Pandoras Box
By Lisa

Part Three

The next morning,things didn't look any better for either Chris or Rita. Chris was in a cranky mood,having to go into the shop without seeing Rita at all, hating that she wouldn't be there,and knowing he was in for yet another long day at work. He called Rita when he got into the shop,hoping they could at least meet for lunch.Hearing her voice didn't help his mood though,.....he could hear that she was feeling just as miserable as he was.

As the morning progressed,and lunch time grew closer,Chris' sour mood slowly began to dissipate,and was replaced by a happy grin.Which is why Cap hated what he was about to do now.He had just gotten word that the boards shooting review for Rita would be delayed until the end of the week,another two days longer then expected,and to add to the bad news,was the fact that he was just handed another top priority case that he could really use his best team on. Now he had to come up with another team for this new assignment. He popped in a few more rolaids,and yelled out to the outer office where his homicide seargents were ."Lorenzo....McConnell...In my office,Now!"

Chris looked up,surprised to hear his name along with another seargents. He didn't like even the sound of it.

"What 's up,Cap?" he asked as he entered his boss' office along with Cindy McConnell,one of only three female detectives in the homicide department.

"It concerns Judge Riellys' murder. Last night a tip was called in anomously ...This person said it was done by a group...we've dealt with them before,. a few years back... they call themselves the Redeemers........sort of a splinter group of the Guardian Angels,......Anyway,the Police Commander wants an undercover team to go in and check them out...and they have to be relatively that leaves out Hastings" Cap said,looking to McConnell...."And your in" he looked back to Chris.

Chris was frustrated...he hated that Cap was teaming him up with a new partner,even for just one case..."Ahh..Cap...I already have alot on my plate.....what about Tom and Cassie" he asked his boss

'They aren't available for it...they are knee deep in another case and can't be spared right's you and McConnell,..there's no choice here.It's your case anyway,Lorenzo,your the primary on this one.".

"Yeah, fill us in." he sighed defeatedly,wishing he could be working it with his own partner,at least.

"I have someone else who will be doing that.His name is BarryWilliams...and he's an expert of sort on this ex-member....he's due to arrive in a few don't go too far.Got that" Cap ordered.

Chris nodded...still holding out hope that he would have plenty of time to meet with this Williams guy coming in,and still make his lunch date with Rita.He walked back to his desk to finish up some paperwork and wait,watching the clock as his lunch hour drew nearer.


Williams was late...and by the time he had finished briefing the two detectives,Chris realized he was already ten minutes past his entire lunch hour. He rushed down to the roach coach,where he had planned to meet Rita.He held out a small hope that she would still be there waiting for him . George told him she had just left about twenty minutes earlier.

"Damn" Chris swore,as he dialed up her cell phone number number.His sour mood was back,and in full swing again.

"Lance" she answered,curtly................Uh oh,he thought,....I'm in for it now.

"Hey Sammy...It's me"...he heard her inhale a deep breath ,then let it sigh out slowly.....I'm sorry about lunch hon,...I got caught up in a meeting,and couldn't get away."

"You could have called,Chris," she said now ,still slightly annoyed with him.

"Rita...I didn't know it was going to be running so know how these things are sometimes..AND I was still really hoping to catch you.....I miss you so much " he said softly to her.

Her heart melted at hearing him...she knew it hadn't been his fault,and she hadn't really been mad at him,just dissapointed that she couldn't see him.

"It's okay,Sam...I'm sorry....I just miss you too." her voice cracked.

"This is awful,isn't it?" he moaned."Rita..I need you. I have a late lunch now...can you come back?" he hoped.

"Oh,Chris...I want to...but I can't...I have to meet a man from the insurance company over at my ...uh,the apartment. I'm on my way there now.Can I come by your place tonight....for dinner maybe?...I mean..we've always done that wouldn't be any different,right?"

Chris cursed his job just then..."Rita...I have to work tonight. I 'm going undercover on a case."

She grew startled at hearing this."Chris your not alone,are you?......without backup? Who's with you" she fired her worries at him.

" wouldn't do know that....He has me paired with McConnell."

"Oh...really?...Well...that's good then...." he could hear the tone of her voice drop "Just make sure she watches your back Sam,ok"

"Yeah,Sammy." He hated this. It looked as if he wouldn't have the chance to see her at all that day.

"Well,Chris...I have to get going now....the man I'm meeting is here.....You be careful tonight,you hear me."

"I will......Sammy...I love you."

"I love you too,....Call me tonight when you get in? she asked.

"You bet!...See ya Sam."

He hung up the phone,wishing that he could at least be with her right then... ..knowing it wouldn't be easy for her to be over at her apartment. He looked at his watch.noting that he had another fifty minutes before his lunch hour was over. He jumped in his car,and headed in the direction of Palm Drive.



He arrived fifteen minutes later,cursing the heavy trafficas he watched a car drive away just as he pulled up.He got out and looked for Rita,but didn't see her,and again he cursed under his breath. Please let her still be here,he thought.

That was when he saw her,standing off to the side of the building.rummaging through a pile of the blackened debree.

As he walked over to her,he saw her shoulders shake as she held something. He quickened his pace to reach her.Coming closer,he could see the tears on her face as she held the stone castle that had been in the fish tank.

"Oh Sammy..." he whispered to her,his heart breaking at the sight.

She looked up ,surprised that he was there,then turned away from him and began to wipe away her tears.

"They were just fish." she said.

He wondered if she was telling this to him or herself.

"I know......but they were your fish." he came behind her and wrapped his arms around her.

"Who would do this..." She asked him,waving her hands at the destruction, " they said it was started on MY apartment....I don't understand it!"

"They're looking into it. ....with any luck,whoever did this will get caught."

"What does it won't change anything,will it?" She let out a sigh ,as she threw the stone castle back into the debree,then breaking his hold of her,she headed toward the door of the burnt out building.

"Sammy....You shouldn't go in might not be safe."

She turned back to give him a shrug,then turned around and carefully went into what remained of her apartment.There wasn't much left to it.She was assaulted by the smokes harsh odor that still lingered heavily in the air,as she walked from one room to another.There wasn't much left of anything,she thought.....nothing left worth saving......

Chris followed her in,then stood in the door way,and quietly watched her.They both were reliving the memories they had made in this place.....

He could see how much she was trying to stay in control of her emotions , as she stood there looking around.She looked so sad,he thought,and he wished with all his heart he could make it better for her.

He wanted to tell her it was okay to cry,but something stopped him ....he knew she needed to handle this in her own way. She needed to feel control over something.....

"You looking for something,Sammy?" he asked, breaking the silence , hoping that he could help in some small way .

Rita nodded her head no,and walked back over to where Chris stood,then gave one last look back at her past.

Chris wrapped an arm around her shoulder, "Come on Sammy,let's get out of here." he said,as he led her back outside.He walked her to her car,and they stood by it's door.

"You okay?" he asked.She was so quiet lately,he worried.

She nodded her head yes,fighting back the tears,not looking at him. He pulled her into his embrace then."Oh Sammy..."

Rita clung to him for a moment,then pulled back , her spirit once again renewed by his love for her.

"I'm okay,Chris....really....It's just hard,you know..."she took in a deep breath,then sighed it out " long as I have you by my side,I know I can get through this.......I can get through ANYTHING " she emphasized with a small laugh,before getting serious again "and for that,my friend,I thank you." she stood up on her toes ,pulling him down to meet the kiss she placed on his cheek,then let it wonder to his lips."I love you so much Chris." she whispered .

Chris was relieved,he had been very concerned for her over what she was going through...hating that he couldn't be with her ."I love you too,sunshine" he replied,....impressed with her stregnth,amazed by her control,and always anxious by the frailty that she tried to hide so well.

Niether of them were aware that once again Billy Crago was watching them from his car,a safe distance down the street. He was disturbed by the scene he had just witnessed.....he could easily see that she had been upset by his deed.....but still there was something wasn't enough.....she still had him...and it was him who kept her strong...and made her happy......just as Gina had with him. An easy enough problem to solve.............



Jacko sat drinking his whiskey and just watching the action going on around him.He was a people watcher,it was his hobby.One that he thought made him some what of an expert in understanding people and thier nature.Tonight,from where he sat he could over hear the conversation of the couple behind him.He casually glanced over,his interest peaked by this apparently affluent couple. The woman was extremely upset at something,and the almost hysterical tone of her voice caught his attention.Soon,he learned she was angered because her sister had been beaten and raped the night before,while on a blind date.This lady had gone to the police about it,she had been told that unless her sister pressed charges,they could do nothing about it.

Her sister refused,because it was her boss' son who had raped her,and she was afraid .He had threatened her with loosing more then just a job if word of the incident ever got out. The man who sat with her tried to comfort her,but the woman wanted no sympathy,she wanted this man in jail...she wanted to make him pay for what he had done to her sister....she wanted revenge

Now Jacko was very interested in this couple,and he decided to go to thier table and pay them a visit.............




Rita stayed awake until Chris finally called at eleven-thirty that night."So how'd it go?" she asked him.

"Exactly as planned should have seen it....Cindy was great!" he sounded excited,and even impressed over his temporary partner.

Why did that bother her,she wondered ......Cindy? He calls her Cindy? was her name........

"That's good to hear,Chris" she sighed " at least I know your in good hands out there."

"You don't have to worry about a thing,Rita...this girl is good....she'll probaly run the department someday."

Again...a spark of jealousy surfaced ....and she wondered where it came from...she had never been the jealous type before.Perhaps it was just because she had to wait even longer now to see if she would be reinstated.

"I wish I could be with you on this...sounds as if your having fun.....Sooo .....what's next on the agenda?"

"Well,we meet with Jacko again tomorrow night...Say.Sammy...speaking of tomorrow how about you coming and meeting me for lunch...I miss you so much.I can't bear not being with you,...we haven't had any real time together since..." he stopped himself...not wanting to remind her of the fire..not that she would forget it that easily....he thought.

"I know." she said softly,fighting off the tears that threatened to come ."Chris...I miss you too." She was already beginning to plan on sneaking over to his apartment right then and there to surprise him.

"So you'll come tomorrow" he asked through a yawn "for lunch?...sorry...I'm exhausted" he chuckled when he had finished his yawning.

Giving up on the idea ,she swallowed her dissapointment."Promise me you'll meet me this time?" she asked.

"Promise, matter what." he assureed her,hoping it was true.

They both knew though that there was always the chance he couldn't.

"I love you so much Rita." he told her.

"I love you too.See ya tomorrow." she said before hanging up.



The next day, as Chris and Cindy were discussing the plans for that night with Cap,Rita walked in precisely at the appointed time to have lunch with Chris. Chris was leaning back in his desk chair,his feet propped up on his desk,and his hands behind his head,a posistion Rita had seen Chris in many times before.Captain Lishitz stood a few feet away,his hands rubbing at his stomach,listening to his seargents plans and nodding his head in agreement. It was all a scene Rita had played in time and time again,only this time,it was Cindy,who sat on top of Ritas' desk,a clipboard in hand and scribbling notes. As she watched the familiar scene,unnoticed by it's players,she cringed when she heard the teasing between the partners and Chris' laughter.

She quickly backed her way out through the door,and ran to the ladies room,needing time to collect herself .What was wrong with her she wondered.....Chris is just working with a temporary partner,doing what he has always done.....she was ashamed to hear herself answer her own question.....but he's doing it with someone else...and not me......

She didn't realize that Fran had been only a few feet behind her and had seen everything from the same perspective Rita did.

Franny walked into the shop,and stood by her husbands side

"So,your backgrounds are air tight...they will probaly check into them if they haven't both just go in and play your roles,and this should come off without a hitch" Harry glanced over,seeing his wife,then finished his instructions." George has arranged for the hundred grand to be delivered before you go in tonight.....just be careful,both of that?"

"Sure do." Chris snickered,while glancing up at the clock.

"Make sure you do Lorenzo,and make sure you get it all on tape.You sure that watch will work? In my day......."

Chris watched as Franny rolled her eyes at her husband.

"Cap" Chris cut in,not just for Frans sake,but his as well. It was lunch time."Haven't you told me to never to keep a lady waiting?" Chris grinned cockily at his boss.

Harry glared at the audacity of his young seargent,before the words actually sank through to him. When the realization of what Chris had said finally occured to him,he gave up on the lecture about respect that he had been about to start.

"Ah,Franny...your here already? Cap turned to her now." I didn't realize it was so late......hold on a sec while I grab my jacket" he called to her as he started for his office,secretly wondering how he was going to enjoy his lunch now.....she had brought them a lunch from home,another "healthy for life" dish,he was sure.

"Okay rush." she called back to him,the entire time looking hard at Chris , then Cindy.

Cindy,feeling uncomfortalble under the boss' wife scrutiny,stood up to leave.

"I'm going for lunch myself,Chris. You coming?"

Chris shook his head.."No, I'm waiting for someone. You go on and hey... thanks anyway.."

Fran watched Cindy leave. "Chris...I just saw Rita go into the ladies room when I first walked in...I assume that's who your waiting for,right?" she smiled at him.

Chris grinned at her."The one and only" he said,as he stood and went to meet Rita.

"See ya!" he called back to her.

Fran waited until he was through the palm doors before going over to Ritas desk. She picked up the clipboard she had seen sitting there and walked over to Cindys desk,placing it there,where it belonged.

"What are you up to Fran?" asked Harry as he walked out of his office and saw what she was doing.

"Oh,nothing,just tidying things up a bit" she replied.

"Uh..huh" he said,wrapping his arm around her shoulder and leading her out the doors. "Why don't I believe that?" he asked her.



Chris met Rita by the ladies room door.She was surprised to see him there and quickly swallowed any leftover insecurities she was feeling.

"Hey hang around here alot?" she teased him.

"Only when I know there's a beautiful woman inside." his blue eyes twinkled at her,giving her a wink.

Rita came up to him,wrapping her arms around his waist for a much needed hug.She was a bit surprised and even hurt when he pulled away.

"Ahh...Sammy...not here..not now,okay." he unwrapped her arms while glancing around to see who might have been watching.Seeing the coast was clear,he pulled her down the hall and into an interrogation room,locking the door. He had been blocking Ritas' view of the surprise he had for her waiting there,but now he moved to stand behind her,allowing her to see what he had planned.

The table had been spread with a delicate lace cloth,and in the center sat two candles. Two place settings had also been set,and a dozen red roses lied along side of one.Chinese food container sat off to the side waiting for consumption,and soft romantic music played from a cassette recorder normally used to tape interrogations.

Tears began to well up in Ritas eyes. Chris took her hand and led her to a chair,pulling it out and guiding her to sit."For my lady" he handed her the roses.

Rita was touched and after quickly recovering from her offended feelings in the hall way,she found her voice again."Chris...this is so beautiful."

"Not really...but it's the best I could do ....I wanted to take you out tonight to the fanciest restaurant,but things being the way they are...."

Rita quickly reached up and shushed him with a finger to his lips "No,Sam...this is perfect,really....I don't need any of that,...I only need you."

Chris smiled,glad that his plan had made her so happy.

As they looked at one another,The Wedding Song began to play on the tape machine.Chris pulled her back up to a stand,and brought her close to him,leading her in a slow heart felt dance to the music.

Rita leaned her head against his shoulder and closed her eyes,wondering how her life could be so glorious and yet so appalling at the same time.

They spent the rest of the lunch hour dancing, forgetting about the chinese food or where they were,forgetting everything and everyone for just a little while,and existing in thier own world...............

For a short while,that world was perfect.


Billy Crago followed the car as it drove into his own neighborhood,several blocks away from the effiencency apartment he rented.It wasn't a neighborhood one would choose to visit unless he was looking for a quick fix ,whether it was for sex or drugs,it could be easily found and gotten there.Unless ones desires were stronger then thier instinct for survival,it wasn't a good idea to go into this territory.

Lorenzo got out of the car with the woman who had come with him,and Billy assumed it was his new partner.He delighted in seeing her,thinking this lady was beautiful in her own right.She had short blonde hair,and long legs that seemed never to end. While Lorenzo towered over Lance, he was only just as tall as this new partner of his,making him seem some what small now. Billy wondered what Rita Lance felt about her replacement.

He watched as the two cops met another man and the three of them stood there talking for awhile. Billy sat in his car,absorbed with the scene.

He kept his eyes on Lorenzo,finding the man fascinating to watch.He had an attitude about him,one Billy couldn't exactly place.The man was cocky,but it was a self assured humored confidence,one no one seemed to mind...Like some of the jocks from his school days,the ones who seemed to have it all.... good looks,the prettiest girls,the hottest cars,and the glory of the entire school....only this guy had the gorgeous Rita Lance,and an old charger that he cherished ,and the respect of the police department.He had what Billy never would. Yes.....Chris Lorenzo was alot like the guys he had hated in school,alot like the part of society he would be a double pleasure for him to take Lorenzo out,he decided....and while he was doing it,he would make Rita Lance squirm.

As he watched Lorenzo,his thoughts drifted to the time he would see the despair he would put in her eyes.



Jacko knocked on the basement apartment door,and a man wearing a buisness suit, opened the door,as if he had been expecting them.. He was well dressed,very clean cut,and seemed extrememly out of place as he stood in the ghetto apartment.Out of habit,Chris looked over to communicate a thought to his partner,who he could plainly see wasn't picking up on his silent message.

Of course not,he thought bitterly ,she wasn't Rita.From the very first day he was partnered with Rita,they had never needed to talk to understand one anothers thoughts.Chris' instincts told him something wasn't right here,and he could only hope Cindy was at least picking up on the same thing and preparing herself .

They were led into the apartment,where a man quickly did a search over them for any weapons or other devices.Chris silently prayed the watch he wore wouldn't be given much thought to,and it wasn't. Two men with guns stood on each side of them,and pointed to a table for Chris and Cindy to sit.The man in the suit seated himself across from them,looked them over. Apparently they passed his inspection,because he got right down to buisness.



It was two-thirty in the morning,and she was still up,laying in bed,her phone beside her within easy reach,and trying to pass the time reading a book that couldn't keep her attention. Her eyes would occassionally begin to droop heavily,and she would rest them for just a minute,until her subconcious would suddenly cause her body to jump and waken her.

She had to stay awake...she needed to know Chris was alright out there without her.Of course,being exhausted,it was a battle between her mind and her body,and occassionally ,the body would pull ahead and she'd fall into a light sleep...only her mind wouldn't allow such a thing. It kept her up all night with it's imagination tormenting her with "what if " dreams it played for her.

It was another three hours later though when Rita woke with yet another start,seeing the sun just beginning to rise and another new day about to begin.She stared now at the phone,wondering if she should call Chris.He promised me,she thought.....why didn't he call ......something must have happened....

Not being able to stand another second of the mind games she was playing with herself,she picked up the phone and dialed.

Three,four,five,...six ,seven,eight rings....and then she hung up.That hadn't done one iota to relieve her worries,she thought....................Oh God,Chris ,please be okay..............................................................................................



Well,that's it for part 3! ........Poor Rita...she must be so worried about Chris! What could be keeping him from calling her???.... Chris is being followed by Billy Crago......just what is Billy Crago planning to do to get his vengeance on Rita?

Will Chris ever get his partner back again????....We'll just have to see what happens in part 4!!! LOL!!! Stayed tuned!!!


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