By CN Winters
See part one for disclaimers. Email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
The window reflections from the glass skyscrapers were blinding as they stepped out of Union Station and onto the Toronto sidewalk. An information booth sat at the right and Denise got a listing of hotels to call. They found a vacancy at the Royal York and took it. It was a wonderful location only steps from the train station and a rental car facility if they needed to leave town fast. Of course in the traffic that surrounded them perhaps fast wasnt quite the word. But they did have a means of escape nearby.
They were escorted to their room and Sara paid the bellhop for helping with what little luggage they had. After he left, Sara sprawled herself out on the bed and Denise looked out the window. She turned to see Sara displaying that seductive smile of hers.
"Wanna try it out," Sara asked doing a little bounce on the bed.
Denise tried her damnedest to smile back but couldnt. After a few moments she gave a reluctant sigh. Get it over VanCook, she told herself. "We have to talk."
"Uh oh," Sara muttered. "Its never a good sign when people say we have to talk," Sara replied, taking a sitting position on the edge of the bed.
"Well this time wont be any different," Denise answered truthfully. The officer knelled between Saras legs. She took the womans hands in hers before she spoke. "I thought I could stay focus. I thought if I accepted my desire it would make me more observant."
"Denise," Sara said trying to stop her. "Youve done all that you could do."
Denise let the comment go. She had to get this out. "That man got into our room, crept to our bedroom and I didnt sense a thing. If I had been awake instead of sleeping in your bed that never would have happened . . . For the rest of the trip things are going to be different . . . I cant be your lover and your protector. And protecting you has to come first."
"Is this your way of telling me youre not as bi as you thought," Sara lashed out, instantly regretting it. "Im sorry," she muttered, looking at Denises fingers locked around hers.
Denise took a deep breath. "I want you. Lord knows I want you but with things the way they are with us being lovers I cant guarantee your safe return. I almost lost it on that hillside at Mt. Royal. I let my love and my anger start to get the better of me. And control is something I have to have now more than ever. Besides that I think Ive violated about 20 ethics by not containing my attraction for you. So please tell me you understand," Denise closed.
Sara looked at Denise, trying to read something in her eyes anything that would give her some kind of clue. But she came up empty. Denise showed nothing. She was all business again.
"I understand perfectly," Sara began. "Youre saying good-bye . . . and youre not even gone yet."
Denise felt Saras pain but she couldnt show it. She didnt want the woman to get the upper hand emotionally. This is hard enough as it is. "This isnt how I wanted it to be," Denise offered in a whisper.
Jesus! How does she manage to be so cold? "Whatever you think is best Lt. VanCook. Youre the boss," Sara answered as she darted up.
"Wait," Denise sighed as Sara dashed to the bathroom. When Sara didnt pause, Denise just let her go. She didnt have the strength to follow and if she did what would she offer empty promises? No. Sara deserves better than that, Denise considered. She needs someone to love her without reservations and that cant be me not now, maybe not ever.
Sara locked the door behind her and looked at herself in the mirror. I told you not to get involved with her, she said to her reflection. Dont you even start to cry over a part time dyke that cant make up her mind. Shes not worth it. Sara tried to convince herself of that but the more she tried, the more pain she felt. Denise wasnt a part-time dyke. She did feel something real for me. Something genuine. And yes she is special. But you wont have her again. You cant have her again no matter how much you want her. Youll never have her in your life the way you want. Despite her minds warnings, Sara did the opposite . . . she cried.
Denise for her part finally rose to her feet. You had to do it she told herself. For everyones sake. Youd only hurt her worse in the end and its better she knows now. Denise gave a sigh and ran her fingers through her hair. Focus Denise. Soon she did focus her eyes watching the phone. Get back to work Van Cook she told herself. With that she picked up the phone and dialed out.
"Im not in Montreal anymore," were the first words from Denises mouth. No Hi. No Hello. No Hows it going. She couldnt hide her suspicion. It consumed her entire being.
"What?!" Angie exclaimed. "You were going to stay there for the week!"
"Does that throw off your plans?" Denise snarled.
"Denise what are you talking about?" Angie snapped back.
"You know exactly what Im talking about," Denise began. "No one do you understand? NO ONE knew of our location but you. And we were still found. Tell me what the hell is going on! Did he get to you? Did he offer you the world and then some? Or was it a couple grand to make up for the lost skiing trip?"
"Did you ever consider that you were followed?!" Angie shouted.
"Oh come on partner o mine," Denise argued. "From the Bahamas to Canada! Get real!"
"It is NOT me!" the sergeant shouted. Her voice had such volume and intensity that she could be heard through the closed glass office.
"Oh yeah?!" Denise hollered. "Then prove it!"
Sara heard Denise shouting and came out to inspect. She stood in the doorway of the bathroom but Denise didnt even notice Saras presence.
"I shouldnt have to prove it Denise. Im your partner."
Denise paused. Yes Angie was her partner. They spent many years together caring for each other, protecting each other. A small flicker of hope passed in Denises heart that perhaps, just perhaps, Angie was telling the truth. "Then find out who it is and how they know where we are. Ill call after you meet the judge but I refuse to tell you where I am."
A long silence passed over the phone. "You really think its me?" Angie asked still offended and angry. Most of all she was hurt. This was a woman she was willing to lay her life down for if need be.
"Im not sure what to think," Denise whispered the pain coming through the phone line, threatening to become sobs. "All I know is I cant tell you were I am until we find the leak."
"I cant believe after everything all these years you think Ive been setting you up," Angie responded.
"Then tell me what to believe!" Denise shouted. She couldnt hold it back any longer and she began to cry.
Sara had watched Denise tear up. She had heard her sob. But never did she once see Denise actually cry. She could only see Denises back but she could tell Denise was wiping away tears as she gripped the phone. "Well do what you like," Sara heard Denise say before she slammed the phone down. Not even a goodbye was uttered.
Sara knew that Denise loved Angie. Of that, there was no doubt. She believed in her, counted on her and found a confidant in her. Being a woman who had given up on believing in so many things in life, the loss of her best friend, the one thing she still had faith in, was monumentally heart wrenching to Denise.
Sara paused as she considered approaching Denise. The problems she had with Denise began to pale in comparison to what just transpired with Angie. Sara still had her fair amount of anger with Denise for calling things off but she also realized that Denise was doing what she thought was best. She also realized that Denise didnt lie to her or betray her. She said everything could can in an instant and it did. There was no sense in making this trip any more difficult than it was becoming. She could still be a friend to Denise. With that thought Sara made her way over to the officer.
Denise felt Saras hand start at her shoulder and run the length of her arm as she began to gain her composure.
"Shh," Sara soothed. "Its okay."
"I dont want her to be the leak," Denise said with a heavy sob.
"Maybe she isnt," Sara replied optimistically. "Maybe theres some other explanation that neither one of you have had time to consider."
"Well," Denise began, finally turning toward Sara, "if its her I just lost my best friend. And if its not her . . . I still just lost my best friend."
Denise put her face in her hands, plopping down at the edge of the bed, crying all over again. All Sara could do was hold her.
"Im going out Wagner!" Angie yelled as she stormed from her office, dashing through the stationhouse.
"Where you going in case Genar asks?" he said following behind her.
"Judge Harris office," she said dodging around her fellow detectives.
"I thought your appoint was tomorrow?" he replied, getting tangled in the human traffic.
"It is," Angie said stopping at the door and turning to face him. "But hes gonna see me now."
Angie arrived at the judges office in record time. She stormed through the first set of glass doors. Then the second. A finely decorated hallway led to a reception area where a secretary was seated, not that Angie was paying any attention to the décor. She was on a mission.
"Is Judge Harris in there?" she asked in a tone that wasnt open to debate.
"Yes he is but-."
She didnt get any farther. Angie was crashing through the chamber door. The judge, an older gentleman with graying hair around his temples, sate behind a large bureau. Some chopsticks were perched at this mouth when he watched Angie stroll inside.
"Can I help you?" he asked, setting the sticks down in his take out box.
"Yes Im Sgt. Angela Michaels," Angie replied.
The secretary that had been on Angies heels as soon as she entered spoke. "I tried to stop her your honor," she explained. "But she barged her way in."
"Its okay Linda," the judge answered. "Give us a few minutes. Its alright."
"Yes your honor," she nodded obediently. She made sure to delivery a disapproving glare at Angie before leaving, which Angie let roll by without comment.
"Your name sounds familiar," the judge began.
"I have a 8 am meeting with you tomorrow but I cant wait," Angie answered. "I apologize for coming in this way but I dont have many options at this point."
"Well I dont like my meal interrupted but you look pretty upset," he noted. "Whats the problem sergeant?"
"I have to have a court date moved up as soon as possible," she said cautiously. Angie was still feeling angry from her conversation with Denise and she didnt want to transfer that anger to the judge so she steadied herself for his reply.
"I dont like to push things up," the judge said sternly.
"I understand, your honor, but the lives of two people are on the line here . . . See, my partner Lt. Denise VanCook fled out of town with a witness, Sara Langforth, a little over a month ago. Since that time several attempts have been made on their lives. Saras the witness in the Carlos DeVittem murder case and hes doing everything possible to see that she doesnt make it to the witness stand. DeVittem doesnt play by the rules. We have to . . . I guess Im hoping you can do everything within your power to see that DeVittem has to go to court."
"Thats where I heard your name," the judge said snapping his finger and pointing at Angie. "You and VanCook did a wonderful job on that case from what the D.As office has said."
"Thank you," Angie began, "but all the work will be for naught if we cant keep the witness alive . . . Theres a leak somewhere and they keep being found. Theyve been followed from the Bahamas to Montreal, Quebec. We need your help your honor. Like I said DeVittem doesnt play by the rules . . . but if we can do something within OUR power to push things along I hope youll consider it."
"How soon do you want to go to court with this?" the judge asked.
"As soon as possible. The D.A. already has all the info."
Judge Harris leaned back in his leather chair and he examined Angie for a moment. Finally he shook his head up and down in an approving motion making the sergeant beam.
"How does two weeks sound?" he asked with a smile of his own. "I was supposed to go on vacation but this might be worth waiting for."
"Thank you very much sir," Angie said, taking his hand and shaking it profusely. "If its any consolation I had to cancel my vacation plans too because of DeVittem," she grinned.
"It was an autumn in New England trip. And you?"
"Skiing in Colorado," Angie grinned.
"Well Id love to see DeVittem off the streets. The guy is a serious dirtbag. Being a judge I realize its important to stay unbiased so, for the record, you never heard that," he winked.
"Heard what?" Angie smiled.
"Exactly," he answered with a smile of his own. "Ill help you gals out," he added. Just then the phone rang. Angie watched him look down. Then he turned back to Angie. "Dont leave yet," he instructed before picking up the phone. "Hiya Eddie. Hows life treating you?" the judge said into the receiver.
Angie waited until the short conversation ended and the judge turned his full attention to her again.
"You know 5 years ago I broke down and bought a CD player. I never regretted it. I can hear Nat King Cole just as clear as the day he recorded Unforgettable."
"Great song," Angie interjected. "Actually his daughter, Natalie recently did a duet with him on that very song."
"Hes dead," the judge answered. "Howd they do that?"
"Well they engineered it in a sound studio with her voice and his mixed together. Its pretty good actually,"
"Well Ill be," he grinned, pausing for a moment. "Anyway as I was saying I bought my CD player and I thought it was the best device ever . . . until I got this baby," he said pointing to the phone. "If someone calls that I dont want to speak to I can just let it ring," he chuckled.
"I know what you mean," Angie replied. "My partner and I . . ."
Angie stopped mid-sentence. "Are you okay?" the judge asked concerned. The officer in front of him just turned a ghostly white.
"Im fine," Angie said shaking her head to move past her shock. "Have you ever received an international call on your I.D?"
"Let me think," the judge replied scratching his temple but coming up empty. "Why do you ask?"
"We have one in our office at the station and I couldnt figure out how my partners location was being uncovered."
"I really dont know," the judge answered. "If an area is really populated, like Paris or London . . . or Toronto I assume they have caller I.D. available. In fact I know Canada has it because Ive seen the ads for it on the Windsor, Ontario TV station."
Angie sat silently with her mind racing, taking a few seconds here and there to silently kick herself. She didnt consider that damn little box once. When the repairman inspected it he just checked to make sure no lines were running off to listen to conversations nothing more. Oh Christ Angie thought silently. I cant believe its that simple.
"Did you need anything else from me?" she asked the judge, getting a bit antsy.
"No," he replied. "I just wanted to tell you to call Linda tomorrow about the court information. Late afternoon would be best. Well know more by then. Also go to the D.A and prepare them for a possible date change if you would."
"Thats not a problem your honor," Angie nodded, rising and shaking his hand. "Thank you very much again."
"Youre welcome," he said warmly.
Angie left just as quick as she came. She had to get back to the squad. She had to remove that last phone call from her I.D. But more importantly, she had to call it.
Denise and Sara spent most of the time in silence after the phone episode. Sara wanted to hold Denise tight and love away her problems, if only for a short time, but she knew that was out of the question. She understood the new ground rules and she would adhere to them. As a 1950s thriller came on they settled back and made jokes about the oh so scary monsters while they ate junk food.
Denise was just about to sit back on the bed after getting another soda when the phone rang. She looked to Sara with uncertainty.
"Maybe maid service wants to turn down the sheets?" she offered in a leery tone that showed on Denises face. Without comment the office walked over to the phone.
"Hello?" she asked unsure of what to expect.
"You are staying at the Royal York hotel in downtown Toronto, Room 206."
"Yes maam," the sergeant answered.
"How in the hell-?"
"The goddamn Caller ID is how. I got your number off the box. I asked for you or Sara but they didnt have you listed. So Ive been calling . . . room by room . . . waiting, no hoping, you would answer. If I didnt find you today I was going to call back tomorrow but lucky me you are on the second floor. My damn finger is about to fall off Ill have you know."
Denise was in total shock without a clue as to what to say.
"I dont believe it," she muttered.
"Well believe it. Im sure Genar will shit if he sees the phone bill."
"Why didnt I think about that?" Denise berated herself.
"Is it Angie?" Sara mouthed silently. Denise nodded.
"Because you were in another country to begin with," Angie replied. "I didnt think of it either. We rarely used the damn thing since they put it in and it didnt even enter my mind. I feel worse because its sitting right here by the desk. But here comes the worse part-."
"It has to be someone in the squad," Denise said finishing Angies sentence.
"Yes . . . But heres where it gets tricky," Angie continued. "Your location for the Bahamas was never logged. It says caller unknown. Montreal logged in but the Bahamas did not. And despite our earlier conversation it is not me."
Denise searched her memory in silence for a moment. "Thats not true!" she answered.
"Oh no, we arent going to get into this debate again are we?" Angie sighed.
"No, no," Denise answered quickly. "Im not pointing fingers at you. Im saying youre not the only one who knew Sara and I fled to the Bahamas."
"What do you mean?" Angie answered. "I didnt tell anyone."
"I distinctively remember you talking to Wagner and Brenner at some point in our first conversation from the Bahamas. Brenner caught that car jacker."
"Oh god, youre right . . . Do you really think it could be one of them?"
"Who else?" Denise asked.
"Well if its Wagner, Im sure he knows youre in Toronto because I told him I was leaving the office as I was heading out."
"How long were you gone?" Denise asked.
"About an hour. By the way, I got the court date moved up. Thats where I was in Judge Harris chambers."
"How did you manage that?" Denise inquired with pride in her voice.
"A bit of pushing and a little persuading," Angie chuckled. "Hes a Nat King Cole fan by the way. When this is over we should buy him that new album by Natalie," she added.
"Hell, if me make it out of this and get DeVittem behind bars Ill get Natalie to personally delivery copies of all her dads CDs," Denise chuckled.
Angie chuckled soon. "Actually thats how the ID came up. He was talking about CDs and his caller ID when it clicked that we had one in our office."
"Well," Denise began, "Do you think Sara and I should leave now?"
"No," Angie answered. "Stay put and get some rest. Its taken him at least 24 hours to put someone in place. If you stay in your room any bounty hunter he sends will have to check all the rooms, like I did," Angie jabbed in fun. "So just stay put for right now."
"Okay, Ill stay awake just in case. Were about 5 hours from home now and Id rather be on my guard tonight. Sara can sleep and then Ill rest tomorrow while she drives. Should we come straight home?"
"Definitely," Angie answered. Soon, however, a plan formulated in her mind. "On second thought, lets see if we can find out who the leak is."
"How are we going to do that?"
"Hmm," Angie said as she considered it. She had a super spy beau she was dating recently. He did work in home surveillance and things of that nature - new video cameras that were the size of an ink pen and such. She was sure that he could come in and set something up for her. "I think Steve might help."
"The peeping Tom?" Denise asked, trying not to laugh. It always seemed to get Angies goat when Denise referred to his job in such a manner. It bothered Angie a little at first but she was getting used to Denises teasing.
"He is NOT a peeping Tom," Angie chuckled.
"I know. I know," Denise conceded. "So whats the plan?"
"Ill have Steve rig up something in the office and close of one of the examination rooms so I can watch the office. Ill tell Wagner in front of Brenner, that youll be calling me with your new location. Ill tell him I want your call and yours alone. After you call Ill wait and see who goes to the phone."
"Please be careful," Denise advised.
"I will," Angie replied. "Ill go by the book. Youll have to call me from a populated area though so I know it will pick up."
"Is there a populated area between here and Windsor?" Denise asked her partner.
Angie searched a mental map in her mind.
"Niagara Falls?" Denise answered. "You want us to go to Niagara Falls?"
"Yeah. Its only an hour south at the most. Leave Toronto tomorrow morning and go to Niagara. Make a pit stop. Call me. Take in a few sights if you like," Angie teased. "Then drive straight through and come back here to the station. Ill wait until you get in."
"And what if the leak doesnt fall for it?" Denise asked.
"Then . . . were screwed."
"Beautiful," Denise replied sarcastically. "Beautiful plan."
"You have to admit. Its one of our better ones," Angie chuckled.
"Thats a pretty sad statement on our careers, you know that?" Denise pondered.
Angie continued to chuckle. Once their laughter died down a bit she said, "Im glad to hear you happy again."
Denise didnt say anything immediately. "Look, about earlier-."
"Youre tired, youre strung out from the road and if I know you, you havent actually ate anything of real content. Id bet that even right now youve got a bag of potato chips in your hand," she chuckled.
"Pretzels," Denise grinned. "You were close."
"Ah ha," Angie replied. "I thought so . . . Just forget about earlier. I have. I know youre frustrated, paranoid and about ten other adjectives. And in light of the way the situation has presented itself Im surprised you didnt suspect me sooner. So dont worry. All is forgiven Denise."
Denise felt herself tear up a bit. Angie really did understand. "You know what?" Denise said choking back a cry of relief.
"Whats that?" Angie asked.
"Youre the best."
Angie smiled at the compliment and caught a glance of the picture of the two of them on her desk. "Youre not so bad yourself Lt. VanCook," she replied. For a moment neither woman made a comment. Angie cleared her throat, getting back to business. "Anyway, I have to see the D.A. so Im going to let you go. Just think. By this time tomorrow youll be home again . . . Im looking forward to seeing you."
"You too," Denise replied sincerely. "It feels like forever sometimes."
"Take care and have a safe trip home."
"You take care too. No playing the hero, okay?" Denise said firmly.
Angie knew what she meant. She didnt want her to become renegade cop if she discovered the leak. Angie assured her other wise with, "By the book, I promise."
"Okay then," Denise answered. "Ill see you tomorrow."
Sara only heard one side of the conversation but judging by the conversation she put together what transpired for the most part. They were going home tomorrow back to reality. Despite it all, Sara felt a bit saddened. It was true. The whirl wind romance was coming to an end. Once they got back to the city she could feel that things would change and not for the better. Chances are Denise would become more detached and more business in their dealings together.
After the movie finished and they had eaten their room service dinner, Denise suggested that Sara get some rest. Soon they turned the lights off in the room but the lights of the city and lakefront still gave ample light to the room. Sara crawled under the covers alone as Denise looked out at the city from the recliner she relaxed in at the moment. They were already going back to their lives as individuals. Sara rolled away from Denise. She didnt want the officer to see the tears that rolled down her cheeks as she silently cried. Denise felt a pain under her ribcage and in her gut. She looked out into the city, cursing herself for falling in love.
Tomorrow they would get their long awaited wish. They would finally be home. But neither woman could say they were joyous.
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