Rita watched him talking on the phone from the kitchen as she stacked plates into the dishwasher. She couldn't tell from his expression one way or another. He seemed to be doing a lot of the talking. She even saw him smile once during the conversation. She was hopeful. Then she heard the phone being hung up. The conversation had been too short, she thought to herself. Knowing Chris though, he wouldn't be disappointed. He wouldn't let her get to him ever again. He was used to this type of hurt and rejection. As he did with his Father before, he also buried his feelings of neglect and sadness brought on by his mother. Rita had really only seen his dejected feelings towards his Mother once, when Anna had blown into Palm Beach to shoot 'The Story of Q.' Chris tried to explain to her then how selfish his Mother was. She passed it off for a while then as Chris' imagination. She soon realized she was wrong.
Rita occupied herself around the kitchen, acting as if she wasn't interested in the least as to what or how his phone conversation had gone. Chris walked into the kitchen behind her and put his arms around her waist. Rita stopped what she was doing and relaxed her arms over his and tenderly caressed his strong, muscular arms and turned her head slightly and reached up for a kiss. He returned the kiss softly. "Aren't you gonna ask about it?" he said leaning his head on her shoulder waiting for her to say anything.
"Do you want me to?" she started.
"I know you want to know," he said suggestfully.
"Alright, what did she say?" Rita asked.
"Anna sends her congratulations to us," he said without emotion.
"That's it?" she wondered with a little anger in her voice.
"She's busy, she didn't have much time to talk," Chris began trying to excuse his Mother's lack of interest.
"Obviously," Rita replied, thinking to herself what a shame it was for her that she never had time for her own son. Actually at first, Rita used to feel sorry for Anna, now she didn't much care. She saw how Anna's distance affected Chris. And Chris was who Rita cared about. Anyone who'd want to hurt him so badly, Rita didn't have the time of day for. Apparently now, Anna had done it again. As Chris spoke, Rita thought about him a little boy and remembered hearing Anna say how cute he had been. Rita had seen some pictures of Chris as both a baby and as a child. He was adorable, those images were now etched in her mind, she smiled thinking of them. She could only wonder why a Mother would all but desert her only child, especially someone as wonderful as Chris.
"She's in Australia, making 'Kindred Spirits' with the guy from 'Crocodile Dundee,' Chris explained.
Rita tried to be polite and tactful, inside though, she thought that someday she'd like to give her future mother-in-law a piece of her mind. "Well what exactly did she say when you told her that we are getting married?" she asked with a smile.
Chris released her from his grasp and went to the refrigerator and grabbed an apple, "Want one?" he asked. Rita nodded no. Chris took a bite out of the apple and continued, "She said she was happy for both of us and that she'd send us something nice from Sydney."
"Glad she could take the time," Rita said with a laugh.
"Don't get too excited, she said Robert would pick something out and ship it," he began, "of course she didn't bother to ask for our new address," he said with a smile, "so don't expect anything," he added.
Rita shook her head in disbelief, "How can you stand it?"
"It's been like this for thirty three years Sam, it's nothing new for me. It's not a big deal. If you don't expect much, you don't get hurt. I learned that a long time ago. You know you can't miss something you've never had. Besides you're the one who told me that I should call her, remember?" he asked.
"I'm sorry, I guess you were right all along," she said.
Chris shrugged his shoulders, "Everyone can change Sam, look at Benny! It seems like we both got ourselves a Father now," he said cheerfully.
She smiled at the thought of Benny. It had been nearly two months now since he was given the all clear sign from his lung cancer. He called them at least once a week, every week and talked to each one of them at length since he had gone back to Philly, after he had stayed in Palm Beach for about ten days. During his stay, Chris and Benny had spent hour after hour working on the Charger, which sat in the garage due to an untimely major malfunction. Which one was having more fun, was unknown to Rita. She could hear the sound of their laughter and their talking through the open windows of the house. Neither one of them could fix the car, but the time they were sharing together was priceless. One the last day of Benny's visit, while Chris and Rita were at work, Benny had the Charger towed away and replaced it with a '99 2 door Jeep Grand Cherokee, metallic in color. When Chris and Rita got home that night and saw the vehicle, they wondered whose it was. Benny greeted them at the door with the keys and presented it to Chris and said, "The Charger is dead Son, I got ya a new baby, take care of her."
"Are you kidding me Pop," Chris asked?
"Nope, that beauty there's all yours," he said nodding towards the Jeep, "had the Charger hauled off. They even gave me $200 for it," he said with a chuckle, "Fools," he added under his breath. "Now if we can only do the same thing for your wardrobe."
Chris stood in shock. "The Charger Pop?" was all that Chris could expel from his lips.
"Benny, I think you've mortally wounded your son," Rita said rubbing her hand up and down on Chris' back, "You'll be fine Sam, it's only a car," she added as she and Benny walked over to the Jeep and began to look her over.
Lot's of things had changed with Benny. They found him to be an intelligent, thoughtful, warm and most certainly, funny human being. It was great just to be with him, they both discovered. His interests were wide and varied and he could talk about just anything, which he did for hours. Most noticeable was his newfound generosity toward Chris and Rita. Newfound to them that was. They were a little concerned at first, thinking that he was a)either buying their love or b)unloading his money before his time was up. It didn't take long for them to realize that neither was true. Benny was just generous, he always had been. In fact, somehow, by accident, Chris found out that after all these years it was Benny's investments and child support that had supported Chris as well as his Grandmother. Chris had always thought it was Anna and her income from being one of Hollywood's finest. Grandma Rose was Anna's Mother, not Benny's after all. But it was Benny that had bought the house for Chris and his Grandmother and Benny's money that had sent Chris to private school, college and the police academy. His Father had done just about everything it took to be a Father, except to be there physically and emotionally for his son. He explained to both of them, that his thinking was from the 'old school,' that his boy should be with his Mother, or in this case with his Grandmother. Chris and Benny had both resigned themselves to forget the past and live in the present. They had gotten off to a great start.
Benny's generosity went beyond them as well. Rita and Chris had decided to give the $500 that Frannie and Harry gave them as a housewarming present to George to take his SAT's and then the rest to get him started in school somewhere. Benny wouldn't hear of it, he made them keep their money and instead began to bankroll George, who had done so well on the SAT's that he would be starting at the University of Miami in the fall. Benny said he'd take some money and invest it in some quick, money making CD's, for the rest of George's tuition. His only requirement was that George go back home with his parents, help them out as much as he could, do well in school and pass the bar when the time came.
It wasn't all about money though. There were many other changes in Benny going on too. He spent hours with both of them, together and separately, just talking, finding out about each one and what made them both tick. And they learned about him too. On more than one occasion he even hinted about grandchildren. They had to keep reminding him they wanted to get married first. Then he kept pushing them to set a date. He was quite a character. Chris and Rita hated seeing him go back to Philadelphia. He truly was becoming a Father to both of them.
Their lives were filled with work and a growing love for one another. The house was becoming more their own each day. The kitchen, now completely renovated, was indeed a reflection of the two of them and their tastes. It was modern, with more of a masculine color scheme, but the accents, designs and art work were definitely feminine. It all came together in a unique blend.
At work, things were going along fairly smooth. Status quo as some would say. It was one particular Tuesday morning that Cap called Rita into his office. Chris was at the shooting range getting re-certified for another 3 month term.
"What's up Cap?" Rita asked sitting down in a chair.
"I gotta a little bad news," Cap began removing the glasses from his face and rubbing his eyes.
"What is it Cap?" Rita said with concern as she sat up a little forward in the chair.
"My Father passed away last night, up in New York," Harry began.
"Oh, Cap, I'm so sorry," Rita said carefully making eye contact with him.
"Thank you Rita," he began looking right at her, showing little emotion, "The man was 96, never sick a day in his life. Died in his sleep. Whatta a way to go huh?" Cap said fondly.
"Are you ok Cap," Rita said, "I mean, should you even be here?"
"I'm fine Lance," he said a little shortly. "My younger brother still lives up there, he's with my Mother now. Frannie and I will be going later tonight." Rita nodded and gave him a condescending smile. "I gotta take care of a few things before I go, which is why I called you in here. I've been on the phone all morning with Chief Sondheim," Harry said beginning his explanation. Rita looked a little perplexed. "I'm gonna be up there for a least a month Rita, it's the old Jewish custom for mourning. Then I gotta figure out how I'm gonna take care of my Mother. I've asked for a temporary leave of absence. I could be gone even longer."
Rita nodded her understanding of the situation, "So what does that mean for us," she asked?
"I'm glad that Chris isn't here this morning, I wanted to talk to you first, run it past you and see what you think," Harry said.
Rita had that puzzled look on her face again, "Where's this going Cap?"
"I'll make it simple Rita, I told Sondheim that I want you to be in charge, while I'm gone, you'll be temporarily promoted to Lieutenant, and you'll head up the Homicide department," Cap said. Rita eyes opened wide and her mouth hung open. "I told him that you were more than qualified. No doubt in my mind about it. He said that it came down to you and Lorenzo, that I had to pick between the two of you. Now I know you've been studying for the Lieutenant's exam and Chris hasn't, but that wasn't my only criteria. I need you to understand this." Rita nodded. "It's not just a gut feeling I had either, I based it on experience, initiative, overall job knowledge and service record. And I'm not saying that Chris isn't qualified too, hell, you both could be running the department as far as I'm concerned. It came down to the fact that I think you're just more qualified at this time. Do you understand what I'm saying Lance," Harry asked?
Rita nodded and said, "I think so, thank you Captain."
"So will you be willing to accept this position Sergeant," Harry asked?
"It would be an honor, Cap," Rita said.
"And whattaya think Lorenzo's gonna say," Cap questioned?
"I think he'll be happy for me Cap," she answered, watching his reaction as he peered at her through the top of his glasses, "honestly, he'll be fine with it," she said in his defense.
Harry got up and walked around to the other side of the desk before he began to speak to her again. "You need to realize Lance that you WILL be his supervisor, you'll be watched by everyone in the department and scrutinized every minute of every day with every decision you make or don't make. It's not gonna be easy Lance. And Chris is gonna feel the pressure too, his partner is now the one in charge. Then throw in the whole fact that the two of you are not only partners here at the office but at home as well," Harry said with a chuckle, "it ain't gonna be easy Lance, I want you to be very sure. Think about it for a few hours. I gotta call down to the shooting range, I want to sit Lorenzo down and talk to him as well, then I want to talk to the both of you after lunch, ok?"
"Stop it Cap, you're scaring me," she said laughing.
"I'm serious about this Rita, it's gonna be a major adjustment for both of you. I want you to be sure," he added.
"I understand," Rita began, "and thanks Cap."
"For what," he asked? "you like turmoil and chaos that much huh, Lance?
Chris walked into the bull pen and saw Rita sitting at her desk. "Hey Sam, what's up?" he loudly and happily called out to her and as he did, Cap bellowed at him before Rita could respond.
"Lorenzo, your company is requested in here," he said pointing to his office and added, "NOW."
Chris glanced at Rita who tried to tell the whole story with her eyes. It didn't compute at all to Chris. He shook it off and headed in by Cap. Striding in he turned back to look at Rita, "Hey Cap, you want Rita in on this too?" he asked.
"No, Chris, and get the door please," Cap said sitting in his chair.
Chris knew it was something rather serious, it always was when Cap used his first name. "What's going on Cap?" he said with a little worry in his voice.
Cap proceeded to tell him about his Father passing away and then about Rita's opportunity to run the Homicide Department on an interim basis. Cap looked at Chris' serious face. "Whatta think Lorenzo?"
"I'm really sorry about your Father Cap, please accept my sympathies, is there anything I can do?" he said looking sadly at Cap.
"Thanks Lorenzo, I appreciate it, everything's being taken care of, but what I'm talking about is Lance, you ok with her being in charge," Harry asked, "You realize it came down to you or her?"
Chris sat back in his chair and began to nod, "Yeah, sure Cap. Rita will make one hell of a great supervisor. I think it's a good choice. Does she know about it?" he asked glancing out of the office to where she sat.
"Of course she knows about it, you think I'd tell you before I asked her?" Cap said sarcastically.
Chris chuckled a little, "It'll be fine Cap, I know Rita's been working hard to get something like this, it'll be a great experience for her."
"But what about you Chris," Harry began, "It's not gonna be easy for you. You'll be assigned a new partner and everyone will be watching to see how Rita treats you. I've already told Lance that this would be tough. Plus with your engagement, which everyone knows about, your home life could be in for a whole new set of problems. Believe me I know the kinds of crap a supervisor brings home. It's a good thing Frannie's not a cop."
Chris listened intently to what Cap was saying but then he started to get a little defensive, "What are you saying Cap? That I should say that I what, I don't want Rita to have this opportunity. Is that gonna change your mind about her? I can't do that to her Cap. I won't do that to her, not ever. She's worked hard for everything she's ever gotten. She deserves it. I know it, she knows it and you know it too, that's why you picked her. I think it's a good decision. This is what Rita's been working toward. I'll never stand in her way. And I don't think she'd stand in mine either. I know it won't be easy, but we've been through a lot already. It just makes us stronger," he said shifting his head, "this will too. It'll be great," he said sincerely.
"Lorenzo, fasten your seat belt, cuz you are in for the ride of your life," Cap answered.
Chris walked out of Harry's office and headed straight for Rita who sat at her desk working on some paperwork. "Hey Sam, how 'bout if we grab some lunch, it's on me," Chris said bending over her and taking in her fresh fragrance with a deep breath.
Rita looked up a little startled since she had engrossed herself in the file she had on her desk. She knew that Chris and Cap had been discussing the upcoming scenario and she needed something to distract herself from thinking about what was being said behind the closed door. "Yeah, ok," she said with a unsure smile. She wondered what he was thinking since he had avoided saying anything about the situation.
They walked out of the building and decided to walk a few blocks away to a new, comfy, outdoor cafe that they had recently discovered. They strolled in silence for awhile and then at the same time they said:
"So what do you think about the temporary position?" Rita said. "How do you feel about the promotion?" Chris asked.
They both giggled in unison too. Chris started, "You go first," he said with a grin.
"I'm, oh, I guess I'm excited first of all," Rita said grinning broadly.
"I think you should be, I am really happy for you Sam, you're gonna be great!" Chris said tugging at her arm and drawing her closer for a brief hug right there on the street. "Congratulations," he added softly while nuzzling the side of her neck.
She let herself enjoy the moment, then asked him, "Are you sure you're ok with it? I mean it came down to you and me, I just don't want this to get between us."
Chris pulled back a bit, enough to look into her eyes, "Of course I mean it. I've never thought of us as being in any kind of competition, ever. We both have certain strengths and weaknesses. That's why we're such good partners, how does that song go, you say po-tay-toe, I say poe-ta- toe," he laughed a little, "I think it's great Sam, you've worked hard and you deserve the chance. I'm behind you a hundred percent. I always will be. Just don't make me salute you."
She smiled at his explanation, deep down she still was a bit skeptical. "Cap says this isn't gonna be easy for either one of us?" she said questioning her own decision.
Chris grabbed her by the hand and led her toward the restaurant. "Did you think it would be easy?" he asked her.
She shook her head and smiled at him, "No, I guess not, but I want it to be hard work, not hard life. If it's gonna mess us up or how others look at us and think we can't separate home and work, is it worth it Chris?" she asked.
"We haven't let it interfere yet, have we?" he asked her again.
"No, again," she said enjoying his logic, "but this IS gonna be different."
"Yep, and you're gonna be fine," he began, "and I'm gonna be fine and the department is gonna be fine and Cap will be fine and we'll all live happily ever after," he said with a grin. "Now can we eat? I'm starving," he said pulling her into the restaurant area.
Cap and Rita got down to business for most of the rest of the afternoon, going over policies and procedures for the department. Rita thought to herself that as a detective she had mounds of paperwork, well it was nothing compared to what she had to undertake as a supervisor. She was responsible for everything in the department from payroll to who's buying coffee to making sure the electric bill got paid. She was slightly overwhelmed, but in an adrenaline pumped sort of way. It felt great.
Her first order of business would be to pull in another detective to team up with Chris in the interim. She had two choices, Treveon Thomas from Vice or Rod McLeish from Narco. Rita knew Tre very well as did Chris and he had been with the department for 6 years now. Rod McLeish on the other hand was a transfer from Miami who had only been in Palm Beach for four months. He had an excellent reputation in both places. She set up interviews with both, first thing in the morning.
Chris walked in Cap and Rita at about 5:30pm and they briefly looked up and acknowledged his presence. He told them he was heading home. They nodded.
He walked out of the department feeling more than a little left out, but quickly got over his emotion. He knew he wasn't ready for the position, that Rita was better qualified. He just missed her.
When Rita got home three hours later, Chris was underneath the sink in the bathroom, doing his darnedest to loosen up a pipe. His cut-off sleeveless T-shirt was soaking wet as was the entire floor of the bathroom. He didn't even hear Rita come in. "Gol, darn you, come on now you blasted sonofa..." Chris was muttering.
"Chris what is going on?" she asked standing in the doorway holding several binders full of information.
Chris popped his head out from under the sink. "well, hello to you too," he said with a grin.
She couldn't resist that boyish, carefree look of his. She smiled back at him, "What have you done to the bathroom," she said in a kinder tone.
"Let's see," he began with a dramatic pause, "I think it goes something like this, see someone in this house who has fairly long, dark, and I would say sexy hair, which in turn, each and every day gets brushed, combed and or blo-dried over this sink, leaving some clumps to get washed down the above mentioned drain hole. Then, when, handsome looking gentleman comes in to shave in the morning, and that's me, said sink is somehow clogged," he explained with a flourish. "I'm just trying to unclog the pipes," he finished his prolonged explanation with that childish, lovable grin.
"It looks more like you're taking a bath on the floor rather than in the tub," Rita said still smiling at him.
"Wanna join me then?" he asked lowering his voice and raising his eyebrows..
"I'd love to, but I really need to do some reading," she said raising up the binders she carried.
"Ah, work before play. Sam, you know what they say about that?" Chris replied.
"I'm sure whoever said it, was never appointed as interim Lieutenant of a Homicide Department," she answered.
"Probably not," he said dejectedly then changed the subject, "I got a pizza for dinner, what's left of it is in the fridge. I'll clean this up, you go ahead and eat and get studying boss, ok?" he said.
"You sure you don't want me to help you clean this up?" she asked
"Nah, I made the mess, I can clean it up, besides, you're hungry, you look exhausted and for tonight, here at home, I'm giving the orders," he said.
"Yes sir," she said giving him a salute.
Chris continued puttering away in the bathroom. He heard Rita go into the bedroom and saw the light go on in there. He cleaned up his mess, gathered up his tools and took them out to the garage for safe keeping.
When he came back inside, he checked the locks on the front and back door and made his way back to the bedroom. Rita was thoroughly engrossed in whatever it what she was reading. Chris shed the wet shirt and damp shorts he was wearing, grabbed some clean boxers, took a quick shower and slid into bed beside her.
"So, what's so interesting?" he asked.
She kept reading for a few moments then broke her contact with the book as the scent of his cologne drifted over to her and broke her thought process. She looked at him. "What?" she asked distractedly.
"I'm just wondering what's so important in there? You know it's almost 11:30pm. You are gonna be a monster tomorrow if you don't get some sleep soon, and on your first day no less," he teased and added "tsk, tsk, tsk.".
"I've gotta select a new partner for you, first thing. So I've gone through the two candidates files, now I'm reading through the manual for promotion guidelines. Cap said whomever I choose will have the position permanently. And no, I don't mean as YOUR partner permanently, but they will be classified as a homicide detective," she explained.
"Who are the candidates," Chris asked.
"I can't divulge that," she said looking right into his eyes smiling seductively at him.
"You know I have ways to get it out of you?" he answered returning the stare.
"That would not only be illegal Sam, it would be unfair," she said running her finger along his chin.
"Alright, I'll wait, just make it a good one ok? This guy who needs a partner is a pretty wonderful fella," he said planting a kiss on her waiting lips.
"I had heard that," she said pushing her binder to the floor, reaching in to Chris' waiting embrace."
Treveon came into Rita's office first. Rita was more than prepared for the interview. She had done the necessary homework and had a list of prepared questions all ready for Tre. Unfortunately he took the whole situation entirely too lightly. He wasn't ready for the barrage of questions, nor had he prepared by studying some basic homicide detective practices. He went in to the interview thinking he was a shoo-in based on the fact of how well he knew Rita and his exemplary record with the department.
Rod McLeish on the other hand was over prepared. He had his own list of questions for Rita, as well as being able to easily answer the ones she had. He was confident, assured and had ample experience as a detective on some very important cases in both Miami and Palm Beach.
The choice was easy for Rita. Chris' new partner would be Rod McLeish.
Chris was in court most of the morning, so he had no idea who the two candidates were. He kinda thought one might be Tre, but the other choice was up in the air. At 11:15am, Tre bumped in to Chris in the hallway. "Hey Tre, how's everything going man?" Chris began.
"It's been better Chris," he said sullenly continuing to walk away.
Chris shook his head and walked in the familiar palm tree doors. Rod McLeish was standing at Rita's former desk, shifting things from one side to the other and clearing space off entirely. Chris had never met Rod before. He'd heard of him though. "Hey, what's goin' on there?" Chris asked coming around to his side of the desk.
"You must be Lorenzo?" Rod began.
"Yeah, and you are who?" Chris asked.
"I'm your new, better half, at least temporarily. Rod McLeish," he said holding out his hand.
Chris took it begrudgingly and shook it back. Copping an attitude, he replied, "You'll never be my better half, you're right about being new and I'm thanking God it's only temporary, other than that, pleasure to meet you," Chris said flashing a fake grin and emanating his slight disdain for this character across from him.
"Well, it's good to meet you too, Christopher," McLeish said with a smile.
Rita walked out of her office, "I see that I missed the introductions, huh? If you guys have everything under control, I'll just get back to my office. Sam, you wanna do lunch in a bit," she asked with a smile.
Chris kept watching Rod for a moment and then turned to Rita. "Nah, I got something else I gotta take care of," he said making eye contact but giving her no possible hint as to what it might be for. He wanted to catch up to Tre and find out what had happened.
She looked at him a little puzzled and replied, "ok, I'll talk to ya later then."
Chris sat down and watched her go back into her office and close the door. His eyes wandered back to Rod, who continued to rearrange the desk as if he'd be there for a long time.
"All right, Christopher, tell me about that Sam thing? What's that all about? You think you're Sam Spade or something?" Rod asked with no possible clue to the significance of their nickname.
"Let's just leave it at 'or something' ok, and the name is Chris, not Christopher," Chris said now really beginning to get irritated by this guy.
"Sure, no prob. Say, if you're not doing lunch with that gorgeous leader of ours, you wanna grab something with me?" Rod was stupid enough to ask, as he continued to gawk at Rita through her office window. Apparently he was one of the few people at PBPD who didn't know that Chris and Rita were engaged.
Chris shook his head, "No, not today Hot Rod," Chris said arrogantly, coining his own nickname for McLeish, "and just in case you didn't know, that gorgeous leader of ours is MY fiancée."
"Yeah and I'm dating Josie Bisset," Rod said with a grin, not believing Chris.
Chris just glared at him, "Sure you do, too bad she lives in California with her husband Rob Estes. Just watch what you say about Rita ok?" he said with a fake smile. Chris got up, "Listen, we don't have a case right now, so I'm going to lunch early, see ya later,"
"Yeah ok, bye Christopher," Rod said.
Chris closed his eyes and gritted his teeth.
Chris caught up with Tre out in the parking lot. "Hey Tre, wait up man?" he called out to him from a distance.
Tre turned and saw Chris and stopped to let him catch up. "Listen Chris, this isn't a good time, you know?" Tre said dejectedly.
"Yeah, I just met my excuse for a partner, I'm sorry man," Chris said.
"I thought you and Rita'd be there for me man, she just gave me the shaft," he explained walking away.
Chris chased after him and grabbed his arm, "You wanna tell me what happened?" he asked.
"Hell if I know. She calls me at home last night and says I got an interview this morning for homicide detective, if I'm interested. I said yeah. So I come in this morning and she gets all protocol in my face. I didn't know what she was saying half the time. But you know I could do that job Chris. I can't believe you couldn't talk to her or something," Tre explained.
Chris dropped his head and shook it in despair. "Rita's running this show Tre. She's my boss too, I can't tell her what to do or what not to do. You gotta know that?"
"She's your lady Chris, come on?" Tre pleaded.
"I can't do that Tre, and even if I did, there's no way that Rita's gonna go for it. You know her better than that," Chris said.
"Yeah, I thought I did. You know I've been working here for six years now, I thought I knew who my friends were. I guess I was wrong. Watch your own back around McLeish," Tre said warning Chris while walking away, leaving Chris standing alone in the parking lot.
Chris watched him go and wondered what he meant by his last comment. Was it just more sour grapes or did he know something about McLeish. He filed it away for future reference.
Jason Kirkpatrick was a twenty nine year old lawyer. At 3:42pm, he was found dead in his townhouse. His soon-to-be wife, also an attorney, had come home early from their office when Jason didn't return after lunch. She found him strangled, stabbed and shot once in the head, lying on the floor of the kitchen. When Chris and Rod showed up, she had been taken to her Mother's home due to the shock. Before she left, one of the officers heard the woman say that came home to talk to Kirkpatrick. Apparently he wanted to just live with her, not marry her, as she had been hoping and planning to do. She was clearly upset by the whole situation.
"Someone really wanted this guy dead bad," Rod began looking over the various wounds. "I'd say he was stabbed first, then strangled, then shot in the head, just to be sure."
Chris nodded his agreement and stood up and looked around the kitchen. "I think you're probably right, lots of blood under the chest, not much bruising from the strangle and virtually no blood from the head wound. Maybe the knife is still around," he said scanning the room.
"You think someone would leave the weapon here?" Rod asked.
"Stranger things have been known to happen Hot Rod," Chris said sarcastically.
"Well, my best bet would be on his recent case list. Everyone who looses hates their lawyer, right? All we need to do is check his docket and we'll have our answer," Rod said.
"That's pretty neat Rod, did you grow up on Perry Mason or Matlock?" Chris kept up his assault.
Rod didn't seem to let Chris comments get to him though. "Why go out of your way to read the whole book Christopher, when you got the final chapter right in front of you nose," he responded, dishing out his own form of verbal attack.
This was not going to be easy, Chris was thinking, and not only this case, but working with this guy too. "Alright Rod, you check his office and go through his cases. I'm starting with the fiancée. See you back at the shop later," Chris said relieved just to get away from this guy for a while.
"Ma'am, I'm sorry to disturb you, but I do need to ask you a few questions about Jason Kirkpatrick," Chris began by showing the woman his badge.
"I understand, please come in, my name is Teri," the woman said sitting up on the sofa that she had been laying down on.
Chris nodded, "Teri, could you tell me what you did when you got home this afternoon," he asked.
"I needed to talk to Jason, he had said some things to me, that he didn't want to marry me, he just wanted to continue to live together. I had to talk to him, but he was avoiding me. I thought it was strange that Jason didn't come back to work after lunch. We usually take lunch together now. I though it'd be a good time to talk about our relationship. But he had some errands to run today, so he said he was just going to grab a quick sandwich at home. I met a few other people from the office, at Houligan's. Then I went back to work. About three o'clock, Jason still hadn't come back to the office. I tried paging him, calling his cell phone, trying the phone at the townhouse. There was no answer anywhere. So I decided to come home," she said.
"And what time was that?" Chris asked.
"I left the office at 3:10, I remember, because I have the time on my computer. I must have gotten to the house by 3:30 or 3:35. Then I walked...." she started to say and began to cry and sob the rest of the words out, "in.....the.....kitchen....and he......was......just .......laying there......bleeding.....oh god," she said now sobbing fully. Her elderly Mother came into the room and began to console her.
"I'm sorry," Chris paused for her to compose herself, "Teri, do you know if Jason had any enemies, any one who might have wanted to see him killed?" Chris asked.
Teri's Mother responded. "Jason's ex-wife."
"Mom!" Teri said shocked at her Mother.
Chris studied both women carefully. "Mrs. Carson, what do you mean?" he asked.
"Monica couldn't have children. She and Jason tried. That was the brunt of all their arguments. He finally couldn't stand it anymore. So he left her about a year ago. Teri's pregnant and Monica somehow found out. She was upset. I heard it in her voice myself the other day on the phone. Teri was giving Jason something she couldn't. She said she wanted to see him dead," Mrs. Carson explained.
"You both heard her say this?" Chris questioned the women.
"Yes, my Mother was listening on the extension. We've got it taped too, Detective. She was talking crazy that day," Teri explained.
Chris jotted down some notes and asked her one last question, "Teri, do you own a gun?"
She shook her head, "No Sergeant, I don't."
"Ok, thank you, you've both been a big help. If you think of anything else, please call me," Chris said handing his card to Teri. "I'll be in touch."
"Rod, you are really reaching here pal. You can't honestly think someone would get that bent out of shape over a $300 DUI conviction do you? I mean is that what you learned in Miami? Kirkpatrick is a small claims/minor infraction lawyer, none of his clients are gonna want to kill him, it's that easy," Chris said lounging in his desk chair with his feet propped up on his desk. McLeish stood next to his desk waving a file in his face.
"And I suppose you have something better?" Rod asked.
"You're damn right I do," Chris said stretching his arms out behind his head.
Rita popped her head out of her office, "You two guys wanna come in here and give me the rundown on Kirkpatrick," she asked.
Chris grinned at Rod, knowing his angle would be the one Rita would suggest they go with. Rod quickly walked into her office brandishing his file, while Chris casually, yet confidently strode in behind him.
"So whatta we got?" she asked beginning to look toward Chris initially.
"You first Hot Rod, you know you want to," Chris said smirking at him. Rita casually noticed this.
"I've got a recent case of Kirkpatrick's here. He lost it for his client on a technicality. According to trial transcripts, the client swore in court in front of everyone that he'd get even with him someday," Rod began.
"What was the case about?" Rita asked.
"A DUI conviction. Cost the guy $300 bucks," Rod boasted.
Rita had to hide a smile. "What about you Chris, what have you got?"
"Jason's ex-wife. She was sterile. His new squeeze, a Teri Carson isn't. So this ex, a Monica Kapshaw calls up Teri one night and threatens to kill him. Teri's Mom overhears it on a phone extension and Teri's got it on tape too. I'm going to talk with Monica first thing in the morning," Chris said smugly.
"Sounds almost too neat Sam, why was Teri recording it?" Rita asked glancing at Rod who now had a smile on his face. She smiled at him again.
"Teri'd been getting these threatening phone calls from Monica for about six months. She's a lawyer. She knows how important evidence is," Chris explained, now getting a well deserved grin from Rita in his favor.
"Sounds like both of you have interesting leads. Keep going in those directions and keep me posted ok?" she said. Chris continued to sit, thinking he hadn't heard her quite right.
"Yes, ma'am Lieutenant," Rod said standing up and smiling at her, while Chris remained dazed and seated in his chair glaring at her. "See you both tomorrow," he added.
"Goodnight Rod," Rita said.
"Yeah bye Hot Rod," Chris added without bothering to look in his direction.
After Rod had left the squad room, Chris lashed out at Rita, "You're gonna let him follow up on a $300 DUI in a homicide investigation?" Chris leaned forward to question her decision. That was a mistake.
Rita didn't back down from his assault, "Do you have a problem with that Sergeant?" she asked back defensively.
Chris looked her over, she wasn't budging and she certainly didn't appear to be kidding either, "I guess not, but if you did want my opinion, which before today I might add, used to be important by the way, I'd say you're sending him on a wild goose chase, wasting his own time and mine. We do have a murder to solve here, it's not the time for learning exercises," Chris said angrily getting up and walking out.
Later that evening, Chris was puttering around in the garage when Rita pulled up in the driveway. She saw him outside and walked up to talk to him. "Hey Sam," she started.
"Hey," he replied keeping his eyes on the workbench in front of him and whatever it was he was working on.
"Can we talk?" Rita asked.
Chris pounded a nail into a piece of wood at first ignoring her, then replied, "Sure." He turned and gave her a bit of a smile.
"You were right, I should have told Rod that he was wasting his time," she began.
"But you didn't want to deflate his huge ego on his first day in the department," Chris added.
Rita nodded and smiled. He could really be understanding, sometimes it killed her. "I can't believe this is the first day and I'm actually thinking like a supervisor rather than a cop. I'm sorry Chris," she said.
"That's how you're supposed to think now. It's ok, I got a little bent out of shape in your office too, forgive me?" he asked.
"I think that's a deal," she said giving him a hug.
"I've got some barbecue on the stove, it should be ready by now, are you hungry?" Chris asked.
"Yeah, I'm starving, I worked right through lunch," she answered leading him inside. "So how are things with your new partner anyway?" she asked.
"Do we have to talk shop?" he replied.
"Well, I was just curious, you know, do you miss me out there?" she asked.
"I don't think I'll even dignify that question with an answer," he began, giving her a smile. "What I'd like to know is how you could pick McLeish over Tre though. What were you thinking?" Chris said, not realizing what a mistake it would be to keep discussing work.
Rita took a defensive stance, "It wasn't just a matter of picking Chris. I put a lot of work into that decision. I prepared for it all night long. You know that. The interview this morning was only a part of things," she said pausing and turning to face him, "I heard you had lunch with Tre, what was his version?"
Now inside the house, Chris moved around the kitchen, setting out two plates and grabbing the buns off the top of the refrigerator. Rita took the pot off the stove and set it on the table. They both sat down.
"I didn't have lunch with him, so whoever is feeding you information is wrong. He was too upset. He didn't even want to talk to me for very long. To be honest, I don't blame him. He's much more street smart than McLeish will ever be. I'm just kinda surprised I guess. I figured you had your reasons. Was Tre's interview that bad?" Chris wondered.
"I shouldn't even be telling you this. I think Tre thought that I'd just push him through because I know him. He wasn't prepared at all, not like Rod," Rita explained.
"It's one thing to be prepared and have all the right answers when you're sitting in an office Rita, but it's different out on the street doing the job. I think you know Tre well enough to know what kind of a cop he is, you've worked with him. That should count for something. Experience is a great teacher. Did you work that into your criteria?" Chris asked a little coldly.
Rita took it the wrong way, "What is it exactly that you don't like about Rod? That I got to make the decision to promote him and you didn't?"
Chris stopped dead in his tracks and looked into her green eyes, now full of fire. "Let's just drop it and eat ok, we're both off duty," he said.
She shook her head no, "Tell me Chris, I want to know."
He took a bite of his sandwich. "It was your decision, you made it, I respect that. And I am in no way jealous, believe me. But there's more to being a cop than giving standard pat answers and how well you can BS someone sitting in front of you during an interview. Rod's too simple, he flashes his toothy grin and dimples and throws out what people want to hear and everyone loves the guy. He's got an answer for everything. It doesn't matter if it's the right one or not. I just think he's just been lucky up to now. This job ain't Christmas. You don't just grab a box and put a bow on it and say 'here's your murderer.' That's what Rod thinks. I can't believe he's gotten as far as he has."
"You couldn't have possibly figured all that out in a half a day?" she said in disbelief.
He took another bite of barbecue. "You're right, a good detective wouldn't make such a rash judgment. Ask me again tomorrow. Now can we just change the subject, cuz this is getting us nowhere," he asked.
The rest of the evening was rather quiet between them.
The next morning Chris went to talk with Monica Kapshaw. Rod continued on in his direction following up on the $300 DUI.
"Ms. Kapshaw, I'm Sergeant Lorenzo, Palm Beach Homicide, I spoke to you on the phone this morning.," Chris began.
"Yes, Sergeant, please come in," the petite blonde led him into a sitting room. "What can I do for you?" she asked.
"I've got a few questions about your ex-husband Jason Kirkpatrick," Chris began, noticing how calm and unemotional this woman was, "You know he was murdered yesterday don't you ma'am?"
Monica face changed from calm to horror in a matter of milliseconds. "Oh my, oh God no, not Jason," she said reaching for the sofa behind her. Chris rushed to her side to help her.
"I'm sorry ma'am, I thought you'd heard," he said, "Can I get you anything, water perhaps?"
"Yes that would be nice Sergeant, in the kitchen, through there," she pointed.
While Chris was in the kitchen he noticed a block of knives. One was missing. He made a mental note. Chris came back in a few moments. "Here you go, are you feeling better?" he asked.
"A little, it's just so devastating, I didn't know. I haven't had much contact with him lately. We've been divorced for almost a year now. Does Teri know?" she asked.
Chris nodded, "Yes she does, she found his body."
"Oh dear, that's horrid. I'll have to call her later," she said.
"You call her quite often don't you Ms. Kapshaw," Chris began.
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"Teri Carson says you've been making threatening calls to her for six months now, is that true?" Chris questioned.
"I have talked to her, yes that's true. But threatening calls, no, not at all. Did you know that she and Jason began having their affair while I was still married to him?" Monica asked in her own defense. "She'd call here all day and night, at first I thought nothing of it because they worked together at the same law firm. I was going through some personal things of my own at the time and didn't give much thought to it. But then it all started to click. Jason was hardly ever here. Some friends started telling me that they'd seen Jason and Teri somewhere in town, having dinner, going to theater, holding hands. Then I knew and I confronted Jason one night. He left shortly after that," she explained.
"About those phone calls you placed to Teri Carson?" Chris asked again.
"I was looking for Jason, we still had a few legal matters to finish together. He refused to take my calls or return them. I thought I'd try going through Teri," she said.
"Did it work?" Chris asked.
"No, Jason wouldn't speak to me. He couldn't bare the sight of me or the sound of my voice any longer. Teri was who he wanted," she said sadly.
"Ms. Kapshaw, did you know that Teri is pregnant?" Chris asked.
"Yes, and you obviously know I cannot have children Sergeant," she said. Chris watched her somber expression. "I loved Jason, even through the affair and the divorce. When I was no use to him, he cast me away, but I never stopped loving him. How can you kill someone you love?" she asked.
"Ms. Kapshaw, where we're you between 12:30 and 3:30pm yesterday afternoon?" Chris asked.
Monica stood up, "I was shopping out on Worth Avenue. I have some credit card receipts if you need to see them. And I'm sure the store clerks will remember seeing me," she said defensively.
"You sound like you've been through this before Ms. Kapshaw," Chris said also rising.
"My ex-husband was an attorney Sergeant, I know all about witnesses and alibi's," she started, "By the way, did you know that Teri Carson was married before to a man named Shawn Deverty. They got divorced because of Teri's little affair with Jason too. From what I've heard Teri and Shawn had a perfect life, he was a big TV news producer over in West Palm and he put his wife through college so she could become an attorney. Not more than six months after she graduated and began to work in my husbands firm, they started sleeping together. Shawn actually caught them in the act one night in his own home. He just got back from doing a series in Central America. He got in early. I know he's hated Jason all along. Maybe you should talk to him Sergeant," she said leading him to the door.
Chris nodded and jotted down the name. "One more thing, Mrs. Kapshaw, I couldn't help but notice that there was a knife missing from the block in the kitchen, you may want to get it replaced," Chris said
"Really? I didn't know that, I'll mention it to my cook, thank you Sergeant," she said standing in the open doorway.
"Thanks for the info on Shawn Deverty. Please don't leave town in the meantime, I may need to speak with you again," Chris said exiting the home.
Chris went back to headquarters. Monica and her missing knife were at the top of his list. He'd still check on Deverty, maybe somehow the two of them were in cahoots, they obviously both had their reasons to kill him. Monica seemed more than willing to offer Deverty up as a suspect. That knife would be key evidence if he could find it. In the meantime, he'd check to see if either Monica or Deverty owned a gun. Monica didn't seem strong enough to be able to stab and strangle Kirkpatrick by herself, but it was too early to tell.
Rod was still out, so Chris decided to go into Rita's office and give her the latest information, before finding out where Shawn Deverty lived. Rita looked up briefly from the stacks of paper that surrounded her. Chris just grinned at her. "What's up?" she asked acting distracted by him.
"Not a whole lot," he said noticing the mounds of paper, "are you digging in for any particular reason?" he asked.
"I'm really busy here, in case you don't realize it," Rita said, in no mood to have happy chit chat with him at the moment. "Is there something you want?"
Chris put up his hands in defense. "Sorry, should I close the door on my way out?" he asked.
She dropped her pen on the desk. "Look, I'm sorry Chris, I'm just so bogged down already and this is only the second day," she explained. "I don't know how Harry does it," she added.
"If it's just paperwork Sam, maybe you oughta be pencil whipping some of it right through," Chris suggested.
She shook her head. "It's not just paperwork and besides you know I can pencil whip with the best of them," she began, "it's everything else and everyone else. I must of had six thousand people just decide to come in here this morning. It makes it impossible to get anything done. And the phone keeps ringing too, I can't concentrate. I have such a new found respect for Cap, you would not believe it."
"Ooooh, that bad huh? How 'bout a quick, early lunch then Lieutenant?" Chris said glancing at his watch.
"Are you sure you want to be seen with me?" she asked.
"As long as you play the part of my fiancée and not my boss, yes I'd love to be seen with you," he said grinning.
After lunch they returned back to headquarters and there still was no sign of Rod. "Maybe he found something," Rita began.
"If he's smart, he found lunch and that's it. He's lead is going nowhere," Chris replied.
"Can't you just give him a break?" Rita said giving Chris a look.
"Yeah, you're right, I'll try. I'll see you at home later ok, I'm going check out Shawn Deverty," Chris said.
Chris showed up at WPBC, the station that Shawn Deverty worked at. A receptionist showed him into a small editing suite where two men sat looking at monitors. "Nah, no, no, no Victor, put the edit 15 frames earlier. Loose that old mans bald head, it doesn't do a thing for the story," the other man was saying.
"Excuse me, I'm looking for Shawn Deverty," Chris started as he reached in his coat pocket for his badge.
"You found him, and you are?" the man said.
"Sergeant Lorenzo, Palm Beach Homicide. I'd like to ask you a few questions privately if I could sir," Chris said.
"Give us a couple minutes, Victor," he said to the editor as he left. "This better be important, I have to have this story done by the six 'o clock news."
Chris nodded smugly, "It shouldn't be a problem if you cooperate sir."
"What is this all about anyway?" Deverty asked shuffling tapes from one spot to another.
"This is about the murder of one Jason Kirkpatrick," Chris said watching carefully for the reaction that Deverty would give.
Shawn stopped dead in his tracks, "Someone actually whacked the guy huh, tell me it was Teri and I'll be the happiest man on the planet."
"We're still looking for suspects, that's how your name came up. Can you tell me where you were between 12:30pm and 3:30pm yesterday afternoon sir?" Chris asked.
"Sure, I was up in Chopper 4, shooting tape of the seven car pile-up on I-95. Check with the pilot and the reporter, they were flying with me too," Shawn said.
"You were in the air the whole time? The accident was cleared up by 1:30pm," Chris added remembering seeing the TV report himself.
"I suppose we landed around two," Shawn said.
"So what about the rest of the time, where were you?" Chris asked again.
"Driving the footage back here," he said.
"Was anyone with you in the car?" Chris asked taking notes.
"No, I had taken my own car. But I must have gotten back to the station here by three. I swear," Shawn said a little nervous.
"So you have an hour of unaccounted time," Chris began, "Is it true you found Jason Kirkpatrick in bed with Teri Carson, while the two of you were still married?"
Shawn put his head down, realizing how much deep water he was in. "Yeah, that's true too Sergeant," he responded.
"How did that make you feel sir?" Chris asked.
"Like shit, whatta think? I wanted to strangle the bastard right then and there," he said angrily.
"And now, were you upset that Teri was pregnant with Jason's child?" Chris wondered.
Shawn stood up suddenly, "What, what the hell are you talking about?"
Chris shook his head affirmatively. "You're telling me you didn't know Teri was pregnant?" Chris asked.
"Hell no, I haven't seen Teri since the divorce was final. I want that part of my life over," he explained.
"But it bothers you that she's having a child with another man?" Chris continued.
"Yeah. See, I put Teri through six years of college so she could reach her dream of being a lawyer. I wanted a family all along, but she said we needed to wait till she got through. She said if she had a kid, she'd never finish school. So I waited. And for what, the minute she becomes a lawyer, she starts sleeping with another man, then we get divorced. Yeah, Sergeant, it pisses me off big time," Shawn explained.
"Mr. Deverty, I suggest you find yourself an attorney and work on finding an alibi for that missing hour and a half. Thank you for your time. I'll be in touch," Chris said walking out of the editing suite.
Rita's day in the meantime had gone from bad to worse. The homicide department included 16 officers in total. Plus four lay employees. And today of all days, the majority of them all seemed to be having some kind of problem that needed her immediate attention.
First up was Mary Trinkus. She was one of the lay employees. She acted as general receptionist for the department and worked a normal eight to five shift. However in just the two days that Rita was in charge, four other employees had come in to her to complain that Mary was coming in late and leaving early. According to Mary's personnel file, this had been going on for some time.
Rita called her into her office. "Mary, we've got a problem here and I need your help," she began.
"Sure, what's wrong?" Mary asked.
"You've been coming in late to work lately and leaving early. Your co-workers have brought it to my attention and I've noticed it for myself too. Captain Lipschitz has it noted as well in your file. What's going on?" Rita asked. Mary put her head down. "Mary, I'm here to help, what is it?"
"It's my children Lieutenant, they don't start school till 9am and they get out at 3pm. We don't live far enough away from the school for them to catch a bus, but they'd have to cross one highway and two busy streets if they walked. They're only six and seven. I've been picking them up and taking them to school every day. I'm a single mom Lieutenant, I just didn't know what else to do," Mary explained.
Rita sympathized with Mary for a moment. "I understand how hard this can be Mary, but we need you here from 8am to 5pm. Have you checked around your neighborhood to see if there's a carpool or other kids who walk to the same school?"
"No, we just moved into the apartment about a month and a half ago, I don't know too many people," Mary said.
"Well, maybe you can check into that," Rita started. She opened the drawer of the desk and pulled out a card holder. "And I think this could be an option too," she said pulling out a card. "I don't know a lot about this group, but maybe they can help, it's a car service for people just like you. I heard about it about six months ago. You could give them a call."
"Thanks, Lieutenant, I'll try," Mary said.
"About the missing work Mary, I'm going to half to dock your pay for the time you missed. And I think for now we can solve the 3pm ride problem, why don't you make that your lunch break. We'll work it out with Tamara ok?" Rita said.
Mary nodded, "Yeah, that would be a big help, I'm really sorry this happened like this, I'll try to get it straightened out right away. Thanks Lieutenant."
Rita smiled. "It's ok Mary, don't be afraid to talk to me if you're having a problem, I'm here to help alright?"
Chris went back to begin checking the alibi's of his three suspects, Teri, Monica and Shawn. For some reason his gut was telling him not to trust any of them. They all seemed to be hiding something. Chris couldn't help thinking that Jason Kirkpatrick was probably the luckiest one of the bunch now that he was dead. All three of them had shaky alibis at best. Teri had indeed meet some office co-workers at Houligans, but she merely had a soda with them and left shortly after 12:15pm. That meant at least forty-five minutes of unaccounted time. Monica's shopping spree on Worth Avenue netted only two credit card receipts, paid for, a mere twenty minutes apart, her shopping was unaccounted for by 1:20pm. Shawn's missing hour and a half still puzzled him as well. The drive between the airport and WPBC took at most 25 minutes, and that was on a bad day. None of them had a gun registered in their name and the lack of evidence at the crime scene was the last piece of frustration for Chris.
He went to see Diana to see if she had come up with anything new during the autopsy.
"Hey D," he began, popping his head in the door.
"Hiya Chris, come on in, don't stand in the doorway,"
Chris walked in with a grin, "Whew, I wasn't sure you'd be talking to me." he said.
"Why?" she questioned.
"Well the whole Tre thing," he trailed off.
"The Tre thing?" she said with a laugh, "he'll get over it, besides it's not your fault or Rita's. It was his own, for thinking he'd just get stamped ahead. He'll learn."
"You know I knew that you were just a special person," he said laying it on thick.
"And why is that?" she asked with a smile.
"You always have such a sunny disposition, it always matches your outfits," he said running his eyes up and down her bright yellow dress.
"My disposition can tell your fiancée about comments like that," she said playfully.
"Yeah, right," he said changing the subject, "you got anything new on Kirkpatrick?"
"Yeah, actually I do. The strangulation marks were very interesting.," she said.
"How so?" he asked.
"Part of them were made by a glove and the other part by the tips of the fingers," she explained.
"So the killer wore sawed off gloves?" Chris asked jokingly.
"Yeah, you know the kind hikers wear, or mountain bikers?" she added
"Or TV camera men?" Chris said his mind going in circles now.
"Yeah, I've seen that too," she said.
"That's great D, I gotta go, thanks a million," he said quickly exiting the room.
Problem number two entered Rita's office at 3:44pm. His name was Officer Marc Vernon. Marc was a five year veteran of the force who had been disciplined so many times that no one knew the actual count anymore. He was bounced from one department to another. He was suspected of being an alcoholic, though no one could prove it. Hence, the shifting of departments came into play. For the past three months he had been assigned to homicide as one of the officers relegated to secure the scene of the crime. During the Kirkpatrick investigation, Officer Vernon was reported to be drunk by his two fellow officers. Rather than reporting the offense immediately, they sat on the info and told Rita about it two days later. She called Vernon in for a talk.
"Marc, come in, I've got a problem and I need your help," she began. Marc shrugged his shoulders and didn't even reply to her. "Marc, are you having some problems here at work?" He shrugged again. "It's ok to answer verbally Marc, I need to know how everything is going for you?"
"It's ok," he said.
"Are you sure? I've gotten some reports about your behavior at the Kirkpatrick murder scene," Rita said tenderly tap dancing around the alcohol issue.
"I just wasn't feeling too well then, that's all," he answered.
"I'm concerned Marc, because this isn't the first time you've been having problems. I want you to know that I'm here to help you and I'd be happy to listen," she said.
"Everything's fine ok?" he said getting a little defensive. "Can I go?"
Rita chose her next words carefully, "Marc, you've been accused of being drunk on the job, that's very serious and I will not tolerate it. The next time one of your co-workers or I suspect that you have been drinking, you will be sent for a drug and alcohol test. And if you are drinking on the job you will be terminated, no questions asked, is that understood?" Marc simply glared at her. "I asked if you understood that?"
"Yeah," he said getting up and leaving the room.
She began to write up the two detailed reports on Mary and Marc when the next problem knocked on her office door. It was a delivery man. Rita looked up and waved the man in. "I gotta delivery here for Palm Beach Homicide. Where do ya want it lady," the gruff man asked.
"What exactly are you delivering," Rita wanted to know?
"I got twelve boxes of gear outside in my truck, I don't open 'em up and study the contents, I just take 'em where they gotta go lady. Now where do you want them," he asked again? "I suppose you can bring them in here and set them inside my office," she said. "They ain't all gonna fit in here," the man replied sizing up the room. "Well, put as many as you can in here and the rest in the outer office area ok?" she said. "Ok, sure lady, just sign right here," he said holding out a clipboard. Rita signed it, the man left to unload his cargo and she went back to her desk to work on the two personnel reports. In a matter of moments, four huge crates filled her office and the remaining eight surrounded Chris and Rod's desks and overflowed into the entire office. Rita became furious when she opened up one of the cartons and discovered that the "gear" was for Palm Beach Hospital, not Palm Beach Homicide. By then the delivery man was gone. Now she had another fire to put out.
Thursday and Friday were no better for either Rita or Chris. Employee problems nagged away at Rita. She had an officer who refused to follow the uniform code. She had given him two verbal warnings and a written warning. One more written warning and the Officer would be terminated. She hated the thought of having to fire someone for something as stupid as not correctly wearing his uniform properly. But that was the policy and other officers were complaining about it to her daily.
Some of the other problems plaguing her were:
Mary Trinkus' behavior didn't improve either. Rita would have to write her up as well.
Another officer needed extended Family Medical Leave to take care of his child, who had a serious operation.
She needed to file paper work on a detective to have his wages garnished for alimony and child support.
The 1999 budget worksheet had been e-mailed to her from Chief Sondheim himself, the first draft deadline was due in two weeks. She didn't even know where to begin.
A high school student from Palm Beach High, her alma mater, had left several messages. She heard Rita had been promoted and wanted to interview her for the school newspaper, a 'where are they now' story.
Marc Vernon was sent for a drug and alcohol test and was suspended pending the outcome of the test.
And the hospital crates still created an annoyance in the homicide division.
By Friday Chris hadn't gotten anywhere with the trio of Teri, Monica and Shawn. Their unaccounted for time still ate away at him Not one of the three was cracking under his scrutiny. They even had hauled in Shawn Deverty for questioning, but the lack of finding the gloves was key to letting him go. Chris as quickly becoming frustrated. Early in the afternoon he sauntered into Rita's office to pick her brain about the case.
"Hey Sam, gotta minute," he asked knocking twice and immediately entering the office, poking his head inside.
Rita looked up tiredly from the paper she was buried within. "Barely Chris, what's up?"
"Can I bounce some stuff off you about the Kirkpatrick case?" Chris asked.
"Where's Rod?" was Rita's answer.
"I think he's still out tracking down the address of the $300 dollar DUI man," Chris answered sarcastically. Rita was in no mood for his sarcasm. She glared at him. "Ok, look I'm sorry, this'll only take a couple a minutes, whatta ya say?"
"I think you should be discussing this with your partner. Right now, I am not your partner, Rod McLeish is, in case you forgot. I am buried up to my neck in here, can't you see that? I can't be your partner and run this department at the same time. I can't believe you won't even try to get along with him. This isn't like you Chris. I don't get it, are you just out to prove me wrong on promoting Rod over Tre. Or have we been partners for so long, that you just can't get past having to work with someone else?" Rita rambled on. "You need to listen to your partner and work with him."
Chris watched her, showing no emotion. Something inside him told him that this wasn't the time or place to get into it with her. He got up from the chair he was sitting in, "I'm sorry to have disturbed you Lieutenant, I'll get back to work right away," he said exiting the room.
She immediately knew she had said the wrong thing. Rita stood up quickly, "Chris, hey," she said trailing off watching him walk out of the squad room.
Rod was walking down the hallway and bumped into Chris who was trying to get outside as quickly as he could. Part of him was fuming and he needed to take a step back and cool down and think first before he acted. How in God's name could she even think what she said to him was true, was what was going through Chris' head as he collided with Rod. Or maybe she was right. Ever since Monday, his world had been tipped upside down. Maybe he couldn't get past not having her as his partner. Maybe he was jealous that she was chosen over him. His mind was a blur. Maybe he wasn't giving Rod a chance, maybe he did want to be the one making the decisions, seeing her fumble her way through the week, his own mind was making him believe he could the job better. He'd never seen her this stressed out. He'd been trying to be patient and understanding all week long and where had it gotten him?
"Hey Christopher," Rod began. Chris closed his eyes slowly trying to maintain his cool composure on the outside. "I tracked down my guy. He's living in an apartment over on 16th Street. Wanna take a ride with me and check him out?"
This was going to become a game for Chris now. One thing he knew for sure was that Rod was so far off the mark in this case and now he just wanted to make him look like a fool. Plus he heard Rita's voice telling him to listen to Rod. "Sure, Hot Rod, let's roll," Chris said.
Rod smiled in return thinking he had finally convinced Chris that he was chasing the right guy. The two men walked out and hopped into Rod's police issue car.
"So Hot Rod, you got any other info on this clown?" Chris began as Rod started driving.
"His name is Virgil Jensen, no aliases, no priors till the DUI conviction. He claims he had gotten fired from his job and used stress as a defense. Said he'd worked for this company for 24 years, was making 120k a year. He came up before Judge Fallish and you know the rest," Rod said neatly.
"Well, he certainly sounds like a definite homicide suspect to me," Chris began sarcastically, "Imagine getting stressed out from loosing a great paying, long time job in today's world. As for Fallish, he'd sentence his own Mother to hard time on a first time conviction. Poor guy," Chris shook his head in disgust.
"That poor guy threatened our victim in an open court remember," Rod said.
"I don't exactly think, 'Oh God, how could this happen to me?, I could just...' as a death threat. The guy was clearly under stress, Hot Rod, come on, can't you see that He didn't even finish his sentence, he was so messed up. His life was in shambles, he needed a drink and he made the mistake of driving drunk. He didn't hurt anyone," Chris tried to explain.
"That's what people said about the Son of Sam , Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy too," Rod interjected.
Chris started to laugh. "You're comparing 'ole Virgil to serial killers? Hot Rod, you need a life man, turn off the TV once in a while ok? Virgil Jensen made a mistake. The fine was punishment enough. This guy didn't kill anyone," Chris said and added, "Do me a favor, when we get there, let me ask the questions ok?"
"Sure, you're the senior officer, I'll follow your lead," Rod said.
They walked up the dilapidated apartment building stairs to the apartment of one Virgil Jensen. Rod pounded on his door so loud that people in West Palm would be able to hear it. A feeble voice called out, "Yes, who is it?"
"We'd like to speak with Virgil Jensen," Rod incorrectly called out in reply failing to identify them as police officers.
Chris glared at Rod and added, "Mr. Jensen, we're police officers, we've got some questions we'd like to ask you." Both of them heard a window being opened on the inside.
"He's running," Rod said instantly kicked in the door and saw the back of Virgil Jensen shooting down the fire escape stairs.
Chris called out to Rod, "You follow him, I'll head back down the front and head him off."
Virgil made his way around to the front of the building and was fumbling for his car keys as Chris came out of the front and saw him. Virgil jumped into his car and started it up. Chris ran out into the street and drew his gun and yelled out for Virgil to stop. It was too late, Virgil started driving the car at Chris who had to dive out of way of the car. Rod in the meantime, hopped in to the police car in pursuit. He ran Virgil down three blocks away and arrested him for attempted hit and run and fleeing questioning in a homicide case.
When Rod returned to pick up Chris, he saw him sitting on the curb waiting. "Christopher, are you alright?"
Chris got up slowly, holding his back and limping. "Does it look like I'm ok Hot Rod. Code Seven us to the hospital and take me there," he said moaning as he climbed into the passenger seat.
It was nearly 4:30pm when Rod and Chris got back to the squad room. Chris needed to talk to Rita about filling out a workers compensation form for his recent injury to his back and knee. He needed a supervisor to sign off on the form and fax it off to the insurance agent within 24 hours of the injury. He hoped and prayed she was in a better mood.
The door was still closed and now the blinds in her office were down. Chris exhaled and maneuvered his aching body toward the office. He quietly knocked and this time waited for her to verbally respond. "Come in," she said without even looking up.
He decided to take a mellow approach. "Hey Sam, I need your help for a minute or two," he began, knowing that he wasn't too familiar with the paper work that was required.
She finally looked up and saw that it was Chris. "Haven't we already been through this today?" she asked him.
"It's not about," he began but she cut in.
"I was hoping you and Rod were working this problem of yours out. Isn't that what you've been doing all afternoon? Or what, maybe you just decided to play hooky or something," Rita said. Chris' mouth hung open and his head shook from side to side. His eyes narrowed and he bent his head forward as if he wasn't hearing what she implied. "Well, what it is Chris?" she said angrily pushing aside some papers and capping her pen.
"Nothing, nothing at all," he said walking out of the office.
Chris limped down to Vice and had Lieutenant Hudson help him with the necessary forms. He made up an excuse as to why Rita couldn't help him. Hudson was happy to help and was anxious to talk to Chris about Rita's promotion. Chris' knee was throbbing and his head was a jumbled mess of thoughts about not only this afternoon's outbursts, but all week as well. As he left Hudson's office, he decided to take a drive over to his old stomping grounds, the loft, and see if Daniel was around.
It was about six pm when Chris pulled up his Jeep along side the familiar, brick loft. He walked up the stairs tenderly on his sore knee and knocked on the door. Daniel opened it up almost instantly. "Hey Chris, come on in, I just got home here myself," he began letting Chris enter the room.
Susan and Melanie were sitting on the couch reading a book. Chris smiled at them and said hello, then to Daniel, "Hey Daniel, I was wondering if I could talk to you for a few minutes," he paused and added, "professionally."
Daniel noticed Chris favoring his one leg, "Sure Chris, you ok?" he asked glancing at his leg, then over to Susan and Melanie, "come on in and sit down, you look like you need too."
Susan had noticed the same thing, "Melanie honey, lets go upstairs and finish this story ok, so that Daddy and Chris can talk." "Tay Mommy, can I give Cwhis a hug?" she said jumping up off the couch.
"You better Mel," Chris said, holding out his arms awaiting her tiny body. It didn't matter that he was as sore as snot, he easily lifted her and tossed her up in the air. She giggled with delight as he caught her and gave her a little kiss. (LUCKY KID)
She engulfed him with her little arms and said, "I like you Cwhis, you fly me better than Daddy." Chris set her down and started to chuckle.
"Now that's a compliment," Daniel said with a laugh.
"Come on honey, let's go upstairs," Susan said shaking her head, "Daniel, see if Chris wants something to drink or maybe just some ice for his knee.," she added not letting anything get past her.
"Thanks Susan," Chris said smiling at her and waving to Melanie as they went up the stairs.
"What'll it be Chris, beer, wine, pop or something harder perhaps, you look like you could use something," he said.
"Nah, nothing for me Daniel, but go ahead yourself," he watched Daniel head into the kitchen area, "actually the ice sounds pretty good though," he added rubbing his knee.
"One ice pack coming up," he shouted from the kitchen. He came back and handed the ice to Chris who placed it on his knee. "So, what's up, Rita kick you or something. I know she's got quite a temper?" he began.
Chris let out a "ha." "Not hardly, I think I could actually deal with that a little better."
"So what then?" Daniel asked.
"You heard about her promotion didn't ya?" Chris began and Daniel nodded, "well she's been snapping at me all week already. And I haven't been much better either. It's been like a war zone between us, this hasn't ever happened before. I think she's on a power trip."
"What about the home life?" Daniel asked.
"I would say that it's been a continuation of the at-work battle," he replied shaking his head out of frustration. "I'm trying to keep things separate, but work somehow just filters in and surrounds us."
"Are you jealous Chris, that she got promoted and you didn't?" he asked.
"No, not at all Daniel. Well, maybe a part of me, but I know I'm not ready for the position yet. Rita's been studying all the policies and procedures all along. I know that Rita has put in the time and effort to do it. I haven't. I just think ," he stopped.
"You think what Chris, come on say it," Daniel prodded.
"I think she's overdoing what needs to be done. It's the only thing on her mind, all the time," he paused, "that's what I'm jealous of, she's got no time for me anymore," he admitted. "I guess I'm just feeling left out. When I'm at work and I want to talk to her about work, she says she's too busy, that I'm not her partner anymore. And at home, she just either is bringing work home or she's not around. It's like she's ignoring me. That's pretty selfish huh?"
"Have you told her this?" Daniel asked.
"Not exactly. I've been kinda avoiding her. She's been pretty uptight and stressed out. She's all work, work, work. I can barely get a word in. When she does get home, she crashes right away. And at work, I'm always bothering her," Chris explained.
"You know you gotta say something," Daniel started, "I think what you just told me is a great place to start too. Rita gets all gung ho on something, as I can recall, and no one can stop her. I remember that she was my campaign manager when I ran for class president. I just wanted to date her," he said with a laugh, "she actually wanted me to win the damn race. She wrote my speeches, had me shaking hands, putting up posters, all that stuff. I could have cared less. I just ran to be close to her."
"Well, did you tell her?" Chris asked.
"Hell no, but I didn't have my psych degree back then either," he said with a laugh. "I didn't understand the human mind. I still don't totally understand the female mind. Listen, it's Friday, right, you got the whole weekend, get her out Palm Beach, take her to dinner maybe, just relax, talk to her, you know the rest. Forget about work, for a few days and tell her how you feel, that's my suggestion," Daniel said.
"I hope it works," Chris said.
By the time the first week ended, Rita was under so much stress, she thought she was going to explode. It truly was a week from hell itself. She wanted to yell and scream and kick and fight. Instead of things getting better, they seemed to be growing and billowing to even greater heights. She was working constantly, not going home till after 10pm most nights. The paperwork was endless, people were driving her insane, the phone never stopped ringing and work just kept piling up. Everything, it seemed, was out of her control. Right now she needed to have control. She needed a break. Good thing it was Friday and the weekend lay ahead. Of course she had bitten Chris' head off earlier in the evening. She never did find out what he had wanted. When she went looking for him later he had disappeared and no one knew exactly where he was at. All she could think about was that she needed control somewhere in her life. She'd start at home.
It was nearly 9:30pm when she pulled into the driveway. There were no lights on inside the house, but the Jeep was already in the driveway in front of her. Maybe Chris had gone out with some friends. Great, she thought, she needed him right now more than ever and he was out gallivanting some where. She blamed herself though, she had all but banished him out of her office this afternoon. She couldn't really blame him for not wanting to be around her.
She walked down the hallway and flicked on the light, as she strode past the bedroom on her way to the bathroom, she caught a glimpse of Chris lying on the bed, sleeping. That was kind of odd, she wondered. She stopped and watched him from the doorway. The light from the hall palely streaked in across his face. He appeared so peaceful. She needed some of that for herself too....peace. She continued toward the bathroom and got cleaned up, then she headed back toward the bedroom.
She eased down onto the bed and just sat watching him sleep for some minutes. Chris didn't even move. She thought that was unusual, because Chris generally wasn't a heavy sleeper. He almost had a sixth sense for just knowing when she was near and would awaken with even the quietest of sounds. She wanted him so badly now, she began to ache from head to toe. He wore a scoop necked sleeveless T-shirt and a pair of boxers. Even though the room was pleasantly cooled, no blanket covered his body. The rise and fall of his chest was hypnotic to her as she watched him sleep. She slowly reached out her hand and placed it on his chest. The warmth from his body sent a charge straight through her. This only lasted for a few seconds. Chris still did not stir. Rita wanted so much more, it didn't take her long at all to reach down with her lips and begin kissing the warmth she found on his chest. Chris shifted a little under her touch, but did not awaken. Rita continued her journey upward along the side of his neck and throat, as her hand pulled up at his T-shirt, so she could touch his skin underneath. By now, she thought, Chris would have been wide awake. Was he teasing her? She kissed the base of his throat and meandered up over his chin to his waiting lips. She gently bit down on his bottom lip. That got him. Chris groggily woke up. Rita smiled at his tired face. "Hello, sleepy head," she said reaching back down for those lips of his.
Chris let out an agonizing groan, "Rita, no," he tried to say as her lips overtook his mouth.
She pulled back a little, "It's still early Chris," she said diving back in for his mouth. Just as he opened it to say something back to her in reply, she plunged inside, her control of the situation was apparent to both of them. Chris got swept inside this embrace of hers momentarily, finally he reached up with one of his hands and pushed her off breaking the kiss.
"Rita, stop, ok, just listen?" he said out of breath, but definitely rocked by her kiss.
She still wasn't comprehending the full situation. Her mind was focused on one thing, control. She gazed up at his eyes, still somewhat clouded by the deep sleep he had been in. "Ok sure, I'll start out a little softer and easier till you wake up more," she was saying. She went back down the side of his neck and again back down to his chest.
"Rita, hey, please," he began to say as she interrupted him. Part of him was still sleeping, part of him was highly aroused and part of him was aching with pain.
"It's alright, just relax," she murmured through her kisses.
Chris closed his eyes out of frustration, but when she reached his stomach and began running her tongue around his navel, it made him flinch, wince, grimace and groan out in obvious pain. As much as he wanted her, his back was killing him.
Taking both his hands, he grabbed her by the shoulders and again pushed her off. "Now will you just stop please?" he asked angrily.
She sat up on her knees abruptly. "Chris what is it, what's wrong?"
"What is with you now?" Chris said in frustration and still a little dazed and tired , "You've gone to acting first and asking questions later?"
Rita shook her head stunned by what he had said, "I didn't know I needed to ask your permission to make love to you."
"That wasn't love Rita, or caring, or need or even want. That was control.... it was power. It was all about you, you couldn't have cared less if I was here or not."
"What are you saying? No, it's not," she replied not understanding his implications, her voice shaking, "of course I care about you."
"You've got a funny way of showing it," he said glaring at her. Rita still was in somewhat of a denial stage, she started to move closer to him again, to start over and accidentally bumped into his knee. Chris threw his head back in pain and let out an agonizing sound, "That's enough Rita," he said pulling himself away from her, not even touching her.
Rita didn't know what to say, she had no idea what had happened to him. She only was thinking of what she needed for herself. She stared at him and then slowly got up off the bed and stormed out of the room, not bothering to look back.
Chris called out after her, "Rita," he sighed heavily, "Rita come back." Chris glanced at the clock as he rubbed the perspiration that was forming on his top lip and wiped the sleep out of his eyes, it wasn't barely 10pm. He looked around the empty room and shook his head. He heard the sliding door of the kitchen open. Rita must have gone out onto the patio. Chris got up and went into the closet and grabbed two sweatshirts. He carefully put one on and hobbled outside to where Rita was to give her the other.
Rita sat outside looking up at the stars. Chris watched her from inside the kitchen. A couple of times he saw her dab some obvious tears from her face. He quietly walked outside, stood behind her, put his hands on her shoulders and began to gently kneed away at them. "I'm sorry Sam," he said softly.
She let her head drop down, "it's not you who should be sorry, it's me Chris, I apologize."
"I think we both said and did some things tonight that neither of us really meant," Chris tried to explain. He wanted to tell her what happened, but that'd be bringing up work again and that's the last thing he wanted to do. He released one hand from her shoulder and reached for a chair and slid it behind her so that he could continue to massage the tension from her back, while resting his own knee and back. He grabbed the sweatshirt that hung over his shoulder and handed it to her. "Here, put this on, it's chilly out here tonight."
She turned her head slightly, not making eye contact, but just enough to let him know that she loved the concern he continued to show for her. She slipped the sweatshirt on and could smell his after shave on it. They sat there like that for a long time. Finally Rita began to speak. "I think I'm going to see Chief Sondheim on Monday. I'm going to tell him to find someone else to do this job."
"No you're not," Chris responded softly with his eyes closed.
Chris could feel her shake her head in disagreement, "Chris, you don't understand. Not only am I ruining the entire department, I'm also destroying our relationship too. One week of this is more than enough. I'm not gonna do this to us anymore," she proclaimed.
"You know it's not nearly as horrible as you're making it all sound. Cap told you this wouldn't be easy, you need to lighten up," he said.
"But Chris, you don't get it," she started again. He had stopped rubbing her shoulders and had got up and moved over to the chaise lounge. She turned around to see where he had gone.
"Come over here," he called out from the darkness. She got up and walked over to him. "Plant it," he lovingly chided, tapping on the spot between his legs. She tilted her head and smirked wondering what he had in mind. She sat down in front of him. Chris immediately wrapped his arms around her. His warmth felt so good to her.
"I'm serious Chris, I'm not gonna do this job anymore," she began again.
"Ssssh," he said. "What time is it?"
"I guess almost 10:30pm by now, why?" she answered.
"Umhmm, so work is over for today, right? We're off duty. We're not gonna talk about work or even think about work, we are just gonna sit here and enjoy what we have. I have you and you have me. And those stars up there are putting on a show just for us, let's just enjoy that. That's all that matters right now," he explained.
She laid her head back on his chest and he softly kissed the top of her head. She smiled at how easily he could calm her. "So who's in control now?" she asked him.
"Let's just leave it up to a higher power right now ok?" he explained as he stroked back the hair from her face.
"Have I told you how much I love you?" she asked him.
"Not lately," he answered.
"I love you," she said reaching up and kissing his cheek. "I love you too," he answered with a smile.
Sometime after 1am, they went back inside and crawled back into bed. The next morning, Rita woke up first. She decided to let Chris get some sleep. She still wasn't aware of yesterday afternoon's incident. She left him a pot of coffee and a note saying that she was going to take a drive and she'd return in a few hours. As she drove, she found herself going in a familiar direction. She wound up at Chris' old loft, which now belonged to Daniel and Susan. It was about 9:30am, but Rita figured they'd be up since they had a child. She was right, when she knocked on the door, little Melanie quickly opened it and giggled when she saw Rita. Rita picked her up and Melanie reciprocated with a monster hug. "Ooohhh, little Mel, how are you sweetheart," Rita said giving her a kiss on the cheek and receiving one in return.
"Me good, watch cartoons wit me?" she asked.
"Maybe later sweetie," Rita said as Melanie wriggled from her grasp. She set the little girl down. "Where's Daddy?" she asked.
Daniel came walking into the room wearing shorts and a T-shirt. "Daddy's right here, working on his third cup of coffee," he began, looking much like a Saturday, with one-day whiskers painting his face. "I swear I don't know where she gets the energy surge from, but I'd be a billionaire if I could bottle it and sell it. Come on in Rita," he said with a smile. "Would you like to join me?" he asked raising his cup.
"I'd love to, thanks," she began, "I hope it's not too early for a visit, is Susan here?"
"It's never too early with a three year old, I've been up since six. Sus is out grocery shopping, leaving me with the munchkin."
Melanie ran in by him and tugged at his leg, "Daddy, more juice, pease," she asked politely holding onto her sip-it cup.
"Let's go into the kitchen ladies," Daniel said walking his daughter who tightly held onto his leg, balancing on his foot. She giggled with delight.
"Daddy call me lady," Melanie said laughing at Rita, "me his little girl."
"Daniel, she is so precious, you guys are so lucky," Rita said following close behind.
"Yeah boy, but you and Chris will get there too Mel, and anytime you wanna baby-sit this handful, just say so, she's all yours," he said turning to smile at her.
"We'd love to anytime Daniel, it'd be fun," Rita replied.
"That's a deal, just make sure you ask Chris first though," he said as he first poured his daughter some juice and then Rita some coffee. "Melanie, why don't you go watch your cartoons now ok honey?" Daniel said handing her the juice cup.
"Tay Daddy, bye bye Mel," she said to Rita.
"Bye sweetie," Rita said grabbing the cup from Daniel.
"Sooooooooo," Daniel began raising his eyebrows. "Did you forget to pack something from the old homestead here or is this just a friendly, 'I'm in your neighborhood visit?'"
Rita grinned at him, "this is a 'I hate my job and I need to talk to someone about it visit,'" she started, "can we make this a professional call?"
"Hhhmmm, on a Saturday Mel, that's double time. I'm definitely interested. The clock is ticking, let's get started," he joked.
"It's only time and a half silly and really, do you mind?" she asked.
"Ah, it's true then, someone did read the handbook, and of course I don't mind. That's why I have a couch at home too," he said pleasantly.
"You know you really found perfect work, your sense of humor is rare, it really puts a person at ease," she said.
"Uh, uh, uh, let's not talk about me, let's talk about Rita Lee Lance. What's going on? So this new job of yours isn't all that it's cracked up to be huh?" he began.
"No, it's all that and more. I'm overwhelmed Daniel. I'm working fifteen hour days. My desk is stacked so high with paperwork. I feel like everybody's mother, plus an operator for the phone company and worst of all, I really messed things up with Chris at home," she said. "I had no idea what this job entailed. And everything is out of my control."
Daniel whistled, "Whoa, all that huh, what's it been? Five days? So you what? Need a new career and a place to stay? That shouldn't be too hard."
"Can you help?" she asked scrunching up her face.
"Let's start at the beginning," he said with a smile.
Chris woke up feeling a little stiff and sore but better than he had late yesterday. He walked into the kitchen and saw a nearly full pot of coffee and poured himself a cup. He spotted the note from Rita and scratched the back of his head. He wished she hadn't gone off by herself. He thought after letting things cool down last night that they could have a nice, productive talk today. Maybe he could help her sort through some things. Plus he'd tell her about his 'accident.' He didn't want to upset her anymore than she already was last night when she came home, so he neglected to tell her. He grabbed the morning paper off the table and went outside to the patio to read it.
"So you work in the psycho homicide department or what?" Daniel asked with a laugh after hearing Rita's recent trials and tribulations.
"I know, it seems so crazy to me too. You know I've never heard Harry talking about having to go through all this kind of stuff. I'm really beginning to believe that he's some kind of a saint," Rita said. "I certainly have a new appreciation for everything he does."
"To me it all sounds like it was just a very bad week Mel. It's a good thing the weekend came when it did. It gives you a chance to slow down, cool off, you know. Start all over on Monday," he said. "I doubt that things will remain at the pace they are, if they do, and I were you, I'd ask for a raise," he said chuckling. "You know what you're doing, you've handled everything pretty well, don't you think?" he asked.
Rita shrugged, "I guess I'd like to see everything worked out already," she said honestly.
"Yeah, well, this ain't 'NYPD Blue.' Real problems don't get solved in an hour," Daniel explained.
"I know that! Chris and I were up till past one this morning. That's the worst part Mel, this job is taking its toll on our relationship too," Rita said.
"You guys will be fine," he began, "So, how's Chris doing this morning anyway? He was limping pretty bad yesterday afternoon," Daniel asked.
Rita looked at him puzzled, "Chris was limping?" she asked.
"Yeah, well after that car nearly ran him over yesterday afternoon and he dove out of the way, he was pretty lucky I think," Daniel's voice dropped to a monotone when he began to realize that Rita hadn't heard this story yet. "Didn't Chris tell you this?" he asked seeing the surprised look on her face.
"Uh, I don't think I ever gave him a chance," she said as she replayed all the scenes in her head. She couldn't believe she'd been so insensitive and downright cruel to him. Then the whole scene in their bedroom. Chris was right, she was only thinking of herself. What a fool she had been. Now it was becoming clear. She didn't have the full story, but now the picture was a whole lot sharper. She did have one question, "Daniel, how did you know about Chris?"
"That's Doctor/Patient confidentiality Miss Lance," he said cracking a smile. Then seriously he said, "Chris came and saw me around dinner time last night, told me what happened to him, plus what happened between you guys at work and he asked me for some advice."
"Let me guess, you told him to tell me to forget about work for the weekend right?" she wondered.
"Among other things," Daniel said with a wicked smile.
"Hhhmmmm, I'm sure," Rita said smiling in return. "Mel, you are good. What else can I say?"
"I know! Ya hate it, don't ya? But don't worry, your department will be getting my bill," he said.
"Great, more paperwork I'll have to muddle through," she said sarcastically.
"Ain't life a beautiful thing?" he asked, "say hello to Chris," he said walking her to the door.
Melanie popped up from the couch to see Rita leaving and came bounding over to her to give her a hug. Rita reached down and scooped her up once again. "Goodbye, sweetie, one of these days you can come over by my house and play with Chris and me, ok?"
"Tay, I like Cwhis, he make me fly in da air. He live here 'fore," she said. "That's right, Chris lived here before. I gotta go little Mel, you take care of your Daddy alright?" Rita said.
"Tay, I will. I come to your house totay?" she asked.
"Not today, but soon, I promise. Can I have a kiss?" Rita asked her. She got slobbered on almost immediately. "Bye, bye," she said setting Melanie down. "See ya, Daniel, thanks for listening."
"That's what I'm here for. See ya soon," Daniel said watching her leave.
By the time Rita got back from Daniel's, Chris was up and about and had decided to mow the little lawn they had. It usually only took him about 25 minutes to hack away at it, but this particular morning, the power mower decided to play some games with him. He really didn't mind. An engine was an engine and Christopher Lorenzo, for some odd reason, always loved to tinker with them. He scattered his tools out on a rag right in front of the garage and plopped down on the cement to have at the thing.
Rita pulled in front of the house and parked as she saw the Jeep backed up near the front of the driveway. She walked up past the Jeep and saw Chris surrounded by his tools, legs spread Indian style near the front of the lawn mower. She shook her head in amazement. "Didn't you get all this out of your system when you had the Charger?" she called out to him.
He looked up and smiled at her. She looked and sounded so much better than she did last night. "No, I didn't, as a matter of fact. Did I ever tell you about Mr. Grubber?" he asked.
"I don't think so," she said as she reached him.
"Mr. Grubber lived around the block from me and Grandma Rose. This guy loved engines and man could he fix anything. Didn't matter if it was a motorcycle, or a car or a lawn mower engine. People would come from miles around just to have him fix something. He could take one apart and put it back together in a matter of time. And those babies would hum better than ever too." Chris shook his head thinking about him. "Dave and I used to spend days with him every summer. Must have been about 12 or 13 then, I think."
"Who's Dave?" Rita asked with a smile.
"A pretty good old friend of mine, growing up" he said grinning thinking about it. "You know, the trouble maker years."
"I can imagine," she said raising her eyebrows. " So I have Mr. Grubber to thank for all this huh?" she said motioning to the obvious mess he was making.
"Uh, huh, sure, sure. He helped us build go-carts once too. Of course, I crashed mine the first day and Grandma Rose put an end to that really quick. Then we just shared the one Dave had. The things Grandma Rose never knew," he laughed and said fondly.
Rita figured this would be an appropriate time for her to jump in with her own new found knowledge. "I'm sure she knew what you were up to. You men can't keep secrets from women, but then you'll never really learn that will you?" Rita asked.
He looked at her with a puzzled look. "Is there something I'm missing here?" he asked.
She nodded, "Yeah, why don't you stand up for a minute."
"I'm kinda busy here Sam, I got this lawn mower in pieces and I just wanna get the grass cut today alright, no games ok?" he explained, knowing that his knee was still sore.
"This will only take a sec, come on into the house ok?" she asked waiting for him to get up.
He squinted from having to look up and her and at the almost noon-day sun. "Yeah sure," he gave in, "I'll be in in a sec, let me just get this back together," he said hoping she'd go in and wait for him and not see him limp.
"That's ok, I'll wait with you," she said hovering over him.
Chris finally put two and two together, "You know don't you? Who told you?" he asked attempting to stand, but stiffened up by the time he had spent sitting. He let out a groan as she reached out her hand to help him.
"When were you planning on telling me?" she asked.
Chris shifted his head back and forth and stumbled over the words, "well, um, well, later today I guess."
She smiled and shook her head, "You're acting like you're twelve and you just smashed your go- cart, Christopher."
"Oh, believe me, this hurts a whole lot worse, in more ways than one," he said moaning as he limped over to a patio chair.
"I guess I owe you an apology," she paused and accentuated, "again," Rita said following him over and helping him sit down. "I just totally blew you off at work," she sighed, "then I must have been a total zombie last night. I know it's no excuse, but when you came into my office yesterday afternoon, I thought you wanted to give me a hard time or talk about something non- work related or complain about Rod. I am so overwhelmed with work. I didn't know," she said as her voice drifted off and she put her head down avoiding eye contact.
"Apology accepted," he said
"And you were totally right about last night, I needed control. How could I be so self-centered? I can't believe I did that to you?" she said looking back at him. He didn't respond. "Aren't you gonna say something here?"
"I was wrong too, I should have told you what happened right away. I'm feeling a little neglected I guess, thinking you don't have time for me anymore. I should have made you listen to me. And if not at work, then here, when you got home. I said some pretty nasty things, you needed me and I wasn't there for you Sam, I apologize again too," he said.
They exchanged smiles. "So what exactly happened?" Rita asked him.
"I did what you suggested and listened to Hot Rod. We decided to go chasing after his $300 dollar DUI man. We get to his apartment and the guy jumps out onto the fire escape and starts running. Turns out the guy thought we were bill collectors coming to collect. He owes a loan shark a couple thousand. He's been out of work for nearly a year, a real down on his luck case. He got scared when Rod started pounding on his door. So we both chase after him and he hops into his car and damn near runs me over. I landed wrong and sprained my knee and wrenched my back a little," Chris explained.
"Did you go see a doctor?" she asked.
"As a matter of fact, I saw two, a medical one and a head shrinker," Chris said.
Rita smiled, "Well what did the medical one have to say?"
"He said that I sprained my knee and wrenched my back," Chris replied with a laugh, "he gave me some pain pills, which as you know, I refuse to take, and which is why I was probably a bear last night. Other than that, he told me to take it easy," Chris said.
"Ahhh, so that's why you're out here attempting to cut the lawn?" Rita said sarcastically. "I'm dying to hear what the head shrinker had to say."
"Very funny," Chris said giving her a look. "The head shrinker said to keep my job and loose my fiancée," he joked.
"Sure he did," Rita replied. "I went and saw Daniel this morning too. He let it slip out about your accident, he figured you had already told me."
Chris nodded that it was ok that she found out, "Daniel told me that we're gonna have to work really hard to keep the jobs separate from our home life. I know we can make this work Rita, we just have to give it some more time."
Rita's expression turned somber. "I don't know Chris, I think you're doing just fine at it. All this week you've been talking about work at work and forgetting about it here at home. I haven't. I've been snapping at you and thinking that when we're working, you're playing and when you're at home playing, all I want to do is bring up work. It's crazy. I think it's me," she said sadly. "You're right, I haven't exactly been here for you."
"Thanks for saying that, but it's not totally true. I should have made you hear me, instead of running off. That's no way to solve anything. Can I make a suggestion here?" he asked. Rita looked at him and nodded. "When we're at work, ask for someone to help you. You know, delegate. I mean think about Cap, Rita, how many times has he given us extra reports to file or transpose, or has asked us to do some other stuff for him. He's always asking us for our opinions of everything. You're not in this alone, it's ok to ask. And I don't just mean me, it's all of us in the department. We're you're team now, all you gotta do is show us the way coach, we'll get there and we'll win. You're the leader, you don't have to do it all alone," he explained.
Her outlook was improving as he was describing his ideas to her. "I think Cap shoulda picked you instead of me," she said. "Nah, his selection was right on, you just got derailed for a minute. You'll be back on track though, I can feel it," he said confidently.
"I don't deserve you, do I," she asked.
"Not nearly as much as I deserve you," he answered.
"Let me tell you something too," Rita began almost scolding him, "make me listen to you. I don't want to you to ever think that I'm neglecting you. Uhhhggg, I so DO NOT want to be like your Mother," she said turning away from him. I've been so wrapped up in this job that I think I keep hearing Cap's voice tell me that everyone is watching how I'll treat you. So instead of treating you good or worse than that...bad, I haven't even treated you anyway. I've ignored you. I'm sorry Sam."
"Well you are SO NOT like my Mother, I can't imagine where that even came from. I think we both have learned a lot this week, don't you?" he asked.
Rita nodded and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
It was a little after two when Chris found Rita in one of the spare rooms, sorting through the sea shells she was collecting. A variety of containers and vases spread out before her. "What are ya up to Sam," Chris called out from the doorway.
"I'm working on getting these shells arranged somehow," she said gently pouring a handful of them into one of the vases. "Whatta ya think?" she asked holding it up for him to see.
Inside, Chris had no particular feeling one way or another, outside he knew he had to lay the compliment on as thick as humanly possible. This was definitely a chick thing. He tipped his head as if he were admiring a masterpiece. "It's great sunshine, you're gonna put it in the living room right? I think it'll be perfect in there," he said realizing he couldn't really go overboard here.
Rita genuinely smiled at his apparent approval. "You really like it Sam?"
Chris got closer and bent down for a better look, taking it from her hands and looking over it closely. Boy was he pulling out all the stops here. What he was thinking was, 'hair, clothes and home design.....the three most important things to a woman. "Yeah, I love it Sam, it's a great idea. It'll look just wonderful in the living room."
She gave him a quick peck on the cheek. She knew he couldn't care less, but she appreciated the sentiment and concern he had just shown.
He sat down beside her. "I have got a surprise for you," he began.
She turned her head slightly and raised her eyebrows. "Does it involve food?" she asked remembering that she had skipped lunch.
He scrunched up his expression as she surprised him with her answer, "As a matter of fact it does, but that's only part," he added a little shocked that she actually guessed part of it.
"Are you going to tell me, or do I have to keep guessing?" she asked.
He reached in and put his hand behind her head, weaving through her hair, caressing the back of her head tenderly and drew her closer to him as he kissed her forehead. "You need to stop playing with your seashells for today, find a dress to wear and meet me by the Jeep," he said releasing her from the warm embrace, getting up and exiting the room.
Chris sat out on the patio dressed to the nines, waiting for Rita. He wore a dark colored suit, light purple shirt and a tie that had a variety of shades of pinks, purples and greys in it. He wasn't sitting for long when Rita slid open the patio door and came out. She wore a casual, comfortable, yet stylish summer weight dress, that was primarily green in color, which accentuated the color of her eyes. The fabric clung to her in all the right places, as far as Chris was concerned. His mouth dropped open as she stepped out onto the patio. "I think I'm ready," she said smoothing out the fabric.
"I think you are too," he hoarsely responded, trying to catch his breath.
She smiled at him. "So my dress meets your approval?" she wondered.
"Sammy, I don't give two hoots about the dress, you're the one who meets my approval. You look beautiful," he said as she came toward him. He locked her into a quick embrace.
"Well, you're looking mighty handsome, I might add," she pulled back saying as she straightened the knot in his tie. He raised his chin and she adjusted it. Then she took her hands and smoothed down the lapels of his jacket and upward she ran them along his smooth-shaven cheeks. He broke out into an assured smile, when she reached up for a delicate kiss. He cleared his throat and checked his testosterone level, if he didn't control himself, they'd never get where they were going, "we better get going," he said checking his watch. It was nearly 4:30pm already. "We've got reservations at 6pm."
"Where in the world are you taking me?" she said as he took her arm and led her to the Jeep.
"I told you it's a surprise," he said opening the door for her. She glanced at his eyes. They were dancing and twinkling up a storm. She could tell that this was going to be something special just by the way he was acting.
When he got into the driver's side he added, "Just sit back and enjoy the drive." They started driving south down A1A toward Fort Lauderdale and Miami. The drive was gorgeous, along the ocean, past fabulous waterfront mansions and yachts.
"I haven't taken this drive in years," Rita began, "it's always faster to take I-95 to head to Miami," she said trying to pump him for information.
"Nice try, but we're not going to Miami, or even Lauderdale, so stop trying to ruin my surprise," he said giving her a grin.
"Tom and Sue used to take me down to Lauderdale to the beach all the time. It was so great. Whenever he had a free weekend, we'd get all packed up and drive down. Mom would wake me up at like 6am to leave. I'd sleep in the car on the way down. By the time we'd arrive, I was ready to play. Then, I'd sleep all the way home too. Those were some good days," she said fondly.
"Sounds like it, I bet all the little boys couldn't keep their hands off you all decked out in some form fitting swim suit, or were you a bikini gal?" he said.
"Mom went in for one piece suits," she tried to quell his wonderment, "and as a matter of fact, one particular boy couldn't. I think his name was Charlie. But I wasn't the only girl either. My Dad caught him one time and grabbed him by the front of his trunks and carried him off like that and deposited him by his parents. He never bothered any of us after that," she said laughing.
"No doubt, he's still probably singing soprano," Chris said shaking his head, "are you lying to me?"
"Maybe a little, but you're withholding some information from me too," she replied.
"No, I just know how much you love surprises, you deserve this Sam and I deserve to give it to you, don't you agree?" he asked.
She nodded her agreement. She couldn't argue with him, it had been a hell week for both of them. The good thing was that Palm Beach Homicide was the furthest thing from both of their minds right now. She wasn't going to spoil anything, she was having too much fun, just being with him and leaving their world behind them, even if it was only for a few hours. She slid closer to him on the front seat, he turned his head briefly and smiled at her and put his arm around her shoulder and gently squeezed it. She closed her eyes and fell asleep against him, just like she had done when she was a child.
She woke up as they were just coming into Pompano Beach. Chris felt her move against him and stretch out a little. "Have a nice sleep, Sammy?" he asked.
She cuddled against him closely and he could feel her nod. "Umhmm," she answered softly kissing his arm even through the suit he was wearing.
"Well, you should start waking up, cuz we are almost where we're going," he said.
"And where might that be?" she asked yawning and sitting up a little straighter.
"We have dinner reservations at Sea Watch, have you ever been there?" he asked.
"No, never, but I've heard of it, have you?" she asked in return.
"Yeah, actually I have," he answered. She wondered if he brought other women down here, but before she could actually think about it too long he started to speak again. "Grandma Rose loved this place. I've only been here a few times with her, otherwise I always forget about it, but she always said that it was perfect for making memories of special occasions. So when I graduated from high school, she let me drive her down here. It was the first time she'd let me actually get behind the wheel of her Cadillac. My hands were sweating the whole time. I was sure I would get into a accident. We came again, after I graduated from college. By then of course, I had my own car, a '74 Maverick. I think her and Benny were more than a little nervous on the drive. She really loved this place. I don't think I've been here since then, but I heard some of the guys talking about it the other day and this morning I thought it might make for the beginning of a nice evening for just you and me," he explained.
"Maybe we can make our own memory then?" she said smiling warmly at him. He looked over to her and returned the smile.
Dinner was absolutely spectacular. The ambiance inside Sea Watch was very unique. The restaurant itself sat right on the beach. The dark wooded interior had most of the tables set along the wide open, screenless windows that adorned what little walls there were. Chris and Rita were seated at an intimate corner table. They both could enjoy the view of the wide, long beach, the little dunes and undergrowth and the cool, blue Atlantic ocean. A warm, blustery tradewind blew in through the open air windows. Chris ordered a bottle of wine for them to share. They both ate lobster as they enjoyed each others company in their own little world. They had indeed escaped.
After dinner, Chris led her down the path of the back of the restaurant for a stroll in the sand along the ocean. He had rolled up his pant legs, loosened his tie and wrapped his suit coat around Rita to keep her warm "So what'd think?" he asked her turning back toward the restaurant.
"It was wonderful Chris, the whole day has been. It's exactly what I needed. Thank you," she said taking him by the hand.
"I needed it too and you're welcome. I'm glad that you're enjoying yourself," he began. He got suddenly quiet and then added, "I would do anything for you, you know that don't you?" he asked putting his head down.
"Yeah, I know that. You've been that way since we met. That's one of the reasons I love you so much," she answered back squeezing his hand in hers. He glanced up at her and smiled.
"Sometimes, Rita," he started shaking his head trying to find the right words he wanted to say.
"Sometimes, what?" she asked puzzled, not able to understand what he was trying to say.
"Sometimes, I just love you so much that I ache, all over, head to toe. I don't ever want to be with out you. I get scared thinking that something as stupid as work could split us up. You're it for me, all I will ever need, so much more than I ever deserved. Saying how much I love you just doesn't seem nearly enough," Chris said.
"Well, you don't just say it Chris, you show it to me day in and day out. I know. I feel the same way about you, there isn't anything I wouldn't give you and anywhere I wouldn't go to be with you," she said rather poetically. "And if I ever lost everything I had, but I still had you, that'd be fine. You're all I need, forever," Rita said.
Chris drew her in close and ran his nose along side hers, then dipped down and sought out her lips, delicately, gently tasting their sweetness, lingering over their softness.
Running out of breath, Rita broke out of the embrace, "we should get home soon," she said feeling every desire building up inside of her, knowing she wanted so much more, but certainly not on a public beach.
Chris cupped her face in his hands. "There's no need to go home tonight," he said caressing her cheeks with his thumbs, "it's part of the surprise too," he turned her head so that she could see a little cottage just up from where they were standing. "For tonight, we are home," he said reaching in for another kiss.
"How in the world did you manage all this?" Rita asked as they entered the little one bedroom cottage.
"I asked," he simply stated. "Actually when I called this morning for dinner reservations, I asked if they knew of a place close by where we could stay. They told me that they had five of these little cottages and someone actually had canceled for tonight. I took a chance," he said with a grin.
Rita was delighted as she walked about the room and glanced out back and saw the Jeep parked outside. "How'd the Jeep get here?" she asked.
"Valet parking," he answered watching her closely, "plus I gave the guy an extra twenty to bring it down here and bring in our things," he said pointing to a couple of overnight bags.
Rita grinned back, "you are full of surprises aren't you? How many more of these have you got hidden away in your head?"
"Millions," he said seriously, "our lifetime together won't be enough time to share them all with you."
Rita spotted the champagne chilling in the corner of the room. She loved the way he treated her and lavished her with surprises, special times and places and gifts. Tonight she needed and wanted to give him something back in return. She didn't have to have control. She loved him and wanted to show him just how much she did. She walked over to the bottle and plucked it out of the ice. Chris stood off in the distance, watching her every move. Their communication was silent and each knew exactly what the other was up to. It just made them love each other more. Chris sat down on the overstuffed chair that sat in the opposite corner, never loosing eye contact with her. Slowly she came toward him with the bottle. She handed it to him and said deeply, "open this while I get the glasses."
Chris' fingers knowingly peeled away the wrapper over the cork. His eyes followed her walking across the room again. His fingertips kept working at removing the cork and sending it popping against the wall of the room. Rita had turned around and had the two long, stemmed glasses in one hand. They fragilley clinked against themselves as she stepped back toward him holding them out for him to fill.
He took them from her and never loosing eye contact, said, "there's another surprise for you in your bag."
She handed over the glasses for him to fill and reached for the bag on the bed. She knew it had to be some sort of lingerie, so she just picked up the bag and went into the bathroom leaving Chris in silence to drink his champagne.
When she had changed and stepped out of the bathroom, Chris had his eyes closed and held his glass of champagne in one hand. The bottle and her glass stood on the table next to him. She quietly walked over and picked up her glass and took a sip. Chris felt her presence and opened his eyes to stare at her as he also took a sip from his own glass. He loved the lingerie that he had picked out earlier in the day. It accentuated every bit of beauty that Rita already had. His eyes roamed from her head to her toes. He didn't move though. He was content, for the moment, to just watch her. She walked around the room, removing his bag from the bed, then coming back toward him, she took the glass out of his hand, drank what was left in both glasses and set them on the little table.
Her eyes met his and locked. Her arms and hands reached down to his thighs, massaging them and moved upward, over his hips, the sides of his stomach, on the flat top of his chest and back outward along the side of his neck and throat, finally cradling his face in her hands, all the time bending forward toward him. When her hands held his face, she reached in softly for a taste of his waiting lips. He obliged her by returning the most tenderest, feathery kiss he could muster. It lasted for what seemed like forever. Both of them sighed heavily when they did finally break apart, mouths only. Their faces clung together, nuzzling up and down, nose to nose, cheek to cheek, each knowing this was only the beginning.
Rita pulled back a little and grabbed his tie, urging him to follow her. He stood up slowly, too slowly for Rita, who now was pushing off his suit coat. Once completed, she loosened up his tie and slid it over his head. His shirt was next. He moved away from her briefly to fill up their glasses with champagne again. He handed one to Rita and then began to sip at his own. She took a sip then handed her glass back to him. She started to unbutton his shirt. Methodically she worked, beginning at the top one. After she undid it, slid her hands in around his neck and reached up and began to kiss the exposed skin. Chris held the champagne glasses down at his sides. She was doing a fine job of pleasantly torturing him as her fingers tingled around his neckline soon followed by nibbling kisses from her mouth. He let out a moan of deep satisfaction. "You like that huh?" Rita murmured along his skin, then pulled back to see his eyes closed and a shy smile coming from his lips. "Yeah," he responded without opening his eyes, leaning forward searching for her lips just to show her how much he did. She put a finger up to them, he parted them hastily and nibbled on her finger. She reached down for her glass of champagne and took a quick swallow. His eyes opened as she touched his hand in reaching for the glass. He raised his own glass and finished what was in it and set it back on top of the table behind him. Rita walked around him and did the same.
Coming back toward him she slid her arms around him from behind. She ran one hand along his stomach in a circular motion, the other ventured up to work on the second button. She could feel his stomach muscles flex under her touch. She pulled the shirt out of his pants and reached around his back and pulled it completely out. She let her hand wander up underneath his shirt along his back, massaging it while her front hand was finishing up buttons three, four and five. When there were no more buttons to open, both of her hands peeled the shirt off of his body and deposited it on the floor. Now both of her hands were free to explore his back. She began to tenderly rub and caress it, across his shoulder blades and down his spine. "How is your back feeling now?" she asked softly kissing an area where her hands had just been.
She could feel his head nod along his spine, "I'd say that it feels much better right now," he answered in a low voice.
"Why don't you lay down and let me continue," she asked leaning him forward toward the bed.
"You sure?" he asked.
"Of course I'm sure silly, now lay down."
Chris laid down on his stomach on the bed, Rita followed closely behind. Rita started gently kneading around his neck and shoulders, working farther down. He jerked a little when she found a sore spot on his lower back. She stopped and froze, "I'm sorry Sam," she said with fear in her voice.
He turned his head and saw her just staring, thinking that perhaps he wanted her to stop. His hand reached up and back and sought out hers. He placed it down on his back, right in the same spot. "You're not done yet? Are you?" he asked in a happy tone, trying to assure her that everything was ok. "You just found my ticklish spot," he added.
Once again she began, this time sensitive to that specific area. Before long though, her hands had enough and they gave way to her mouth, over and over again, her lips and tongue covered every inch of his back. She was working her way to the side of his stomach when his hand extended back and sought out the back of her head. He lovingly grasped it and held it close to his body and swirled his fingers through her hair, as he carefully rolled over onto his back, beckoning her lips to follow his lead. Rita was never more happy to comply in her life as he invited her to continue what she had started, now on his chest.
She lingered along his stomach, flat and hard, around his navel through the light sprinkling of hair that surrounded it. Now both of his hands weaved through her hair as she moved over him. His body reacted hotly to each kiss and every touch she sought to place. This deliberate slowness of hers was excruciatingly beautiful to him. Her fingers, poured over him like a gratifying, fulfilling summer rain. Every pore of his welcomed her touch as if it was life sustaining itself. Upward her tongue ran along the center of his chest, following her fingertips, seeking out his nipples, first dancing lightly on his chest, sensitively feeling out each one between her thumb and forefinger, touching and massaging, then moving in with warm, moist lips, tasting and suckling on one, then to the other nibbling along the way, only to delve onto his other nipple to repeat the pleasure. Over and over she duplicated this tender maneuver. Chris groaned and exhaled in ecstasy. His hands slid out of her hair, down onto the silky fabric she wore. Every sense he had was in loving, chaotic turmoil, he wasn't sure how much more he could bear before he'd explode. He was quickly loosing himself to her. Underneath his touch he could feel the movements she made in her back, "Sammy, it's my turn now, please let me...." he said urgently and out of breath, his voice trailing off. She stopped what she was doing and glanced up at his face, his blue eyes were peering down at her, full of passion and desire. They smiled in unison and Rita laid on her stomach on the bed next to him.
Like her before, he started by using his hands. Beginning at her head, he ran his fingers through her hair, caressing her head underneath. Moving downward along the back of her neck he trailed both hands. She lifted her head to the soothing sensation. She laid her head to the side back down on the mattress so that Chris could see a satisfying smile which grew from her lips. His strong hands sauntered over her neck and shoulders onto the backs of her arms, down her back and still lower over her hips onto her legs and then even to her feet. She bent her legs at her knees as he reached her feet, lifting them up a little as he dove in and out between her toes. He heard her giggle which caused him to grin. He knew what to do next. He bent down his head and began to kiss and nibble on her feet and toes. She wriggled with delight as he moved back upward. Kissing and licking the back of one of her legs while delicately running two fingers up the other. Her body was surging with heat as he massaged her back through the silk negligee she wore. She started to sit up a little and as she did, Chris reached down and lifted off the negligee, revealing her in all her splendor. Instinctively they both leaned in to one another, first as a hug, then both of them seeking out the other's lips for a passionate kiss.
Rita opened her mouth almost immediately and Chris dove in the second her lips parted. This was just to be a prelude to what was soon to come. Chris reached down with both his hands and sought out her breasts. He loosely cupped their sides first, then moved under them to lift them tenderly, squeezing them while skimming the tips with his thumbs. He moved his own body closer to hers, pressing his chest against his own hands and her breasts. Now Rita was filled with loving torment. She called out his name, knowing that she was now way beyond ready. Chris wasted no time.
Together now, they battled, playfully, instinctively, neither letting the other lead or control for long, neither giving an inch to the other, neither not wanting to. This was an equal partnership and tonight they were equally pleasured, giving and taking and both ultimately receiving. Tonight it was all about the other person, satisfying their every need, fulfilling each desire for the other, craving every want they had ever had. And because of that, each received in return what they had given to the other, one hundred fold.
Chris woke up a few hours later face to face with a smiling but still sleeping Rita. He watched her happily as her smile would disappear, then return even fuller than before. Her hair was fanned out against the pillow. Chris reached out and lightly ran his hand along part of it, relishing in its softness and silkiness. Not wanting to awaken her just yet, he carefully slid out of the bed and crawled back in to the other side, snuggling close to her. He grinned with pure joy when he felt her heartbeat resound against his chest, in perfect rhythm with his own. She barely stirred as their bodies came into close contact once again.
Chris was now wide awake and enjoying the closeness with her. Before long though, merely watching her wasn't as satisfying as he wanted. He draped his arm over hers, pressed it gently against his own and softly began to caress it up and down with long, deliberate, tender strokes. His head moved to the side and back of her neck, breathing warmly against her skin, then eventually nuzzling against her and tenderly running his lips lightly on her skin. He heard her sigh as she slept, he hoped it was because of his tender touch. His other hand now bean to roam up and down her back, his fingers feather soft upon her. He ran his index finger up and down her spine. He felt her move next to him. She sighed again. He continued this for some time until he felt her beginning to awaken. She reached her hand back in search of his handsome face. When she found his cheek, she delicately soothed it with her fingers and palm. She could feel his facial muscles smile broadly. "Christopher, what are you up to?" she asked sleepily with her eyes still closed.
"What are you dreaming about?" he asked her in return as he turned his cheek even more toward her downy touch.
"I asked you first," she said.
He continued to touch and caress the back of her body. "I," he paused and kissed her back, "am loving," he kissed her again, "your fantastically, terrific body."
"Didn't you just do that a few hours ago?" she asked.
"Partly," he said.
"Huh? Partly? Just what exactly do you mean by that Sam?" she asked slightly confused and now waking up even more.
"I was not only loving your body then, but your mind," he kissed the back of her head, "your soul," his kisses headed lower, "your whole spirit," he was now kissing her back, "your entire being, sunshine. I love you," he added kissing her behind her ear, followed by his tongue, knowing that would drive her nearly insane.
"Well, I love you too, but you should be dreaming and sleeping now just like I am," she explained giggling from the enjoyment he was giving her, yet still a little sleepy. She turned her head in pleasure toward the moist kiss he kept continuing around her ear lobe.
"Dreams and sleep aren't necessary when I've got the real thing beside me," he said now pursuing a path down her neck. "So what were you dreaming about anyway? You were smiling up a storm," he asked.
She inched over and turned a little more on her back. His kisses followed her movement. Part of her hair brushed up against his face and Chris deeply breathed in her scent. As she turned, his hand meandered from her back to her stomach. Her skin was cozily warm beneath his hand.
"I was dreaming how wonderful it feels when you touch me, when you hands are on my body like they are now," she said placing her own hand on top of his on her stomach. He began to fondle her stomach softly. Her hand eagerly followed.
"Ah, you mean like this?" he asked as he let his hand lead hers up from her stomach, cupping her breast, giving it a tender squeeze, while brushing his thumb against the tip to feel it harden. Rita let out a contented sigh. "I'll take that as a yes," he said staring into her eyes, "so you were dreaming about me?" he asked still playing upon her breasts, traveling between them, her own hand taking the same path.
"Umhmm," she murmured and added, "how good your lips feel on the side of my neck and behind my ear, your breath against me." As she said these things, Chris moved in to do exactly what she was talking about.
"I'm glad I'm not only your reality, but your fantasy too, then," Chris said still nuzzling along her neck.
"You're my everything, all the time," Rita said turning completely over to come face to face with him. "I dreamt how good you taste when you kiss my lips and run your hand through my hair."
"All that huh?" Chris said trailing his other hand through her hair and softly kissing her lips.
"There's lots more," she said teasing him, but wanting more herself.
"Tell me then," he responded still tracing her hair gently with one hand, while his other still mingled with her hand upon her breasts.
"I saw you smile as I ran my hand along your face and through your hair," as she said this, she did it and he smiled, "it's so soft and cuddly," she added. "I could see how your lips almost always follow you nose as they glide warmly on my skin." He nuzzled against her cheek bone and left tiny, soft kisses where he had just nuzzled. "I dreamt how strong you are, how good your arms feel around me." With that said, he cuddled her close. "That's it," she said returning the embrace, "that's my dream, that's when I woke up," she said.
"That wasn't a dream, cuz this is altogether real," he said pulling back a little to look into her eyes, "and I think it's not quite over yet, should we find out?"
"You think so huh?" she asked with a smile.
"Umhmm," he said with a slight nod. He sought out her lips and deeply plunged inside her waiting lips. When they broke apart, breathlessly he said hoarsely, "Sammy, I need to love more than just a part of you again, right now," he added.
"I think we can make that happen," she said leaning in for another deep, fulfilling kiss.
Sometime around mid-morning Rita woke up. This time, Chris still slept, his arms loosely clung around her. He softly snored. She knew he was out of it and that he would be for some time yet. She moved a little and felt his arms react unknowingly aware of her presence, grasping her a little tighter even in his deep sleep. He didn't want to let her go. She turned over and kissed his forehead. "I'll be right back," she quietly said as he sensed her wanting to get up, so he rolled over and allowed his arms to release her.
She grabbed her overnight bag and went into the bathroom. When she came out she had on a pair of shorts and a comfortable T-shirt. She saw that Chris was still sleeping so she decided to go outside on to the beach for awhile. The cool morning air, the sound of the waves and the beauty of the ocean, cleared her mind, allowing her to think through some things that continued to gnaw away at her. An hour later she returned, to discover Chris, snoring again. She knelt on the bed beside him. The movement alone caused him to stir. "Hey mister, you gonna sleep all day or what?" she asked watching him, running her hand over his forehead and through his hair. He wrinkled his nose and raised a hand to his eyes to wipe out the sleep. When he began to open them, he saw Rita smiling at him. She laid down beside him.
"Good morning sunshine," he said rolling over to give her a kiss and return the smile before laying back down and putting his hands behind his head to assimilate himself to waking up. He closed his eyes again.
Rita turned on her side and propped herself up on her elbow with her pillow underneath. "You know, I've been doing some thinking this morning, about what you said last night," she began.
"I don't remember doing much talking," he said with a smirk.
She playfully punched him. "You know when you said that you were PARTLY loving me?" she asked.
He opened his eyes wide and watched her. There was a little pain in them at what he thought she was suggesting. "Oh, Rita, no, I can't," he groaned, "I hate saying this but even I don't think I'm up for another round quite yet. I can't believe you are."
She shook her head, "I'm not talking about that, I'm talking about the word, PARTLY."
Chris interrupted her, "did I say something wrong, cuz what I meant...." he tried to explain.
She interrupted him, "would you relax," she said kissing his cheek, "it has nothing to do with last night. That," she paused, "was absolutely wonderful and I loved what you said. Now would you just listen." He smiled and nodded. "You know how you've been saying that your three suspects all have partial alibis?" she asked.
He shook his head and heavily sighed, "do we have to talk about work? Rita, we're here to get away from it, remember?"
She started to get up off the bed, "Fine, you've been asking for my help all week long, and now that I've come up with something for you, you don't want to hear about it. I just thought you'd be interested," she said acting upset, but inside knowing that this outburst was just to tease him. He'd really want to know what she thought.
He reached out and grabbed her arm before she got away. "Ok, Chief, tell me your theory," he said sitting up.
"That's Lieutenant and don't you forget it," she started. "What I thought was, what if they all had a PART in it. They all had a reason to hate this guy, they've all said it right?" Chris nodded his agreement. "Jason Kirkpatrick was stabbed, strangled and shot. Three suspects, three ways to kill him. Each one had a part in it," she simply stated.
"That is brilliant Sam," Chris said, "it could work, it really could. I just gotta prove it." He reached over and kissed her. "That is exactly why you are a great cop."
"Because I have the right answers?" she asked.
"Because you have the right everything," he replied, delving in for a deep embrace.
Monday morning and work came too early for both Chris and Rita. Chris liked Rita's theory of each one of his three suspects playing a part in this little murder, but he still lacked the evidence to put any of it together. All three of them came up clean for any past arrests and none of them owned a gun. He sat at his desk scanning his notes over and over, when the first piece of the puzzle stumbled into place. A woman was at the front desk asking for the officer in charge of the Kirkpatrick murder. Chris sent word to bring her up right away.
Lydia Guteriez was Monica Kapshaw's cook. Her broken English was very hard for Chris to understand and just as he was about to send for an interpreter, she reached into her purse and pulled out a bloody knife wrapped inside a plastic baggie. Chris lunged in and took the knife from her as Joe Torres entered the area and began to question her in Spanish. Apparently she had been doing some deep down kitchen cleaning and came across the knife secretly stashed at the back of the highest cupboard. Lydia was frightened, she explained tearfully, but even more frightened thinking that she was in the same house as a murderer. Chris thanked her and quickly ran the knife down for prints and blood match. Monica's prints were all over it as was Jason Kirkpatrick's blood. Chris now had one suspect. He went to arrest her.
After questioning her for several hours, Chris decided to take a break from the interrogation. As he walked out of the room, Officer Marc Vernon walked up to him.
"Sergeant, do you have a sec?" he asked.
"Vernon? Man, you're not supposed to be in this building remember, you've been suspended?" Chris said.
"I know, but this is important, I need to talk to you, please?" Marc said with begging eyes.
Chris nodded and pulled him into Interrogation Room 2. "Make it quick Marc, I've got a homicide suspect next door." He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a paper bag and handed it to Chris. Chris took it and began to look inside. "What's this?" he asked. The cut-off gloves were inside.
"Something I should have given you last week. I found them outside Kirkpatrick's townhouse the night he was murdered. I tucked 'em inside my jacket so I wouldn't loose them. Rita's right you know, I am messed up so bad, I need help. I'm checking in to Dover Center right after this. That night, I was wasted. I'm sorry, I know it doesn't sound like much, but I mean it. I don't know how I can ever thank Rita, I mean the Lieutenant, she made me finally see what a mess I am and what I've done to wreck my life. She's the only one who cared enough to stop me," Vernon explained.
Chris smiled thinking that Rita ought to be hearing this. "Marc, you should tell her."
"I can't. Not yet anyway, maybe if I can turn myself around, who knows? Maybe then. I'm gonna try though. Maybe they're right," he began.
"Who's right about what?" Chris asked.
"If just one person cares about you, you can make it." He took a deep breath. "Hopefully I'll be out in six weeks, I know I won't be cured, but maybe I'll be on the road to recovery. Then, who knows what?"
"Listen Marc, you know alcoholism is a disease. Since you're going in for voluntary treatment, I think your job is safe. You could come back to work. There's all kinds of loop holes you know," Chris said.
"You mean I still could be on the force?" he asked hopefully.
"Let me check into it, see what I can find out. Hec, maybe I'll even put in a good word with the Lieutenant for you, I know her pretty well," he said with a grin.
"You'd do that for me?" Marc asked.
"One good turn deserves another," Chris said holding up the bag. "Thanks man, this is gonna break this case wide open."
The third part of the good news was awaiting Chris upon his return of arresting Shawn Deverty. His prints were all over the inside of the gloves, and the strangulation marks matched the neck wounds of Kirkpatrick perfectly. Two people were going down for sure in this murder.
Rod sat at his desk waiting for Chris to come in. "Yo, Christopher, this just came up off the computer for you."
Chris threw him a dirty look for using the word 'Christopher' yet again. "What is it Hot Rod, did the DUI man break out of the holding cell?"
"No, he's still in there," he said seriously, "this is something from NCIC, about a possible gun match up to the murder."
Chris snatched it out of his hand and read the copy, "Of course," he said, "Let's go Hot Rod, we have got one more suspect to catch."
The gun was registered to Teri's mom....Teresa Carson. That gave Teri perfect access. They arrived at the townhouse as Chris started to question Teri, Rod presented her with the search warrant and began to check the house for the gun. It was too late, Teresa Carson stepped out of one of the bedrooms holding the gun and pointing it at Rod.
"Mrs. Carson, put the gun down," Chris said spinning around when he heard Rod call out to him, "put it down now."
"I can't, can't you see, I couldn't let Jason do it to you sweetie," she said looking at her daughter.
"Mother what are you talking about?"
"Jason wasn't just not going to marry you, Baby, he was going to leave you too, I heard him tell Monica. He just wanted the baby. Then he was leaving. I told Shawn. He said he'd help me get rid of Jason. Monica, she just couldn't take it either, she said she wanted to help too. She didn't want someone else's baby. She wanted her own. So we planned it out, Monica stabbed him, Shawn strangled him and I shot him. We did it for you Teri. We all did it for you," Mrs. Carson explained.
By now, Teri was sobbing hysterically at her Mother's story. "How could you all, how could you? Jason loved me," she screamed going toward her Mother.
Rod sensed the chaos and turned abruptly and knocked the gun out of Mrs. Carson's hand and quickly subdued her and handcuffed her.
This case was solved.
Later that day, back at headquarters, Hot Rod was basking in the publicity he found waiting at the police station. Over and over, he told the same story of how he had made the final arrest in the Kirkpatrick case. By now his heroic actions were quickly becoming legendary with the various TV, radio and newspaper reporters. Chris sat back with his feet up at his desk watching the circus as it came to his town.
Rita stuck her head out and called him into her office.
"Yes ma'am, Lieutenant, what can I do for you?" Chris said closing the door behind him.
"I can't believe you're letting him take all the credit on this case," she began.
"Notoriety is not my thing," he said, "besides you're the one who solved it. I just rounded up the suspects.".
"Well, maybe paperwork is your thing then?" she said holding up a stack full of files. He groaned. "You said delegate remember?" she added.
"Sure, Sam, let's see what we got here," he said a little more cheerfully looking at the top file.
Rita kept talking. Her new found enthusiasm toward her job abounded. "Mary Trinkus is going to be working the late day shift. Her mom can watch her kids at night, so she'll be able to get them to and from school. Pam Salinas offered to switch shifts with her. Isn't that great?" Chris nodded. "And the hospital said they would send someone tomorrow to pick up all these crates."
"That's the best news I've heard in a long time," Chris said.
"I even started working on the budget for next year, just this afternoon. This computer is great," she said as Chris started in on his top file.
"Ah, Sam?" he asked.
"Yeah," she answered.
"This file," he began, "is Marc Vernon's. Maybe you should be handling it?" he said knowing what a delicate situation it was.
"Nah, I think you can. You've got some inside information I think. I'll trust your judgment. I know you'll be fair," she added.
He grinned at her as he picked up the stack of files and headed out to his desk. "Say, Sam?" he began.
"Yes Sergeant?" she replied.
"Would it be ok if I took the rest of the afternoon off?" he asked.
"May I ask why?" Rita said.
"I'd like to spend some quality time with my fiancée. We've got an important date to set," he explained.
"That sounds lovely Sergeant Lorenzo," she said rising up to follow him. "Ah, what about all that work?" she asked pointing to all the files. He placed the top one on his desk. "This one I'll take care of, the rest, I think Hot Rod can muddle through. Maybe it'll keep him off the nightly news," he said dumping the files on Rod's desk.
Rod strode over and plunked down in his chair, "Christopher, what's all this?" he asked glancing at the paperwork.
"Some real police work for you to do Hot Rod, ok, I'm sure you'll get through them all tonight. You don't have any plans anyway, do you?" he asked.
"Well," he mumbled watching Chris and Rita walk out of the palm tree doors. "Hey, where are you going anyway?" he asked.
"I'm off Hot Rod, and if you got a problem with it, take it up with my boss," he said laughing as he gave Rita a kiss
The End August 1998
Special thanks to Lisa & Linda for posting my story.
Hey everyone! First off, thank you for reading. What do you think of this one? As per usual....good, bad or indifferent comments will be welcomed with open arms. I love hearing from everyone and anyone. Shall I continue with more episodes? Let me know what ya think.
And now the standard stuff. Chris, Rita, Anna, Benny, Harry, Frannie, Grandma Rose, Diana, Tom and Sue all belong to Mr. Stu and Mr. Stephen. (Two very groovy guys, I am sure) They gave us this total groove show right, so they gotta be? And also the USA Network, where else could Xena, Herc, David Hasselhoff, Nikita and the WWF come together? No malice or infringement is intended by moi.
All the other characters...and for some odd reason there is a cast of thousands in this little 'ole fanfic (I am so glad I don't have to pay them) are all mine. Some new, some old. I am pleased to have you meet, George, Harry's Father (ok so he dead), Harry's Mother, Harry's Brother, Chief Sondheim, Treveon (love that name) Thomas, Hot Rod McLeish, Jason Kirkpatrick, Teri Carson, Teresa Carson, Monica Kapshaw, Mary Trinkus, Tamara, Marc Vernon, Delivery Man, Virgil ($300 DUI Man) Jensen, Daniel, Susan, Melanie, Mr. Grubber, Dave, Charlie, Lydia Guteriez, Joe Torres and Pam Salinas. (I have used up a few months worth of names....HELP!)
Josie Bisset, Rob Estes, The Son of Sam, Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy are all themselves. Perry Mason, Matlock and NYPD Blue are TV shows...and I have no idea who they all belong too.
Again, let me know whatcha think....write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org