Authors: Amy Valenti
"Oh, you know he is, so don't even try to play dumb!"
"Hmm.” She got to her feet, brushing up against Faye and nuzzling her neck, whispering something I couldn't make out. I gritted my teeth, the part of my brain that categorised Faye as mine crying out in protest.
To her credit, Faye didn't react or step away. She held herself perfectly still, her body rigid with tension, not giving Laura the satisfaction of pulling back or lashing out. It wasn't until Laura's hands began to wander that she moved, twisting out of her reach and across the room just as I was ready to barge in there myself.
"You really thought that'd work? Wow, you're getting desperate, huh?” Faye's voice held a faint tremor now, though it was almost indiscernible.
Giving up, Laura sighed and sat down once more. “Desperate? No. Bored of this little drama? Hell, yes. If you really have to know, I only hit on you because Zach kicked me out, and I knew you were his weak spot."
I winced, hating the slightly hurt resignation that fell over Faye's face. I'd suspected as much, but the way Laura had slammed her with the truth was callous and calculated.
"And once I got to know you, I realised it was gonna be easier to hurt him than I first thought, since you so obviously carry the same torch for him that he does for you. God, the way you were thinking about him the entire time my fingers were inside you... I should have stuck a knife in your gut the second I realised. But, no—you had to find out before I could
use you to kick him in the balls."
Faye stepped into the corner, leaning against the wall just next to the one-way glass. I couldn't see her reaction, but mine was no mystery to me—the tension that filled my body was expectant, demanding, even a little jubilant, despite Laura's urge to hurt Faye. It wouldn't subside until I'd grabbed her and kissed her until she was breathless...and my mind needed to stay the hell away from
thought, or else there was no way I could leave the room until I'd calmed down.
There was a long pause before Faye spoke, and when she did her husky voice was only a touch lower than usual. “You just keep going on and on about things you don't understand, don't you?"
"I understand Zach just fine,” Laura said breezily. “And I think I have a pretty good handle on you by now, too."
"Are you gonna tell me what I need to know?” Faye asked, stepping towards the door. “Cause if not, we're done here."
Laura intercepted her, grabbing her wrist and driving her up against the wall. My limbs were in motion even before I heard her startled cry, and I made it from observation to interrogation in less than five seconds.
During that time, Faye had managed to smack her assailant in the mouth, effectively freeing herself, and when I barged in she was just reaching for the doorknob to complete her retreat. We froze, staring at one another for a second that seemed to stretch on for eternity, then Faye stepped back to admit me to the room, her gaze dropping from mine.
"You okay?” I asked, briefly touching her shoulder. Faye nodded. She didn't seem hurt—the self-defence lessons Beaumont had given her last year seemed to have stuck.
Laura wiped a trickle of blood from her split lip, still managing to drawl, “Yeah, I think I get what makes Zach tick."
I'm gonna get her convicted of every misdemeanour she's ever committed.
"You ready to talk, now? Or do I leave you here to stew while I have a conversation with your husband?"
He hadn't arrived at the precinct yet, but she didn't have to know that. The threat didn't intimidate her, though. It even seemed to fire her up.
"I'll talk—about that night a week or so before you left me."
Something at the back of my memory screamed at me to get Faye out of earshot, but a bigger part wouldn't give Laura the satisfaction of making me flee. I remained where I was, while she continued, “I always suspected you were thinking of someone else while we were together, but that night I found out it was true..."
Her eyes were on Faye now, and her smile was vicious. “We'd been playing for a while, and he ordered me to give him head...so I did. And after a minute or two he called me his ‘little'...
...I don't remember."
It was the one moment in our relationship I'd least wanted Faye to hear about, but Laura was in full story mode now, and trying to stop her from continuing would have been futile. I gritted my teeth as she carried on. “I stopped and smiled, cause I liked it. But he came to his senses, and cursed, and ordered me to get back to it, and he never used that pet name again."
I could see Faye in my peripheral vision, shifting slightly as she absorbed the information, but Laura wasn't done.
"What was it? Little... God, I still can't remember. But it doesn't matter.” With a triumphant grin, she raised an eyebrow in my direction. “Guess this is who you meant, huh, Zach?"
Why the hell had I left my gun in the squad room? The only saving grace was that she didn't remember exactly
I'd called her. Faye had always unintentionally teased and tempted me with her eyes and words, and in my fantasies she was just as provocative in the bedroom. I didn't often give my submissives pet names, but the one my imagination had come up with for Faye fitted her like a glove.
Laura still hadn't finished, although both Faye and I had been rendered speechless and uncomfortable. She twisted the knife one more time. “Newsflash, though—she'll never be yours. She's just too sadistic—believe me, I know. I've been on the receiving end of it so many times. She
to hurt me as much as I can take, then she forces me between her legs. She gets off on being in control...and so do you. What a shame."
She was playing on a thought I'd had all too often, and it tore the wound I'd been nursing right open. I dug my nails into my palms, fighting the urge to rise to her bait.
Before I could cross the line, salvation came from the woman at my side. “So, you're going to talk to her husband now?"
Thank God for Faye.
“Yeah,” I said, turning my back on Laura. I couldn't meet Faye's eyes, but I doubted she was trying to make eye contact right then. Stepping casually towards the door, I asked, “You wanna watch?"
"Sounds like a plan,” Faye agreed, her tone lighter than the blush that coloured her cheeks.
My hand was on the doorknob when Laura drove her point home, sending a wave of mortified disbelief through me. “Little...
, that was it!"
Faye went stock-still, her eyes closed, as if she was fighting attraction...or humiliation. After a second, she tossed a glance over her shoulder. “We'll tell your husband you said ‘hi'."
It was way past time to get out of that damn room, before any more damage was done. Faye was right behind me, and as she pulled the door closed, shutting Laura inside, we both exhaled with relief.
I didn't know what to say to her, and she was having the same problem. The silence stretched on, and when I chanced a look over at her, her eyes dropped to the floor.
"Faye...” I trailed off, shaking my head. There were no words to erase what had just happened—there was no way to shrug it off and carry on like it had never existed.
"I know,” she murmured, and rested a hand on my shoulder as she leaned in to brush her lips over my cheek. The kiss was chaste, and it was over all too soon. “I'd better go finish those tests."
I watched her walk away, and wondered if that fleeting touch of her lips against my cheekbone would be the last kiss she'd ever give me.
Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, oh my—
When I tuned the lab's radio in to a local station, filling the air with classic rock, a tiny knot of tension unravelled in my stomach. My thoughts slowed from their hyperactive babble to a comprehensible level.
What just happened? Was it a good thing? Was it a bad thing? How do I feel about it? How does
feel about it? Where do we go from here? How can I look at him without hearing those words in my head?
Okay, slow down. Think of the facts.
That's not a fact, Tate! It's a rumour. Unsubstantiated evidence. Hearsay... Really good hearsay..
He knew I wanted him, now...and according to Laura, he wanted me, too. What if it wasn't true? What if he hadn't been thinking about me that night? What if he felt uncomfortable because he knew how
felt, but he just wanted to be friends? Could I pretend Laura had been lying?
Little tease, little tease, little tease, little—
Oh, God. What if he wants me, but believes Laura that I won't submit?
It wasn't like I could just stroll up to him and say, “Hey, Zach, wanna top me this weekend?"
Well, I guess I could...but I'm scared.
If he turned me down, I didn't know how I could go back to acting normal around him...
Damn you, Laura!
Turning the music up a couple of notches, I started looking through the case evidence again, trying to distract my alternately hopeful and fearful imagination.
I stood in the stairwell, savouring the stillness around me. It made it easier to think—I didn't know how the hell everything had got so complicated all of a sudden.
Within a couple of hours, my relationship with Faye had been turned completely on its head. I could still feel the touch of her lips against my cheek—my mind was playing tricks on me. The image of her standing in the interrogation room, her eyes closed as she'd absorbed the pet name I'd never planned to tell her, just wouldn't leave me alone. It was impossible to read her this time—I didn't know how she felt.
Part of me believed Laura—that Faye's nature was too dominant for her to submit, that she'd never agree to cede control to me. Her personality switched, depending on the situation, but a strong need for autonomy and independence shone through every part of her.
There was no point in standing there all day, debating whether or not I should go to her, to ask her what was going on in her head and find out what had changed between us. I wouldn't be able to decide how best to handle her until I was away from the precinct—if I even figured it out at all—so I decided to get back to work.
...you so obviously carry the same torch for him that he does for you. God, the way you were thinking about him the entire time my fingers were inside you...
A primitive urge stirred within me at the mental image, and I almost decided a visit to Faye's lab would solve the whole problem. Maybe it would have, maybe not. I valued her friendship too much to go with my impulses.
Stifling my creative imagination, I returned to the squad room, arriving just as Santoro called my cell phone. “We've got Morgan, boss. On our way back now."
Grateful for the imminent distraction, I began to look over the case again from the beginning, attempting without success to chase the thoughts of Faye from my mind.
I got the call around thirty minutes later, while I was staring at a tox screen result and trying to get my whirling brain to comprehend the usually obvious composition. It was just no use—all I could think about was
Snatching up my phone, I mumbled distractedly into it. “Lab."
"Just about to start the husband's interrogation, if you're interested.” Zach Pierce's voice sent a light shiver through me and I had to catch my breath before I replied.
"Thanks. Go ahead and get started—I'll be up in a minute."
The line went dead, which wasn't unusual for a call from Pierce, but I couldn't help but wince at the abrupt end to the conversation. On a normal day, I wouldn't have read anything into it, but today I was thinking way too hard.
I made my way up to Interrogation Two and went into observation, greeting Santoro, Layton and Beaumont as I joined them at the one-way glass. They greeted me distractedly, torn between the drama of knowing Pierce and I had both dated the same married woman, and the unfolding scene in the interrogation room.
Garth Morgan looked younger than I'd expected, but he carried the instantly recognisable tough-guy attitude of your typical thug. What did Laura see in him? He didn't look like her type...though it seemed I'd never known her well enough to make an accurate judgement.
Pierce was settling himself down in the chair opposite, his posture casual for now. “Recognise him?” He slid forward a photograph, which I was pretty sure was of our dead guy.
As the first round of denials started, I tuned out. I'd watched the cops in interrogation enough to know conversations like this worked in cycles. First the guy would insist he didn't even know the victim. Then he'd say he did, but he didn't know the other people involved. Then it would turn out that he
know them, but he didn't know a crime had been committed. Then he'd know about the crime, but that would be all. It might even go as far as, “Yeah, I was there, but it was all the other guys,” or, “I did it, but only ‘cause he was gonna kill me, my wife, my kids and my mom's neighbour's dog if I didn't.” It was usually at least two of those arguments—in some cases, it was all of them.
I didn't wanna hear it. Santoro, Layton and Beaumont loved this stuff the way I loved forensics, and they made a game out of predicting when a suspect would break, and under what kind of interrogation technique. They wouldn't be leaving observation any time soon, assuming I could pull this off without them getting suspicious.
As soon as I was sure none of them were focussing on me, I made a show of starting slightly, then pulling my phone from my pocket.
Thank God for silent mode...
Stepping back and murmuring a ‘hello', I shot apologetic glances at the others and headed for the door.
Wouldn't want to distract them with my fictional phone call, after all.
A quick glance behind me as I left confirmed they were fooled. Once they thought they knew what was going on, they returned their collective attention to Pierce, and I was home free.
Shutting the door softly behind me, I pocketed my phone and made for Interrogation One's observation room. Finding it empty, I quickly crossed to the technical desk and switched on the recording equipment.