Trial of Conscience

by Troubleshooter

Chapter 14

Cold. The thought appeared somewhere in her mind and floated around in the fog. Reflexively, she burrowed further under the blankets. A faint, repetitive sound drummed slowly in her ears. "Uggh...don’t wanna wake up," she mumbled, rolling to her left, searching for the body that usually kept her so warm. An arm went out, finding nothing but empty bed.

A groan. One eye opened slightly, focusing on the red numbers on the alarm clock. Six twenty-seven. The eye shut as her mind protested. What an ungodly hour for a Saturday morning.

"Evin?" She waited for a minute. "Honey?" No response. One day, I’m going to get her to stay in bed past seven. For sleep. Stay in bed past seven for sleep. That’s it.

Grabbing Evin’s pillow, she pulled it to her body and cradled it. A deep inhalation was followed by a sigh, the familiar scents clinging to the pillow warming her. The faint, repetitive noise finally made an impression on her consciousness and she recognized it as evidence of punishment being administered to the heavy bag. Ah, that’s where she is. Working out. She hugged the pillow closer. Isn’t there some constitutional guarantee of my right to sleep in on a Saturday morning?

She burrowed her head into the pillow and groaned. You’re being lazy, Sydney. You fell asleep at nine o’clock last night. Nine and a half hours of sleep is enough. A small smile crossed her face. And that was after she fell asleep. She sighed. She looked so peaceful. At least she’s sleeping through the night again, so I guess the nightmares are getting better.

Evin had rebuffed all of Sydney’s attempts to get her to discuss the nightmares she was having on an almost nightly basis. I wonder what they’re about. I guess it’s probably because of the explosion. Hell, I’ve had them and I wasn’t even involved in it.

The case is going to be over soon, one way or the other. Depositions of those people from Hynes are Thursday, and then they’ll move to set the case for trial, which should be about two to three weeks after that. I wonder what it’s going to be like when this case is over and we get a chance to have normal lives.

Her little voice laughed, ‘Normal?’ You know what I mean. I don’t think it’s ever going to be dull. I mean the pressure. I’d like two weeks of no problems…especially between us. Thursday just about killed me. Just going to school, studying, doing defaults and evictions in Clinic, being with Evin…that would be perfect. No hospitals, no blood, no people following me, no mention of the words ‘Hynes’ or ‘foreclosure.’

The noise from downstairs had stopped, and the aroma of coffee brewing drifted to her nose. We can’t lose this case. Where are Willie and Emma and the kids going to go? I hope she can come up with some legal magic because I certainly have no clue what to do.

Her eyes reluctantly opened as she rolled onto her back and started a languid stretch, concentrating on the feel of her muscles tightening and relaxing. The bedroom in the loft was fairly dark, but she could see small slivers of light peeking through the storm shutter covering the skylight. She put the storm shutter down so the light wouldn’t wake me up. She’s so sweet. Sydney chuckled lightly thinking of the scowl her lover had made when she had told the tall woman exactly that a few days ago. That and the low, adamant growl of "I am not sweet."

"Big phony," she mumbled. At least she’s working out again. That seems to take some of the edge off. Where does she get all that energy from? Maybe we can go down to the French Quarter today to the flea market. I need some more sunglasses. After the last couple of days, we need to just relax and have some fun.

Time to get up. With a grunt, she pushed herself up and swung her legs over the side of the bed. Bathroom first, then coffee. Start the morning off with a plan. The sound of a spoon clanging in a pot brought her out of the bed to a standing position in a second. Pot? Spoon? Evin Moran? All in one room…I’d better get downstairs. So much for the plan.


The sun warmed them as they walked up Decatur Street, having just left the flea market. The light breeze carried just a touch of crispness, the cool air chasing away the humidity.

"I’m so glad we came down here. The weather is great." Sydney grinned at Evin, who returned the smile.

"Yeah, it’s really nice." She sidestepped a group of people walking down the middle of the sidewalk and shot an exasperated glance at Sydney. "How’s that drink?"

"It’s very good." The law student smiled back tolerantly. "I’m really proud of you, you know."

One dark eyebrow rose. "Proud of me? What the hell did I do?"

"You made it through the flea market without killing anybody," she teased. "Although that look you gave to that woman with the baby carriage…I think you scared the baby and terrified the mother."

"I was simply urging her, in a non-verbal manner, to reconsider her options," Evin replied indignantly. "She was trying to wedge that thing through a two-inch wide space and blocking the aisle. It wasn’t going to fit. She shouldn’t have even tried it. And that baby wasn’t even looking at me."

A small hand reached out and patted Evin’s back. "That was still very nice of you…doing that non-verbally." I can only imagine what she would have said.

"I don’t like people pushing on me…that crowd…it was beginning to back up behind us." A long arm reached out and settled over her companion’s shoulders, drawing her closer. "It’s a personal space kind of thing…no violations allowed."

I guess that rule doesn’t apply to me. "The weather must have brought everybody out. It was really crowded." The narrow aisles of the flea market had been jammed with people. Evin finally told Sydney to keep shopping and had waited on a bench for her, out of the way of the crowds.

A couple passing them stared as the woman whispered something to the man. The law student smiled a sweet smile at them and they looked away quickly. "Evin?"

The tall woman glanced down at Sydney. "Hmmm?"

"That doesn’t bother you?"

"What? The crowds? I’ll deal with it."

She shook her head. "No…I…never mind."

"Uh, uh, uh, Syd…you started, you gotta finish."

"Those people…you didn’t see them? The look they gave us?"

"Nah. What kind of look?"


"Then they couldn’t have been looking at you." Evin smiled easily. "No way you could inspire that look in anybody. Must have been me. My horns aren’t showing, are they?"

"I think it was because you had your arm around me."

"Fuck ‘em," she stated. In the next instance, her arm came off of Sydney’s shoulders as if it were being scalded. You’re an idiot, Moran. "I’m sorry…I didn’t mean to…I didn’t know you had a problem…I thought…."

Sydney reached out and grabbed the hastily removed arm, resettling it over her shoulders. "Relax, terror. I don’t have a problem. They do. Ah, this Piņa Colada is so good." The frozen drink slid down Sydney’s throat.

"That’s a beach drink…some tropical island, scantily clad native women obsessed with waving palm fronds, a hammock…double hammock, for both of us."

Pale eyebrows rose. "Good thing you clarified that, or I might have to...ooooh, look at that." Sydney pointed to a shop window. "Those are great leather jackets. Can we go in there?"

Evin glanced in the direction Sydney was pointing and stopped. "Um, uh, Syd…that’s, uh, Leather and Skin."

The law student stopped and looked up at the tall attorney. "And that means…?"

Blue eyes twinkled unseen behind sunglasses. "Oh nothing…just telling you the name."

"Okay," she said, drawing the word out. "I promise this will be the last place we go into. Then we can go home."

"Sure, baby." Evin smiled indulgently at the small redhead. "I might even be persuaded to buy you a present or two," the low voice drawled.

The shop door opened and a bell tinkled as they walked through. "Ah…leather. I love that smell. It’s like…something just feels right about it."

Evin pulled her sunglasses off as her eyes swept over the shop that was so typical of the French Quarter. Small in size, the room barely twenty feet wide, it was packed to the rafters with merchandise. A leather-clad man sat behind a small counter next to the cash register, thumbing through a magazine. "They’ve got a lot of leather here." And a lot of other things. I can’t wait to see how red she turns.

"What’s so funny?"

"Uh…nothing." Evin nodded at the clerk who had looked up from his magazine. "Hey."

Sydney glanced at her skeptically as she moved to the first display case and peered down into it. "Wow…look at all these leather bracelets. Evin…but why are they so small? And look at those…multi-colored little bola ties. That wouldn’t even fit around my wrist, much less over my head. And that silver bracelet, back there…" Her finger tapped the top of the glass display case, pointing to the item in question. "I like that one, but I don’t think…." She made a circle with her thumb and index finger trying to approximate the size of it and put it up next to her wrist. "No, it wouldn’t fit."

"Um, Syd…." Evin said softly. She is so adorable. "Those aren’t bracelets. They’re, um, uh.…" How do I put this? "Sexual aids. This is a

leather and sex toy shop." She took a sip from her bottled water.

The young woman stared at Evin, confused. "Sexual aids? Like the ice cubes?"

Evin started choking on the water she was trying to swallow. "Um…not exactly." She coughed a few more times, trying to clear her lungs as two of the customers in the shop looked her way. "They’re for men. You’ve never talked to Wayne about…any of your guy friends?" She noted the blank look on Sydney’s face. Uh oh. I’m gonna have to explain all this stuff. "They’re called cock rings." I can’t wait until we make it to the back room.

"What?!" the law student spluttered as she looked down to the case and then back to Evin. "I can’t imagine… I’ve seen stuff on the Internet…read stories." Of course, they were about women, not something that would require this particular…accessory. "You mean they…." She grimaced. "Honey, why would anyone want to do that? That doesn’t hurt? Penises are sensitive. How does it work?" She looked back down into the case and stared. "That’s got to hurt."

"In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t have a penis," Evin said dryly, then offered in a low voice, "Of course, we could buy a reasonable facsimile here, if you’d like."

"Uh huh," the law student replied absently as she leaned closer to the case, studying the items. "Some of these are adjustable. Go figure. I’ll have to ask Wayne about this. I wonder if he’s ever used one. Oh my God! That one has spikes on it. Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow!" She looked at Evin and winced. "Honey, we can buy whatever you want."

Both dark brows shot up. "Do you know what I said, Sydney?"

"Um…that you wanted to buy something…I think." Her eyes wrinkled as she offered an apologetic smile. "I’m sorry. I really wasn’t paying attention. That spike thing distracted me. Ow." Green eyes glanced around the small shop. "So this is one of those sex shops. Where are the little booths that you can watch movies in?"

"It’s not that kind of sex shop. Just leather and, um, sexual aids."

"Kathy and I went into one in Memphis." Her body shivered in remembrance. "We left after two seconds. It was disgusting. All these creepy looking people…. I never did go into one again. This one’s really nice."

A dark brow raised at the revelation as an irrational pang of jealousy stabbed at her heart. Control yourself, Moran. She’s not a virgin and neither are you, so get a grip. "Yeah, it’s not bad." She shrugged as her blue eyes scanned the shop again. "You, um…you interested in some of this stuff?"

"You mean, do I want to try something different?" She glanced down at the display case and then back up to her lover. "I…when I went with Kathy, I think we were trying desperately to find something…anything to make it better. It wasn’t because I found any of the stuff we had heard about to be a big turn-on for me. Thinking about using some of those things…I don’t know. It was…grasping at straws...looking for an answer. The only answer was that we didn’t belong together."

The dark head nodded. "You want to look around more?"

Sydney glanced to the next case. "Oh, yeah. I’m not gonna pass this opportunity up. I’ve always wondered about some of this stuff. Do you know a lot about it? I mean…have you…um, well, are you…."

Uh oh. Blue eyes blinked. The little voice warned, ‘Remember, honesty is the best policy.’ "I, uh, don’t know if I would say that I know a lot about it." Her stomach did a flip. "I’ve had some experience."

"Do you like…." Sydney’s voice trailed off and her eyes dropped.

Oh, Christ. This has disaster written all over it. How bad are you gonna fuck this little discussion up, Moran? And you thought it would be fun to come in here, exactly why? "Some things can add to the experience on occasion. It’s, um, people’s preferences…what they like. I, personally, don’t…well, um, it’s like when we talk about what feels really good and then what’s just good when we make love. I…I…if you wanted to try something that you thought would…enhance the experience, we could do that."

Sydney grinned at Evin. "I’ll keep that in mind, terror. But I’m not sure I’d live through an enhanced experience with you."

Evin could feel an answering grin form on her face. Wow. I didn’t fuck that up.

"Don’t get too cocky, terror. I’ll just make you work really hard later." And with that, she was off to the next display case. "Ah, now these I recognize. I’ve seen pictures of these on the internet." Sydney pointed to the contents of the case. "Do you think they really work? There must be a market for ‘em, otherwise why would they keep manufacturing them? Unless the market’s composed of nothing but first-time buyers. I mean, I don’t think this is an item you could return if you tried it and didn’t like it."

Evin stared at the assorted sets of Ben-Wah balls on display. "I…I…." I’ve been in here with lots of different people and I’ve never seen a reaction like this. I have no idea what to say. "No, I wouldn’t think that’s a returnable item."

"Have you ever used these?"

She glared at a male customer who was discretely trying to listen to their conversation. "You got a problem?" The man looked up, startled and moved away, his interest suddenly taken by a rack of whips on the opposite wall.

"Easy there, terror." Sydney reached out and stroked her arm. Then her eyes brightened and she smiled. "Hey, you know that could come in handy during Christmas rush at the malls. I could send you out to clear a path through the masses."

A groan. "I don’t do malls, Syd."

"We’ll see. Now answer my question, please."

"What was the question?"

A small nod towards the display case she was tapping a finger on. "You….?"


"Know anybody who has?"


"Did they like ‘em?"


A small hand rested on Evin’s arm. "You okay, terror?"

"Yeah, yeah, I’m fine," Evin muttered with a nod of her head. "Must be hungry or something."

"We can go get something to eat after this, okay?"

"Sure, Syd, sure."

Sydney had already started to wander further into the store. Evin shook her head as she followed and nearly ran into the law student who had stopped dead in her tracks and was pointing at something suspended from the ceiling.

"What the hell is that?"

Thank God, Evin sighed in relief. A question I can’t answer. Sort of. At least my answer’s not based on personal experience or the experience of someone I’ve slept with. "I’m not really sure. It’s…well, it’s some kind of restraint device for BDSM. I don’t know the technical term for it." Or even if there is one.

"You mean somebody gets in that thing?" The redhead stared up at the full-length zippered black leather body bag, decorated with studs and spikes. "How do they walk? Move their arms? It doesn’t even have an opening for the mouth. I couldn’t imagine not being able to talk. That would drive me crazy. Why would someone want to get in that thing?"

"I don’t know. It turns them on? I’m not really up on BDSM practices. Not something that’s ever interested me." Evin shrugged. "Whatever blows your skirt up, Syd. I personally would kill everything and anything in sight if somebody tried to put me in that."

Green eyes gazed at her lover for long seconds. "I bet you would. I don’t think I could do it, either. I like the feel of your skin too much. That would be torture."

"I think that might be one of the attractions."

"Oh." Sydney stared at it for a few more seconds and then was off to a display rack, where she stood and stared, finally turning to face Evin. "I never knew there were so many…products. Do you…have you…."

Why did I agree to come in here? Evin glanced at what seemed to be an infinite variety of anal plugs and other assorted devices. "None of those…no." We’re gonna need to have a talk. ‘You’d better before your past comes back to bite you in the ass,’ her little voice warned. Oh God, I want to talk. I am in so much trouble.

"Some of these have weird names. Artillery Shell…The Bomb…The Bullet. It sounds like you’re trying to start a war. These are supposed to be fun, right?"

The tall attorney bit back a grin. This is probably the most unique reaction to this place I’ve ever seen. "That’s what they say."

"There’s so many different sizes…and colors. I think if I were to use one of these things, I’d want a realistic color. Not neon green." The law student slid one of the boxes off the rack, turned it over and pondered the writing she found there. "Easy-grip…. You know, these things have amazingly few warnings considering the nature of the device and the potential complications."

Evin started laughing. "Spoken like a true lawyer. Are you sure you haven’t graduated yet?" she teased.

"No," Sydney chuckled. "I’m really surprised about the lack of warnings, though. They have warnings on everything you look at. And some are really stupid, too. Like that one that came on my toaster oven. ‘Do not use oven as headgear.’ Can you imagine someone trying to put a toaster oven on his head? You’d expect this one to at least have something like ‘Do not stick up your nasal passageway.’ Now that would hurt. Look at the size of this thing."

"Warnings usually arise as a result of litigation. I’m not quite sure there are many people who would be willing to get up in court and testify about how they suffered an injury as a result of the defective nature of that particular product." We’re in a leather sex shop and we’re having a legal discussion. Unbelievable. I’m in love with another lawyer. Who would have thought? ‘What, the lawyer part or the love part?’ her little voice asked. Both.

"Oh, yeah…that makes sense." Sydney was already absorbed in reading the back of another package. She put it back on the rack and looked at Evin. "No warnings on that one either. Amazing."

Well, at least she’s not asking me how to use ‘em. Evin followed the small woman to the racks against the wall where a myriad assortment of leather pants, jackets, chaps and other items hung. "Oooh, this jacket is so soft." She turned the price tag around. "Holy shit! A thousand dollars? It’s a good thing I’m not into the leather scene. I couldn’t afford it. Can you imagine how frustrating that would be? Wanting to hang out with your leather friends, but having to show up in something else because you couldn’t afford it. My dad had an Ultrasuede jacket when I was little. I wonder if they still have that kind of thing. It’s probably more affordable. But then, that’s not really leather, so it doesn’t qualify, I guess."

Evin was trying not to laugh as she watched Sydney move down the racks, reaching out and touching the different garments. She didn’t know quite how she expected the law student to react, but having legal discussions about warnings and Sydney’s curiosity and comments about the various items were definitely not what she expected. She nearly lost it when she heard Sydney exclaim, "Leather underwear? Wouldn’t that chafe? How do you wash it?"

"Wow…this bra has no…no…cups." Sydney grabbed the next item, a pair of panties, and almost screamed when they started vibrating. "Evin! This underwear vibrates."

The tall woman had no idea what to do with herself or how to respond, so she said simply, "I love you, Syd."

The law student cocked her head and smiled sweetly. "I love you, too, baby." Then she was off in another direction, heading for the back room. Evin shook her head and followed. Definitely not how I thought she would react.

"Oh my," Sydney said quietly as a magazine rack laden with hundreds of magazines stared back at her. "I had heard about this kind of stuff…but I’ve never seen any of it up close and personal." She peered closer at one of the magazines closest to her. "They have an entire magazine on tickling?"

Evin glanced at the rack, spying the magazine in question. "It would seem so."

"Oh, it’s only a quarterly. I was wondering how they could come up with enough information on tickling to fill a magazine each month."

Evin started laughing. "I never thought of it that way."

Sydney’s head started to tilt and kept tilting until it was parallel with the floor as she stared at the cover of another magazine on the rack. "Didn’t think that was possible. Did you?"

"Never really thought about that one, Syd," Evin answered as she tilted her head.

"You know, it’s like reading those stories on the Internet. Sometimes, I try and try to picture what it is that they’re doing, but I just don’t see how it’s possible to get in some of those positions. And if you did get in them, how would you get out of them? Do you really have any more fun…does it feel any better because you’re standing on your head while balancing on a balcony railing?"

Standing on your head balancing on a balcony railing? What the hell has she been reading? "Syd? You feel like showing me these stories you’ve been reading?"

"Sure, baby, if you’re interested. Would you look at this!" the law student exclaimed as she spotted the wall of vibrators and dildos. "Aw, they’re locked up. I can’t read the back of the boxes."

"I could ask the clerk to open ‘em up if you’d like," Evin offered. She is so adorable.

"Nah, that’s okay. Maybe another time," she replied as her eyes wandered over the shelves. "Who the hell names these things? The Monkey? And that’s supposed to do something for me? I’d start laughing every time I went to use the thing just thinking of the name." She pointed at a row of boxes. "Evin? Am I supposed to recognize these people’s names?"

"Only if you’re into watching triple-X movies."

"Oooh…the Rabbit. I thought that girl at school was talking about her pet. No wonder I couldn’t figure out that conversation." Green eyes searched the shelves. "That thing has got to be for horses. It’s huge." Sydney stood, shaking her head. "You know something, honey?"


She turned and grinned at the tall attorney. "Absolutely nothing can make me feel as good as you do. And you don’t require batteries."

I know I’ve got the stupidest grin on my face right now. "You, um, ready for some lunch?"

"Yeah, come on, terror. You owe me one for bringing this innocent Southern girl in here and shocking my sensibilities."

"Shocking your sensibilities? It wasn’t my idea to come in here," Evin protested. "I…I…."

"Yeah, right. I saw that twinkle in your eyes when we were by those ring things. You thought I was going to get embarrassed and turn red." She raised an eyebrow at Evin. "I’ll have you know I’m not that innocent." Green eyes twinkled mischievously. "This was definitely worthwhile. I’ve gotten some pretty good ideas from looking around in here." She leaned forward, brushing against Evin’s body, a finger tracing the tall woman’s jaw. "We’ll have to come back…soon." Then she turned and walked towards the door.

Evin stood staring at the retreating law student, dumbfounded. I have no idea what to say. My little, innocent Sydney Parker doesn’t seem to be so innocent. And she wants to come back. I…I…I…. ‘You seem to do that a lot around her,’ her little voice observed. Do what? "The stuttering.’ Oh, shut up.


A long arm swiped at the piece of electronics that had the audacity to emit a shrill ringing noise. A muttered curse. "Son of a bitch!" A fair head stirred on her chest as Evin shifted and finally grasped the phone.

"What!" she growled into the phone as she noted the time on the clock. Three fucking thirty in the morning.

"Good afternoon, sunshine." A deep male voice came through the phone.

A hoarse angry whisper. "Afternoon? It’s three thirty in the morning here. This had better be good." A soft pat on her side as warm lips kissed her breastbone.

"I have a problem."

"So do I. It’s called being disturbed by you. Can’t you call my office during normal business hours?"

"Evin, this is normal business hours for me. I’m in Athens."

"Good for you. Now what the hell do you want?"

"I need you to represent me."

"And you called me at three thirty in the morning to tell me that? Are you out of your fucking mind, Christos?"

"Ah, ah, ah…remember your manners, young lady."

"I’m no fucking lady and I’ve never had any manners. Call me when I’m in my office in about four hours." The receiver slammed down into its cradle.

"Baby?" Sleepy green eyes peered into the darkness, barely making out Evin’s face. "Who was that?"

"Shhh…go back to sleep." Evin kissed the top of her head and tightened her arms around Sydney.

"Uh huh," Sydney murmured, nestling closer. "Warm…feels good."

The phone rang again. "He’s gonna die," she muttered, grabbing for the phone as she felt Sydney roll off of her. "Do you not know what the fuck ‘call me at my office’ means?"

"Evin, there’s a court hearing…today…at one forty five…in West Palm Beach...Federal Court."

The low voice crackled with disbelief. "And you’re calling me now?"

"It’s, um…well, I had a local man handling it for me and, it’s not gone well. I fired him." He grimaced unseen on the other end of the phone as he waited for the explosion.

"Let me get this straight. You hired an attorney to represent you, then you fire the guy before the hearing and call me up at 3:30 in the morning expecting me to walk in and take over the very same day? Are you out of your fucking mind?"

Ignoring her questions, he continued. "I’ve made reservations for you on a flight leaving at 7:35 a.m. You’ll get there at noon. Open return. Stay at the house for a while…enjoy yourself. Katia was asking about you last month. I hear she’s not seeing anybody right now."

"You think I care about that? Why the hell did you fire your attorney?"

"He said we were going to lose. I disagreed with him."

"And when did you get your law degree? Maybe he’s right. You can’t win them all."

"Why not? You do." He took a calming breath. "Come on, Evin. This is family business. I want the best representing our family. You’re the best. My sister, your mother…."

"Don’t even go there. It’s only family business when it’s convenient for you." The words came out as a low growl, causing Sydney to sit up. "You’re lucky I don’t have any court appearances scheduled today." An exasperated breath hissed out as she sat up, swinging her legs over the side of the bed. "This is gonna cost you…a lot. I’m not interested in staying. I want a flight back tonight."

"Consider it done. I’ll fax the papers to you. At home?"

"Yes. Who’s suing you?"

"No one’s suing me. I’m suing the IRS. They screwed up and seized the yacht. I bought it from a guy who owed back taxes and they seized it and sold it to satisfy his tax obligation. Told me they didn’t know it wasn’t his. That’s bullshit. It’s registered in one of my company’s names. I didn’t get any notice…they said they sent it to the house. If they didn’t know it was mine, how the hell did they know to notify me at the house?"

He’s suing the IRS. This is gonna be just great. A deep sigh. I hate the IRS. I hate clients. I hate people in general. "Fax the papers now. I’ll call you back in a little while."

"Faxing as we speak," he answered then he realized he was speaking into a disconnected line.

Sydney lightly stroked Evin’s back, feeling the muscles knotted under her fingers. "You gotta get up?"

A softer sigh. "Yeah. Need to catch a flight. I’m sorry, Syd. You go back to sleep, okay?"

"Uh uh, terror. I’m getting up, making you some coffee and making sure you eat something," she said sleepily as she wiggled over behind Evin, wrapping her arms around her waist. "Besides the nails you seem to have had already," Sydney added, teasing gently.

Her arms settled on top of Sydney’s arms. "Calls in the middle of the night are just never good." Come on, Moran. Get your ass up. Go make some money. "I’m going downstairs to get that fax. Please stay in bed and sleep. I’ll wake you up before I go. I promise."

"Nope. I’m wide awake now." One hand dropped to Evin’s thigh and started a slow rub.

"Uh huh…wide awake," Evin said knowingly.

"Where are you going?"

Evin’s eyelids fluttered shut. It’s gonna kill me to get up. "Nowhere if you keep that up." A swift movement and she had Sydney pinned to the bed, her lips unerringly finding Sydney’s. She took her time, kissing the redhead thoroughly. Then she was off the bed and heading for the stairs. "Gotta get that fax."

"You are truly evil, Evin Moran!" Sydney groaned. "Getting me in such a state and then leaving me."

A wicked chuckle could be heard as she moved down the stairs. "You could always take matters into your own hands."

Sydney could feel the heat rising in her cheeks. She is so bad. Gotta fight fire with fire. "I just might have to do that." A bark of laughter threatened to escape as she heard the footsteps on the stairs stop and then come back up. Two can play at this, Evin Moran.

Sydney watched as Evin folded her arms and leaned against the doorframe, her outline barely visible in the dark.

"Sydney Parker," the low voice drawled. "If you decide to take matters into your own hands…well, you let me know. I’d like to observe your…technique…just to make sure I’m doing it right for you."

"Auuggghhh!" It came out as a frustrated growl. "Either get your damn fax or get back in this bed with me. The things you do to my’s not fair."

Evin laughed. "Sure it’s fair, Syd. I just think of you and the same things happen to me. You don’t even have to be in the same place as I am."

"Oh." I never thought…I mean…I guess I… wow. "Really?"

"Really." The low voice gentled. "I’m…I’m sorry you didn’t know that. I need to get better about telling you things…like this."

"You do just fine, honey. Just fine." Sydney threw back the covers and sat up. "Go on. I’ll be down in a minute."

"You should…" Evin started to protest. "Okay."


A fair head peeked over the cubicle, followed by a hand waving a bag. "Hey, big boy. Brought you breakfast."

Wayne looked up and almost spit his coffee out. "You scared the hell out of me. What in the world are you doing here so early? It’s…." He glanced at his watch. "It’s eight o’clock in the morning."

"I’m turning over a new leaf."

He eyed her skeptically. "Who are you and what did they do with the real Sydney Parker?"

"Very funny. Now eat your breakfast, cholesterol boy."

"Oh, good, it’s from the Egg Carton." He took the offered bag and peeked inside, pulling out the Styrofoam container. "What’d ya bring me?"

"Grease-laden bacon and a hash brown omelet."

His eyes lit up. "I love those omelets. Thanks. What’d you get?"

"Same thing. I swear, between you and Evin…my arteries are gonna harden just from being around y’all, not to mention the incredible danger to my waistline. I’ve gained five pounds since I started going out with her." She pulled her chair out and slid it over, resting her breakfast in her lap.

"Good. You could afford to gain a little more weight. You’re too damn thin," he mumbled between bites.

"Gaining weight’s never been a problem. Neither is losing it when I get stressed."

"Seriously, Syd…it’s unusually early for you. Things okay with you and Evin?"

"Oh, yeah. She just had to catch a flight this morning, so I brought her to the airport." She winced, remembering the glare she received when she made Evin promise not to get cited for contempt in court. "She wasn’t too happy about going." That’s an understatement. "But it was for one of her uncles. A last minute thing. Figured I’d come straight here." She took a bite of the omelet. "This is so good."

"Uh huh."

"Did you have a good weekend?"

"Yeah, I didn’t do a whole lot. Caught up on reading. Came in here on Saturday for a little while and did some research for my law review article. Nothing much. How was yours?"

"Pretty nice. We went down to the Quarter on Saturday morning. Oh, that reminds me. Have you ever used a cock ring?"

Pieces of egg flew out of Wayne’s mouth as he started violently coughing.

"Are you okay?" Sydney started clapping him on the back.

He waved his hand as he wiped his mouth with a napkin. "I’m…" Another cough, then a deep breath. "I’m fine. Jesus, you might want to give me a warning before you ask a question like that."

"I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you choke. I was just curious."

"You are still a lesbian, right? There’s nothing you need to tell me about Evin, is there?"

Sydney laughed. "Yes, I’m still a lesbian and no, there’s nothing I need to tell you about Evin. We just went into Leather and Skin and I saw some of those ring thingies and was curious. They had one with spikes on it. That has got to hurt."

Wayne put his fork down. "I’m not eating anymore until we move on to a new topic."

"Go ahead and eat before it gets cold." She waved at his food. "I can wait until you’re done."

"That’s what I was afraid of." He picked up his fork and took another bite. "You had a really interesting weekend, I take it."

"It was really nice. After the Quarter, we just took it easy for the rest of the day and barbecued. Then I studied on Sunday and Evin did some research for a couple of cases for which she has upcoming trials. She’s got the neatest set-up at the loft – Westlaw, Lexis, all these databases online. I can sign on to Westlaw with my student password from there and it’s just like being here. In fact, the connection’s faster. Some term she used…I’m not sure what it was. She’s into all that stuff. The other day, she was telling me all about Audis and the defective brakes they supposedly had."

"Is that some kind of weird lesbian foreplay…mechanic talk?"

Sydney rolled her eyes. "Oh yeah, Wayne. I especially love it when women talk about repairing cars. Please…she was telling me about one of her first cases. This woman had parked her car in one of the hotel parking lots. She comes back and gives her ticket to the attendant, who goes to get it and crashes it into one of those concrete pole supports, causing three thousand dollars in damage. Evin filed the claim for the woman in small claims court when the parking lot people wouldn’t pay for the damage. The next thing she knows, they’re claiming that the accident was Audi’s fault due to defective brakes. So she had to learn all about the defective brakes so she could win."

"Did she?"

"Win? Yeah, she did."

"So why were those brakes defective in those Audis? I remember all that controversy."

"It wasn’t the brakes that were defective. What ended up happening was that, as cars got more compact, the interior room got smaller, making the brake move closer to the accelerator. People just hit the wrong pedal. She said it was the hardest five hundred dollars she ever earned. Took the case three years to get to trial."

"Wow. That’s pretty interesting. Another myth debunked." He put his fork down and leaned back in his chair. "That was so good. Thanks. I owe you one."

"No, you don’t. That was just a small payback for dealing with an hysterical female last Thursday. I really do appreciate you talking to me, Wayne."

"Anytime, Syd."

"So tell me about this cock ring thingy."

He gave her an admonishing look. "Where’s my warning?"

"Oops. Sorry," she smiled impishly.

He looked at her for a few seconds. "You really want to know about this?"

"Uh huh."


"I don’t know. I’m curious, I guess. I, uh, when I first saw them, I thought they were, um, bracelets."

Wayne covered his face with his hands and tried not to laugh.

"Go ahead. Laugh. Evin was so adorable. I don’t think she knew quite how to take me when we were in that place."

Wayne drew a deep breath and tried to compose himself. "I’m sorry, Syd. It’s just that…."

"Excuse me." A light knock came on the door as a head poked in. "Anybody in here?"

"Yeah, come on in. Is there something we can help you with?" Wayne asked as he watched a man step into the room.

"I’m looking for a Sydney Parker. Could you tell me where I might find him?"

Sydney stood. "I’m Sydney Parker."

He extended a folded piece of paper towards her. As she grasped it, he said, "You’ve been served."

Her eyes opened wide. "For what?"

"I don’t know. I just deliver them." He turned and walked out the door.

Sydney unfolded the piece of paper and read the subpoena. "Those bastards!"

Wayne stood and started reading it over her shoulder, letting out a low whistle. "What could they possibly want you to testify about? You’re co-counsel on the case. How can they do that?"

"I have no idea," she said angrily. "We haven’t gotten served with a notice of anything yet, but whatever it is, it’s happening next Monday morning. Just who the hell do they think they are?"

Wayne grimaced as he watched the subpoena slam down on her desk with a loud slap. Didn’t think a piece of paper could make that much noise.

She reached for the phone and started to dial. "I have to call Evin’s office. Maybe they got a notice of a hearing or something." Evin is gonna go ballistic when she finds out about this.

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