to free it. It was this realization that caused her to jump off him to the other end of the couch.
Chris groaned in agony, missing her presence.
"Sammy, what's wrong?" he asked as he sat up.
She was sitting there holding the dress in place to keep it from slipping down since it was no longer zipped. Her hair was down around her shoulders and some hung in her face. She looked as if she'd just been thoroughly made love to. She looked ever so much the seductress, yet she also looked like an innocent. This caused him even greater discomfort in his slacks. Thank God they were loose, for now.
"Did you say you were in love with me?" she asked, her heart hoping. She didn't want to go any further until she was sure.
Chris visibly sighed a sigh of relief. For a minute there, he thought something was wrong.
"Yup, that's what I said." He moved closer until he was a hair's breath away. "Sammy, I've loved you since the first time I laid eyes on you. I cared about Jillian. I may have even liked her, but I knew after our second date that I couldn't let go of my feelings for you."
"Are you saying that it's because of me that you broke up?" Rita wanted Chris but not at the expense of someone else's feelings.
However, Chris reassured her, "No. I felt a modicum of gratitude for what Jillian had done by saving my life. I confused gratitude with love when the love for another woman just wasn't there. The only woman I've ever felt this kind of love for is you and my Grandma Rose before you. Don't think for a minute that you did or said anything to break me and Jillian up. That ended before it began. Understand?"
She smiled that smile he loved so much. "Yeah, I understand." Then she grinned and said, "A modicum of gratitude, eh?"
"Yep. I've been known to toss around a big word or two on occasion."
They laughed. Everything was going to be okay.
"I love you, Rita." Chris' serious tone and expression told her he was being completely honest.
"I love you, too, Chris," she said, relieved she'd finally said it.
So " she said, head cocked to the side and giving him the beguiling look that spoke volumes.
"So ," he said with a grin as he moved closer and closer.
Their lips touched and the spark ignited into a fire .engulfing them both in its inferno of love as the Sams went out in a blaze of glory.
Chris and Rita just left my office not two minutes ago with great news. Seems Fran's plan worked to a tee. They just told me that they're in love and seeing each other. I told them to lay low until I can make "special" arrangements for them to stay partnered. I also told them how happy I am for them. Well, if you'll excuse me, I've got to call Frannie. She'll be thrilled! What, did you expect me to sit here and talk to you all day? I have a department to run. Out! Out!
You can email DJ at DeShoneJohnson@webtv.net. Also, our dear friend DJ forgot the most boring part of all fanfics... the disclaimers. DJ doesn't own Chris, Rita, Cap, and Frannie. They belong to USA, so have mercy and don't sue her :-)
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